Didgeridoo (from Paul “Groovy Lips” Boon), sticks, and ghostly flute from Susie Hodder-Williams (or, perhaps, flute-like synth from Sam Hodder) open the work, providing an expansive, pastoral opening. “Dawn” then mixes soulful jazz into the indigenous earthiness, giving Chris Caldwell’s smooth saxophones room to explore the terrain. The choral ahs give even more heft to the piece. Yet despite the serious approach, the vibe is never somber: the underpinning rhythms combine with the melodies to suggest gentle awe and subtle wonder.
“Adrenaline” bumps up the tempo for another take on indigenous earthiness, jazzy instrumentals, and evocative vocals. There’s lots of fun flute runs, baritone sax bleats, and punchy synths to go around. Clifton Bieundurry’s vocals are particularly memorable here, meshing perfectly with the backdrop and fitting into the unique space the group has invented.
“Dusk” is a much quieter work that feels and sounds like the tide going out. The didgeridoo once against sets the ground, while Caldwell gives a beautiful solo on soprano sax. Background sounds fill in the oceanic vibe. The piece slowly fades into its closing.
Ultimately, Hemispheres is a concise, elegant 12-minute experience that melds disparate sonic ideas into a unique creative experience. Due to the strong presence of the didgeridoo, this feels like an Australian companion to The River, a collaborative work between Taos Pueblo composer Robert Mirabal and string quartet Ethel. The well of creativity never runs dry, as long as people continue to seek out adventurous collaborations and push their own instrumental efforts farther and further. I hope this isn’t a one-off project, as it is expertly composed and wonderfully performed. Highly recommended. —Stephen Carradini