After several years of silence since their eponymously titled 2006 release, Schema Records co-founder Luciano Cantone in collaboration with Gianluca Petrella and a new group of musicians, present The Invisible Session’s second album Echoes of Africa, published on the newly created Space Echo label.
This new chapter is borne out of a deep appreciation of African music. The impeccable rhythmic execution of the Ethiopian drummer and percussionist Abdissa “Manba” Assefa, the musical and spiritual contribution of the Gambian kora player Aruna “Jalimansa” Kuyateh, as well as the Afro-American Joyce Elaine Yuille, were an inspiration during the recording for other musicians who took part in it, giving rise to a unique emotion and sense of landscape
The points of departure are afrobeat, the recordings of Africa 70 and the drumming of Tony Allen which together inform the rhythmic scope of “Echoes of Africa”. Other influences come into play, with melodies centred on Eastern pentatonic scales, as well as funk, afrobeat, psychedelia, modal and Ethio jazz. There are even forays into pop and cinematica. But it is the ancestral melodies that intersect and weave that form the basis of this album, encouraging escape and deeper feelings.
With the influence of greats such as the vibraphonist Mulatu Astatke and an educational study of Ethiopian music, the composition “Journey To The East” was born, with a melody built on the major Bati Lydian scale –a pentatonic scale with particular intervals whose influence comes from the Middle East. Ethiopia is also present in “Entoto” and “Breathe the Rhythm” – two new works written entirely by trombonist and multi-instrumentalist Gianluca Petrella.
Although it may seem speculative given the recent news events that took place on May 25 in Minneapolis, “Hearing The Call” was conceived and written in 2018 from the inspiration of the poem present in “Children” by Haki R. Madhubuti on the Medasi album called “Nation”. A theme that in the eyes of the producer had been floating in the air for some time and that, beyond colours or political parties, involves everyone if oppressed by racism, homophobia and policies that do not protect human rights. Here improvisation is replaced with ancestral and mythical sounds and combined with modal sounds. Mystical effects and percussion attract and hypnotize the listener, while the performance of the poem, written and interpreted by the young African American / Finnish artist Benjamin “Bentality” Paavilainen, floats with relaxed naturalness.
The Invisible Session dealt with themes of climate change with “To the powerful” from the self-titled debut album released on Schema Records in 2006. This track was a prayer of sorts with an Afro-jazz hypnotic groove, addressed to the leaders of the world to preserve our Mother Earth, reinforcing the need to keep the right balance of the elements. The new songs “Ideas Can Make the World” and “People All Around The World Can Make It”, with their strong afrobeat/funk personality, are intoxicants, choral aphorisms, reminiscent of American funk bands of the ‘70s. It doesn’t take much to change direction, to erase the negative effects caused by the recent years’ globalisation… We can Make it!
Further reflections on this theme can be found in “Mother Forgive Us”, with lyrics and interpretation channelled once again through the young Bentality.
This is an album to be absorbed in its entirety – have a good listening!