EP REVIEW/Graham Domain

Sis ‘Gnani’
(Native Cat Recordings) 

Gnani is an excellent 6 track EP channelling the Spirit of Alice Coltrane via 70’s vintage synths / keyboards, tape loops, afro-beat and chilled jazz and dance rhythms. The music created, a kind of chilled spiritual jazz /dance hybrid – a music of calmness, reflection and spiritual re-birth. It engenders feelings of carefree spring days, untroubled moments of discovery, the joy of just living! Its creator Sis, is the alter-ego of singer and muti-instrumentalist Jennie Gillespie Mason.

The first song ‘Double Rapture’ sounds like a lost chilled dance remix of Everything But The Girl. Analogue Synths vibe alongside a drum machine and percussion giving it a laid-back feel while the calming soft vocal sounds both, of the future and of the past.

‘Wooie’ is a catchy song with a distorted beat. It has a feel of something recorded in the mid 1980’s and rhythmically sounds almost like a cross between ‘Sledgehammer’ era Peter Gabriel and Talking Heads. If this song had been released as a single in 1985 with a cut-up photo animation video it would have been a hit!

‘Flower in Space’ is the longest song at around 6 minutes. It begins with a looped piano motif, as Sis sings of the man without lips who is speaking, who sees without eyes, the man without ears who listens…from a flower in space. The song takes on a spiritual dimension as the Eastern sounding music builds up and philosophical words are spoken on top. Soft echoing synths underplay the melody as the words once again make an emotional connection ‘I had another dream, the end of suffering’. Melodies spiral from the depths as the music devolves into mid period EWF cosmic noodling, finally ending with a dawn chorus of inter-galactic bird song to greet the new day! A strange but rewarding track that gets more seductive with each listen.

‘Light Is There’ begins with vocal harmonies and a short sampled ethnic song melody. The walking cosmic frequencies that underpin the high range girl harmonics add to the universal one-ness of being before eventually trailing off, leaving a hand-clap rhythm and shooting stars burning up the night sky!

‘Embodiment’ is a kind of restrained dance song uplifted by live percussion and acid-house hi-hat. It is propelled at various moments by deep synths, organ, Fender Rhodes, 70’s Wow synths, strange whirling bee sting noise, and later on by intermittent outbreaks of modal jazz clarinet. The vocals hide in the music with melody low on the agenda making it the least interesting song on the EP.

The final track ‘Gazelle Rites’ is an instrumental that starts off sounding like a Lonnie Liston Smith out-take from the 70’s with its Fender Rhodes riff and wobbly bass synth, soon augmented by a funky clavinet giving it a slight Stevie Wonder vibe for a few moments. It is my favourite track, with its minimal use of some great sounding vintage keyboards and analogue synths (B3 Hammond Organ, ARP Odyssey among them). Splendidly Cosmic!

Overall, the EP presents a transformative journey. Moving from a feeling of detachment at the outset, a feeling of being on the outside looking in, by the third song the calming and slightly surreal music has become more spiritually uplifting, inventive and liberating. The underlying message – accept yourself and heal. A wonderful EP that becomes more addictive with each play.

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