Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Amirtha Kidambi’s Elder Ones: From Untruth (Northern Spy)

A review of the quartet's second album

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
From Untruth by Amirtha Kidambi's Elder Ones
The cover of From Untruth by Amirtha Kidambi’s Elder Ones

Amirtha Kidambi’s name received a bit of a boost last year when she put a voice to Mary Halvorson’s lyrics on Code Girl. It was just one aspect of an already productive career that includes studies of classical and Carnatic music, and performances with saxophonist Darius Jones. Elder Ones’ debut, Holy Science (2016), featured Kidambi using wordless vocals, while From Untruth is built on lyrics that often get drawn out and twisted for dramatic effect. Like the subject matter—including but not limited to oppression, colonialism, and the way truth is subverted—the album feels intense and unsettling. It’s also quite captivating.

Elder Ones’ instrumentation seems spare, but they have no trouble filling up the entire space within a given track. Matt Nelson unleashes some barbed soprano sax work in “Eat the Rich”; here and throughout the album, his horn often gets filtered through electronics that distort and reshape his sound even further. In a section of “Dance of the Subaltern,” he and Kidambi take turns echoing each other during a tense 7/8 ostinato. Bassist Nick Dunston’s bowing works as both an anchor and noisy addition to the music, while drummer Max Jaffe shifts between stark beats on the kit and “electronic sensory percussion,” which adds to the chaos during choice moments.

Start Your Free Trial to Continue Reading

Become a JazzTimes member to explore our complete archive of interviews, profiles, columns, and reviews written by music's best journalists and critics.
Originally Published