Published Aug 28, 2019Nina Keith is giving new meaning to the term Philly soul. Her debut full-length disc, named for the Buddhist practice of meditating on death, is a tender, delicately orchestrated new classical work unconstrained by the genre's traditions.
Mastered by ambient music maestro Taylor Deupree, MARANASATI 19111 features a dozen tracks built primarily around Keith's wistful piano. Her playing is not so much minimalist as it is gentle. Over top, she layers electronics, found sounds, flute and occasional vocals.
The work will appeal immediately to ambient music lovers with an appreciation for a mix of acoustic and electronic sounds. Open-minded new classical music fans will also find a lot to admire in Keith's work.
Instrumentation aside, the music is strikingly expressive. There is plenty of melancholy here, but that's not all; this is the work of a young artist with a great deal to say, much of it uplifting and even joyful.
As its title suggests, the album is Keith's attempt "to create a more equanimous, reverent relationship with death and the unknown," according to the notes that accompany MARANASATI 19111.
Keith underwent eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR) therapy. That's a relatively new solution employed with patients suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, trauma and, in some cases, depression and anxiety. Patients are instructed to focus on memories that cause them difficulty. While doing so, the therapist has the patient move their eyes from side to side or tap their hands, something referred to as bilateral sensory input. Developed less than 30 years ago, EMDR remains controversial.
Given this backstory, it is no surprise that the album feels like a kind of daydream, if such things came with lavishly appointed soundtracks. This is a remarkable debut. (Grind Select)