tidelands

QueTheMusic

– Quentin W. Buetow –

– Robi Nickoli –

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tidelands

Sublime Orchestral Dream Rock

tidelands is a musical collaboration between songwriter / guitar and flugelhorn player Gabriel Montana Leis and drummer / keyboardist Mie Araki. Sharp poignant songs with poetic lyrics are uniquely arranged with looped guitars and vocals, glorious horns, Moog synth bass lines, and boy / girl harmonies. The ambidextrous dexterity of these two multi-instrumentalists creates sound they dub Orchestral Indie, or as the iTunes music store aptly writes “Tidelands achieves widescreen sonic grandeur.”

Taking cues from their combined multi-cultural backgrounds, Leis and Araki have created a texturally rich sound that speaks to their collectively deep and unique life experiences.

Born in New Delhi, India, Leis led an itinerant childhood, bouncing from one hemisphere to another, town to town, school to school. After his return from India in the late 1970’s, Leis eventually settled in the San Francisco bay area, where Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead gifted him his first guitar. Growing up around open mic nights, he later formed the band The Love X Nowhere (which included Araki in its final incarnation), releasing three E.P.’s and an album, a success that led to Leis being hired as a touring musician with Dan The Automator.

Originally from Osaka, Japan, Araki moved to New York in 1992 to further her study of classical percussion at The Manhattan School of Music. Attracted by the challenges and beauty of improvisation, Araki soon switched her major to Jazz & Commercial Percussion, eventually earning a Master’s degree after relocating to California and incorporating African, Asian and European music into her playing.

Leis decided to recruit former band mate Araki, who added a Moog to the ensemble of instruments, essentially beginning her own new musical education in learning to play the drums and synth at the same time. Further exploring his earlier experiences writing for cello, violin and trumpet, Leis began using a looping device to write guitar parts that he could later pair with orchestral instruments.(1)

Musically, the songs on “If…” are defined by the creative and precise drumming of Araki and her ability to explore her creative voice through the framework of these songs. Further enriched by the incredible players in the Magik*Magik Orchestra, the album also features standout local players such as bassist Nils Erickson (20 Minute Loop), cello player Sam Bass (Les Claypool), and Leis’ foremost inspiration as a horn player, trumpeter Ara Anderson (Tom Waits).

tidelands radiates a sort of innocence; it feels about thirty years out of time. Some of the tracks would pair very well with Pink Floyd and Peter Gabriel-era Genesis. Leis’ deep, thick voice magically spins tales of woe and desire while the classically-trained Araki’s sedate and restrained drums play with subtle acoustic dexterity, aural dynamics and also complements contributions from cellist Sam Bass and trumpeter Ara Anderson, among others.

The result is a hypnotic and alluring series of tunes as world-weary and bone-tired as they are romantic. The underlying theme of “If…”, as in most of Leis’ previous work, is an effort to slow down our high-velocity culture and appreciate the small things, like lying entwined with a lover, reconnecting with troubled friends, or the prospect of peace. In my eyes (and ears), “If…” is a magical mystery tour of music, sprinkled with fairy dust, fantasy, and yet … still remains very much grounded in reality.

tidelands

tidelands

The incredible animated video for “Holy Grail” – created from more than 1,000 watercolor paintings by Ami Kutata – is well worth a look.

Call it naive, if you wish, but the world can sure use a lot more musical beauty … and tidelands holds that very key.

(1) – tidelands – biography

(A) – tidelands – Web Site
(B) – tidelands – iTunes
(C) – tidelands – Facebook

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