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Review of "Unspoken"

It Doesn’t Need Words

by RJ Lannan
The Sounding Board

This is something rare. An incredible cellist that also excels as a composer. I give you Jami Sieber and her album, Unspoken. The music is deep and emotional, the theme is obvious and the execution of both is spot on. Often, the cello with its brooding signature is resigned to sitting in the back and giving bass support to most songs. Sieber, however, takes her electric and acoustic cellos to the lead position with a strong voice and an intricate implementation of warm, romantic forays into the heart. Unspoken is a genre defying kind of collection. Soft, contemporary tunes vie with trance dance and World influences to render a recording that is second to none. However, she does not achieve distinction alone. Her companions on the album are talented and complementary on every track. They include Ulali on vocals, Kai Eckhardt and Don Benedictson on bass, Steve Gorn on Bansuri flute, Julie Wolf on piano and Benjy Werthheimer on percussion, plus many more.

How appropriate that the first cut is called Opening. It is the beginning of everything. The maiden bloom of the rose, the rise of the golden sun and the first peak at the heaven of stars. The flute twitters inside the melody like a butterfly, visiting, tasting, caressing and the cello is like the passage of the clouds over the sun, revealing light and dark and all the shadows in between. It is a vibrant tune.

Not exactly a prayer, Benediction is a tune that showcases the versatility of the cello. It is a rather light sounding tune at first, the plucking of strings sounds like some great clock ticking away the hours and then the cello deftly ushers in the sense of a great vastness in the universe. Something greater than man and ultimately just beyond her or his grasp.

My favorite on Unspoken is a tune called Nightsong. It has a haunting, cinematic feel that flies though the darkness like a moth in search of a flame. The stealthy flute creeps about as the cello hides around the corners, hidden by shadows and other fancy tricks of the light. Finally, the cello literally slides into view looking like a phantasm and dares you to catch her. This is a long tune, more than eight minutes, but the time is spent in musical bliss.

The title A Dialogue of Silk had me guessing as to what the theme might be. Someone with my imagination might start somewhere on a starry, starry night in the Orient and end up in the golden glow of candle light. It is a sensual tune somewhat on the far side of twilight. It is a passionate tune that lingers like a sweet taste upon the lips and makes an impression on the soul.

Unspoken, the title on first listen reminded me of something the Angels of Venice might conjure up. Sieber and her collaborators mix a punchy beat with a droning bass and spirited female chant that is overshadowed by the authoritative cello. It is definitely a song if innuendo and nuances, but the tone is clear. To me it said something like you must cut the rose and confront the thorns before you partake of its surreal beauty in all its aspects. It is truly a beguiling song.

Like one of those rare pieces of music that has a sense of movement when you listen to it, Returning sounded like ocean waves crashing to the same recognizable shore. It has this feeling of familiarity, of kindred spirits and knowing souls.

I liked the album. It had just the right combination of structure and variety that makes contemporary music what it is. All of the songs are very strong on content and pleasing to all the senses that appreciate music. I played this album during the day and all through the night and every time I got a sense of Sieber’s harmonious excitement and urgent passion. Yeah, passion.

Rating: Very Good