Jordan De La Sierra - Gymnosphere: Song Of The Rose 2xLP
Label: Numero Group
Boy, has this reissue been a long time coming! Seeing that it's been a holy grail for new age collectors and long-form music heads long before the new age revival began revving up nearly a decade ago, it's surprising how long it has actually taken. We in fact have been listening to our ripped mp3's for the past few years courtesy of Greg Davis's incredible (and deeply missed) new age tape music blog, Crystal Vibrations. But now Jordan De La Sierra's masterpiece from 1977 has been given the deluxe reissue treatment it deserves, and for the very first time has been released as it was meant to be. Four gloriously long form well-tuned piano tracks (one per side for the lp, 2 for each cd), that hypnotically spiral and cascade in delirious transcendent clouds of chordal clusters and glacial repetitions. Recorded and edited from hours of sessions, the subsequent tape recordings were then taken to Grace Cathedral in San Francisco and taking advantage of the space's unique acoustics and 30 second natural delay, played back and rerecorded as they transmitted throughout the deep resonant space.
Hailing from California's Central Valley and later influenced by Terry Riley, La Monte Young, and Pandit Pran Nath as well as teachings from his spiritual explorations in India, De La Sierra wanted to take his classical music training to a different place when he was granted a scholarship at San Francisco's Conservatory of Music where he immersed himself in the avant-garde and performed works by John Cage, Robert Ashley, and Earl Brown. He eventually moved into Project Artaud right here in our own Mission District where he worked with small ensembles of like minded artists and musicians. His spiritual curiosity led him everywhere and under the tutelage of Pandit Pran Nath, to composing music in India. But he eventually worked his way back to the Bay Area, where he met up with Stephen Hill who ran the legendary radio program Hearts in Space on KPFA, who championed De La Sierra's music and led him to the fledgling Bay Area label Unity Records, which released Gymnosphere, but not without a few hiccups. Poorly managed and hemorrhaging money, the label ditched the planned release of a double lp by De La Sierra complete with booklet of Indian inspired drawings and poems and instead only released the first half on one LP. The process had taken so long that by the time of the release, De La Sierra had moved onto other projects, one of them forming the Dylanesque folk ensemble The Jemstone Band. Gymnosphere sank into obscurity.
So now The Numero Group has restored the original release to its originally intended glory, including a full catalog of drawings, poems and liner notes, housed in an embossed outer sleeve with a tantric design. Beautifully packaged, this long awaited reissue has long influenced many modern day soundmakers like James Blackshaw, Jefre Cantu-Ledesma and Gregg Kowalsky. Fans of Iasos, Lubomyr Melnyck, Ariel Kalma, Anton Batagov or any of the musicians mentioned above, this is essential!