Dave Soldier
"The Eight Hour of Amduat"


Dave Soldie - The Eighth Hour of Amduat
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$13.99 | CD | Catalog #MUL035

This opera for mezzosoprano, choir, improvising soloists, orchestra and electronics, and featuring the leader of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Marshall Allen on alto saxophone and electronics, is adapted from the earliest surviving illustrated book and sound score, The Book of the Amduat, painted on walls in the tombs of the Valley of the Kings and many papyri. We use the version in Tuthmose III's tomb, who ruled Egypt from 1485-1431 BC. He is widely thought to be the Pharaoh of Exodus: if it wasn't him, it was a close relative. He co-ruled at first with the female Pharaoh, Hatsepsut, and was great grandfather to Akhenaten. He built the obelisks known as Cleopatra's Needle, one of which is on the Thames in London, and the other is near East 81st street in Central Park in New York City.

Each morning, Sun Ra emerges from a hole in the east and sails on a river through our sky. After he descends he continue from west to east on the river through the underworld, the Amudat, to reemerge in the morning. Each night he dies, but is reborn in the 6th night hour when he unites with Osiris and defeats the serpent, Apep.

The piece takes place during the 8th hour of the night, Mistress of deep night, in the city of the 8th hour, Sarcophagus of her gods. Sun Ra and his companions on the boat are being hauled by a choir on the underworld river. During the hour they are clothed and encounter other gods who live in ten caverns along the shore, along with living knives who defeat their enemies and four sacred rams. By earliest sound score, we mean that the specific sounds from each group of gods in each cavern of the city are described quite literally during the trip.

Each version of the Book of Amduat has the same order of caverns. In Tuthmose III's tomb, they don't change simultaneously and the caverns are juxtaposed as in the opera.

I rely on David Warburton's English translation and Colleen Manassa's article Sounds of the Netherworld. Translations of the arias to Italian and insights are from the Egyptologist Rita Lucarelli at University of California, Berkley.
The score and libretto can be accessed from www.davesoldier.com.


Tracks
01 Mistress Prayer (feat. Sahoko Sato Timpone)
02 Satisfying Her Lord & Mysterious Caverns (feat. Dan Blacksberg, trombone & Nick Millevoi, guitar)
03 Tower?s Prayer (feat. Choir)
04 Netherworld Cavern (feat. Rebecca Cherry, violin)
05 Tomb of the Gods Cavern (feat. Rebecca Cherry, violin)
06 Barcarolle (feat. Sahoko Sato Timpone & choir)
07 Knives at War (feat. Marshall Allen, EVI & Nick Millevoi, guitar)
08 Mourning & She Who Annihilates the Ignorant Caverns (feat. Marshall Allen, alto sax & Michael Winograd, clarinet)
09 Ra Calls the Rams (feat. Marshall Allen, EVI)
10 Envelopes Her Images & Uniting Darkness Caverns (feat. Marshall Allen, alto sax & EVI)
11 Removing Her Ba-Souls Cavern (feat. Marshall Allen, alto sax)
12 Ra Dances With Rams (feat. Marshall Allen)
13 Great of Torches Cavern (feat. Nick Millevoi, guitar)
14 Dawn March (feat. Choir)

Dave Soldier, composer (2016)
Rita Lucarelli, Egyptology and translation of hieroglyphs to Italian
Sahoko Sato Timpone, Mistress of the Boat, Mezzosoprano
Marshall Allen, Sun Ra, saxophone & electronic valve instrument (EVI)
Rebecca Cherry, Horus of Fragrance, violin
Dan Blacksberg, Wepwawet, trombone
Nick Millevoi, Sia, guitar
Michael Winograd, Nehes, C clarinet
Enrique Rivera-Matos, Hu, tuba
Adam Vidiksis, Conductor
Akhmed Manedov, violin
Juana Pinilla Paez, violin
Olivia Gusmano, viola
Carolina Diazgronados, cello
Dani Bash, harp
Anthony di Bartolo, percussion
Thomas Kolakowski, percussion
Dave Soldier, water bowls, electronics

Choir:
Chace Simmonds-Frith, Natasha Thweatt, Sophie Laruelle, Xiaoming Tian, Eugene Sirotkine, Alicia Waller, Melinda Learnard, Sahoko Sato Timpone,


Midwest Record

What happens when a brain doctor that is into Sun Ra, Bo Diddley and Eliza Carthy wants to push the envelope farther than he has in past musical explorations? Well taking a leaf from Sun Ra, he revisits the oldest known musical score doing it up in a way that would make that unknown bastard progeny of Sun Ra and Carla Bley proud. For the feint of heart and the casual listener? Not a chance. Utterly left leaning without being precious or creative for the sake of being creative, this near operatic release is even too deep for Sunday afternoon arts society poseurs. While there isn't a false note in the bunch, this set is for deep muso fans that really want to go places they've only heard in dreams. Well done, doc.

-
Patrick Van de Wiele

 

All About Jazz
By ROGER FARBEY

Let's be honest, this extraordinary recording isn't going to float everyone's boat. However, there are a lot of highly praiseworthy elements to be assimilated in this hour long CD. Dave Soldier (real name Dr. Dave Sulzer, a neuroscientist at Columbia University) has assembled an avant-garde jazz opera based on the oldest known musical score (the 8th hour of the book of the Amduat) the hieroglyphics of which have been translated into Italian by Egyptologist Professor Ritat Lucarrelli. Each of the main protagonists additionally represents a character in the opera, so for example mezzosoprano Sahoko Sato Timpone is also Mistress of the Boat.

 

Saxophonist Marshall Allen who has led Sun Ra's Arkestra since John Gilmore's death in 1995 becomes Sun Ra (a tautological name for the Egyptian God of the Sun) and his former boss's moniker. Canadian born violinist Rebecca Cherry demonstrates her exceptional soloing talent on "Netherworld Cavern" and "Tomb Of The Gods Cavern" and avant-garde guitarist Nick Millevoi is heard soloing on "Satisfying Her Lord & Mysterious Caverns," "Knives At War" and "Great Of Torches Cavern." Similarly, nonagenarian Marshall Allen is still producing blistering solos both on alto and EVI, as heard on six of the tracks including "Mourning And She Who Annihilates The Ignorant Caverns," "Envelopes Her Images & Uniting Darkness Caverns," "Removing Her Ba-Souls Cavern" and "Ra Dances With Rams."

 

It's difficult to put into a few words exactly what this record emulates, it might well be that it doesn't sound like anything else, ever. But it could certainly represent something of a mélange of say Frank Zappa, Luciano Berio, John Zorn, György Ligeti and of course, Sun Ra's Arkestra. However, the instrumentation and arrangements are both imaginative and at times brilliant. The subtle use of harp for example is intelligent and effective, as is the sporadic deployment of the choir. There are also a myriad of sound effects interspersed throughout the opera which act as a sort of sonic glue, binding the various pieces together. This is not a work to be regarded lightly but rather it's a brave and bold contemporary composition ironically based on the very oldest one.

 

All About Jazz


By TROY DOSTERT

The idea of crafting a classical/jazz opera from an ancient Egyptian funerary papyrus would probably be too much for most ordinary mortals to contemplate. But this kind of thing isn't at all unexpected for Dave Soldier, whose dedication to unusual and surprising projects has defined his long avocation in music. (His primary calling is as a professor of neurology at Columbia, where he is known as Dave Sulzer.) He first studied composition with Roscoe Mitchell as an undergraduate, and eventually launched a series of ventures which have included: assembling improvising orchestras made up solely of elephants; a string quartet fusing classical music with rhythm & blues and punk rock; and field recordings from around the world, including mountain villages in Guatemala and Thailand. Anyone who expresses equal admiration for Henry Threadgill, Haydn and Guided by Voices is going to be willing to try just about anything. And for listeners in a similarly adventurous spirit, this particular record has plenty to offer.

The text for Soldier's opera, "Amduat" (literally: "Book of What is in the Netherworld") is widely found in the tombs of many ancient Egyptian rulers. It describes the daily descent of the sun god to the underworld, the ensuing struggle with the forces of chaos, and the god's eventual rebirth at dawn. The journey is divided into twelve one-hour segments, with the eighth hour consisting of the god's travel by boat with the help of an underworldly choir, with several encounters with other deities along the way. Soldier consulted UC Berkeley Egyptologist Rita Lucarelli for assistance with the project, and the story itself is fascinating, providing rich material for operatic treatment. Soldier also explains in the liner notes that Amduat is actually a "sound score," meaning that while the music isn't notated, there are "specific sounds" detailed in the text which offer clues for how the music should be performed. Even so, it's definitely fair to say that this is really Soldier's composition, with the papyrus itself a source of subject matter and inspiration.

 

And as for the music: well, one would expect it to be rather strange and unsettling, as any journey to the world below should undoubtedly be. But that doesn't prevent it from being both stimulating and musically engaging. The opera's opening, "Mistress Prayer," is in the form of an aria (sung powerfully by mezzo-soprano Sahoko Sato Timpone). But once a brief rhythmic detour into a New Orleans second-line section emerges, one quickly gets a glimpse of how aggressively Soldier is going to be juxtaposing diverse musical traditions throughout the recording. Strings and horns are both essential to this task, so that many of the segments sound like jazz-influenced chamber music, albeit with a healthy portion of Soldier's electronics (including recordings of numerous animals; cats understandably are featured prominently), and enough interesting percussion to add variety throughout.

 

Of the many terrific musicians featured on the record, the outsized presence from the jazz world is without question Marshall Allen, who is assigned the role of the sun god himself: Sun Ra. Who else could do the part justice, after all, but the fabled sideman of the original Jazz Egyptologist himself, Sonny Blount? Now in his early nineties, Allen continues to amaze with his cosmically-inspired alto playing, and his contributions throughout the opera support the music's navigation between the spheres of classical and jazz. "Ra Dances with Rams" is exemplary in this regard: one of the highlights of the program, it is a riveting piece, with frenetic strings complementing Allen's squeals and the rest of the horns in a furious, delightful romp. Special mention must also be made of Rebecca Cherry, whose violin on "Netherworld Cavern" and "Tomb of the Gods" adds just the right measure of intrigue and ethereal beauty, and experimental guitarist Nick Millevoi, who brings the necessary otherworldly edge to the ferocious "Knives at War," along with valuable texture to help establish the mood on a number of other pieces on the record.

 

The Eighth Hour of Amduat offers what is in essence a sound collage of diverse musical modes, themes, and stylistic approaches, making for listening that is both challenging and rewarding. It won't be to everyone's liking, to be sure: jazz fans less willing to push the envelope of the music into other traditions will probably blanch at some of Soldier's more audacious choices. But for those willing to meet him halfway, their effort will be repaid handsomely.

 

Veritas Vampirus
by Mark S. Tucker,

Sun Ra was a quintessential musical outsider, one of the few ever to walk the planet. I include him with Iannis Xenakis, Harry Partch, Morton Subotnick, Butch Morris, and a small handful of others. He was a consummate creator of difficult musics requiring listenersto transcend themselves and their formulaic indoctrinations in order to fully appreciate what was being accomplished. I written before that I needed a 5-year period for that, and when, one balmy Florida summer’s night, I finally broke through Magic City, I looked at and listened to music differently. I found the same elixire in Robert Fripp, Philip Glass, Brian Eno, Oregon, and others as well. Sadly, Ra’s grave (he died in 1993) is marked only with a small footstone identifying “Herman Sonny Blount aka Le Sony’r Ra” when a cosmic sculpture of gigantic proportions, festooned with color and lights, equipped with exotica producing strange Aeolian sounds, should there reside. Ah well, as Sonny well knew, Terra is a sad place inhabited by bizarre creatures known as “humans”, subject to madness and gross indiscretions.

Thus, it’s well past time the space-case-come-to-Earth was commemorated as Dave Soldier has presented him and his consciousness in The Eighth Hour of Amduat: weirdly, melodically, aphasically, orchestrally, stream of consciously, tribally, and tripped-out jazzily. Soldier, having worked with many on-the-edge jazzers (Leroy Jenkins, Henry Threadgill, the foementioned Morris, etc.) is no stranger to non-linear compositional techniques and noiseuring but neither is he incognizant of the applications of classical and neoclassical forms, here in symphonic and operatic representations, Sahoko Sato Timpone embodying the latter. Not only that, but Amduat is actually the oldest surviving music score known on our green (soon not to be) sphere, here taken from a 1425 BC version complete with Egyptologist Rita Lucarelli’s translations of hieroglyphics into Italian. Soldier’s as serious as he is eclectic and boundaries-breaking.

Marshall Allen, the third leader of the Sun Ra Arkestra (he took over when tenor sax player John Gilmore, who’d replaced the founder, passed two years after Ra), and his miraculous sax and EVI sit in notationally as Ra while an army of players surround him on their own instruments (I was particularly delighted to hear Dani Bash’s harp playing) and voices (in choral lines). The XX-minute song cycle veers wildly and wool-ily from lush parterres classiques to spacey electronic and Amazon ambiences, oft with Allen in abstract “conversational” mode as Ra “speaking” to the ancient gods and goddesses of Egypt, who also are represented through instruments, and one soon gets caught up in the transformational nature of the affair, which I’ve no doubt Soldier fully intended, taking a solid cue from the esteemed deceased genius’s techniques.

When I heard Magic City that night, down in the phallically shaped southern state, I saw a mind-theater of aliens conversing, vaulting cities, spacecraft, stars, coursing energies, no end of strange phenomena…even without the drugs I was fond of back then (the 70s)! And when I lay an ear to Eighth Hour, I get the same visions mostly terrenely: northern African rivers and swamps, gaudily dressed natives, colossal stone edifices, that sort of thing. That makes the CD as much cinematic phantasmagoria as sonic.

But that’s not all. There’s a side story complementing this highly evocative new Soldier opus: by day, “Dave Soldier” is more readily known as ‘Dave Sulzer’, a professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Pharmacology at Columbia University, as well as the cat chosen to teach a new class in ‘Music, Math, & Mind’, to my demanding mind a subject much needed in the smotheringly anal halls of academe. It may be that, in “Soldier” / Sulzer’s hands, modern, very modern, works may finally be getting the serious attentions they deserve.

 

Amazon


Bizarre sounds but a solid work of mastering the ancients on contemporary instruments,
By
Grady Harp

Dave Soldier is a fascinating man – he is a neuroscientist (as Dave Sulzer) at Columbia University where he also is Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology and Pharmacology and teaches a class ‘Music, Math and Mind’. A fine introduction to this bizarre but fascinating opus.

According to Dave, ‘This opera for mezzo-soprano, choir, improvising soloists, orchestra and electronics is adapted from the earliest surviving illustrated book and sound score, “The Book of the Amduat”, painted on walls in the tombs of the Valley of the Kings and many papyri. I use the version in Tuthmose III’s tomb, who ruled Egypt from 1485-1431 BC. He is widely thought to be the Pharaoh of Exodus: if it wasn’t him, it was a close relative. He co-ruled at first with the female Pharaoh, Hatsepsut, and was great grandfather to Akhenaten. He built the obelisks known as Cleopatra’s Needle, one of which is on the Thames in London, and the other is near East 81st street in Central Park in New York City.

Each morning, Sun Ra emerges from a hole in the east and sails on a river through our sky. After he descends he continue from west to east on the river through the underworld, the Amudat, to reemerge in the morning. Each night he dies, but is reborn in the 6th night hour when he unites with Osiris and defeats the serpent, Apep. The piece takes place during the 8th hour of the night, ‘Mistress of deep night’, in the city of the 8th hour, ‘Sarcophagus of her gods’. Sun Ra and his companions on the boat are being hauled by a choir on the underworld river. During the hour they are clothed and encounter other gods who live in ten caverns along the shore, along with living knives who defeat their enemies and four sacred rams. By ‘earliest sound score’, I mean that the specific sounds from each group of gods in each cavern of the city are described quite literally during the trip. Each version of the Book of Amduat has the same order of caverns. In Tuthmose III’s tomb, they don’t change simultaneously and the caverns are juxtaposed as in the opera.

The ensemble is Dave Soldier, composer, Rita Lucarelli, Egyptology and translation of hieroglyphs to Italian, Sahoko Sato Timpone, Mistress of the Boat, Mezzo-soprano, Marshall Allen, Sun Ra, saxophone & electronic valve instrument, Rebecca Cherry, Horus of Fragrance, violin, Dan Blacksberg, Wepwawet, trombone, Nick Millevoi, Sia, guitar, Michael Winograd, Nehes, C clarinet, Enrique Rivera-Matos, Hu, tuba, Adam Vidiksis, Conductor, Akhmed Manedov, violin, Juana Pinilla Paez, violin, Olivia Gusmano, viola, Carolina Diazgronados, cello, Dani Bash, harp, Anthony di Bartolo, percussion, Thomas Kolakowski, percussion, and Dave Soldier, water bowls, electronics.

Keys and Chords


The idea to convert an Ancient Egyptian papyrus from the Book of the Dead in an opera, some classical and some jazz, is very unusual. But for the American Dave Soldier, daytime neurologist Dave Sulzer, this is not so farfetched. After all, he put all improvised orchestras together elephants, a string quartet classic R & B and punk rock mixes, and field recordings from around the world, including in villages in Guatemala and Thailand. The theme of this opera is based on the oldest known musical scores (from 1425 BC) and can be found in tombs of ancient Egypt. This comes specifically from the tomb of Toethmoses III, who ruled between 1485 and 1431 BC. He recounts how the god Sun Ra travels through the underworld during the night to grow old there, dying, and the next morning to be reborn. He reunites with Osiris and defeats the snake Apep. The ancient hieroglyphics were translated into Italian by Egyptologist Rita Lucarelli. Marshall Allen's Sun Ra and plays sax and EVI (electronic valve instrument). Mezzo-soprano Sahoko Sato Timpone sings the mistress of the boat, aided by a choir. Dave Soldier composed all the tracks, and this opera is more specifically set during the 8th hour of the night, where Sun Ra from his boat met other gods who live on its shores. The music is obviously bizarre, but what do you expect at this ungodly hour? And certainly not for everyone's ears. You should be open to classical, mixed with jazz and electronics.


By Leonid Auskern