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Amirtha Kidambi's Elder Ones - New Monuments

Third LP by Amirtha Kidambi’s Elder Ones, released in 2024.
The title summons the “tearing down of old colonial and racist monuments and vestiges of power… in order to build new ones to the martyrs of struggle.” “The album’s artwork by Justin Hopkins speaks to thi, taking the viscera and the wreckage from the streets and reworking it into something beautiful. Kidambi has expressed her concern with numerous global conflicts: among them, the farmers’ protests over agricultural reforms in India, the evolution of the Iranian women’s rights movement following the death of Mahsa Amini, and the continuous crescendoing call for Palestinian liberation.

The Elder Ones on this album are bassist Eva Lawitts, saxophonist Matt Nelson, cellist Lester St. Louis and drummer Jason Nazary — all four of whom contribute their share of electronic textures and electroacoustic treatments. Kidambi’s voice hovers over a scorched sonic landscape equally informed by Black American liberation music, the devotional fluidity of Carnatic classical, and the unleashing of an inner scream listeners might associate with hardcore punk and harsh noise. And of course there are the powerful sounds of her harmonium and synthesizer. New Monuments pays homage to “all those who tirelessly organize and resist against insurmountable headwinds”. To be sure, the propulsive presence of repetition, mantra, and call-and-response patterns instantly elicit a protest at its peak, and what remains is an ensemble ecology that fluctuates between consonance and collision.

As bandleader, Kidambi takes an organizer’s approach to composition and improvisation by providing ample space for collective interplay; what the listener is left with is a music without detritus, as disparate as the lived experiences the artist is invested in. “In order to achieve liberation, we must first be able to imagine it,” Kidambi writes. This is where artists have a role to play, where we can improvise, using our creativity to envision radical alternatives”. Above all, New Monuments is a call to action with nothing left unsaid: it demands that the drive towards change should not only be seen, but heard.


1. Third Space 09:04
2. Farmer’s Song 12:26
3. New Monuments 13:51
4. The Great Lie 08:06

Label: We Jazz / WJLP65
Medium: LP
Category: .


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