Ka Baird (former Resident) returns to Roulette to perform an extended version of their new release Bearings: Soundtracks for the Bardos, out through RVNG on March 22. This new album intertwines elements of the New York based vocalist, multi-instrumentalist, and composer’s ecstatic live performances within minimalistic, visceral compositions that expand in scope and sound through collaboration. The album’s eleven movements manifest as shapeshifting invocations defined by their own multiplicity; the emotional outcome of circumstance and grief, played against rigorous conceptualism and musical craft.
Bearings is a meeting of streams; where the theatricality and spirituality of art reckon with impermanence and embrace the cycle of life and death. Named in part after the text The Great Liberation Through Hearing in the Bardo (more commonly known as Bardo Thodol or The Tibetan Book of the Dead), the album is divided into eleven gates, bardos, or “in-betweens,” each of which sonically represent states of suspension or experiential gaps. Bearings proposes these ongoing states of displacement and precarity – the suspension of one’s bearings – and the search for meaning within its flowing, intoxicating forms. In Ka’s words, “We are always in a bardo because impermanence never takes a break. ”
Enlisting a cast of contributors including Andrew Bernstein (alto saxophone), Max Eilbacher (flute processing, electronics), Greg Fox (percussion), gabby fluke-mogul (violin), Henry Fraser (contrabass), Joanna Mattrey (viola), John McCowen (contra clarinet), Camilla Padgitt-Coles (bowls, waterphone) Troy Schafer (strings), Chris Williams (trumpet), Nate Wooley (trumpet), and their beloved cat, Nisa (purrs) to create a collective hum and thrum, Ka and company create sprawling minimalist densities, punctuated by abrupt starts and stops, complex harmonics and textures, percussive flourishes, and a single, cyclical lyrical phrase: “Here. Disappear. Poof!” Ka considers the album to be a deviant nod to a song cycle, throughout which certain motifs are repeated in different configurations. In the album’s sonic lexicon, a trumpet blast signifies a birth or death, or a distant string motif denotes a memory. Bearings is a durational work of profound abstraction and focus, within which sonorous elements, structure, and meaning reach a single, unified form. This amounts to nothing short of a creative high-water mark for one of the most dynamic and uncompromising artists working in the landscape of music today.
Ka will be joined by Henry Fraser, Chris Williams, Joanna Mattrey and gabby fluke-mogul for this live and expanded version of the recording.
A livestream will be available free of charge at 8pm on the day of the performance and archived for future viewing. Watch below or on YouTube.