Indie Music, Reviews

Dawn of a New Masterpiece: Christopher Tin’s Calling All Dawns (Review)

September 30, 2009 | | 5 Comments Share thison Facebook Dawn of a New Masterpiece: Christopher Tin’s Calling All Dawns (Review)on Twitter

Around the end of August, we reported on the pre-sale of “Calling All Dawns,” Christopher Tin’s debut original album. We were quite excited about the project with the announcement of twelve languages across twelve tracks and the inclusion of Tin’s “Baba Yetu,” used in Civilization IV.

October 1st is right upon us, Calling All Dawns is ready for release, and OSV has been fortunate enough to receive an early copy.

Take the jump to read our review of Christopher Tin’s Calling All Dawns!

Calling All Dawns is Tin’s debut album, but let me tell you, you would never guess so had you not been informed of it beforehand. The album is of highest quality production-wise, with over 200 musicians lending their talents from all over the world. Now if that in itself doesn’t sound impressive, some of that talent includes The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, 4 different choirs and even a team of Maori men performing the haka, an ancient ritual from New Zealand. Now that’s quite the debut, don’t you think? And we haven’t even gotten onto the tracks yet!

The CD tells a musical story of the cycle of life, with the songs being in 3 movements representing Day, Night and finally Dawn: which can also be seen as Birth, Death and Rebirth.

We start with the famous “Baba Yetu,” the song featured in Civilization IV. The song is actually The Lord’s Prayer translated into Swahili. Anyone who played CivIV knows how fantastic this song is already, with the Soweto Gospel Choir doing a wonderful job. The song slowly builds up, from the pleasant humming to an epic masterpiece with horns and strings. This song has grown to become one of my favorite songs I’ve ever heard, and for good reason; it makes you smile, think, and appreciate what is around you, all through the music alone. Quite an achievement!

“Mado Kara Mieru” (Through the Window I See) is a Japanese song. It is a haiku, telling the story of all the seasons: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter and Spring again, a metaphor for the life cycle. What I like most about this song is that it fully showcases how good female Japanese vocals can be. Many people associate female Japanese singer with only overly high pitch pop singers, which is a shame, cause like you hear in this song, Japanese vocalists can have plenty of range and diversity that you won’t hear in J-pop. From the soothing whispers of spring, to the cold choir of winter, this song defines “epic” in its modern l33t-speak usage, with the orchestra in full effect taking you through all the seasons. My favorite part is the whispering spring section, which reminds me of the theme song of Private Nurse, the Japanese adult visual novel. Not sure if Tin ever expected one of his songs to be compared to such material, but there you go.

An interesting note is that if you go back to “Baba Yetu,” you can actually pick up parts of the melody used in “Mado Kara Mieru” also in “Baba Yetu.” By each time you listen through the album, the more you realize the unity of the all the songs.

The next piece is “Dao Zai Fan Ye,” a Mandarin song (Mandarin being the language of mainland China). Just a sidenote is that I actually took Cantonese lessons couple of years ago, which is the Hong Kong-based dialect, but I always loved the sound of Mandarin. This song has some wonderful harmonized vocals, and the composition is quite “angelic,” for lack of a better term.

“Se E Pra Vir Que Venha,” the fourth track, is sung in Portuguese. The female singer here has such a powerful voice. I believe her name is Dulce Pontes, and she is apparently quite famous in her native country – I can see why. The song itself is quite energetic, with the lyrics reflecting that nothing can stop you from living life to its fullest. Rhythmic African drumming, reflections of “Baba Yetu,” flute and piano makes this quite a powerful track. And what a voice! The track brings me back to my time spent in Brazil, though they speak in different Portuguese dialects, a lot is shared between them. Great great track.

Next is a French song called “Rassemblons-Nous.” This is the song that feels most modern overall on the CD. The song is more fast-paced and also has some electronic backing. The vocalist on this track does a fantastic job, it seems Tin really nailed it when it came to vocal talents on this album. They all portray strength and soul unlike most music I’ve heard. The song feels a bit cinematic.

“Lux Aeterna” is a song sung in Latin, though most of the song is actually instrumental, with heavy emphasis on harp. A relaxing, beautiful track. Reminds me a bit of the material on Final Fantasy IV‘s arranged album Celtic Moon.

“Caoineadh” is a traditional Irish song, and signals the beginning of the Death portion of the life cycle. You quickly notice the darker approach here, with the female vocals sounding eerie, like that of an ancient funeral dirge. It’s actually quite powerful and moving musically, and really grabs your attention and heart. “Hymn Do Trojcy Swietej” is a Polish song; the title means “Hymn To The Holy Trinity.” The song is a Catholic hymn which you quickly notice as the song is more religious sounding than the other tracks, fitting the cathedral nature of the song. Again as said many times, great vocals here. So powerful.

“Hayom Kadosh” is a Hebrew song, and it representing the beginning of Dawn, which is stretched over four songs strung together seamlessly. It’s the shortest track, but it’s really pleasant and spiritual, perfectly representing a new day. You will notice a lot of familiar melodies in this song, before sliding into “Hamsafar,” sung in Farsi (Persian). Full of positive energy and hope, this song fills you with a good feeling. It’s amazing how music can have such an immediate impact on how you feel.

“Sukla-Krsne” starts right off with a bang with our harmonized female vocals coming right into play. A lot of this song is shared with the French song we heard earlier, but here with a middle eastern twist to it, and the ending of this track, phenomenal. The song is sung in Sanskrit, a traditional language from India and the basis of many Indian languages, including Hindi. The title comes from chapter 8 verse 26 of the Bhagavad Gita. In many ways, it is a popular verse, equivalent to the Bible’s John 3:16. “Sukla” means “light,” and “Krsne” means “darkness.”

The last track is a Maori blessing, “Kia Hora Te Marino.” A really warm, liberating song, with the chants alongside the wonderful choir filling you with a sense of warmth and welcoming you to a new day. The song flows into the first track, “Baba Yetu,” if you have the album on loop, bringing about a renewal of the cycle, the experience works perfectly. Brilliant, and absolutely beautiful.

What can I honestly say to properly convey the absolute brilliance of this CD? I feel I can’t find the words strong enough to tell you how stunning this CD is. It’s an album with an important message of unity and bond that we all share, it takes you through a world stretched musical travel like no other CD before it, and showcases not only the amazing talent of Tin’s compositions, but also the worldwide talent of musicians he has brought along. It makes you realize how big this world is, and how important it is to unite together and be friends, and not let our daily rituals cloud our view of how rich this world is. It might sound overly dramatic for just a CD, but it only tells you how strong the music is. It makes you think and appreciate.

Highly recommended, and amazing impressive.

(Though, next time Mr. Tin, please do a Norwegian track. I’d sing it for you, but sadly I sound like Donald Duck singing Barry White songs at a karaoke bar!)

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