Shyama
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"Music Review by Julian Gorman"

With globalization, music has followed suit in its evolution. Fusion has entered a sort of fractal renaissance, with artists forming music with the old and new, creating a niche out of no specific style at all, through pastiche. Now-a-days it seems ethnocentric to associate music regionally, as we can skip across the globe in seconds with our ears and a good connection. So how do you fashion music made for the sake of deconstructionism, not a particular genre or style, but a philosophical statement? Alfred Lawrence calls it Shyama: not alternative, not electronica, not rock, not classical, rather a hodge-podge of everything, a musical archive, extending far into the past, reaching beyond to the future, attempting to forge new calcinatory genre transmuted out of sound alchemy. 9 Moons Walking is an album not to be listened to carelessly, not to be understood on the first few plays. Just when the music feels comfortable and familiar, the safe place is purposely taken, exposing the listener to vulnerable states of mind. The music has the power to encourage one to the point of ecstasy, and then the humility to strip it all away, leaving the listener naked in the elements of the strange, the unfamiliar and challenging.
Every time an institution of music is mimicked, Shyama is certain to dismantle it, turn it inside out, and expose the raw structure. It is fierce, informed, unafraid and on a mission.
I may not have made it clear how this is a work of deconstructionist philosophy. It is difficult to put one’s finger on a philosophical genre that doesn’t translate well into English. I compare it to French theory as that is my comfort zone. However, the idea also resides in the hearts and minds of Hindu philosophy. This ability to understand interconnection, yet to identify singularities without submitting to nielism or pessimism is indeed a rare perspective. So much so, that more often then not the loudest practitioners thereof are the most confused. Alfred is real. His intention, his artistic growth, his journey and struggle to survive is eminent in the music. I have much respect for the darker warnings, but my preference is with the positive. The song Sonic Aura sings in my soul. This sort of theme is the kind of thing I like to wake up to, or get psyched up with for intense days. And this isn’t sappy happiness; this is charismatic energy that had to be fought for. Like many of the modern genius this era, Shyama shared the pain of his creativity being feared by institutional professional opinions. There is a real danger in modern society all over the world of silencing our artists with medication, therapy, and even extrication from culture itself. When you listen to this music, know that it almost didn’t happen. It may seem strange to you at first, but remember that no matter where in the world you are, speech is an inalienable right, a gift, a true birthright. Shyama could have just as easily been shut-up in some padded room somewhere, a so-called doctor deeming his expression not fit for the rest of us, as he was unwillingly institutionalized. I dare anyone out there to listen to 9 Moons Walking and tell me that this sort of creative adventure isn’t vital to the evolution of music as we know it. It amazes me that the best treatment for the mentally unbalanced is a small room with lots of doctors watching you, feeding you full of medications the professionals wouldn’t dare to even try. Why aren’t any of these people given instruments, creative supplies, and ways to express and vent the swirling storm inside? Weren’t the best geniuses always one foot on the ground, one in the stars? As a fellow artist who was poisoned by so-called doctors, I too had to free myself with poverty and ascetic living. However, I wish I would have been half as cool about it as Alfred, whom burned all his possessions, was institutionalized, walked with the homeless and Hare Krishna, and learned, used his sorrow to rebuild his life. I mention all this out of shear respect. It is important talk about rehabilitation, not as a place one goes to, but as a way one changes their life. It is because of his struggle that Alfred is now some sort of mystical musical sage. Shyama walks the forefront lines with his hyper creativity, so much so, that it was considered dangerous. The real message is for fellow artists: it could happen to you! If one doesn’t disguise the message correctly so that those whom are meant to hear get it, and those who would only abuse the wisdom, do not hear. This album is finally a balanced synthesis to a chaotic upcoming in the underground. Shyama juggles political messages with social stigma, love songs with analytical observations, there is little left unreferenced in hazy Roger Waters-esque vocals that wave in and out of existence. The average pop fan will be thrown for a loop by the ADD like changes and remixing, both a compliment and a complication. My attention span enjoys the insanity. However, tranquil minds might be left reeling. But that’s a good thing, this is tough love music. Occasionally the sliding vocals do not resolute as perfectly as they could, however at other times it is the kick-ass Aussy diphthongs that appeal. The strain of pain can be heard in the higher register, as the inflection is forced from the throat; Lawrence would be wise to back off the grainy tenor intensity, and fall back to his fuller baritone sound, which seems more natural for sustaining his voice for years to come. Pain has been “done” so much, that now quality of communication should be valued over self-destructive artists and I worry about his voice somewhat. The depth and tone of the vocals on Ugly Place and the raw bass on Master Undertaker are darkly seductive, only leaving me wishing more time was spent holding out bellowing low notes, listening over and over. The lyrics of the latter especially make good use of deep color to convey the intensity of the message. “And if you’re looking for a job with Satan, you’ll find all the good jobs are taken.” It’s this sort of insight, an ability to see the good and bad, head to toe the social ills and irks, that makes 9 Moons Walking an incredible trip through sociological microcosms, each song a world unto its own. Abandon what made you feel safe in music and it may just help save your life one day. Consider every side of life equally and it would sound like Shyama.

Julian Gorman

- Review You


"Music Review by Mike Morgan"

Hearing Shyama with virgin ears, four words came to mind: outer-space-folk-cowboy. Perhaps it's the poetry-laced pictures he paints with his words, combined with the smooth bass croak (hear the refrain 'my Lordy lord, my Lordy lord' on one of the stronger tracks and album opener "Against the Grain") of his voice reminiscent of Iggy Pop. But then as you transcend further into the 13 track record, Nine Moons Walking, you hear the other side of his vocal range breaching tenor. Who is this outer space existential cowboy-philosopher anyway?

Shyama, whose real name is Alfred Lawrence, did stints in groups , Acoustic Black and then Incast, starting back in the early nineties, playing what is described as goth punk around local pubs in the Melbourne, Australia area. Growing tired of this scene and with the death of Kurt Cobain, Mr. Lawrence had an epiphany and rid of all his worldly possessions, effectively setting himself free, homeless, and then institutionalized in the process. Eventually, he found a place for himself in society and began writing his own journey through his music. Hence, his concept album, Nine Moons Walking.

To say that Nine Moons Walking "ain't no party music, ain't no foolin around" (to borrow a phrase) would be an understatement. It really is meant for solo consumption. The pensive instrumentals like "Tomorrow's Yesterday" carry with them a lonesome feeling, a personal quest for God. "Valley of Death" carries this quest further into the record. The domesticity of "Menial Man" tries to find meaning and solace in the banality of life, with its country/folk saddled guitars and repetitive backbeat and refrain: "let's give a hand to the menial man cos he does the jobs that no one else can."

A high point in this 13-track quest is "Chemical Arrest." Its timing and mood in the record reminds me of Pink Floyd's The Wall when Pink awakens in his apartment and starts thrashing his worldly goods around his apartment; a restless stare into the face of Mortality. Another burst of sunshine book-ended by instrumental interludes "Goodness,Passion,Ignorance parts 2 and 3" is "Sonic Aura" with its melodic optimism and crystalline acoustic whims. "Inertia" is Shyama's folk rap on politics, religion, discrimination and the like: "Ignorance is bliss until it gets to this."

There is a new age sound that I find particularly appealing about Shyama's music. It's definitely the combination of classical instruments, use of what sounds like harpischord on tracks like "Goodness, Passion and Ignorance" Parts 1 and 2, along with his crystalline electro-acoustic rings that are prevalent throughout the record. The introspective bent to the songs also gives the record a psychedelic feel. There aren't really any pop gems to mine on this record. In many ways, Nine Moons Walking is almost too eclectic in terms of its sonic originality and twisty instrumental interludes to be considered for pop airplay. But this should not distract the weary and curious listener looking for original work, soothing sounds with new age edges and psychedlic rings.

Mike Morgan - Review You


"Shyama Releases Debut Album “Nine Moons Walking” To Critical Acclaim"

http://www.mi2n.com/press.php3?press_nb=122850

Url: http://www.myspace.com/shyamasongs

Sound: http://www.audioloom.com/Public/Shyama/SonicAura.mp3


Australian artist Shyama has burst onto the scene with his new album “Nine Moons Walking”, a concept album representing Shyama’s transition from punk to monk. This record of self discovery and enlightenment has drawn comparisons to Pink Floyd, Frank Zappa and more. He’s been called a “outer space folk cowboy” (M.Morgan) in an attempt to describe the indescribable. Shyama’s scrupulous composing fuses orchestral and electronica with edgy alternative rock. The music explores deep and meaningful lows through to ecstatic highs. His thought-provoking lyrics promote a concentrated examination of the human condition. His songs have been called truly original (couerdazure.com) and have place highly at recent songwriting competitions. All this has not come easy.


"not alternative, not electronica, not rock, not classical, rather a hodge-podge of everything, a musical archive, extending far into the past, reaching beyond to the future, attempting to forge new calcinatory genre transmuted out of sound alchemy." - Julian Gorman

It’s been a long journey for Shyama. He bought his first guitar at age 20. He deferred from his graphic design studies a year later to instead pursue music with Stuart Vincent. As Acoustic Black, based in Little River, the duo wrote and performed acoustic rock songs at universities and in pubs around Melbourne and Geelong. Fate would have it that the prodigy drummer they were looking for lived right down the road. Al Barber joined forces with Alfred and Stuart to form Incast.

Their sound developed into Gothic Punk and they found they had a talent for energizing audiences. They were described on the radio as the loudest acoustic band on Earth. Gradually, Shyama became dissatisfied with inciting drunken crowds and suffered from acute insomnia. In the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, he decided to embark on a vision quest. He burned all his possessions in a 'bonfire of purification.' On the streets as a penniless vagabond he searched for a new direction and survived solely on random acts of kindness. He describes his homeless adventures as 'liberating.' Observing from the perimeter, Shyama saw how stressed, rushed and unhappy his fellow humans seemed and he began to feel a deep sadness for those he felt were 'worked and entertained to a pulp.'

His new way of thinking was met with great resistance and he found himself face to face with a psychiatrist looking down the barrel of doing time. As an involuntary patient his rights were stripped. Disagreeing with the doctors' generic, mechanistic opinions he refused medication, but was overpowered by male nurses and forcibly injected with drugs over a one year period. This searching soul reviewed his life and confronted his demons during a period which he describes as 'an epic battle for survival.'

During one of his escape attempts, a chance encounter in Melbourne with a group of chanting and dancing Hare Krishnas uplifted his spirit. They gave him a book which inspired Shyama deeply and he changed his direction once again. His third escape was successful. He hitchhiked over the state border to a Hare Krishna farm and ended up finding harbor in a temple. When Shyama left temple life he decided to record his journey which eventually crystallized into Nine Moons Walking.

Nine Moons Walking is a truly original and emotionally honest work that will appeal to fans of multiple genres, including rock, psychedelic, pop, and alternative music. - Music Industry News Network


Discography

'Nine Moons Walking'
Digital Release Date: April 21st

Photos

Bio

Perceive the world through the eyes of a man with a mind suspended in space and time; one who portrays his sideways perspective of the world through his music. Shyama’s scrupulous composing fuses orchestral and electronica with edgy alternative rock. The music explores deep and meaningful lows through to ecstatic highs. His thought-provoking lyrics promote a concentrated examination of the human condition. This unique solo recording artist produces songs and instrumentals in his home recording studio in Victoria, Australia.
Alfred Lawrence, as he was known in the early nineties, bought his first guitar at age 20. He deferred from his graphic design studies a year later to instead pursue music with Stuart Vincent. As Acoustic Black, based in Little River, the duo wrote and performed acoustic rock songs at universities and in pubs around Melbourne and Geelong. Fate would have it that the prodigy drummer they were looking for lived right down the road. Al Barber joined forces with Alfred and Stuart to form Incast.
Their sound developed into Gothic Punk and they found they had a talent for energizing audiences. Chris Thompson from Triple J heard Incast at an M-Rock competition and invited them to perform Live on the Wireless. They were described on the radio as the loudest acoustic band on Earth.
Gradually, Alfred became dissatisfied with inciting drunken crowds and suffered from acute insomnia. In the wake of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, he decided to embark on a vision quest. He burned all his possessions in a ‘bonfire of purification.’ On the streets as a penniless vagabond he searched for a new direction and survived solely on random acts of kindness. He describes his homeless adventures as ‘liberating.’ Observing from the perimeter, Alfred saw how stressed, rushed and unhappy his fellow humans seemed and he began to feel a deep sadness for those he felt were ‘worked and entertained to a pulp.’
His new way of thinking was met with great resistance and he found himself face to face with a psychiatrist looking down the barrel of doing time. As an involuntary patient his rights were stripped. Disagreeing with the doctors’ generic, mechanistic opinions he refused medication, but was overpowered by male nurses and forcibly injected with drugs over a one year period. This searching soul reviewed his life and confronted his demons during a period which he describes as ‘an epic battle for survival.’
During one of Alfred’s escape attempts, a chance encounter in Melbourne with a group of chanting and dancing Hare Krishnas uplifted his spirit. They gave him a book which inspired Alfred deeply and he changed his direction once again. His third escape was successful. He hitchhiked over the state border to a Hare Krishna farm. After some time, Alfred moved to the Sydney temple where he continued to thrive for four blissful years. His main service was to collect donations for free food distribution. It was during this time he was initiated and received the name Shyamananda.
When Shyama left temple life he decided to record his journey which eventually crystallized into Nine Moons Walking. He reunited with Al Barber who contributed by playing drums and offering his expertise to finalize the mixes. This concept album tells a tale which allegorically expresses and reflects Shyama’s journey from punk to monk and beyond.