New York collective approaches transcendence while nimbly avoiding New Age mush
New York-based violin maestro Hannah Thiem is the driving force behind Copal, a musical collective that draws inspiration from the vague but recognizable tropes collectively referred to as "world music". Most tunes feature Thiem's fluid violin at their center; lead track "Roots" provides a good example of the group's template. Other elements -- varied percussion, lilting Middle-Eastern rhythms, the occasional non-English vocal -- provide seasoning. The six-song set clocks in at over 37 minutes, so individual tunes have plenty of room to stretch and breathe, but the propulsive drums and snaky, sinuous melodies ensure that the energy rarely flags. Some songs, notably the dreamy "Ether" and closing track "Shadows", with its hypnotic rhythms, approach something like transcendence without ever sinking into New Age mush.