Yoga Music Pick #4

Posted: June 29, 2011 in Yoga
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In the fall of 1995, Rheostatics were asked by the National Gallery of Canada to write and perform a 40 minute piece of music honoring the Group of Seven’s 75th anniversary. With Kevin Hearn (Barenaked Ladies) joining the band on piano and samples, they conceived the piece over two weeks and performed it at the Gallery Theatre in front of projected paintings and era film footage of landscapes and the depression.  Cool, right?  Little did they also know at the time that they were also conceiving one hell of a kick ass album with which to do yoga.

I’m not sure I would have ever thought of pulling out a Rheostatics album while practicing my yoga.  I mean, what with all the crazy rock star themes, old time hockey references and random alien abductions, well, it’s just not very ‘Zen’ like is it?  But consider this; the ‘Group of Seven’ was founded in 1920 as an organization of self-proclaimed modern artists. The original members – Franklin Carmichael, Lawren Harris, A.Y. Jackson, Franz Johnson, Arthur Lismer, J.E.H. MacDonald and F.H. Varley – befriended each other in Toronto between 1911 and 1913.  All except Harris, who was independently wealthy, made their living as commercial artists, and several of them even worked together in the same shop. Tom Thomson, another commercial artist, was included in this circle of friends, but since he died in 1917 he never became a member of the Group.  He was important to the other artists, however, for he was an avid outdoorsman and awakened their interest in painting the rugged northern Ontario landscape.  They were initially drawn together by a common sense of frustration with the conservative and imitative quality of most Canadian art.

So, on that note, the Rheostatics have attempted to orchestrate an appropriate musical accompaniment to tribute these premiere Canadian landscape artists.  And if that doesn’t get your yoga juices flowing I don’t know what does.  None of the twelve pieces are titled on the album cover lending to an almost cryptic aspect to the album.  A Rheostatics fan site, however, has compiled a set of unofficial titles for the tracks which is commonly accepted by the band’s fans.  It’s this mystical nature that I find most appealing and a welcome mental distraction while I practice my Garudasana (Eagle Pose).  The tracks are joined together with small snippets from an interview with Winchell Price, a fine painter and masterful storyteller from Victoria, BC, which makes the 40 minutes or so a rather unique introspective experience.

This album combines everything I like to hear while doing my yoga: dreamy floating melodies, an interesting historical relevancy, and a rich mental imagery with which to get lost in.  Namaste.

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