Brian Harnetty + Thomas Merton :: Words and Silences

Pairing musings of Cisteritan monk and writer Thomas Merton, recorded alone at his Kentucky hermitage in 1967, with magisterial modern classical compositions, Brian Harnetty’s Worlds and Silences, offers, to quote Merton, “the right kind of complexity…a subdued and deep awareness that everything is perplexed.” Reflecting on birdsong, protests in Louisville, the “almost metaphysical” writing of Samuel Beckett, the munitions at Fort Knox, the workings of his tape recorder and more, the nature of the self and more, Merton offers a gentle, patient cadence over Harnetty’s songs, which fold together layers of reeds, piano,  horns, and flute. Along the way, Harnetty and co. melodically nod toward cherish artists from Merton’s own record collection, including Jimmy Smith, Joan Baez, Buck Owens, Louis Armstrong, and John Coltrane, maintaining a calming, curious tenor throughout. A meditation and refuge from the incessant noise of modernity, the record offers harmonious balance between distinct spiritual forces, at work both individually and in multi-layered conversation. | j woodbury

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