Review | Songlines

Tear in the River

Rating: ★★★

View album and artist details

Album and Artist Details


Roy Sunak




Berlin-based bansuri player Roy Sunak's debut album, Tear in the River, can’t be faulted musically, even if its concept – a tear falls into a river, ‘experiences excitement and joy as well as fear and anxiety… overcomes obstacles on the journey and new friendships are formed’ – is as elusive as it is fanciful and never quite fully realised. Both idea and execution feel like a throw-back (sincere and well-meaning though it is) to some of the more idiosyncratic indulgences of New-Ageism in the 1960s.

Variously coupled with Youjin Sung's gayageum (Korean zither) and a makeshift jazz trio of percussion, piano and bass, Sunak's facility on the bansuri is fluid, flexible and technically sound, timbres by turns satisfyingly meditative and evocative. It's at its most distilled in the delicate, melancholy dialogue with gayageum in opening track ‘Wind’ and in the affecting take on Rivka Gvili's sweet hymnal, ‘Song for the Hyacinth’, where Yogev Shetrit's drum and Nora Thiele's percussion add discrete underpinning. Daniel Meron's piano, Avri Borochov's bass and Sunak's wordless vocals lend lead single, ‘Berceuse Pour le Petit Jean Pierre’, an enchanting lullaby-like quality. The title-track foregrounds the liltingly poetic bansuri against an animated jazz riff. Album closer ‘Swan at Sunset’ again satisfyingly pairs Sung's shimmering gayageum with Sunak's elegantly breathed bansuri.

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