“I think musicians have a responsibility to have something to say because people look up to them like (they do) politicians, or like any sort of a leader, “ Carlin suggests. “We are leading people and there’s a responsibility to say something important.”
According to Carlin, the band’s important mission is to create music that represents the “togetherness in darkness we all experience while struggling to find peace.”
“As a yogi I was getting frustrated going into all these yoga studios and hearing, ‘Just breathe… just let go…. just be at peace with yourself … just find peace today.’ I was really agitated, I said, ‘No.’ I don’t want to pretend that all the shit is not happening. I want to understand the core fundamental why it’s happening.”
To understand Avidya’s music one has to anticipate, if not appreciate, this “duality of calm and tension” that defines each song almost completely.
The band’s first album, Tree of Series, was released last summer after a long journey from genesis to metamorphosis. The lead song, Mother and God, for example ushers the record with a melodic thud, followed by a funky sashaying rhythm, overlaid with lyrics and melody that speed through. Lyrical and musical phrasings are distinctly at odds but not out of place.
Immediately one is forewarned that the listener would not be taking a trip along the predictable path of pop jazz. It feels nervous and agitated and proceeds this way until it hits a slower string of notes that Carlin frequently uses to emphasize an awareness or thought, usually in a smoother, soothing semi ballad.
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Avidya & The Kleshas
Personal suffering is cliché. At least that’s how Stephanie Carlin, a Brooklyn based singer-songwriter, chooses to describe what almost all of the entire world’s population is vigorously trying to avoid or to alleviate.
In explaining her personal alignment with eastern philosophy, Carlin refers to the five basic sources of tumult in one’s life: ignorance, ego, attachment to material things, fear of pain and fear of death. Collectively known as “kleshas” in the ancient Hindu language of Sanskrit, they are, according to the vocalist, “hindrances to enlightenment” and the primary reasons why “we can’t be happy or peaceful all the time.” Avidya (ignorance) is at the top of that list and the precursor to all the other Kleshas.
Ignorance of course is more of verb than it is a noun. It is less the state of not knowing as it is a refusal to know or to acknowledge a universally held truth or a common experience. It may be exhibited in one’s prideful insistence that one is intrinsically unique and therefore, one’s experiences are altogether original.
The band’s name, Avidya & The Kleshas, to a great degree signifies Carlin’s attempt to merge her musical and spiritual journeys to enlightenment, showcasing not just the expected pleasures that she encounters but the uncomfortable dissonance as well.
That our connectedness exists as much in our spirit’s rhythmic discord as it does in harmony is a lesson she lets vibrate in her music. Thus music for Avidya & The Kleshas is both a teaching, educational and relational medium, not just a collection of danceable, swingable but otherwise hollow, notes.