Album of the Week: Susan Alcorn | The Heart Sutra (Arranged by Janel Leppin)

Genre defying, instrument defying, defiant and wholly captivating music from legendary pedal steel player Susan Alcorn and guests.

The guests:

Anthony Pirog : guitar
Janel Leppin : cello, modified cello
Jessika Kenney : vocals
Eyvind Kang : viola
Skúli Sverrisson : bass
Doug Wieselman : clarinet, bass clarinet

This music moves like an endless river flowing through time, through geography, through culture as effortlessly as, well, water.

I’m a fan of Terry Riley, Arvo Pärt, Ali Akbar Khan, and Giacinto Scelsi (among countless others) and if any of those names ring more than a bell in your brain, The Heart Sutra is here for you. Just give a listen to Track 5, “Suite for Ahl” and I guarantee your head will be nodding “Yes” in under a minute flat.

If you choose to go deeper, you may begin to wonder where you are. I love when that happens.

Although her music has no words we feel her compassionate loving heart
Master of the arts, a legend, a healer
Working, always working without pay
Fighting for what the world considers to be nothing
Moving beyond the brutal limitations of tradition here, I feel free
When the feeble implements of man deny me,
I focus transit of the imagination on the infinite and discover worlds yet dreamed of.

–Lyrics by Janel Leppin (for Susan Alcorn)

The Heart Sutra recently saw a new vinyl release which is why it just hit my radar. The record was originally released on Paris, France-based label Ideologic Organ in May of 2020, but it sure feels like it was made for now. Right now.