Back before the coronavirus took hold, we had a collaborative event in the works with Denver cosmic jazz group Ramakhandra for the release of their newest single, “Andromeda Soup Dumpling.” The proposed event — a listening party — in conjunction with Yuan Wonton and Colorado Sake Co. was created to bridge the divide between reality and Ramkhandra’s illustrious world. What better way to indulge in the cosmos than surrounded by new friends feasting on dumplings, getting drunk on sake and placing ourselves in the heart of its swirling edifice? But, things changed.
Today is a world away from when “Andromeda Soup Dumping” was conceived. The date of the original listening party has come and gone, and the event itself hangs in perpetual limbo, but the song itself exists. Making its way into this new world, “Andromeda Soup Dumpling” is a beacon of beauty where there’s little to be found. Created as a means for vocalist/harpist Annastezhaa to cope with her mother’s deteriorating illness, the song is topical and devastatingly poignant.
Opening to arpeggiating harp plucks, the song feels like a freefall of which its inevitable conclusion is understood and accepted. Annastezhaa’s silvery voice glides in and out the cloudy sky on the way to demise while Nobodie’s drumming skitters in thrilling arrhythmia between Clato’s pulsating basslines and the atmosphere of Ness’ synthesizers. Ruminating on the balance of mortality — “the sadness of a blossom when it realized The branch could no longer bear its life” has never sounded so at peace with itself.
What plays out feels all at once caught in the crosshairs of philosophy and the friction of finality. The nearly seven-minute opus rises and falls, inhaling and exhaling life, hiccuping and changing course completely as if to illustrate the journey to the end having no clear cut exit. But, it’s there and it’s not going away. The song digs deep into the pains of loss and the teary-eyed saga of coming to terms with it, but paints a picture of hope in the midst of it all. To witness the acceptance, “an empty cloud heave the softest weight,” is a universal pinnacle of suffering — the moment where you simply let go — and in “Andromeda Soup Dumping” that feeling is tangible.
Delays and reschedules being what they may, ultimately “Andromeda Soup Dumpling” couldn’t have come at a better time. In spite of the chaos and confusion of the present day, the song is a moment of pause. As nice as it would have been to take it in with dozens of strangers in a bustling eatery, as previous plans would have dictated, “Andromeda Soup Dumpling” is better served in solidarity — to latch onto the journey Ramakhandra weaves and to experience the comfort at the end firsthand.