January 26, 2016

1,000,001 CDs 6: Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad 
CD cover detail
detail photo by Styrous®

In the late '90's, I would go downtown from one of the Mission Street BART stations. In the cavernous underground entrance, street musicians would perform. This is where I first encountered Thoth. Each encounter was an amazing experience; he would sing, play the violin and with bells around his ankles, dance; all at the same time. Not only that but he sang in a language he created, the language of the Festad, a mythical people and land in his "Solopera", a one-man opera. And he sang all the roles including the female ones. His magnificent voice ranges from a deep baritone to a brilliant countertenor. It was a mind blower, to be sure. 

I saw him perform many times and on one occasion I bought this CD album, Tone Poems of the Festad; it was just as amazing to listen to it as it was to watch him perform. I subsequently bought many of his other albums but the first one I bought, The Herma (see link below), is my favorite.

There is a review on Amazon of this CD by that does it far better justice than I can. I have included excerpts from his review but if you would like to see the complete one, there is a link to it below.    

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad 
CD cover photo by Jennifer Leigh Sauer
graphic design by Than Wilson
photo by Styrous®

 Review of Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad by :   
An amazing musician, an amazing, performer, an amazing dancer, an amazing street artist who performs in the tunnel in Central Park in New York! His music is a pure creation of his mixed roots and origins. His father was a Jewish doctor and his mother a Barbudan musician and dancer. That mixture of two ethnic origins, two cultures, two worlds in one man is fascinating.  
He is all rhythm and he is all pitch and he is all tempo and he is all music. He is absolutely able to jump from his normal tenor voice to the falsetto voice of his infancy that he has kept intact in spite of the growing and maturing that kills that voice in a man. You will not understand the language because S.K. THOTH seems to have invented it from the various languages he used to listen to, hear and learn and he still knows. What he is trying to do is to build a full and different world only with music and a voice and that he can do, he knows how to do. His violin can compete with the best Bohemian or Yiddish violins on any skyscraper roof in any big metropolis-like universal global city. 

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad 
CD back
graphic design by Than Wilson
photo by Styrous®

The reverberation of some notes, the sobbing of some others, the two voices of one artist who is both man and woman, lover and lover, beloved and beloved, merge without disappearing, without being overflowed into the very sad and nostalgic musical landscape.  

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad
photo by Styrous®

about Thoth

Thoth was born Stephen Kaufman in New York City around 1956. His father was a Russian Jew, and his mother was from Barbados. His mother was the first African-American timpani player for the New York City Opera, and Thoth was exposed to classical music at a young age. His mother's connections allowed him access to education from professional musicians, among them Harry Glickman, longtime violinist with the NBC Orchestra. Kaufman holds a degree in comparative literature from San Francisco State University

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad
photo by Styrous®

In 1987, he began busking under the name S.K. Thoth. In 1991, he formed a band called “THOTH” with Michael Chiaravelotti. After the band dissolved in 1998, Thoth began performing solo and created an original epic opera, THE HERMA: The Life and Land of Nular-in based on a mythical land called the Festad which he has been writing about since a child (see link below). 

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad
photo by Styrous®

In 1999, Thoth moved to NYC where he continued writing and performing the opera at the Bethesda Terrace Arcade, a place he dubbed the Angel Tunnel. He claims that “THE HERMA” is the first new opera of the millennium having been created and recorded from 1999-2002. In 2001, director Sarah Kernochan made a documentary short about his life called  “THOTH” which won the 2002 Academy Award.  

Thoth ~ Tone Poems of the Festad
photo by Styrous®

Track listing:

All songs by S.K. Thoth

1 - Nular-In's Walkabout Theme, Pt. 1 - 3:24
2 - Irmael - 3:10
3 - Soltar Dance - 2:48
4 - Garden of Denizili - 1:58
5 - Gulek Waltz - 3:00
6 - The Love Between Yetol-Ma & Deni-Sa - 13:59
7 - The March Up the Telar Isthmus - 3:46
8 - Climbing Mt. Irma - 4:00
9 - Black Irish III: Solo Redux (Interlude) - 2:39
10 - The Dream of Qaru-Va - 2:26
11 - Fire Dance - 2:49
12 - Farewell to the Land of Ma - 1:20    
13 - The Death of Qaru-Va - 2:37    
14 - Burnt Offering of Sacred Herbs - 2:51
15 - The Festad - 4:10    
16 - Nular-In's Walkabout Theme, Pt. 2 - 5:33

Release Date June 18, 2007

Thoth on the Net: 
Thoth ~ The Herma: Act One             
Thoth in Barcelona ~ Déjà vu all over again               

Thoth website         
Thoth performing from The Festad on YouTube   
Thoth Wandrly Magazine interview
LA Times article   
Metroactive article     
Newsreview article        

Styrous® ~ Tuesday, January 26, 2016 

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