Musician Andrew Tumason is a California kid—well, by birth, at least.
You’ll still hear a West Coast tinge in his voice, even if he’s always on the move. When he’s not frequenting Northern New Mexico, you might stumble upon Tumason in Colorado, or in Iceland; you might find him going back-and-forth over the Tasman Sea. As it turns out, the wanderlust is real, and if you go thousands of miles in any direction, you’ll likely find a friend of his. Some might call it restlessness, but such travels make up the soul within the concept album project Hajiko, which Tumason released in June under his musical moniker, Woven Talon—but which he’ll roll out to the larger public this week in Santa Fe.
“Yeah, I’m definitely a nomad,” Tumason tells SFR. “It brought a whole range of style, and [the record] is woven together from that.”
Tumason was classically trained in piano at 8 years old. That grew to include banjo skills, the drums and just about anything else that can produce a note. But Santa Fe’s African-Haitian dance and percussion scene ultimately stole Tumason’s heart, which provided access to the wealth of international sounds that would become the backbone of his musical career.
“A lot of people tell me I should be scoring films,” Tumason says. “That’s an aspiration of mine, and I always wanted to do a score for Dune. But as I grew through the years, I wrote my own story that was inspired by [the novel] Dune, something that ties all these musical styles together. And it became something totally different in the end.”
While Hans Zimmer beat him to the punch on the Dune score front, you’ll still discover a deeply mystical world from Woven Talon that might go even beyond what Dune has to offer. Hajiko is the third in a series of concept records following 2018′s Dreamlines and 2020′s Kahu. It plays like a dreamy and borderline New Age soundscape, each track adding pieces to a triad of stories and lore. On Hajiko, for instance, protagonist Kahu finds themself at the edge of the fictional Indigo dunes. There’s no telling what lies beyond, but before our hero can find out, a character dubbed Grandfather Owl Ruca takes him on a journey to learn the songs of the ancients. In broad strokes, the albums are about the rediscovery of the world belonging to our ancestors—and the wisdom they still have to impart.
To craft a wholly unique musical and narrative world, Hajiko features homemade box instruments constructed from wood and tin by Tumason’s friend, Christian Pyle, at their Prawn & Spanner recording studio in Byron Bay, Australia, where the album was made. Those instruments prove their worth on tracks like “Ruca,” a major centerpiece of the new album’s overall sound. It opens with a familiar sci-fi buzz before giving way to chants and a slide into in an unexpectedly soft melody. Its dramatic tone rings downright cinematic, as if one is wandering through a Kurosawa work or living through an expertly edited montage. An energy rises through the track, as if building toward something celebratory, and when the homemade instruments flare up beside Eastern-influenced strings, a universe flares into existence.
Tumason even created his own language for the songs, and that Tolkein-esqe dedication adds an esoteric sense of freedom. Such steps invite listeners to paint their own picture of the goings-on, but, similarly to how soundtracks and scores can help us identify how to feel, Tumason’s intent remains clear.
No song better showcases the newly-wrought language than “Jhiko,” save album closer “Riya” wherein disparate elements converge for a bit of musical punctuation. Lush and atmospheric, we get the sense our hero Kahu might’ve found what they’re looking for, or discovered something worth living for. Is this self-portraiture, or is it more like a mirror? That one’s up to the listener, even if prompts are everywhere. Album artwork from Maori artist Gene Kelly King, for example, features a retro-futurist Polynesian bent, and backup from Pyle as well as bandmates Brandon Cassidy, Djulz Chambers and Cye Wood delves further into emotive instrumentation with violin and viola, plus the aforementioned custom instruments.
Like discovering a narrative from within a new language, digging deeper into musical meaning is also the listener’s job. There’s a world wherein music from Woven Talon is simple, almost stoner-y—one featuring cool beats and synths that sound pleasant enough on their own. Thankfully, Hajiko blends enough together that meaning is myriad, feeling is commonplace. Did I just become a fan for life?
Hajiko Album Release Party: 6 pm-8 pm Friday, Aug. 12. Free (no cover). Honeymoon Brewery, 907 W Alameda St. (505) 303-3139.