This Album Changed My Life: Alice Coltrane – Journey In Satchidananda (1971)
Sanae Yamada, of Vive la Void and Moon Duo, on the album that opened doors for her
Sanae Yamada: “Listening to Journey In Satchidananda gives me a sensation that is closest in texture to that of looking at the ocean or staring into the structure of a leaf.”
I don’t remember the first time I heard this record. It seemed to just ignite in my consciousness where it hadn’t been before. I was a teacher at the time, living in San Francisco, and was very focused on writing fiction. My life was on the cusp of a massive transition, a total change of axis from literature to music.
When I look back from here it seems so clear – how the things I wanted to express needed music as a medium – but at the time I was confused and searching. This album seemed to burn through the fog like a signal fire. It sounds cliché to say I didn’t know music could do this, but in my case, it is also true.
Listening to Journey In Satchidananda gives me a sensation that is closest in texture to that of looking at the ocean or staring into the structure of a leaf – that opening of a doorway on to something vast and boundless.
Alice Coltrane - Journey In Satchidananda
The instruments weave together and apart in a balance of chaos and harmony that feels so elemental, so natural: droning tambura, cascading harp, pulsating piano and wandering sax among flutters and rustling of percussion and drums.
And the negative space – the negative space here is extraordinary. It’s like a depiction of infinity by way of absence. This record makes me feel like I am brushing up against the mystery; it continually fuels my desire to make music by showing me, again and again, what kind of power music can harness.
In conversation with Niall Byrne
The debut eponymous Vive la Void album came out earlier this year. Moon Duo’s Occult Architecture two-part album was released last year, both on Sacred Bones.