Sis is singer and multi-instrumentalist Jenny Gillespie Mason. Founder of Native Cat Recordings, which has turned out albums by Bay Area artists Luke Temple, Brijean, and John Vanderslice, Mason has turned once again to her own music with a new EP called Gnani.
Gnani (January 2022, Native Cat Recordings) arrives at the culmination of a lifelong journey of being a musician, working with collaborators near and far in studios across the country. Most of Gnani, however, was recorded at Mason's home studio in Berkeley, CA.
The true work behind Gnani was to seek a new wholeness through song. Inspired by the uncompromising spiritual jazz of Alice Coltrane—the kind of music that seems to wordlessly get at a human life's divine strivings—Mason set to write a new work to reach that deeper place within herself and to heal. Not only to heal from the wreckage of the collective years 2020-21, but to join together the sometimes fragmented paths as mother, wife, artist, and individual.
Using vintage keyboards such as clavinet, Phillicordia, Rhodes, B3 Hammond organ, Farfisa, and ARP Odyssey, she sought to weave an intimate but vibrant sound that fuses private psychedelic journeys with the more joyful group-calls of electro-pop. Working in Ableton and tapping the endless sound vaults of Omnisphere, and drawing on her longtime admiration of Four Tet's synthesis of sampling, loops, and heart-centered compositions, furthered these new sonic explorations.
Bringing in the intuitive and fierce playing of Brijean Murphy (congas, bongos, percussion), and Doug Stuart on bass, brought Gnani to its fullest expression. Reading a quote by Nisargadatta Maharaj one day—"The gnani (the one who knows) does not die, because he was never born" —cinched the album title for Mason, who had been exploring this idea of a timeless nature within both the self and the flow state of creative process. With an intention to heal the listener—while healing herself through the creation of these songs—Sis offers you Gnani.