There’s a calm, hands-on energy in this track from Calima Shatiday’s 2009 release, Poolside II. It’s the kind of music that, yes, would work for the pool—a sunny day, a light breeze, a frosty drink in hand—but this one veers toward another kind of territory: the meditative space.

I’m not saying that your masseuse will be playing Do Tell amid the fragrant oils while leaning into that one spot by your shoulder blade where you always seem to carry some tension—although, should that happen, this music could help. The raspy, white-noisy electronic percussion and a couple of attention-grabbing synth breaks take it out of the “space music” category and off the massage therapy playlist. The music is more likely to leak in from the studio next door, where some centered somebody is painting or developing photos, or maybe even writing. I’m typing in time to it right now.

Part of what gives the tune that centered quality is the play of opposites between its slow-motion EDM groove (about 96 bpm) and the lead melody, which is less a melodic statement than a rhythmic game of catch, tossing notes here and there in triplets and other just-off-the-beat figures, an impressionist syncopation in a kalimba-like timbre. Somewhere in the middle, a jazz organ pulls out a stop or two. What feels meditative about all this is the lack of drama. The music stays true to its good, simple intentions.

Back to that “slow-motion EDM” reference: a listener can easily imagine (or perform) languid, frame-by-frame dance moves to this song. What Shatiday pulls off here is a transparency that lets you in. You can almost see through the music to the story the composer was telling himself as he created it.

That’s quite a feat of artistry.

Jim Howard

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