ANDRA LJOS: SPICE ROUTES
Tales on favourite spots by our network of fem人le musicians
Inventing mystical stories comes from my childhood. My parents used to put a lot of records with amazing tales on, so I drew pictures in my mind of unseen characters and environments. Intriguing, bewitching, fascinating movies and cartoons played a role as well. It seemed that the most incredible events could have happened so long ago that no one can confirm or deny, and we can only imagine how it looked like.
This is how I started collecting and getting engaged with the stories from my favorite regions, and transforming them into music. Currently, there are soundtracks from Greece, the Sahara, Armenia, which is in progress, and the last one from all over the world. I was looking for the history of a seafarer, or an exotic island, and found out about the Maluku Islands, and of course the history of spices. Each spice conveys not only a historical story, but also a beautiful legend. Here you can get to know them better:
Clove came to us before Christ did. 3742 years ago, a ceramic jar was filled with fragrant buds and forgotten for centuries – in the Syrian city of Terqa; far, far away from the plant’s homeland in the Maluka Islands, Eastern Indonesia.
The custom of taking saffron baths was brought from Persia, by the soldiers of Alexander the Great. Long before Cleopatra fell in love with the ritual, the spice had been spread to Turkey and Greece through Tire and Sidon, the port cities of the mysterious Phoenicians.
Confucius used to eat ginger with every meal. Being one of the first spices exported from Asia to Europe – through the lands of Arabs – in 14th century England raw or preserved ginger was quite less affordable: a pound of the root cost as much as a sheep.
4 ALL SPICE
Native American allspice was brought to Europe onboard the cargo ship la Santa Gallega. It is unclear, however, if some of the odorous treasure could be found on the decks of the other two vessels of Christopher Columbus: caravels la Santa Clara and la Pinta.
From Indochina through Java, across the great expanse of the Indian Ocean, the cinnamon route curved to Africa. And so, the legends of valleys teeming with snakes were born – to live on the Arabic coasts and, from now on, in your dreams.
Graced in the hanging gardens of Queen Semiramis, cardamon started its journey from India in the third millennium BC. For centuries traded along land and Persian Gulf routes – under control of Dilmun Kingdom – in the Bronze Age the seeds finally arrived to the Mediterranian.
7 STAR ANIS
Those sailors of England… Among all they have shipped around the world, star anis is one of the most innocent goods. Unloaded on the European soil in the 16th century for the first time, the 3000-year-old medicine and spice soon began to be traded along the Great Tea Route from China.
First, they had to reach the shores of the shallow lakes guarded by huge and fierce birds. Waiting for their nests to fall from the cliffs followed. With the guards gone, they were finally safe to go cassia picking. “They” – who? Only Arab spices traders know
Andra Ljos is a Vilnius based artist that focuses on soundtrack recordings. Her background as a member of wilderness ambient trio 2muchachos (alongside Vladimir Karpov / X.Y.R.) manifests in the music’s devotional mood and arcane reveries, conjured in mystic solitude at her home studio.
Andra is her mother’s pet name for her and Ljos is Icelandic for ‘light,’ due to having white hair; but combined they create an enlightened presence, channeling the siren frequencies of enchanted thresholds to realms both unreal and, till now, unheard.