We sometimes come across fascinating artists we might not have encountered through the tireless efforts of discriminating publicists, in this case a small but significant source called Howlin' Wuelf Media. Howard has turned us on to many great musicians far from the mainstream that have had something amazing to offer, frequently with large underground followings.

Mia Doi Todd has a singular pulse and vision that we found hypnotic and otherworldly on this, her seventh recording, GEA. Not otherworldly in some spacey sense, far from it. GEA is rooted in the natural world, seemingly unfettered by technology and even commerce, and not naively. She started composing music in her days at Yale, and upon graduating in '97, friends in the band Further recorded a CD in one day of her material, The Ewe and The Eye, and put it out on their label. It brought her to NYC, and was the first of three minimally produced, acoustic-based recordings.

Two more-produced efforts followed (the first one for the Columbia Jazz label that involved Mitchell Froom and Yves Beauvais), then a CD of remixes by various DJs, and now GEA, a return to her command of the nylon string guitar and a more acoustic approach. But the rather astounding arrangements by multi-instrumentalist and composer Miguel Atwood-Ferguson take the record to places few go. The artist produced, with both Ferguson and Carlos Nino, and the three have turned out something we've not heard the likes of for a long time.

Aside from being a fine musician and a truly original writer, Mia Doi Todd is a great singer, a dancer, a painter and a poet. Since our culture runs largely on hip hop, American Idol and Survivor, that's what I mean by otherworldly. Mia's coming from a very magical place that has to be experienced. You can catch her on tour with another great right now, Jose Gonzales. But do be sure to sample the clips linked at the end of our interview with the essential Mia Doi Todd.

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