Posts Tagged ‘meditation’

Ideologic Organ -  SOMA037 – 17th April 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

The blurbage which accompanies this release was prefaced by a line from Eyvind Kang, stating, ‘The digital release idea has been a kind of lifeline, a way of thinking of music and sound as survivance and meditation’.

We are indeed fortunate: if we think isolation in the age of the global village is difficult, imagine life during previous plague pandemics. One may argue that without the blizzard of (dis)information being disseminated, we’d be in a much better place, but however much we may miss our friends and relatives, things are undoubtedly easier for many – although certainly not everyone – in the Internet age.

Writing from his Berlin sublet, where he says he is ‘here for the duration it seems’ Stephen O’Malley says ‘We are all in these similar boats, together.’ And there is some comfort in all of this. For a time, I’d been concerned that continuing with music reviews in the face of everything was somehow an act which diminished, undermined the gravity of the situation. People are dying, people are alone, unable to leave the house. And here I am spouting opinions about music?

Of course, we need all arts, in particular music, now more than ever, to fill the gaps. And the artists need to keep making music, and not just for financial reasons: artists have a tendency to respond to situations by making art, and my writing about it is part of the dissemination process. And so, after a couple of wilderness weeks where the very act of sitting in front of a screen and keyboard felt like the very definition of futility, I came to see it more of a duty.

The latest material from PHURPA, Hymns of Gyer is one of four new titles on Ideologic Organ.

It’s a low, wheezing, groaning sound that drones and echoes the introduction to Hymns of Gyer. Sounding somewhere between a digeridoo and a zen om chant from deep within a cave, it’s both ominous and meditative.

Enigmatic Russian collective, PHURPA, centred around Alexey Tegin have steadily been building a catalogue of spiritually-focused and other-worldly sounding recordings centred around Bön, Tibet’s oldest spiritual tradition. Hymns of Gyer features four mesmeric vocal drones, and if Sunn O))) did throat singing, it would sound like this.

The slow undulations and the multiple voices, each droning pitch resonating against the others in an endless succession of swells and ebbs, sometimes booming and billowing.

There is no discernible structure or form, but the purpose of these performances is about a different kind of focus: an inner focus, one which achieves a transcendental oneness. ‘0.1 [3]’ and ‘01.3’ yawn and drone on for over a quarter of an hour apiece, with the latter in particular building a dense, low-end breathy intensity, elevating and ululating expansively with an effect that resonates around the lungs. This is incredibly physical music, body music in the most literal sense. It’s impossible to dissect either the sound of its effect. All you can know is that it IS. It rumbles around every inch of your being. It doesn’t speak to or of anything. It just echoes and envelops, and immerses.

Listening with no real expectation, I found my breathing slowed, my pulse slowed. Maybe this was what I needed. Maybe this what we all need. It’s impossible to be prescriptive right now, but the drowning sprawl of Hymns of Gyer very much does offer an oasis of meditative calm.

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Opa Loka Records – OL1902 – 10th May 2019

Christopher Nosnibor

Monsta is a solo project by Boaz Bentur, bass player and producer from north of Israel combining elements from psychedelic music, electronic and experimental.

III is Bentur’s second release as Monsta, and comprises two (very) long tracks, ‘A3’ (28:00) and ‘B3’ (36:54). According to the accompanying text, ‘This album is a part from a series of live psychedelic/meditative sessions performed in special locations and atmospheres when people are lying down on the floor with eyes closed’.

At first, there is nothing, and I forgot I’d even started the thing playing. Then, after a minute or so, a vague sound, barely audible… then something resembling the sound of a distant plane…. The continuous hum swells in volume, but changes barely, if at all. Over time, echoic rumbles and soft, nebulous drones spread to fill the air. Besides this, not a lot happens. But one senses the purpose behind the music here is about anything but events, what happens or doesn’t happen, but about the sensations it inspires. And that sensation is incredibly soothing, as the sounds somehow render time an irrelevance and lift the mind out of the body into a state of great calm. You don’t step out of time, as much as slowly float above it, the bonds of corporeal existence gradually loosening as you slide into another dimension.

Around 18 minutes into ‘A3’, you realise it’s still going and that the echoing notes and vespers that tinge the air have changed, although it’s impossible to describe how or why. There just seems to be more… space. More echo. This feels more controlled somehow, more composed, note consciously layered, the reverberations more formulated, but it still feels and sounds fluid, and every layer of vaporous drone seamlessly transitions into the next. And consequently, you’re actually feeling relaxed, ok.

Yes, by you, I mean me. I’m not really listening: because Monsta III is ambient to the max. I’m pottering about doing other things, reading news items and Facebook comments, but as ‘A3’ tapers into the turning contrails of ‘B3’, I’m vaguely aware that this is ‘background’ music at its best. My heart rate is normal, I’m not twitchy or anxietised, and without my doing breathing exercises. I’m light, at ease. Vaguely bewildered, uncommonly separated and approaching a certain contentment.

And even now, the title remains a mystery.

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