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The Bodhi Mantra by Howard Givens
- posted by Robin B. James on 8/21/2020
The Bodhi Mantra
Expansive electronic meditations, flowing smoothly into the infinite beyond. Three songs to bring you bliss, music that brings noble emotions and peace. Bodhi is a Sanskrit name translated as "enlightenment" or "awakening" which relates to a Buddhist concept, synonymous with the state of nirvana, being freed from hate, greed and ego. The term mantra is traditionally said to be derived from two roots: "man," to think; and the action-oriented suffix "-tra." A mantra can be considered to be a linguistic device for deepening one's thought or in the Buddhist context for developing the enlightened mind.

The music on The Bodhi Mantra is all electronic, there are no human vocal expressions heard on this album. In addition to the label’s usual downloads in 24-bit Audiophile, CD Quality Lossless (FLAC, Apple) and 320kbps MP3, and streaming audiophile formats, The Bodhi Mantra is available in a collectible 12 inch LP format, including a blue-colored disc, inside an exquisite package design by Daniel Pipitone with a richly printed jacket and sleeve combination. There will be no physical CD version for this release.

The Bodhi Mantra is the latest collaboration of Howard Givens & Craig Padilla, previous titles include Being Of Light (2017), Life Flows Water (2015), and Spirit Holy Rising (2015). In addition to his own work and as a sound engineer/producer for many other artists, Givens has been involved with the Spotted Peccary releases of such Padilla titles as The Heart of the Soul (2012), Below the Mountain (2008), The Light of the Shadow (2006), Genesis (2004), and Vostok (2002).

Relax and receive immeasurable auspiciousness, brilliance, magnificence, and ease as you listen to these celestial sounds. Listen to eliminate the illness and suffering of all sentient beings, to provide all their necessities for health and happiness, and mostly just because it simply sounds sublime. Thanks to the original vows of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, a miraculous force resides in mantras, so that by pronouncing them one might acquire insight without limits. As nebulous as the clouds, these electronic soundscapes are ethereal meditations with many levels of symbolic meaning that allows relaxation by moving you to a tranquil and romantic mood. Practicing meditation may be helpful for a variety of conditions ranging from insomnia and high blood pressure to anxiety and low back pain, or just to help you learn to relax in the moment. Synthesizers evoking space-age heartbeats offer a meditation on universal mythology, inspired by ancient dances, and probes the mysteries of the cosmos and glacial chords, soaked in cathedral-like reverb, all to bring profound inner peace and induce unwinding, improving one's mood and leaving the listener revitalized.

The moon rises and the stars awaken. You no longer know up from down. You cannot see the forces that support you, but you trust in them to carry you through. The sound of The Bodhi Mantra can help you learn to relax in the moment. You wonder how far the winds have carried you. Looking back for landmarks, you see none. You are above the endless ocean, and in this twilight there is nothing to see. You fly onward. The Bodhi Mantra is perfect for activities such as walking in the city, taking a break at work, waiting around, and going to sleep. You fly on into the freedom of the blisswave.

1 Prana
2 Serenity, The Peaceful Place
3 Leaving Behind the Now
Rating: Excellent
Yenisei Crossing by Mystified
- posted by Robin B. James on 8/21/2020
Yenisei Crossing: Mystified
Dark electronic textures exploring generative-iterative extra-musical acousmatic and experiential mixed organic ambient spaces. The sound is largely consisting of repeated short segments which sometimes sound something like tape loops, perhaps to be listened to while working, sleeping or doing other things. There is no conventional sense of melody, the tempo and rhythm are not restricted and are not based on heartbeats or traditional dance metrics, so it sounds strange and unusual, which is why it is so highly prized. This sound is definitely rare in any music store, unless you already have considered the growing history of Musique Concréte and experimental composition by the likes of Rapoon or Zoviet France.

My experiences with audio loops were always with a reel to reel tape recorder, a razor blade, and some sticky tape to hold the circles of magnetic recording tape together. It creates an endlessly repeating sound that can be amusing to experiment with. I had the opportunity to ask Thomas Park aka Mystified about his current work, and this is one of the things he revealed.

"It has been said that all music is rhythm, or percussion. If this is true, then I hope to help musicians and listeners alike realize that they can be free of militant or precise rhythms, as I feel that the West has a sort of craze with rhythmic precision that is far from ideal."

That leaves the door open to quite a lot of otherwise unexplored territory. Next I asked him what the album's title means. When I searched for the word "Yenisei" I learned that the Yenisei River flows through Siberia and into the Arctic Ocean, it is the fifth-longest river system in the world. The maximum depth of the Yenisei is about 80 ft, the average depth is about 45 ft. Starting in Mungaragiyn-Gol (Mongolia), it flows north to the Yenisei Gulf in the Kara Sea. To the west is the often frozen Western Siberian Plain, to the east is the chilly Central Siberian Plateau. The Yenisei River basin includes the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal. The Yenisei River flows through a large part of central Siberia.

This is what I learned from the composer about his album title's relationship to the Siberian river. "The river “Yenisei” is part of “Yenisei Crossing”, which alludes to a crossing of that river. Why a remote part of Russia? I have had a series of dreams of varying clarity in which I live in primitive Siberia, eking out a living on the chilly plains."

I asked him specifically about the story of the creation of Yenisei Crossing. Please note that Python is an interpreted, high-level, general-purpose programming language.

"At the time, a lot was going on with me creatively. I had been working on a series of Python applications that enabled my processor to, mainly, choose a body of samples, treat them in any of certain ways, and then map them out on a live looping console. I could get some unexpected and really interesting loop-based compositions this way."

"The first immediate advantage was that I did not have to spend hours preparing loops for mixing. The Python code took that task out of my hands. Nor did I have to rely on my own rather specific and perhaps predictable choices. The random functions available to me put sounds together in ways I would not have predicted. Sometimes the result was unlistenable, but more often than not it was intriguing, to say the least. Pursuing coded music has become a sort of dream-escape for me, or pastime. Like my nocturnal visions of Siberia, they took me places I never thought I would experience."

The Yenisei River valley is habitat for numerous flora and fauna, with Siberian pine, Siberian larch, and Scots pine, or Pinus sylvestris, which was abundant in the Yenisei River valley before 6000 BC. Some of the earliest known evidence of human enigma can be found at the confluence of the headstreams of the Yenisei Valley, where stelae, or stone monoliths and memorial tablets which date from between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, are still waiting.

The song titles were generated using coded random string generation. The composer suggests that you might think of them as remnants of some forgotten language, or, perhaps, transmissions from space of someone we have yet to encounter.

Subtle music using the generative-iterative method, created for those with a taste for the dark and minimal. It has also been said that the tracks have an inner consistency, that these tracks make a good set, that they work well together and with one another. They are also a bit dark and edgy-- they push the boundaries of ambient. With this new release, we must admit, there is a chance, a possibility, that it will be summarily rejected, and that excites me. Taking chances is something we constantly learn to perfect, in order to build upon, or to plunder our own new treasures from, all in order to find an unexpected new way into our futures. We, the listeners, are at the center of things, sound identities can often be intentionally obscured or appear unconnected to their source, in order to unlock our own completely new possibilities for organizing the music of our future “Great River.”

1. Luszg
2. Xtwz6
3. Oecv4
4. Dze3w
5. Fhovv
6. Oww98
7. Wixwg
8. L31mf
9. P64ii
10. Krr0e
11. Ti7n8
12. S46p5
13. Ex0gy
14. Ex98r
15. Eu9on
16. Emdsu
17. Bszo9
Rating: Excellent
Moving Through Worlds by Fiona Joy
- posted by Robin B. James on 8/21/2020
Moving Through Worlds
This is a great time for something brighter and lighter, something that brings some ease to the weary listener, who is seeking feelings of harmony and simple respite from our troubled world. The gifted composer, singer, and pianist Fiona Joy Hawkins has just the thing, a new album titled Moving Through Worlds. I hear an enchanting and amazing exploration of themes such as land, water, fire, climate change and the vanishing of souls into the wind. The 14 tracks feature mostly solo piano, some are duos with violin or cello, some have a more full range of accompanists. The sound has a way of traversing lots of moods, rich with dynamic energy. In places the sound is delicate and slow, in places the feelings build and gain velocity and then gently recede.

County Clare has a strong history of traditional music, with many seasonal music festivals. One of the legends for the origin of the county name Clare, sometimes also called the Banner County, comes from the settlement of Clare (now Clarecastle), whose name Clár, or plank bridge, is a place for crossing over the River Fergus. The first track, "Calling County Clare" (5:06) is a haunting bit of a quiet easy dance with piano, percussion, acoustic guitar, bass, Irish flute, and vocals floating ethereally. There is a new video that is based on this song:

The Australian bush is tinder dry and has been increasingly dangerous in recent times, last year was named the Black Summer because of the unusually intense bushfires throughout Australia. On this album, Fiona Joy has several songs meditating on this terrible time, the second track of the album is titled "Bushfire Moon" (5:03) The musical style crosses into the jazz world, and the solo piano brings the listener into a sense of wonder, while remembering and honoring the devastation of nature, enduring such a tragic inferno.

There's nothing like a bit of rain to gladden the hearts, "Prayer For Rain" (4:08) has a lighter, slower feel, with vocal touches. I am thinking of an undying wish during a drought, may God open the heavens and let the merciful rain down upon the fields and mountains, bringing relief to the parched landscape.

All we have left in the end is memories, and the fourth track is a graceful and powerful meditation on what is left. This is my favorite song on the album because it is somehow both sad, enduring, and life affirming. "All That is Left" (5:34) has a light vocal shadowing, a shifting pace, with violin and horn, understated percussion, like the breeze the song gradually slows down quietly then resumes.

The color of lakes and oceans ranges in hue, the deeper the pool, the bluer the water. Seen up close water is clear and might have no color, but from a distance oceans and deep lakes have a magical blue color, "Aqua 1" (1:55) it the first of two meditations on water heard on this album, the first meditation has quiet hesitant beginning that blossoms into brighter colors.

Legends tell of a time, thousands or millions of years ago, when the Crystal Desert was covered in water. When I first heard the title of this next track I thought of arid and dry sandy landscapes, a hot and hostile environment, with a lack of easily accessible resources, and intense isolation, yet filled with a strange sunbaked beauty. "Desert of Crystal" (4:28) makes me think of geometric forms in a large open landscape, vocals floating, violin shimmering. It turns out that the composer was thinking of ice, snow and the sphere of the winds.

Crystal Desert is a nickname for Australia's southern neighbor Antarctica, on average the coldest, driest, and windiest continent, invoking visions of endless permanent winter populated by isolated romping nematodes, penguins, seals and tardigrades. Other historical names for this ocean and ice-locked region of glaciers and rock outcrops include Ultima and Antipodea.

Timelessness matters most when you have no time. The heart of midnight homes in on the sadness of a friend passing at midnight. Am I the one who is dreaming? Art doesn’t “change the world," instead it changes the terms. Today we find a resurrection, yet no words pass between us. For the tenth track, "Passing Of Midnight" (3:39), I hear a thoughtful meditation, piano with cello in a quiet mood, bringing forth the subtle dynamics we so love, the feeling builds and the feeling relaxes.

Moving through parallel worlds, sometimes objects can exist in more than one location simultaneously, even though the objects are invisible to us in all but one location. To achieve our dreams and exist in a world that is exactly as you imagine it should be, with science and timeless wisdom, somehow to guide you on a path about the sweep of time and surviving how it fragments and impinges upon lived human experience.

Sometimes one has to go into those difficult issues in order to come out the other side, coming out the other side. This also unlocks the ability to dream and connect to the ghosts of those who died, and can modify the energy of the colors primarily to stretch and bend into themes of peace and release. Moving Through Worlds is a journey of transition from danger and loss, the transforming miracles of nature and humanity, but today we gather to mourn, honour, reflect and begin to learn from the black summer that continues. To enjoy the color of water's vibrational states, as well as the the cold and dark as deep related questions about what we do not see.

The songs come from different worlds and together they create a sense of hope and beauty for listeners to enjoy. We are forced to continually change our strategies and tactics to accomplish our tasks. The winds blow hard, making and unmaking dunes, covering up the present and uncovering the past. We utilize these traditions as symbols, which reflect honor and respect on those who have given so much and who have served so well, sharing concerns for the future of threatened wildlife, such as glossy black cockatoos, Kangaroo Island dunnarts, and koalas. If the legends are true, we can pass through worlds again and again, always learning and always experiencing new seasons.

1 Calling County Clare (5:06)
2 Bushfire Moon (5:03)
3 Prayer For Rain (4:08)
4 All That is Left (5:34)
5 Aqua 1 (1:55)
6 Prelude in E Minor (Chopin, #4) (2:37)
7 Desert of Crystal (4:28)
8 Tolling of the Fire Bell (5:18)
9 Aqua 2 (1:20)
10 Passing Of Midnight (3:39)
11 Moving Through Worlds (4:28)
12 For the Roses (Solo Piano) (3:28)
13 Song For Louise (1:49)
14 Twilight Moment (2:32)
Rating: Excellent
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