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21 Pulse Eclipse by Bart Hawkins
- posted by Robin B. James on 10/1/2020
21 Pulse Eclipse
21 Pulse Eclipse by Bart Hawkins is best described by the artist himself. “I think what I am musically and sonically creating right now is a meditative process, both in creating it and listening to it. The music I am producing is meant to be experienced with your eyes closed, sitting in the ‘sweet spot’ between your speakers or with your headphones on, with no distractions. This is active listening, meant to engage your mind’s ability to visualize what you are hearing and using your imagination to create your own listening experience. It’s art for your ears and inner eyes.”

Spotted Peccary Music composer Bart Hawkins is electronic music made using modular synthesizers and spiced with some field recordings from the composer’s world travel adventures. With the modular synthesizer there is an option to create sounds entirely without the use of a keyboard, and Bart has chosen that path. What you will hear is the meditative sound of electrical energy, textures and sustained or gently sequenced layers of tones, with little hints of field recordings deep in the mix, such as a distant marketplace, or the sounds of birds and human voices speaking languages foreign to my ears.

This collection of 8 tracks is in the Berlin School of traditional Electronic Music, and here it is made with no words anywhere on this album, besides those written in the liner notes and otherwise on the cover packaging, of course. Sequencers are most often used in Electronic Dance Music; however, this is entirely a meditative approach. Working with a modular synth, there is much to know about the science behind electricity — waveforms, voltage control, modulation, envelopes, filters, etc…

There is always a journey to this process, and such sound sculpting will take the listener (and the composer) into uncharted places that might be thought of like rabbit holes or falling through looking glasses, leading to the discovery of new musical ideas that previously did not exist. There are plenty of ‘happy mistakes’ to be uncovered and collected when going down such unpredictable rabbit holes. Combining these newly discovered or invented elements together in the mix, the songs come to life. A composer working with modular synthesizers first creates the elements of the sounds, like a painter that makes her or his own paint. Then these elements are arranged and somehow come together in new ways, taking on forms that eventually emerge as complete compositions.

I had the opportunity to discuss 21 Pulse Eclipse with Bart, and he had some interesting things to say. “This whole album is about energy and my exploratory world into modular synthesis. I do like to think that the modular synthesizer is like a control panel at a Tesla lab and its operator is the mad scientist, creating new and exciting sonic experiences out of harsh electronic sound waves. The title track, 21 Pulse Eclipse, is based on the fundamentals of energy currents. I wanted to capture the powerful, raw, undulating currents that create the life and breath of electronic music. I wanted to learn from and know these currents as I would know a human being. To listen to each voice, to know their own unique life cycles as they come into being one moment and dissolve into the next.”

After many years of working professionally as an electronic media artist primarily in visual realms with cameras, Bart’s current phase of his artistic odyssey has led to his recent emergence as a sound composer. He began in the early 80’s when his practice of Zen Meditation and love of the Berlin School style of electronic music drew him into a world of musical landscapes. Landscapes full of sonic textures, and silence, sparking a spiritual awakening into the power of sound. He has been a professional film & video producer and cinematographer but all of that was predicted by a deeper background in the fine arts. He started off as a sculptor, working with metal. You can hear the sounds of electrified metal all throughout the album.

The album opens with “Dream Meditation Part 1” (12:20) the sound fades in, glowing and sparking, emerging layers take form, I can hear birds and strange machines in there. And the process continues, growing, taking new forms from the ether. This must be what it feels like to be canoeing out of an inky dark cave into the dreamy dim jungle on a dark river, continuing on and on through the strange wilderness until the sound fades out.

The second track is the title cut “21 Pulse Eclipse” (17:13), with powerful electronic buzzing energy. Increasing ringing sounds emerge. I hear metal resonating and fluttering, I imagine machines because of the sounds of the sequencer, intricate patterns and throbbing layers, an electric motor, power sweeping overhead and all that progresses continues along to a more organic cicada sound, towards the last part and then it fades.

Bart provides some deeper insight: “The title track was composed on August 21, 2017 during the full solar eclipse in Oregon. I wanted to sit down in front of the modular synth the day of the eclipse to, as I would like to think, pull down the energy of that special astrological event and let it evolve through the modular synth, as the eclipse evolves through its cycle. It’s as if I am just a conduit and the modular synth is just a medium to give this energy a voice.”

Humming and buzzing grows into the third track, “Your Breath Is Electric” (07:15), featuring a new approach to the power of electricity. Initially gentle it continues to strengthen and brings fire, there are repeating cycles, rotation and the sound of growing energy. It certainly sounds like electricity, the rotation pattern fits with the breath in and out, rising and falling. Towards the end I hear crickets or night frogs breathing in the cool wet darkness.

The album closes with “Dream Meditation Part 2” (08:16) forming what might be taken as bookends with the first track, rippling power, infinite glowing energy morphing slowly along. From the artist: “I even pulled audio off of my old video tape of a Tibetan dance I recorded when I traveled to India in 1994. I recorded sounds of a small local music festival, so that I could weave it into the tracks, “Dream Meditation” Parts 1 and 2. Also, I wanted to embrace not only electrical energy from the modular, but also electrical energy found in nature and elsewhere. I believe this gives 21 Pulse Eclipse more of an organic experience.”

Now we are left to reflect on what just happened, and to synthesize the thoughts of the artist with my own observations. 21 Pulse Eclipse is all about the sounds of electricity and energy, lingering in the mind. When certain tones and sounds are combined, they can produce harmonic or inharmonic values. This becomes the core of creating tension and release within all music. With the right combination of sounds, you can levitate the human experience to a very high level or down to its lowest depth in the unconscious mind. Sound can transform, not only mental states of being but can transform physical states as well. Also, sound can physically heal cells in the body and also destroy cells. Sound can levitate objects, create geometrical patterns (cymatics), travel between universes, can be expressed in mathematical and astronomical equations. Finally, sound can be personal and universal at the same time.
Rating: Excellent
Dreams Beyond by Sverre Knut Johansen
- posted by Robin B. James on 10/1/2020
Dreams Beyond by Sverre Knut Johansen
A dream is a succession of images, ideas, emotions, and sensations that usually occur involuntarily in the mind during certain stages of sleep. Dreams are also sometimes seen as a means of seeing into other worlds, dreams often function as a “signpost” motif to mark certain stages in life, the unexpected discovery of one’s own jewels. Perhaps knowledge cannot be defined through perception. This album Dreams Beyond presents an opportunity for using your ears to explore impossible and fantastic landscapes in alien worlds, sometimes resembling the mountains of earth, sometimes resembling nothing you have ever seen. Are dreams experiences?

Melodic electronic music from the symphonic side of the vast universe of ambient sound arts; extraordinary voyages through time and space, exploring original landscapes of exotic imagery and providing an imaginative soundtrack for nurturing dreams and fantasy.

Dreams are the shadow of something real. Dream scenes may be indistinguishable from those set in the dreamer’s real world. Sverre Knut Johansen has now opened a new portal to worlds transcending dreams and other imaginative experiences, allowing listeners to move in and out of dreams and reality, to explore Dreams Beyond. The music on this album is deeply inspired by visual artwork — “THE BEACON” by MichaŁ Karcz, which can be seen on the album’s cover design. The music was recorded between May and November of 2019 at “Space Center Music Production” studio in Sweden. The Cello on the final track, “Human Connection,” is played by Henrik Silfverhielm. The OSCar Programmable Music Synthesizer was used to create alien singing/calling birds.

The study of dreams is called Oneirology. During the day, the soul receives images; during the night, the soul produces images. While most people think of time as a constant, the famous theoretical physicist Albert Einstein showed that time is an illusion, it can vary for different observers depending on their speed through space, and he further revealed that gravity can bend time. The story never begins or ends – it merely ‘becomes.’

THE LAST OF THE SUMMER MOONS HAVE BEGUN TO WANE and the old crows break their long silence and begin to shriek strange cries from the darkness, expressing dark moods framed by adventurous melodies that haunt the ancient mountains. These are the Tatra Mountains, the highest mountain range in the Carpathian Mountains, which form a natural border between Slovakia and Poland. Their topography causes one of the most diverse climates in that region. Leo Frankowski mentions the Tatras several times in his Conrad Stargard series of science fiction novels, also there is mention of these same mountains in The Wolves of Time, a series written by William Horwood. The composer Karol Szymanowski on occasion found inspiration with the distinctive traditional music of the Tatra mountains in southern Poland. The opening track sets this listening adventure in motion, “Tatra Mountains (Introduction)” (4:40).

There might be a science of dreaming, crossing the ancient chasm, cautiously emerging into percussive motion and pulse, a dance into the fullness of time and what lies hidden. Before the magical time of the chimera ends one might sometimes be aware while dreaming that one is dreaming, “Awakening” (9:37).

To look through the ceiling, through the roof to dream of reaching the sky, weaving awe for the soaring landscape, is sometimes a simple matter, requiring only a “Skylight” (8:58). Such openings allow for rhythm and pulses to lead the way up into the vast beyondscape. With a sound signal like whistling the title track emerges, leading into a stop and start sequencer pattern that keeps repeating and building: “Dreams Beyond” (10:54). Unseen creatures continue to whistle from the void, calling out to each other to enhance their telepathic illusions, thoughts dance upon the pillows of oblivion. What I hear next reminds me of the majestic beauty of creation and all those who love silence and calm in the mountains, “Dawn” (4:01) is the frontier of the void, light emerges with varying shapes of the crystal-image spreading luster across the sky.

The term Tatra is a general expression in Slovak for barren or stony land, and in Russian for rocks and small stones in a river. The Tatra Mountains are home to many species of animals and insects and this song includes many imaginative clues that may trigger your ideas of what those beings might be doing. The track “Tatra Mountains” (8:35) presents a melody that haunts the wonderful meadows just under huge lime cliffs, walk through the valleys and then climb the higher parts of the range and behold the soaring landscape all around. The Legend of the Sleeping Knight is a folktale from the Tatra region, was inspired by the outline of one of the most famous peaks, Giewont, which is said to resemble the silhouette of a sleeping knight.

You are now floating gently above the delicately painted sleeping knight, now surging towards ecstatic climaxes, now yielding to the hypnotic strains of a wordless dance. My favorite track is “Causeway” (9:48), an interesting journey through many layers and textures on a raised road across wet ground. I hear electronic insect sounds, portraying a trail through night and mystery, time and room variously for romance and terror, and letting go. Imagine discovering that you have already fallen into some accidental time travel to prior historical settings and have been left stranded. Imagine being suddenly transported into the past and managing to make something by exploiting all the things you know from having studied history. The mood is slow and vast, ever stranger events rekindle the fires of a dying universe. “Echoes of the Past” (9:19) .

The final track is titled “Human Connection” (6:38) and is a reflective processional meditation, in my mind’s eye I can see lines of pilgrims climbing the mountain to find gems holding the powers of the season. The cello is played by Henrik Silfverhielm, and the synthesizers provide the situation.
Rating: Excellent
4 Divine States of Mind by Yuval Ron
- posted by Robin B James on 9/22/2020
Four Divine States of Mind
What you will hear is the four “sublime states” – the Brahma-viharas, a blend of voices and musical instruments from around the world, coming together to create beautiful original music informed by ancient wisdom promoting healing and well-being through sound.

Music is a path of healing and a way of life, simply listening to music has many benefits such as facilitating meditation and deep relaxation, or just enjoying the enhancement of mental focus and openness to artistic inspiration. Medicinally, more is being discovered about the benefits of music therapy for heart ailments, brain dysfunction, learning disabilities, depression, PTSD, Alzheimers, childhood development, and so much more.

Dr. Richard Gold, Executive Producer, was one of the four founders of the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and was first introduced to meditation and yoga in 1970. He has studied neuroscience and the evolving understanding of the effects of sound and meditation on the brain.

Yuval Ron, composer, arranger and producer, is a renowned World Music artist, educator, peace activist and record producer. He graduated Cum-Laude in 1989 from the Berklee College of Music. He has continuously researched various ethnic musical traditions and spiritual paths worldwide and has composed TV and films scores as well as original scores for theater productions. He is a multi-instrumentalist, on this album he plays keyboards, Oud and conducts the string orchestration.

Loving-kindness is the practice concerned with the cultivation of benevolence, kindness, and amity, with silent repetitions of phrases such as "may you be happy" or "may you be free from suffering." The practice of loving kindness expresses benevolence towards all living beings, joy at the sight of the virtuous, compassion and sympathy for the afflicted, and tolerance towards the insolent and ill-behaved.

Heard on the first track is the voice of Chloe Pourmorady, a Persian-American composer, multi-instrumentalist, singer, and educator best known for blending global ideologies and philosophies into her work. The music she writes is innovative and imaginative, influenced by tradition, and yet her sound has been described as "the music of her generation." Her listeners describe feeling elevated through songs of hope, prayers of love, and words of truth.

For the second offering are heard the vocals of Estrella de la Aurora Morente Carbonell, professionally known as Estrella Morente. She is the daughter of flamenco singer Enrique Morente and dancer Aurora Carbonell. She has performed with her father since age seven and recorded her first album in 2001, Mi Cante Y Un Poema (My Songs and A Poem). This was followed the same year by Calle del Aire, and her third album, Mujeres (Women) came in 2006, which her father produced. Her art has dazzled not only the most demanding flamencologists but also rockers like Lenny Kravitz.

To show vicarious joy is to celebrate happiness and achievement in others even when we are facing tragedy ourselves. The foundation for letting joy into our lives is gratitude and the associated savouring of what is good in life such as achievements, friendships or your child’s development. Vicarious joy is the experience of the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people's well-being.
"Vicarious Joy" (14:34) (Mudita)
Deva Premal, Vocals; with Pandit Nayan Ghosh, Sitar; Somnath Roy, Percussion; Yuval Ron, Oud; Kamal Engels, Recording engineer for Deva Premal recording; and Raya and Chinmay, Recording engineers for Pandit Nayan Ghosh recording. Music by Yuval Ron, Lyrics from the traditional Sanskrit.

The vocalist Deva Premal explains that the purpose of her work "is to be open to the Goddess of music – to be true to ourselves, as musicians, as 'teachers;' as partners, and ultimately, as individuals – fellow travellers. We accomplish this by not 'trying' to accomplish anything. Our nourishment and life’s work is to create gatherings around the planet where people can come together in celebration and meditation, to work positively towards valuing and rejoicing in the good fortune of others, which in turn increases our own joy in life." She began her journey with a mantra in her mother's womb, as her father chanted to her daily. The mantras continued to be her bedtime lullaby after she was born. Many years later, she heard a friend singing one of her prenatal mantras and was inspired to put together an album. Premal met her partner in life and music, Miten, at the Osho International Meditation Resort in Pune, India in 1990, where she was studying reflexology, shiatsu, cranio-sacral therapy, and massage. They have been touring together since 1992, offering concerts and chant workshops worldwide. Premal and Miten recorded The Essence (1998) in her mother's apartment in Germany, where she was born and where she first heard the Gayatri Mantra.

In many Yoga traditions, the virtue of equanimity can be one of the results attained through regular meditation, cultivating an evenness of mind, calmness, and a strong sense of abundance, exaltation that is somehow immeasurable, without hostility and without ill-will, an evenness of mind, neither elated nor depressed.

"Equanimity" (14:36) (Upekkha)

Living and breathing music, and rather obsessed with improvement and self development of any kind, Úyanga Bold plays for healing experiences promoting mindfulness and personal transformation. She grew up playing classical piano, and later developed a fascination with exotic instruments, including dilruba, frame drum, and baglama saz to name a few. Known for her otherworldly dynamic voice on film, television and video game soundtracks, along with videos viewed by millions, Úyanga is an internationally acclaimed soundtrack vocalist, vocal arranger and songwriter.

This new album from Metta Mindfulness Music brings a welcome and much needed meditation on the daily expression of loving kindness for healing a wounded world, resulting in increased relaxation and an intimate conversation, with gentle sharing of ideas. The sound is a meditation on bringing people of many cultures together through music in a prayer for universal welfare, experiencing a nourishing quality of interconnectedness, the wish to relieve a being from suffering, wishing fellow travelers on a spiritual journey happiness, to open our eyes to the rivers of goodness in the world and to enhance our sense of gratitude.

May all beings be fulfilled and secure, may they be happy-minded, connecting with others in order to conversely experience renewal, support, and validation. Music can free us all from inordinate reactions to the changes and chances of the world, to help us to cultivate the capacity to be joyful for the joy of others and to experience vicarious joy, all beings sharing that same location.

1 Loving Kindness (12:56)
2 Compassion (11:47)
3 Vicarious Joy (14:34)
4 Equanimity (14:36)

Rating: Excellent
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