Five Elements Music & Contemplatron :: Double review

The region where Hinduism and Buddhism circle round one another both warily and enrichingly can be entered either by undertaking an actual journey or by meditating and slipping in through the inner eye.

Five Elements Music :: Rishikesh (Unfathomless)
Sergey Suhovik is a drone artist living just outside of Moscow who traveled to Northern India to collect sounds for this fine release on Unfathomless. As Five Elements Music, he presents two extended, environmental hums—the first with its head barely above water, the second milling about with the late-night crowds. Rishikesh is one of the names of Vishnu, meaning “master of the senses” and “Rishikesh” is a gentle trickle, the sound of the streams flowing through the Himalayan foothills that will eventually join to form the purifying Ganges. Temple bells and a hollow, gong-like undertone follow as the landscape widens to allow the gathering waters to pass. “Vrindavan” is named after the city in which Krishna was born and is much more lively and colourful, recorded in the hours around midnight. An impressionistic canvas attempting to capture the “intangible atmosphere” of the city at night, if not at rest. Motor scooters putter by, monkeys protest, loudspeakers broadcast, the city simply pulsates life, both as it flexes loudly and as it relaxes into a quiet disturbed only by crickets. Woken out of our revery by fireworks, as the last salvo is fired, we find ourselves at the banks of the river again, before being swept up by a chanting procession and carried off. [Release page]

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Contemplatron :: Prabhashvara (Wrotycz)
The five elements of Hinduism (earth, wind, fire and water, plus the void) are what make mankind mankind and the world the world. Prabhashvara is the colour of the aura of the Buddha, itself the combination of five colours. Tibetan Buddhism regards man not as a solitary figure but always against a universal backdrop and whether he likes it for not, in cycles of birth and death for all eternity. In the same way, Polish ambient soloist Jaroslaw Wierny, aka Contemplatron, produces a ritual music that aspires to timelessness and wholeness, to the eradication of the ego that can fill that fifth element, the void, and make one.

Judging from his discography, website links and the abundance of quotations from the devotional literature on his album sleeve, Wierny is a practicing Buddhist. He creates gentle ambient clouds on which to float a gamut of Tibetan chant, horns, distant shaking bells and field recordings. The proverbial low, sustained monks’ drones are particularly well offset by the lone female voice of Szeptucha Berta on “Ganachakra,” appropriate for a piece named after a ritual that includes rites of symbolic coitus. And the twenty minutes of nearly featureless bliss on “Yamantaka”—termination of death—are a marvel of expression through restraint; I feel the concept has been explained to me in a way no textual exegesis could. Prabhashvara is a beautiful album where the electronics are so subtle and unobtrusive as to all but invisibly hold the entire sixty-eight minutes together. [Releases page]

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