Saturday, 21 September 2019

Various - Modern Bon III

Album: Modern Bön III: Rechaka [Exhalation)
Artist: Various
Label: Modern Bön
Catalogue no: MB///0003

     1.      Nastika – A Place Among Them
     2.      The Nent – Vacuum (Vu Remix)
     3.      Restive Plaggona – Normal is Perverse
     4.      Skrei – Akos (E. I. N. remix)
     5.      Korse – Tengu
     6.      Holotrop – Liquid Slow Dream
     7.      IlSantoBevitore – Rosso Ocra
     8.      SR60 – 25 Days

Bön, for those not in the know or who haven’t encountered the word before, is the original indigenous religion of Tibet before Buddhism entered the country from India at some point in the 8th century AD, where the latter absorbed many of Bön’s particular traditions, giving rise to a distinct form of Buddhism. Modern Bön is a series of compilations, three so far, which have encompassed the phases of Puraka [Inhalation], Kumbhaka [Contemplation], and this one, Rechaka [Exhalation]. As far as I am aware, there will also be a fourth phase, Nirvana [Eternal Grace], to complete what is effectively a ritual. You will find reviews of both previous volumes on this site as well.

This differs somewhat from either of the foregoing entries, in that here we have a selection in which rhythmic elements appear in some of the pieces, indicative of the incoming Pranayama, the pure energy which moves and animates life. As such then, its vitality needs to be received, absorbed, and understood on a fundamental level, and rhythm, the essential beat of life, must necessarily become part of the music of this particular stage. However, Nastika’s ‘A Place Among Them’ continues on where the last volume left off, in that here we once again experience the higher planes as vast carpets of drones and emanations, a slow massing of energies that threaten to overwhelm but somehow manage to be contained. ‘Vacuum’ by The Nent is the first to introduce a rhythmic element, a huge pulsing backbeat playing host to short stabs of drone and a repetitive electronic figure. The energy is gradually coming through, circuits are being established, conduits being created, and the spiritual arteries spider-web into every part of body and mind.

Dimitris Doukas’ Restive Plaggona (I reviewed his Matriarchy Roots début some days ago), is up next with ‘Normal is Perverse’ and again we are treated to strong, insistent rhythms that evolve and build constantly during the track’s running time, as the energies released radiate and fuel the adherent. The pulse is quickening and the mind is opening to the full panoply of the reality behind Maya, the illusion of the world we live in, and perceptions are being sharpened as a result – ‘normality’ is perverse, in that it hides truth and blinds us to it.

Skrei’s ‘Akos’ (E. I. N. remix) returns to more ambient beatless territory, sending us instead on a drone and noise high, as full realisation dawns and the whole of creation stretches out before us in all its multi-dimensional and technicolour glory. It’s all here, every molecule and every conceivable nuance that ordinarily would remain imperceptible and hidden. The beat returns, pulsing with life and vivacity, on Korse’s ambient ‘Tengu’, a syncopated beat set against drones and shimmering sheets of sound. It’s a purified kind of whirling dance being performed here, an alchemised and spiritual paean to the underlying pulse of life and all being, the incarnation of the highest essence into the material plane. Holotrop’s drone immensity, ‘Liquid Slow Dream’, descends like a physical manifestation, accompanied by thunder and lightning, a harbinger of something vast and all-encompassing until another syncopated beat fades in along with an electronic bass sequence. Of all the tracks so far, I think this is the one that has hooked me completely, an unstoppable monolithic force intent on breaking falseness and deception.

IlSantoBevitore’s ‘Rosso Ocra’ (Red Ochre) starts with a sub-bass drone before complex rhythms, tribalistic in tone and execution, impose themselves upon the bass backdrop. It’s a short piece, but somehow bringing the energies of the higher realms down to a human level – a necessary reducing mechanism to transform those powers into something useable. SR60’s ‘25 Days’, perhaps an indication of how long the ritual has lasted, begins with a drone which oscillates along with more rhythmical percussive punctuations, as the adherent fully absorbs and transmutes the spiritual energies into elements that he can infuse into his own body. His body, while still composed of flesh, has perhaps itself transformed into something beyond human and crass, invested with powers that have taken off the edge of his flesh’s coarseness and refined his mind a little. He still has a way to go, but his feet are already firmly on the path.

This is a shorter album than the other two compilations, but in some respects that is descriptive of the quickening of life and perception consequent upon the dawning of enlightenment. The energies are boundless, limitless, and will not be constrained. As I said, this is different from Volumes I & II, an upbeat mirroring of the adherent’s new-found state. If you have I & II, then three is an essential addition, a completion of the process started on Puraka and continued on Kumbhaka: however, it is itself only a prelude to Nirvana [Eternal Grace], the endpoint of a monk’s spiritual and esoteric practises. I find myself pondering what wonders the next release will bring us – but patience, like in meditation, will be a requisite.

Available from Modern Bön’s Bandcamp page:

Psymon Marshall 2019. 

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