Monday 2 September 2019

DR - Tea Sessions.

Album: Tea Sessions
Artist: DR
Label: Kalamine Records
Catalogue no: N/A

     1.      Kukicha Session
     2.      Pu Erh Session
     3.      Bai Mu Dan Session
     4.      Tie Guan Yin Session

Each of the track titles is a variety of tea, and I am going to hypothesise that each piece encapsulates the qualities of these varieties possesses. On the face of it, that may seem an absurd proposition, but judging solely from the music on here I would say that the idea is pretty damn close. And, on another note, so far I’ve been mightily impressed by netlabel Kalamine Records’ catalogue of releases, thoughtful music that tends to lean to the experimental, ambient, and dark ambient side of things, and may this streak of quality continue for many years.

So what liquid delicacies does DR serve up for our listening pleasure on this four-track mini-album? Session 1, Kukicha (also known as Twig Tea, being made from stems, stalks, and twigs), wafts into view on a pulsing organ chord, hovers idly but serenely just out of reach. There’s no doubting that this possesses marvellous meditative and uplifting qualities, in addition to being able to calm and soothe. This is perhaps reminiscent of a lazy day, with the sky purpling towards evening, wispy clouds beginning to blush pinkly, and a slightly chill breeze, and in the distance birds flying slowly and majestically towards home. Allow your thoughts to fly along with those birds, and see the world through their eyes.

Session 2, named Pu Erh (a tea made from the stems and leaves of the Camellia sinensis plant, the same from which green, oolong, and black teas are also made), roars in on a wave of sweetly distorted harmonic noise, which picks us up and sends us flying amongst the clouds and stars, propelling us upwards with spiralling, tumbling, swooping, and soaring turns. Immediately following on is Session 3, Bai Mu Dan (a white tea made from plucks of Camellia sinensis), is the dawn breaking and bringing colour flooding back into the world. A plucked acoustic guitar figure, accompanied by meandering high-flying string-like drones, welcomes the light as the sun peeks its head above the horizon, and the birds we saw flying home at sunset now make the journey to their feeding grounds, an equally grand sight as the night before.

Session 4, Tie Guan Yin (a premium type of Oolong tea, originating in the 19th century, also known as Iron Goddess), is the longest and richest track on here, reflecting perhaps the complexities of the palette of the tea itself. It introduces itself through a fluting drone, borne on the rays of the daytime sun, which beam down on us from the heavenly realms, suffusing and infusing all with its beneficent blessings. It shimmers and glistens, appearing both ephemeral and substantive, gauzy and solid, and it drifts placidly but purposefully through the sky. The harmonics here are gorgeous, as fine as silk, fluttering upon a breeze made of light and beauty.

They say that tea calms the mind and soul, and this album has exactly the same effect. Cares are strained away, leaving the body relaxed and the mind cleansed. There’s nothing much more I can say – at the end of a long day, this is all the refreshment one needs to soothe one into a state of blissful nirvana.

Available as a digital download only via Kalamine Records’ Bandcamp page:

Psymon Marshall 2019. 

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