If you are obsessed with audiophile love to music, you know that some of the year’s most ambitious projects are found in this category.
This music is the grandchild of classical music, it follows but also transcends its tradition. However the crucial thing remains the same, it is music for contemplation. You can’t just throw on the record in the background and expect it to woo you. It requires a certain setting, a certain mood, a focused attention and an acute sense of perception. It is great match for sense deprivation, in the means where sound is everything that matters and other senses are not stimulated.
1. Clark – Kiri Variations (Throttle Records)
Every year I hope to find at least one album that will be a real revelation. Some are disappointed that today’s music no longer has the creative impulse it broke about 15 years ago. On the other hand, I experience the anxiety of knowing that nowadays the most authentic works are drown in a flood of average or listener-acceptable entertainment, and maybe I will never be able to hear them.
After decades of active listening and love for a variety of genres, I know that the ego-free, sovereign instrumental composition that works with subliming beauty, intuitive mysticism and fragile but very refined integrity can give me the greatest depth and amazement.
In my perspective, such compositions will approach Schopenhauer and Nietzshe’s concept of abstract music as the highest form of art in the purest form possible.
In the hierarchy of arts, Schopenhauer has elevated music to the highest stage, among the categories of mystical life experiences. We can recognize them in states of true compassion or asceticism. Instrumental music (in the sense of non-vocal, or using the human voice as an additional instrument) has, by its non-conceptual and context-free nature, the potential to be the highest artistic medium. It can expose us at least for a moment to such experience by showing us, without words, what it is like to escape from human misrepresentations and self-deceptions dictated by “the Will”, consuming, absurd, blind and cruel force that is integral, hidden and mostly totally unconscious mover of almost all of our decisions, instincts, desires, and clingings. By overcoming “the Will” we can get an experience of integral unity with a so-called “noumenal” (human perception independent) reality that is simply analogous to Kant’s thing-to-itself, the true, eternal essence of being we cannot say or know anything about and that opens space for morality and faith.
According to Shopenhauer, brilliant artists are capable of linking to the “noumenal” reality and can pass it on to others – through art, not by exposition, and then only to people who can respond in the same way to the art they encounter. However, as soon as artists lie up to allegory depictions, concepts, descriptions, or interpretative forms of art, they are unable to intermediate this direct connection. Similarly artists who model themselves on other artists, or who simply respond to artistic fashion, do not produce real, that is, authentic, art. Nor is authentic art about self-expression: it must be in touch with something bigger than the self. This contemplation must not be accompanied by a desire to possess, or, in the case of contemplating sublime natural phenomena like thunderstorms, by fear.
Schopenhauer defines genius as the capacity of the artist to perceive and convey the eternal. This perception is imaginative, not intellectual. The moment art becomes an intellectual pursuit (for example in allegorical painting or in copying formulae which have been successful for other artists) it ceases to be a means of penetrating to the eternal. Such people have no more than talent: “Talent hits a target no one else can hit; genius hits a target no one else can see.”
With all my experience in music, that has deeply touched, moved and inspired me in life, I perceive this view is fitting, clear and most verisimilar to what I have found so far in the history of philosophy.
Clark’s new album Kiri Variatons is its pure expression.
Anyone who knows him knows that he is able to subdue music like only a few electronic producers around the world. Each album can turn the blank page and bring something completely new, never heard. Kiri Variations communicates openly with classical music for the first time!
Each song is hypnotic, beautiful by its simplicity, but also connects mysterious and morbid elements through extraordinary original curves.
If you want to immerse yourself in a playful detailed HD orchestra with spiritual depth, listen to it.
“I want people to listen to this in the same way they would read a set of Roald Dahl short stories; bitter-sweet tales with hooks and teeth and unexpected macabre twists. Proper Witch vibes.”
2. Bersarin Quartett – Methoden und Maschinen (Denovali)
One of the greatest experiences this year is for me Bersarin Quartett. the German electronic/classical music composer Thomas Bücker. Methoden und Maschinen is the meditation on the future of the 23rd century.
The fact that the Bersarin Quartett performs live in total darkness has helped me to understand how tragically we become impoverished if we tend to listen to music without a ceremony.
We say music is an universal language, that it is the path to the feeling. The sacred mystery of music is its potential to bring power to harmonize and heal.
Methoden und Maschinen opens up for me the vision of the future, when hypertechnical civilization finds itself at a point where, although is capable to colonize other planets, it understands the superior human being is not going to be given to us by the computers or the brains of technology. We can’t expect anything from the lifeless devices. If humankind ever succeeds in surpassing its every nature, that can only be done through our inner cultivation.
It would be pointless to listen to this while driving, operating heavy machinery, or in any other activity for which external attention is required. You need high detailed stereo headphones or monitors.
It will open when we allow ourselves the gift of “dying”, to let go, to release everything we think we are, that happened to us in this life, that we think we know and how to merge into the world. Substantial si to allow our heart and soul to be open.
When nothing is going on, exept of you, the music and your breath, that is the highest point of ceremony. it is just me there. No God told me, no messages from other world, no files and downloads, just me experiencing my own life, resonating at-one-ness with something beyond myself but inside myself at the same time. I don’t know if it is possible to go deeper than that. Sit and stay, breathe, focus on the music, focus on the songs, thoughts go and go away.
3. A Winged Victory for the Sullen – The Undivided Five (Ninja Tune)
In the ideals and visions of golden ages of humanity, we can find a whole different concept of doctors. Healing becomes something different that curing illness. Superior doctor does not heal illness, he prevents illness from happening.
In the golden age, nobody ever got sick, and if someone fell out of the state of harmony, they have to meditate, to exercise, to change diet, to take herbs.
The Undivided Five has a lot in common with visionary state I call and power to heal. It is a very mysterious stuff, narrated in a language that has been forgotten for a long time.
The creators Adam Wiltzie and Dustin O’Halloran say that the mission was to seek infinite smallness and infinite bigness at the same time. Homage to minimalism and impressionism. We can hear a work where the minimum of content is expressed by such fascinating textures and in such a vast space that we may say it fills everything that exists. As if giving us the gift of seeing the world through the eyes of people who can be sensitive and fascinated by the most common things. For example observation of ants, view of grapes, moonrise, change of seasons. These are not just images for them, but vibrations they can tune in and resonate with. To be able to see amazement in subtle things means to observe the world, others and yourself with respect.
If you listen to this album with ceremony, you can discover a very discreet and real place, it will plug you directly to God within us.
As Mike Lazarev wrote: “Getting signed to Ninja Tune is indeed the next step for this wonderful project, as well as for the label itself which appears to branch out into contemporary compositions, bringing us closer to the wonders of the next decade and the music that it will reveal.”
I personally perceive this music as a bridge between the present and the future global civilization, which will be spiritually and mentally totally different as ours. But we need to establish this connection.
Human ingenuity combined with freedom, understanding with innerselves and the world and people around, is capable of incredible deeds. The capacity of man is as great as the contrast of these works compared to a capitalist-generated culture that can hardly stimulate a hundredth of the potential that humanity has.
Unfortunately, it is a system that defines civilization, not its exceptions.
However, let us not underestimate the power demonstrated by these exceptions.
All the albums I reflect here, as well as the many sincere people, artists and scientists I’ve found in my life, helped me understand that Truth, Love, Care, Noble Sacrifice, and all its authentic manifestations throughout history are not in waste. They will achieve ultimate satisfaction, attention and gratitude. They were not a humble and unimportant thing. We humans of the consumer era, were too inferior, too insignificant to grasp their beauty and superiority. The insights revealing the secrets of life, the work of geniuses, will always be monumental no matter what dark times come and how many people will not be able to understand and reward them. They will never be wasted or forgotten.
They are based on a source that has existed and will exist forever, and thanks to the fascinating works that are still being created, we can peek into them here and now.
4. Amon Tobin – Long Stories (Nomark Records)
Amon Tobin released 2 albums after eight years, Long Stories is more ambient and therefore more adequate for sensory deprivation, where sound is everything that matter. It is a mysterious journey that cleanse the ears. Hi-tech sci-fi adventure tuned in meditative colors. The sceneries are more organic, naturalizing the mechanical elements, they remain exotic and obscure in a good way.
5. Žibuoklé Martinaityté – In Search of Lost Beauty... (Starkland)
This is the only traditional orchestral and choral composition on this list. By an established Lithuanian composer living in New York, who has been composing for over 30 years and has more than 100 works on the list. Unfortunately just few have been released on a medium. In Search of Lost Beauty… was composed in 2016 and was released in 2019 on Starkland Records .
I would like to draw attention to this work, because in a flood of orchestral music, which today hardly stands out for something original, Martinaityté sounds brutally integrated and authentic. It wraps up with physical intensity, and in 60 minutes it undergoes breathtaking fights and matches. If I could choose a guard knight, it would be her.
Other albums that appealed to me this year:
Fennesz – Agora (Touch)
Teebs – Anicca (Brainfeeder Records)
Floating Points – Crush (Warp)
Loscil – Equivalents (Kranky)
Christopher Tignor – A light Bellow (Western Vinyl)
Hammock – Silencia (Hammock Music Label)