Ambient music, despite its inherent relativity to minimalism, is arguably one of the most spiritually powerful forms of art to manifest within the layer of existence which we currently find ourselves. The nature of these subtle creations are akin to keys that unlock dimensions — the music allows our powerful imaginations to explore worlds that may or may not exist in any framed concept of reality. The most powerful key of any of these aural Forms, for me, is undoubtedly the ritual ambient concept. Though today the phrase gets thrown around loosely without much credence being paid to the defining characteristics of what makes something sincerely ritual, there is simply something disproportionately inspiring about the few artists whom focus their spiritual beliefs under the muse of ritual music. Whether devotional or divinely inspired, sincere ritual music grasps onto fragments of our human experience that are often only glanced as fleeting moments — visions towards the periphery of existence from which we can gleam the true essence of any number of words to which we apply definitions that don’t mean a great deal (life, existence, reality).
The number of projects whom can accomplish instilling this sort of inspirational voyage within a listener are few, and to my mind, there isn’t another outside of Contemplatron whom attempt to do so with great deliberation and with such unwavering dedication to the shamanic humility of Tibetan Bhuddism. After only three releases over a seven-year period, it is clear that Jaroslaw Wierny is taking his time, making sure that his compositions are refined to their fullest potential. After witnessing him take on the concept of Delog — one whom has died and returned to life — with his last album, it seems fitting that he would continue his journey with Prabhashvara, or “clear/radiant light” — the natural luminosity of emptiness and the pure state of our ephemeral presence through various forms of being and incarnations until enlightenment is reached. It is the illuminated path on which we walk, stumble, run and crawl in and out of existence until we are freed from the chains that bind us to this temporal state of physical existence.
So what greets us on the other side as Prabhashvara gets under way? The most basic and primal of ritual presence, a simple two-tone, echoed percussive accent that gets a familiar industrial atmosphere brewing within the hazy blue mists of meditation. A warm crimson washes through this atmosphere with phasing, shifting synth chords and a subtle yet all too recognizable shofar horn calling from deep below. The vocal aspects on the album are almost entirely based on mantras or throat singing, and are usually processed to bring an unearthly trance to the listener. Deep gutteral drones also make their presence known in the same layer from which the horn calls as various forms of bell percussion ring out sharply to trigger distinct images. The layers of drone take over a stronger role in the second track, “Ganachakra”, where sharp horns and a structured vocal presence are used to texture the tracks. Perhaps this one was a bit too dark considering the celebratory nature of the feast in which it represents, but the individual nature of each song, as its true essence related to the artist whom created it, is veiled, so it seems pointless to guess at the details. The entirety of the rest of the album features unique combinations of the above elements, always with a similar approach to form a familiar hearth, but with different approaches towards giving each track its own fire above.
The entire album, despite its spiritual ties, feels as if there is a brooding death industrial identity behind its most forefront ritual intentions. Something darker than the exoteric simplicities that are presented so diligently to us through beautiful artwork and a seemingly precise layout with conceptual prowess lurks just beneath the surface of what is definable by research. In truth, there is a bit of chaos within the calmness of the clouds that inhabit the near entirety of the artwork, perhaps as hinted at by the radiant fire-tones of crimson and gold that hide just under the safety of the CD itself — a chaos that beckons for a seeker via two esoteric sigils that are placed at important points within the artwork and which are highlighted by a gloss to make their importance all the more noticeable. This chaos is also made intellectually visible by the track titles themselves, their subject matter as it related to Tibetan Buddhism, and their seemingly randomized inclusion into this record without a clear path of connection outside of the obvious. This randomization, at least for those not officially schooled in Tibetan Buddhist tradition, makes it difficult to grasp the full-scale of conceptual stability within the album, if indeed there is stability intended at all. Despite the profound inspiration and passion that is evident behind the music within Prabhashvara, however, these unexplained randomized influences just add a layer of confusion to the entire album. Complex, beautiful, and brilliant musically, perhaps the only flaw is this; that the personal journey of the artist was only able to be put into an artistic manifestation in fractured form — a form that is only visible to one from the outside looking in as remnants of paper and shards of filtered memories.