The least ambitious music fools you with emotion. The slightly more adept aims at telling a wordless story. Highest of all, whatever form it takes, music aims for the sublime and in this it is like other art. As such, it reaches for the unnameable, that feeling of lucid solidarity with the universe and although it does not answer any questions, for a moment, it stops you from asking them.
In the same way that the history of visual art is the history of religious art, the history of music is tied into spirituality. The proto-painting was the blood-etched Paleolithic crocodile headed god on the firelit cave wall. Likewise, music emerged from the fireside ritual where the frenzy of the hunt gave way to a communal, elemental thanksgiving. However, as our cerebral cortex grew, so did our understanding of the sublime. Gilded martyrs soon looked down from paintings and monasteries harboured melodious praise for the divine. Yet the basic idea stayed the same: we, who walk through this world as if through a dream wish to create something as unfathomable as God and as mysterious as death so that for at least an instance we may feel greater and more transcendent than the unworthy animal we are. These are all thoughts which emerged when listening to Psenodakh.
There exists a mythology which postulates that listening to chant stimulates, within the brain, Alpha waves, endorphins and all manner of other not easily verifiable goodness. Whether or not this is true, it is clear that chant holds a very specific and peculiar place among the spectrum of ways in which humans have plucked, struck and synthesised noise into some kind of musical evocation.
The word “spirit” comes from the very word for “breath” and one does not need to play Skyrim to see that the human voice, even stripped of semantics and linguistic coherence is capable of jolting us into a profound introspection. Whether Gregorian or Anasheed, the human voice was instrumental in ritual. Vishuda Kali focuses on the Vedic Sanskrit tradition and what is presented is a series of mantras which are then echoed, distorted and layered to produce an album which balances the line between deeply calming and strangely haunting.
This is minimalism at its best. Indeed, whatever aesthetic value one gets out of it, one can’t help but feel that it is secondary to the primary intentions of the Vedic mantras which were created to perform a metaphysical function one couldn’t possibly understand or sympathise with from a region of the world one has no knowledge of. There are no instruments, do not be fooled, sometimes the chant sounds inhuman or unnatural and brings about a sense of unease. There are whispers and hisses and everything is echoed and blanketed, reverberating and falling back on itself. There is occasional melody in the voice, but it is unnatural and repeated, in the vein of music the purpose of which isn’t primarily human entertainment.
It is ritual, it is difficult and it is mixed in a way which will frighten you. The watchword here is “Kali”, the goddess of death and the void, since being bereft of any understanding of the subtleties of Sanskrit mantras what one takes away from this album is the aforementioned awareness of the form of proto-music. Behind the bombast and the ego of tempo and rhythm of music is yet another mechanism through which mankind questions and fears over its own existence. However, you don’t need to be religious at all for this album to have an effect on you, to entrance you and take you to a reality where the offset creation was embodied in a word or a phrase and mankind has the potential to shout back.
01) Rituals From Water
02) Rituals From Air
03) Rituals From Stones
04) Rituals from Fire