released January 7, 2023
With the longest of the three pieces on this album clocking in at 35 minutes, one is reminded of the Zen teaching famously quoted by John Cage: “If something is boring after two minutes, try it for four. If still boring, then eight. Then sixteen. Then thirty-two. Eventually one discovers that it is not boring at all.” Boban Ristevski and Wilfried Hanrath, however, don't take their cues from Zen, but from Ram Dass, the LSD-pioneering psychologist turned hindu guru after a trip to India, whose book 'Be Here Now' was first published in 1970 and introduced Eastern spirituality into Western countercultures on a large scale.
As with earlier collaborations of Boban Ristevski with other musicians, the spiritual framework seems to suggest that the immersion in a shared sound-space, always lavishly ambient and droning, prone to invite a journey (or focussing) of the mind, is a kind of core for collective meditation. However, the music also works without endorsing the thoughtworld of West-coast Eastern mysticism if one chooses to focus on the minute details and liminally subtle changes that occur as the stream of sound flows through one's consciousness. Fascinating for sure is the way in which Wilfried Hanrath, whose main instruments are usually bass and guitar, has morphed his musical language into a symbiosis with the sheets of electronic drone minimalism that is a trademark of Boban Ristevski's recent work.
File under: ambient, drone
De Duitse muzikant Wilfried Hanrath is een echte freestyler. Of noem hem een genre-hopper. Hij doet eigenlijk waar hij zin heeft, of het nu jazz is of ambient. Hij werkt voor zijn nieuwste album Be Here Now samen met de Macedonische muzikant Boban Ristevski, die meestal ergens in de drones en ambient hoek zit. Op hun gezamenlijke album brengen ze slechts drie stukken, maar wel met een totale lengte van 61 minuten. Langgerekte stukken, die doen denken aan de Zen-leer van John Cage: “Als iets na twee minuten saai is, probeer het dan vier. Als het nog steeds saai is, dan acht. Toen zestien. Toen tweeëndertig. Uiteindelijk ontdek je dat het helemaal niet saai is.” Toch laten de heren zich hier niet leiden door deze leer maar door Ram Dass, de LSD-pionierende psycholoog die na een reis naar India hindoe-goeroe werd en wiens boek ‘Be Here Now’ voor het eerst werd gepubliceerd in 1970 en Oosterse spiritualiteit op grote schaal in westerse tegenculturen introduceerde. Het album is dan ook aan hem opgedragen. Grof genomen kun je stellen dat ze hier een mix van drones en dark ambient laten horen, maar op subtiele wijze mixen ze er van alles doorheen. Ook als je meer inzoomt ontdek je zoveel geluiden. Ze weten je op zachte wijze stevig in de houdgreep te nemen, mede door de repetitieve klanken. En misschien is het niet de bedoeling, maar ik word hier toch aardig zen van.
Boban Ristevski seems to have found a steady home with Attenuation Circuit, as many of his recent releases are on this label. Collaborations are his main interest, and if my count is correct, this is the seventh I have heard from him. This time he teams up with Wilfried Hanrath. I heard some of Hanrath's music before, but I don't know enough about him. He plays bass and guitar. Ristveski is, so I believe, a man for all things laptop. I have no idea how things are arranged with these collaborations Ristevski does, but somehow I think he's the one controlling the output. So whatever the other does, Ristevski does extensive processing and mixing. This new release is dedicated to Ram Dass, the LSD psychologist who became a Hindu guru after his trip to India. The release title is from a book he wrote that introduced Eastern spirituality to Western countercultures (I am copying the information here!). Whatever the input was, we no longer hear it anymore. I guess it must be if these are a guitar and bass. These sounds are stretched out to vast drone, hissy and warm, with shorter and rhythmic loops. These are laid out in very minimal terms. Listen superficially; I think the music wants you to do that, and it seems nothing changes. I like to play this kind of music at a quiet volume, slowly filling up the living room. Play it louder, and you'll notice a more industrial undercurrent, which is interesting but doesn't work for me that much on that level. Interestingly the third piece sounded the most guitar-like and raga-like in all its drone-ness. Nie release, once again!
AVANT MUSIC NEWS
For the Western flower-power generation, Be Here Now was the seminal introduction to Eastern spirituality, penned by a former Harvard professor of psychology and dabbler in psychoactive drugs who, after an extended stay India, came home as guru Ram Dass. In naming their new album after the book, two prolific artists signal their continued interest in marrying music to spiritual philosophy, as evidenced by their impressive respective discographies. German artist Wilfried Hanrath identifies himself as a “freestyle, non-genre composer,” which might also be said of Macedonian Boban Ristevski, who also records as Lefterna and who perhaps can be said to tend toward ambient drone. The first and third tracks serve as intriguing bookends to a massive central tour-de-force. The former breathes deeply within some echoey thoracic cave over a background of busy carpentry, while the latter chronicles a machine struggling against the dying of the light to squeeze out one last spooky tune. But it is that middle track, a near thirty-six minute epos, that sweeps you up. A minimalist drone masterpiece, it filters air that while somewhat grim and grimy is also awesome and boundless. For this one, do as Ram Dass advised: “Just relax and enjoy the process.” It certainly focuses the mind’s ear on the here and now.