PASTIMES OF CREATION

Mukunda’s Friends
Kalindi Music KM006 – Mar. 24, 2018

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Pre-Orders receive a free copy of the Mukunda’s Friends song Lacrimosa.

Read the story of the album.

 

1. Pastimes of Creation 73.50
a. Mystic Sleep
b. Birth of Countless Worlds
c. Paramatma Expansion

 

Review: Textura

The Mar. 21 Album Premiere on Radio Spiral was a triumph. Big gratitude to host Diana Smethurst (Gypsywitch), all listeners and chatroom friends. It was a wonderful two hours, with Diana also playing my pieces Radha’s Tears, First Day Apart and Crystalline.

Over eight years in the making, this intoxicating, immersive, longform meditation piece weaves songs and chants from four performers into a transcendent music tapestry created solely from accordions and airbrushed percussion. The music is ideal for yoga and meditation practices, wellness spaces, and deep or background listening.

Accordionist Jaro “Prem” Czerwinec, best-known for his long tenure with the Cowboy Junkies (as well as recording work with the Skydiggers, Gord Downie and others), leads the way, along with singers Baliyan dasi and David Ludwig.

Pastimes of Creation is one continuous piece in three sections. Mystic Sleep sets the stage with a strong processed-accordion drone, barely-audible metal percussion and prior echoes of music, song and chant soon to be heard.

Birth of Countless Worlds features two half-hour improvisations from Jaro, recorded entirely separately, but intended to be heard together – along with an undercurrent of chant from Daci Jett and Leyla, various songs and chants from Baliyan, and some foundation-shaking low tones from David.

Paramatma Expansion begins with a mesmerizing atmosphere created from (but unrecognizable as) Jaro’s playing in the Countless Worlds section, topped with another, extraordinary half-hour solo. The second half of this section features another long chant swelling underneath the music, leading to a surprise coda.

Jaro’s three solos were all single takes, recorded live in the studio. The percussion, performed live in one pass by Greg M, is mostly singing bowls and Tibetan tingsha chimes, with occasional rain stick and shakers.

The album package features photography from Volodymyr Goinyk.

Pastimes of Creation will be available solely in digital format for now, with a CDR release to follow if there is sufficient interest.

Review by Ron Schepper, Textura:

Last fall Greg Moorcroft appeared in textura‘s pages with a review of his fine eyes cast down release The White Island. A follow-up has now appeared, and though this one’s issued under the Mukunda’s Friends name, some of the qualities present in Moorcroft’s solo project also surface on this collaborative outing featuring accordionist Jaro “Prem” Czerwinec. Speaking about eyes cast down, Moorcroft states, “My music is intended to alter your consciousness, to tap into a timeless realm of ecstatic inspiration,” and certainly much the same could be said of Pastimes of Creation, the seventy-four-minute opus he’s created with Czerwinec. Both projects offer listeners deep listening experiences and the opportunity to achieve some measure of transcendence through music; in both cases, it’s immersive and infused with tranquility, even if eyes cast down more aligns itself to ambient-electronic soundscaping in contrast to the meditative, Eastern-tinged splendour of the Mukunda’s Friends project.

Moorcroft’s credited with percussion, singing bowls, and samples on the recording, while Baliyan dasi, David Ludwig, Daci Jett, and Leyla contribute vocals. Pastimes of Creation plays without interruption, even if it’s structured in three sections, “Mystic Sleep” first and then “Birth of Countless Worlds” and “Paramatma Expansion,” the latter two presented in three parts apiece. Interestingly, it’s not Moorcroft who’s the musical leader but Czerwinec, with accordion textures by the long-time Cowboy Junkies member prominently featured (his CV also includes work with the late Gord Downie and the Skydiggers).

With accordion and percussion the sole instrumentation featured, the sound design is minimal, though vocals add significantly to the music’s impact and character, something that’s made quickly apparent when the mystical drone that initiates “Mystic Sleep” is sweetened with the faint, chant-like vocalizing of Baliyan dasi and deep, Tuvan throat singing-styled expressions that emerge thereafter. Incidentally, that chant, which possesses the hypnotic allure of a nursery rhyme melody, becomes something of a unifying motif when it surfaces throughout the recording, tickling the ear every time it does.

As intoxicating is “Birth of Countless Worlds,” not only for the stirring vocal polyphony generated by the singers but for inspired improvisations by Czerwinec that have been layered on top of one another. Executed in single, half-hour passes, the two improvisations blend miraculously well, considering that they were recorded separately, and sound like the playing of a man veritably possessed whilst recording. The interlacing of vocal textures that develops during the third part of “Birth of Countless Worlds,” proves as mesmerizing, whereas an almost symphonic grandeur is achieved during “Paramatma Expansion” by the swirl of Czerwinec’s spirit-channeling extemporizations, his playing in this celestial concluding section undergirded by ambient processed-accordion atmospherics.

Though you’d never guess from listening to it, Pastimes of Creation was created over an eight-year span, having originated in 2009 when Czerwinec shared with Moorcroft the desire to record processed accordion playing accompanied by meditation songs and chants. Much of the instrumental content was completed soon thereafter, but the gathering of vocal contributions from friends took a great deal longer. When only months ago Moorcroft determined that he now had everything he would need to complete the project, he dedicated four days to assembling and mixing the material to render it into its finished form. As much as it seems tailor-made as a soundtrack to yoga and meditation sessions, it also holds up wonderfully on deep listening grounds, especially when it’s single-handedly capable of inducing states of serenity and spiritual calm.