Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Moljebka Pulse - Duhka

Moljebka Pulse - Duhka
2003, Isoramara Records

On the information sheet that came with this album there were two very basic descriptions of the type of music that Moljebka Pulse offer [at least what they are offering here]: "experimental drone ambient" and, below it, the label of "hypnotic meditative music". Furthermore, as I might as well give you the rest of the information they gave me, "Moljebka Pulse is an experimental music group based in Stockholm, Sweden. The group works with both electronic and acoustic instruments to create hypnotic meditative music. Over the years Moljebka Pulse has performed live in Canada, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the U.S." Describing "Dukha": "On this release new worlds of evolving landscapes are explored and organic life-forms are encountered by Moljebka Pulse, using manipulated guitars as vehicles and computer manipulations as tools. Duhka is a prelude and part one of a suite presenting a pilgramage where the landscapes introduced on Dukha will be further explored."

So, as one can see, Moljebka Pulse do not have problems with describing their specific purpose in this work or in labeling their general approach as a whole. Good.

"Duhka" is one long flowing track, seventy-one minutes and one second long. Over the course of its running length it travels through several different sound spheres, several varying individual sound scenes and set pieces, but it never loses its essential quality of a drone-based work. There is an ever-present ambient murmur always hovering over the internal landscape of this album, always swelling or collapsing, rising or falling, settling firmly into one's point-of-view [internally] or one's attention, and then fading away. The parts where it does seem to fade farther into the background are where, I am thinking, the composer[s] has set individual track markings, as if to register and create identification or location reminders. Rising, raising, falling, building again, this drone of unique calm and an airy, ethereal "stillness" [like the far-off roar of cities at night or wind at a distance] is the essential identity of "Duhka". Going by the offered description repeated above, it is the Moljebka Pulse, or the projected "essence" of the music's narrator, both the band and the composer[s]. It trades identities, it merges with other forms, it maneuvers and seems to change shape, slowly drifting and metamorphosing like the crawling shapes of clouds, but it is always present. Its identity is one, and that is the center of the "meditative" quality upon which this work rests. One can fix one's mind just on this drone, and follow it for the entire seventy minutes.

This center drone is also a guide, because as it rises and falls in its slow shifting figures it seems to travel, and sound organisms or "organic life-forms" [going by the band's own description above, once again] filter out of the darkness/silence and are examined in the light of one's sound-directed consciousness. The drone leads one to these organisms, it pauses as they are perused, examined, let go, and left to wander off back into the silence - the time behind the directed consciousness, the immediate past. It's as if the listener was walking on a dark night through a desert landscape, and came across, at select intervals, individual life-forms that suddenly appeared out of the gloom in the glow of his flashlight. They first appear as shadows against a lighter background, transform into abstract shapes, and then assume a definite appearance [an "identity"] as one gets closer to them. As one walks away they are swallowed up by the darkness once again. Each of the organisms has a unique footprint which is represented as a sound stage [an event - we would call it a "track" if this album had been divided into "songs"] along the drone's journey, and as each organism is seen and examined or come across it seems to press it existence in waves of abstract sound upon the drone. Does the drone change in response to this, even as it leaves the organism behind and seeks the next one? Yes. That seems to be the entire point of the album: how the drone [the identity, the focused point of view, the consciousness directed by the music] is changed by what it experiences and feels. Isn't that the sole, central idea behind any "journey", or any narrative?

This is an ethereal journey, of course. At no point am I ever reminded of terrestrial sojourns when listening to this music...if it was planned that way it might only be the last frail fragments or echoes of experience that rained down upon the innermost recesses of this groups composing concentration when they walked through their world. Their world is not mine, in any case. "Duhka" does not seem to have any connection with the Earth at all, it resides somewhere completely different, in a place far inside the soul or far outside the reach of this planet. That is just my opinion, though. When I hear music like this I always think of other planets, other places, something alien and beyond normal experience...

It is "meditative" because of its serene, deep, and ever-changing dark drifts of coalescing forms. At only a few points is one really reminded of the actual sources of these sounds, at only a few points can one seemingly locate these direct sources and tell from where all of this abstract atmosphere was derived. Shortly after the 26th minute, for example, mounting coils of distortion seem to climb up from the depths beneath the shifting sound world and claw impotently at the underside of the leading drones. They soon sink again in their lethargy, their motiveless malignity. Are they from a guitar? Perhaps. At other times, in order to lend certain readily-located or identified characteristics to sound entities a resonating sample or allusion will be placed in front of one's internal gaze...they seem to be sounds of the night. However "Duhka", once again, can readily be divided into significant sections based on its own internal characteristics, its own essential form. One does not need to point to individual, isolated elements in order to create some kind of feeling of "structure". It is a wave that builds and recedes, like a vast groundswell of flooding water, a pattern that rises towards a contact with a sound event, a new organism to be met, experienced, examined, touched, felt, and then falls again back into its own identity in order to learn, to change, to grow. It breathes, but ever so slowly.

I can not "judge" this music, nor do I want to. I appreciate it, I enjoy it immensely, and I have been listening to it every day since it arrived in my mailbox. I would certainly recommend it to anyone who gets pleasure from droning ambient works like Rapoon's "Fires of the Borderlands", for example. I think it completely succeeds in accomplishing what it set out to do - what more can an artist ask for?

Packaging: my CD came in a clear plastic sleeve, about 8 inches by 6, with a segmented [half-transparent, half opaque] white paper label with the band's name and the name of the album on it. Also included in the sleeve is a single piece of rough-edged [torn] deep blue soft paper which the information sheet says is handmade. It looks like it. The paper smells very strongly of some kind of chemical detergent or bleach. I guess it comes from something that was part of the solution or wash used in the manufacturing process. On the back of the sleeve is a very small circular white sticker with the number "56" on it. This release is supposedly limited to 300 copies, but I would hate to think that this band wasted one of these 300 on me!