There’s a part of ambient music closely tied to drone, the part that concerns itself mostly with repetition, that has distanced itself from both the ‘lightness’ of setting the mind adrift as self-spectator and the ‘heaviness’ of noisy irruptions of soundscapes enabling the activity of thought. It treads no road in between, but floats away into a place where contemplation dissolves the limits of context, unmasking History as great impersonator: the “Peak of Anchorite”, the highest viewpoint of the mystic that sees fields eternally on fire where the believer sees a written text taking place. It is an inward movement that never loses its hold on what surrounds it, like an anchorite finding seclusion at the center of communal congregations, decidedly a part of the world while simultaneously away from it. The repetition that surrounds him or her is understood, but not accepted, for it turns the rhythm of life into the drones of ritual, the blinding brilliance of the sun into cycles of mechanical gestures. The anchorite seeks the stars elsewhere, deeply within the repetition of his or her own heartthrob instead of a collective celebration written in stone.
Hence, this is ambient music that sets off with no discernible beginning or end beyond the pressing of buttons, although there’s no easy way to integrate it with whatever it is you might be doing; it demands your full attention as it unravels a meditative space inside your head, which is to say it drones like the best of ‘em. The anchorite reference becomes apt, as electronic distortion seemingly repeats to no end only to be elevated by a lone voice chanting amidst the noise. It is a rhythm to build a mental maze out of, a constant suggestion of self-exploration, a grinding meditation that inspires an awe no longer found in the conventions of self-understanding, overtaken as they are by a myriad linear expressions of emptiness. It is in this way that it will evoke altogether different meditations on every person, every time, an experience in which perhaps finding an immense sadness in this music might happen at the very same time of finding peace and a feeling of tranquillity.
Being only 24 minutes long, Peak of Anchorite suggests a sense of incompleteness, in the same way a mystic finds ritual incomplete because there is no close conciliation between inside and outside, it is but the drawing of veils upon veils. The mystic sees, piercing the masks, the walls built by texts, and encounters him or herself in everything. This music has the same sense of remaining incomplete, and it demands all of your attention, it demands an inward movement only for you to open your eyes in the end and look anew upon all that was previously so easily explained. It flies in the face of both ambient and drone, using their techniques of immersion to travel to yet another route that is hard for a reviewer like me to pin down, a path that is weird and fantastic, perhaps the only places where to talk of music and mysticism still makes a bit of sense. The closest thing I could make the case for is that it’s like Jefre Cantu-Ledesma’s Shining Skull Breath, following the same kind of ‘religious’ – if utterly noisy and modern – approach to drone and ambient, a unique way of punching holes within meditations to make space for the surroundings, producing a subtle but significant change in perspective.
In any case, thanks to the fair aims of IA‘s record label, this music is available to everyone, without having to worry about the limited releases of dronesters all over. If you have the means and the disposition, this is one of those albums you shouldn’t pass by without giving it at least a listen or two if possible. You won’t regret it! (David Murrieta)