Constellation Tatsu’s Summer Batch includes this little green gem, labelled as “spiritual, adventurous, fun”. These words don’t often appear together, but they should. All too often our spiritual side – or at least, religion – finds its edges dulled. Breathknow seems to be saying, “you can work yourself into a trance – or you can dance!” Either reaction would fit this music, which is even happier on the inside than it is on the outside. Inside, listeners will find chants, bells and beats, but the chants are less monastic as they are satisfied. Sean Conrad (Ashan) seems content to send his music out into the world, a little wish embedded in each note, the contents apparent only to the recipients. Breathknow is an instant mood-lifter, a series of beats wafting on the breeze, a rhythmic clapping at a temple celebration, a convertible top lowered on a beautiful day.
A lovely contrast is created between the lower-toned patterns and the higher-toned voice. Some may consider this a parable, the world trying to drag us down while spiritual enlightenment lifts us up. The happy little pine trees imprinted on the cassette may be a reminder of nature (Ashan hails from California, the home of the redwoods), growth, or even Christmas. On the inside flap, these tiny trees stretch from an open eye, the metaphor becoming ever clearer. The lack of lyrics allows listeners to appreciate Conrad’s voice as instrument or mantra. The cover invites contemplation or play. The pulses and beats inspire head-nodding and smiles. A whirling dervish might love this recording.
On “Faern” (the beginning of Side B), there’s a break in the action: bubbling water, a laugh, a flute. The action has moved outdoors, perhaps to the creek on the cover. Chimes sneak in from the sides like guests at a surprise party. The beat enters halfway through the track, fresh from an afternoon tea. The album’s best segment arrives in the final 1:33 of the closing track, when the wrist bells and tambourines arrive with a flourish, then slowly settle. All is safe; all is well. (Richard Allen)