‘Zen does not follow the routine of reasoning, and does not mind contradicting itself or being inconsistent‘ – Suzuki Daisetsu Teitarō
Echoing through deep, ill-lit caverns and dripping onto the wet, gleaming surface of a dark rock, the gamelan sounds of Ichinen sit, their meditative notes reverberating into the empty space, clanking within its subterranean temple. Ichinen is a deep listen, inspired by a trip to Japan in 2015 and the book Living by Zen, by Suzuki Daisetsu Teitarō.
Fabio Perletta is in the presence of stillness, a place beyond all the accepted laws of external space and time: a spliced point, “a point of time which has neither the past nor the future”. Seconds stutter and stop.
In Living by Zen, Teitarō describes, as in accordance with zen practice, the shortest possible unit of time: time occupied by a single thought. In a similar way, the two kanji of Ichinen represent singularity. One is a lonely number, and the regularly recurring gongs – as regular as clockwork – thrum against a beating heart. The years go by and the music envelops them in the space of a single second. The minimal sounds are engaged in a kind act of intimacy with the very air. As the heavy-headed tones ring out, carrying the weight of past centuries, they absorb the very atmosphere. And because of this, the sounds inside Ichinen become endless things.
Voices are cut and pasted into the record, blinking in and out of the introspective tones like a camcorder turning on and off; like a guided tour lost in a deep, watery cavern. A flare-up of tinnitus is a warning that all is not as it seems, like underlying anxious thoughts that attempt to derail a meditation practice. Time itself, along with any and all arranged notions of it, becomes but an unfurling construct in the process of erasing, its memory deleting.
Using sounds from traditional Japanese objects found in both common and sacred places, along with field recordings taken in Tokyo, Takayama and Kyoto, which were later processed on a computer, Perletta’s sounds are cold and damp to the touch. They’re left alone for the first third of Ichinen, but isolation nonetheless helps the music to grow like an undiscovered fungus, unheeded by anything, occupying a copious amount of space in the dank caverns due to the absence of others. Meditative gongs and dulled, seeping sounds are like strong and deep thoughts, ringing out until they reach completion, and almost inaudible quakes send shivers over lower, unstable ranges. Pure frequencies hold an attentive gaze.
The notes fade, but they don’t necessarily stop. They echo into infinity, at once trapped inside the deep trenches of the past and in turn shaping things that have yet to arrive. Harmony and silence are one and the same. (James Catchpole)
All music ever played is still playing – The Music Lesson, by Victor L. Wooten.