A song for every month: May, June, July, August. Three CDs in a wooden box. Two and a half hours of music. This is ΠΑΝΘΕΟΝ’s May Batch, designed to score a restful summer. If the warm months are even half as relaxing as this, we’re all in for a treat.
Birds cry, dogs bark, children shout and ambience sings; this is “A Flower of May,” from Rhucle‘s A Little Long Day. It’s not quite summer, but we’re almost there. So says the cute little bird on the blue handcrafted cover, courtesy of Tim Six & Mila Berestovaya. The liner notes declare, “Sun … would shine over the forests, over the rivers and uncountable lakes. It will be a long day even over the big city which barely sleeps.” The brook is flowing when we awaken, and will be flowing when we turn in. It’s the Tokyo artist’s 49th release to appear on Bandcamp in the last five years, and his 8th of the year to date, but the most reliant on field recordings, louder here than on Tears (White Paddy Mountain); “Waiting Time I and II” are pure forest bathing. Rhucle re-visits familiar themes: nature, seasons, softness, balance. It’s safe to say that he’s immersed in the world he scores. According to Dr. Qing Li, just a few moments in nature can be enough to bring restoration, but more importantly for this site, the sound of nature can improve productivity and concentration at work. We suspect this album will play in a lot of offices this season.
EugeneKha‘s Three Months starts softly, but develops into a cacophony of activity: shakers, bells, human bird cries and all manner of percussion. As the liner notes proclaim, the “promise of summer was whispered by leaves,” leading to “rhythms of awakening” and “noisy sonatas.” This is what we encounter as “June” reflects a rain forest through jaw harp, flute and swirls of chant, joined by hand drums in the final third. Although the sounds are man-made, one can hear nature escaping its stupor and exploding into a symphony. And there’s the sun, cheerfully hovering above a blooming branch, as it drinks in the activity. Cicadas, dogs and traffic occupy “July”, the hottest of months and most arid of tracks, waiting for sweet relief to arrive in “August” as muted ambience gives way to the sound of showers. When the rain ends, the children emerge, then the drums, making a triumphant return in the fifteenth minute and dancing all the way to the stream. September will arrive soon enough, but the final song is an expression of exuberance, drinking in every last ray.
China’s 光淵 (Pool Of Light) is the one-man-multi-instrumentalist Anton Bogdanov. Abyss is a study of opposing forces, “sunlight and shadows, vastness and wind,” where trancelike meditations turn into hypnotic drones. Bogdanov alternates between states of lost and found, content and dissatisfaction, echoing the human experience. Abyss‘ spiritual arc travels from attachment to bliss to the re-emergence of doubt. Flames crackles throughout “Memory,” leading to “Circle.” Is there no escape? Fortunately the timbres indicate hope. Despite the subject matter, Abyss is the most melodic of the May releases, offering passages that lodge in the mind like invited guests. The shoes come off as the pilgrim enters the monastery. If peace has not yet been found, at least the possibility of peace exists, and this possibility is enough to nudge the seeker through the day.