[Reviewed by: Iaha Crax]
In the beginning there was darkness…a complete absence of matter and spirit. A metaphor intended to infer to the undifferentiated plenitude that the mind can configure by the sole intermediary of verbal or musical analogy. Are words still made flesh nowadays? Alas, only to dress up the bones of mannequins or to advertise artificial paradises. The power of words inflicts the minds, alters feeble psyches, but no longer touches the spirit, except maybe when irony is strong enough to break the carcass of the ego.
It is music that still preserves the divine language and can be wielded to discriminate behind appearances. Letting go of sybillic discourse, the album “Nothingness Without End” opens up by asking what it was that stirred up the ontological darkness, what could awake that torment in the dark Abyss. “Dharmata” is the nature of everything, the first rite held by AITHG (and the first song on side A), the musical project of Romanian composer and interpreter Dan Serbanescu, to reintegrate the spirit into his uniqueness: a spiral flow of drones pointed out at peaks by ritualistic chants and bells. The uncommon spectrum of Tibetan instruments is fully displayed here and along the entire album: “acoustic instruments like rag-dung, kangling, damaru, rol-mo, bells, bows, gongs & with the timeless sound of throat singing” (quoted from the booklet).
“Nothingness Without End” is inspired by Tibetan Buddhism and follows almost genuinely the musical tradition of Tibet, so that the auditor feels completely immersed by the sacred atmosphere. Like the title “Body, Speech, Mind”, the listener takes part in the concept of the music physically, verbally and intellectually. The mantras recited here prepare and engage in a natural symbiosis with the environment created by the music.
A peculiar bond connects what is being heard to the mental reactions, like “Samaya” (namely a set of vows) connects the initiated or the apprentice to his/her mentor. On this track sounds go in and out, describe accolades and interruptions, advancement and drawing back, the hesitation before abandonment and renunciation to individuality.
AITHG feels the sound on a physical level; the project’s creator thinks of matter as being spiritual, thus shaping his sounds as projections and reflections of the matter-spirit dichotomy.
“Samaya” (the third piece) finds its way through the mental apparatus almost scraping at the surface, forging the impression of seeing only the footprints this song left somewhere in memory, because the musical line itself is always a step ahead of what you expect to hear.
During ceremonies, Tibetans are making figures (called Torma) – cakes of flour and butter – to be offered as presents. This is what this record mostly stands for, a sign of appreciation and of letting go of the attachments keeping us chained even to music. And “Nothingness Without End” is physically a remarkable present for any music taster, a cassette with handmade engravings printed on art-paper and displaying mantric visuals realized by Color.Nurse.
On side B , the song “Torma” pervades lightly with this rite of offering; the magic of the music comes out not through melody, which is submitted always to the ritualistic aspect, but following the sophisticated arrangements valuing the Tibetan ethos as well as the inner power of sounds.
Resistance to the moment, to what the present contains, is what keeps alive the ego. So I once read: don’t remember the moment and this may be one antidote against one’s false self, a renounciation of this resistance. Keep this in mind when listening to the final piece, “Nothingness Without End”, not receiving, but allowing yourself to be received and absorbed by the successive leaps of drones and percussions, lightly colliding against throbbing frequencies.
Vacuum, the nothingness that fills anything which is not matter, acquires throughout this song an uneasy materiality, a heaviness made of perturbations and sound concentrations. It carries you along, dispersing the idea of self-being and recomposing it at every new breath, and this without end.