[Reviewed by stark]
This is one of those albums where it’s difficult to single out one track, or even one moment that will stay with you longer that the other ones. It’s rather something that you absorb in its entirety and don’t really want it to end, even if you don’t listen to it carefully and attentively for the whole seventy four minutes. David Parsons (do not confuse with Alan Parsons) returns with his second offering for the gterma label.
The first recordings of this composer from New Zealand date back to the early eighties. He released some albums for the legendary Fortuna Records and its sister-label Celestial Harmonies. Well, honestly speaking, I wasn’t in a rush to get familiar with this one. I was rather expecting some New Age mumbo-jumbo with an Eastern touch and perhaps a few ambient incrustations here and there. And you know what? I wasn’t that wrong, except for the fact that the ambient layers are more intense and cover the New Age frames, so they do not dominate the work that is called “Puja” (in Sanskrit it means “ritual prayer”).
What surprised me the most were the occasional darker trips, like in “Offerings 3” where the deep drones having something in common with aliquot singing are merged with ritual bells and sequences that even Lustmord would be proud of. It’s a peculiar combination that introduces a feeling of anxiety into this sublime communion with the gods. A fear of them perhaps?
The artist is juggling with moods from track to track, as another “Offering” is a peaceful and ethereal composition with samples of female chanting, but not in the way you’d expect – it’s intermittent, delayed and reverbed, but still nicely fitting into the calming textures. You can meet these contrasts more often within the space of the whole album, but you don’t feel confused, as it’s all gives the impression of a very coherent and thought out work.
That is also why I discussed distinguishing certain tracks or fragments. Because of the sound and the mood that is a derivative of the concept, it all sounds quite monolithic and dense. Focused like a ritual that requires patience, stillness and self-meditation. Of course, you can use “Puja” as muzak as well, and I doubt David Parsons would be particularly disappointed with such a treatment – but it works both ways. Consciously or unconsciously you can feel that something has changed in the environment. That a touch of mystique has penetrated into your regular day like any other day.
Since it’s a gterma release you know what to expect from a technical point of view. A CD only, no digital version. And, as always, a booklet with some beautiful photos completing the musical side.