By: Bo Nuanual
Nestled deep within the Cascade mountain range at an undisclosed location, bare naked bodies - with all their perfections and imperfections - are the vessels which tightly hold scared life forces blessed to frolic and heal in hot springs which bear ancient and aqueous cosmic gifts. Reflecting and bathing in these mineral rich waters - possibly having been hidden in the earth’s bowels since first falling down as rain long before man’s mysterious arrival on earth - soakers ponder over the meaning and possible purpose of life as they seek out mystical experiences and answers to modern problems. Many of us are seeking out and waking up from this infant slumber through mystical and musical experiences to a much different and deeper world of existence - the connected consciousness of the larger planetary organism.
But they need a soundtrack.
Desert Dwellers’ 12-track compilation album, The Clear Path, is an effective exercise in exploring and making accessible the transcendental and mystical experience to individuals all across this ever-changing global world. As we all find ways to tune in together, we just might have a chance at stopping planetary disaster. The Clear Path includes original pieces from the Dwellers themselves, Kayla Scintilla, Birds of Paradise, Whitebear, Kaminanda, Tribone, Sixis, AtYyA, WolfTech, Dimmat, and two remixes by Mumukshu and Land Switcher.
There is, no doubt, a contemporary movement - similar to the counter-culture movement of the 1960’s; a mixture of successes and failures - taking place at this very moment. There is an ever-growing eclectic group of eccentrics, artists, story-tellers, spiritual-leaders, shamans, travelers, wanderers, teachers, students, dancers, healers, wisdom-seekers, and even business wo/men, bankers, lawyers and politicians whom have all been tuning into the spiritual and existential revolution unfolding before our very own eyes. And they are all asking the burning and most fundamental question, “Are we on the right path?” The Clear Path album is a collection of downtempo, electronica, psy-dub, and chill out bass-centered music; the modus operandi of Barcelona based label and booking company Sofa Beats, the freshly formed sub-label under the 26-year-old Danish Iboga Records. Audiences and seekers in need of fresh inspiration can explore solutions to the fundamental question we have all been asking to the soundtrack of The Clear Path.
The album opens with Desert Dwellers' playfully named track, “Saraswati’s Twerkaba.” Downtempo primal bass is blended here with signature eastern instruments. Electronica and modern sounds atop complex rhythmic percussion meet soft lulls of the Oud - a stringed lute with Mesopotamian origins possibly dating back to over 5000 years. Follow the rhythmic claps and immerse yourself into soft bass drums resembling the sounds of the Doumbek - the goatskin headed clay drum. You can find Saraswati in South Asian literature dating back to the Vedic age. Images of Saraswati typically depict a serene goddess holding a stringed-instrument. Traditionally, she is the Hindu Goddess of art, wisdom, learning, and knowledge. Interestingly enough, Saraswati is a homonym - a word that has multiple meanings. It’s alternate meaning is, “One with plenty of water.” Stew on that for a minute! Water is an essential condition for life to exist and with water becoming increasingly scarce and our population exponentially expanding, it is not a stretch to connect the importance and wisdom of having plenty of water. Reflect and probe our current and future relationships with water through this lovely piece of time-space.
Track two, Birds of Paradise’s, “Presenting Infinity,” is a grand reflective and dance gesture. An ominous commanding voice, Eastern vocals, and sounds from outer-space are dubbed alongside futuristic hanging synth spanning across a creative and novel downtempo breakbeat like rhythm. Here, we realize that outside of our temporal existences, we are infinite beings. Audiences may reflect on the costs and benefits associated with thinking on a larger temporal scale rather than our typically limiting and current mode of thinking that is centered in terms of our life expectancy - last reported in the U.S. in 2012 as 78.74 years.
Whitebear’s - “Bardo” - is psytrance at it’s best. Tibetan guttural chanting create an air of venerable seriousness. Bardo refers to the, “in-between” state found and explained in the Tibetan book of the dead. The bardo state has been explored by many contemporary artists concerned with mystical experiences and the death cycle. During sickness, meditation, and induced mystical experiences - one may find themselves exploring Bardo. Ponder the mystical and the Bardo with Whitebear.
Track five mixes it up. Mumukshu does a justice remixing Desert Dwellers’ “Crossing Beyond.” Mesopotamian dreamy vocals open a grimey inter-stellar dance track atop controlled Western rhythm sections. The futuristic electronic sounds have us dancing ourselves into an induced meditative state. Elevate yourself into a higher plane of existence while crossing beyond to find yourself on the other side.
Kaminanda takes us down the rabbit hole with, “Shaman’s Tunnel.” With a slightly faster feel, initially, track six is the world of the Shaman. An Eastern stringed sitar and positively pitched synth creates a movement through hyperspace to take us beyond the doors of perception. At 2:03 we have arrived. Where we have arrived? We are not quite certain, but before we have time to understand where we have landed, we move forward and down deeper into the tunnel.
Land Switcher - with a superb grace and fine execution of the craft - hands us “I Dropped It,” holding its own as the second Desert Dwellers remix on the compilation. With dubstep familiarity and Western feels, South Asian vibes cross into glitchy and playful modernity. Dance your ass off and let all of your negative energy go to this tune and replace internal space - now freed up - with nothing but positive vibes.
Tribone hits a homer with “Gnosis.” Greek for knowledge, Gnosis specifically is the knowledge of, “mystical enlightenment.” We get heady vibes for days and can’t help but earmark this beauty gifted to us by Tribone. Psychedelic as fuck, this masterful creation has us seeking the mystical. With track eight as a companion in the background, we feel confident journeying forward and exploring the unknown which is certainly frightening before evolving and becoming empowering.
A melodic and alien lullaby, Sixis’ track, “Strangers in Paradise,” gets us feeling groovy on a funky interstellar railroad guiding us into the stars. With a peaceful and comforting aura about the song, we feel ecstatic, blissed out, and floating in a calm sea of awareness and heightened perception.
Track ten begins with tubular and curious synths, soft and steady tribal percussion, and trance-inducing bass vibes. AtYyA’s commanding hymn, “Sixth Serpent,” presents the mystical in a pleasant, peaceful, and lulling warm platonic embrace. Can you not help but start to groove and sway your body as you listen to this deeper level communication?
Do you crave a bass line that might possibly get you naked on the dance floor? WolfTech brings us, “Say You Care,” and we are starting to simultaneously fall in love with everyone dancing within 100 feet from us. Futuristic vocals and synth echo the track’s title and we do care! This track creates bonds and unity between fellow travelers and seekers of the mystical experience guiding us towards undiscovered solutions to modern day problems. We are all in this together, we should hopefully all care, and we should all do this together.
The closing track is a futuristic and tranquil check-in before audiences depart. Dimmat gives us a track to serve as a moment to reflect upon our 40-minute journey through the album with, “What is Your Password.” Super chilled out vibes ask us important questions we ought to reflect upon after taking our journey through hyperspace. How do you feel? What do you want? What is possible? What is real and what is illusion?
The Desert Dwellers have astutely designed this East meets West compilation with designs on expanding consciousness and empowering individuals on a grand scale to seek out the mystical. We believe that they have excellently executed this noble and honorable artistic endeavor and also agree that there may be answers to our modern day dilemmas within our ancient wisdom-traditions and within mystical experiences. Incorporating ancient traditions,ideas, and a blend of world instruments and vocals into modern electronica, psy-dub, and downtempo intelligent dance music; The Clear Path provides audiences with a much needed chamber of reflection. Here we can all put our heads together and continue conversations on what must be done to change and correct our current treacherous and disastrous planetary trajectory.
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