Forgive me readers, for it has been nearly three weeks since my last review… ‘Omegaville‘ by Anthrprophh.
I have to say that that album knocked me so totally sideways that I’ve spent the intervening time wondering how I would ever find the words to write about an album ever again. I decided that patience was the key and have been listening to albums on my ‘review list’ hoping to find the right moment of inspiration… something that finally seems to have happened with this gem from Prana Crafter, released on cassette by the ever reliable Beyond Beyond is Beyond Records.
So why has it been this album that has ripped me out of my writers block? I think it is because William Sol, who records as Prana Crafter, seems to take a lot of his inspiration from walking through nature, the pictures on his Facebook page very much reminding me of the ones that I take myself; the woods of Washington State playing the same role for him as the forests of Northern England do for me.
As such I feel a certain spiritual identification with this music, because is feels imbued with a certain naturalism that I think only a close listen can really appreciate…
The album comprises seven instrumental tracks, all of which are modest and understated. After the nerve shredding of Anthroprophh, which the added experience of seeing them live at the weekend; together with some very challenging days at the place where I volunteer, I was ready for some music that feels healing… music that will bring you down to earth… music that will reconnect you with it… music that inspires and envelops.
I’ve never met William so I’m making a big assumption here, but from his music I would imagine that he is something of an introvert, like myself… someone who likes to communicate through their own creativity; and for me this is exactly what this album does from start to finish. Beginning with the opening track ‘Bodhi Cheetah’s Boogie Blues’, which most certainly fulfils its title, but in a way that does not put itself out there… the blues of the guitar and the boogie of the keys alternate in a way that invites you in. This isn’t a crazy party, it is a quiet, contemplative and warm room in which you can make yourself at home and just be.
This is perhaps why this album is so right for me at this moment, because you can sit with and it gives you permission to sit with yourself. For us introverts that is a real bonus. This atmosphere is continued with ‘Blooming of the Third Ear’, which sees the music take more of an abstract turn. There’s more to think about here. Still there is the peace and the quietude; but it gives you less… you have to make your own mind up, do your own thinking. This is a track that less invites you in as takes you out into the rich green of the mossy woods and asks you to look around… what do you see? What are your feelings and experiences? What do you bring to the moment? These are open questions that allow the listener to respond however they like, and that’s the thing… this music is not in your face… but neither is it passive. Oh and the guitar in the last minute of the track is just perfect.
Well as I hope you can tell I’m feeling as if I’m back in the writing groove again and, if anything, ‘Holy Temple of Flow’ just gets me going even more. There’s such a stillness to this track, a sense of solitude that never tips over into loneliness. As such there’s an acceptance… a oneness; and although I’m sitting in my front room writing this I can close my eyes and feel transported to anywhere… I can imagine the musician wandering through the mountains and forests taking in the views, but also seeing the smallest details that only familiarity with an area can bring. At around three minutes in the number takes a more upbeat path which feels a bit of a strain at first, but acts as a reminder for me that there are other things out there.
After that ‘Crystal Sky Wooden Cloud’ hits you with some lovely melodies through Sol’s acoustic guitar. The feeling is still intimate, but the tune somehow takes you along at a more accelerated rate before fragmenting and then returning. This is a really beautiful track on a beautiful album, and album that is making me more calm by the minute… and I really need that this week.
The title of the next track, ‘Pandimensional Drifter’, suggests something more spiritual journey, which is borne out by the quite etherial manner of the beginning. After about a minute or so it opens out into something more panoramic, certainly by the standards of this album. There’s a certain openness and connectedness here that has perhaps been absent on the previous tracks, something that helps the listener to begin to complete the cycle… of what I’m not fully sure… cycle of contemplation maybe? Certainly Prana Crafter returns to softer more misty themes by the end making the track feel more like a sub-five minute saga.
‘Old Growth Fortress’ also feels slightly more out there, not exactly aggressive, but certainly less reserved for the most part with some great guitar work, electric this time, adding a certain fuzziness to the music before the track comes down into a jazz, almost lounge, beat that has enough angles and edges to it to never sound too smooth. Again this is far from a passive experience, although it is one that is laid back… more enriching than force feeding.
The final track ‘Vajra Mountain’ once again suggests a spiritual connection being channeled through the music. ‘Vajra’ is a word Sanskrit word that has a number of connotations in both Hinduism and Buddhism, more often associated with thunderbolts… and can be interpreted as being an element of peace or war. Here it feels peaceful… effectively an acoustic guitar piece that closes the album in a way that does not try to resolve anything but leaves things open for another time.
There’s no denying that ‘Bodhi Cheetah’s Choice’ was the right album at the right time for me. It is an album that you can immerse yourself it. It feels totally non-prescriptive in the way it presents itself, and rather invites the listener to put their own interpretation on it. This does not mean that this music is passive… rather it is facilitative. It is spiritual rather than religious, and feels channeled rather than written. Listening to it makes you feel that you are part of an oral transmission of feelings and ideas, and that, dear reader, is just what I needed.
‘Bodhi Cheetah’s Choice’ is available on cassette from Beyond Beyond is Beyond.