We are all on a journey. Aren’t we?
Sometimes life seems to make sense, but perhaps more often we feel as if there is no continuity to our lives. As the world around us seems more fragmented we try to construct paths and ways to make sense of things. Our existence can become an Instagram feed of images with voids in between where the famous metaphysical question, of whether a tree makes a sound when it falls alone, is very pertinent.
In other words if we don’t post something on social media, did it happen? Hell, not only do I write about music, I even post pictures of the records I play, and I’m really happy that Rocket Recordings provided me with a copy of this album in advance of its release to do just that).
This is the point that one of the members of the band (Centrum are made up of members of Hills and Weary Nous amongst others) made to me while talking about this album:
‘För Meditation’ is a perfect opportunity for what it sets out to be: ‘for meditation’. An opportunity for the listener to disconnect from the laptop, Facebook, the constant influx of white noise for 40 minutes and just relax. And maybe catch a glimpse of some previously unnoticed quality of one’s mind.
During the course of this conversation, over email, I at first became frustrated at wanting to do just that. Put my laptop away and just listen. However, I also realised that part of the way that I reflect about music is by writing about it as I listen. I try to discern what the music means to me in that moment. Maybe I should then just keep it to myself rather than sending it out into an internet which seems to me to be simultaneously empty and saturated of meaning.
So in the same way that Centrum offer their music as an opportunity to sit with… so I offer my writing about them as being a reflection on my own personal experience of listening to it. Moreover, such is the reflective power of ‘För Meditation’ that I have decided that calling this an ‘album review’ into longer adequate… which is why I have called in an ‘album reflection’ because that seems more appropriate… I come not to criticise but contemplate.
OK I’m now going to skip over the next ten paragraphs in my head in which I feel the need to existentially justify this and why I’m not trying to be pretentious in doing so… let’s get on with the music itself… I think I have proved my point by making this too much about me…. this music really does encourage you to focus on yourself.
But in focussing on the self, as the earlier quote suggests, it’s also about finding a place that is more empty… more devoid of external distractions… let me again hand over to one of the musicians to describe how they see ‘För Meditation’ could be experienced:
As starting out at dawn ( side A ) and closing off at dusk/ night ( side B ).
As a metaphor for the life cycle. Birth / life / death (in that order) and a celebration of them!
As a way for Centrum to distance ourselves from ” rock ” music in general through not using traditional rock instrumentation like 2 guitars, bass, drums for every song and add some other elements; and through these means create a new interesting musical environment for ourselves and maybe the listener too?
A heavy album. A slow album for the hippie crowd. Heavy without being metal. Slow without being doom. Hashish heavy as someone said.
A message to people that hey, you are alright you know 😉 life is fucking magical!
A record filed under Devotional music / drones / folk category
An opportunity for the listener to start preparing for death (it’s coming you know).
Naturally we are influenced by what we hear and what effects us deeply, and musically there feels to me to be that deep sense of connection with Swedish bands such a Pärson Sound, International Harvester and Träd Gräs och Stenar… the latter of whom was involved with Andy Warhol when he came to show his works in Stockholm. Indeed, the influence of the Velvet Underground is also apparent here… but as a way into understanding where this album is in terms of the music I most commonly write about I would say that Hills and The Myrrors, together with the huge hinterlands that both of those represent, would come the closest.
The album consists of four tracks, each of which could be stretched out indefinitely as they all have their own atmosphere and progression… and I found it really helpful to think of them as a progression in the way(s) outlined above. So let’s be clear this is a heavy album in many ways, but it also has the ability to make you feel lighter.
This can be seen with the opening ‘Vid Floden’ (‘By The River’). While initial listens drew me towards the heavier drones, repeated plays enabled me to get a handle on the greater subtleties of the track too, with the guitars in particular having a real lightness of touch. If, in the cycles set out above this relates to such as ‘birth’ and ‘morning’ you can feel the sense of freshness… of possibility… the idea that everything is attainable… perhaps the suggestion that if we let go that potential will emerge. The title reminded me of the Buddha’s saying that you can never step into the same river twice, which kind of supported how I felt about this song.
After this ‘Sjön’ (‘Lake’) feels more serious… more deliberate… more earnest. There is a a really sense of (and it took me ages to find the right word here) resolve… the idea that something needs to be done… something needs to change… the music here is more about the depth of the lake than my sense of the reflections coming off it. The track feels darker to me than its predecessor… but is ultimately about how to move forward… driven onwards by the momentum of the music.
That sense of movement increases for me with ‘Stjärnor’ (‘Stars’) which has had me in tears on more than one occasion while I have been listening to this album on repeat… and it catches me by surprise each time. Despite its title, there is something that is very engrained in the Earth about this track… I get this sense of oneness… a sort of transparent peace which in turn opens me up… its a track that seems to perform open soul surgery on me… man it is deep and it reaches deep inside me like few others do… and I totally get the aforementioned comment about preparing for death because it is that intense, but in a glorious way.
Which brings us to the final track on this existential journey ‘Som en Spegel’ (‘Like a Mirror’), which is exactly how this music can be viewed. This provided me with a real revelation when experiencing it. I felt somewhat overcome by the beauty of this track… I had my eyes closed and I was really letting the music permeate in to every part of my being. I thought back to the earlier remarks about how we can listen to music and how the way we experience music is OUR experience facilitated by the musicians. I realised that the beauty that I was discerning here lay within myself as I sat with these sounds.
That’s quite a thing to take in… then just I had this revelation what appeared to be a ritual bell sounded… the sound of a life enhancing moment… the sound that confirms the ritual space… an affirmation almost… and a sign of quite how closely I was experiencing this music… the relentless drone pulling me farther in.
At the end I didn’t not want it to stop… I never want it to stop.
And as I now sit here is silence… a silence that seems more profound for what has gone on before. I am left in a different place from where I started. The sort of place where you should be after a ritual… more aware of yourself and the true nature of things… a ritual that was facilitated rather than directed… a moment of transportation somewhere else. That is what ‘För Meditation’ is, and that is what ‘För Meditation’ does. It is an album of wonderful music… but it is also much more than that.
Thank you/ Tack!
‘För Meditation’ is available for pre-order from Rocket Recordings (500 Red Vinyl).
The album will also be released by Danish label Svensk Psych Aften (500 Black Vinyl), and will be available on digital streaming sites (beginning with ‘Stjärnor’) .
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