White Rainbow - Prism of Eternal Now
(Kranky) Keith Boyd 10.11.07
The late 20 th century Magus/Artist/Raconteur/Author Brion Gysin once said that when you hear your music you'll know it. There have been a few instances when I've felt the velveteen gloved hand of God wrap around my brain in the form of music and really send me. The place I'm sent is always new yet familiar. It's as though the tones and structure I'm hearing are somehow imbedded in my DNA and every nuance both makes sense and delights. The first was hearing Tuareg music from the deserts of Mali and Mauritania . The hypno-shuffle of the oddly tuned guitars and the syncopated hand claps combined with call and response lyrics to set out a musical path that had the power of truly reflecting its surrounding while taking you on a voyage. This music moved my heart so deeply I ended spending over two years in Africa working in the Peace Corps and pursuing this sound. In part what I found during my time in Africa is that music is not just an extra. Music is essential. It is as needed as any other basic item such as food or water. Where I lived in Africa there was a song or rhythm for everything. If you were digging wells there were well digging songs. If someone died there were funeral songs. If it was just too damn hot to move there were too damn hot too move songs. This infusion of song and rhythm lends a buoyancy and purpose to life that eases suffering and deprivation (the common bookends of so many African lives). But that wasn't all. Music also had healing powers. The trance inducing breathing and chanting of both the mosque and traditional "doctors" brought tremendous relief to the sick and injured I knew. So, despite being a life long music fanatic my first real taste "hearing my music" came from Africa and in hearing it I was drawn across the planet. The second major call from beyond came when I heard the whirling tone mantras produced by Terry Riley in the late 60's through the early 80's. There are three albums in particular that really took hold of me and are stick weekly if not daily required listening. The albums are; "Persian Surgery Dervishes", "The Descending Moonshine Dervishes" and "Shri Camel". Each one is a sound world unto itself and can provide you with endless hours of listening pleasure. Through long periods of deep listening to these albums I have felt the healing power of tone. Whether intentionally or not Riley set up these long and overlapped repeating notes that seem to penetrate your muscles at the cellular level. Once there deep waves of relaxation expand outward and you end up feeling this music as much as actually hearing it. Terry Riley's music is also just so wide open that you can find space within it to dream or think or even add in your own tones by chanting or humming. The amazing magic is the power felt in these releases without ever feeling overpowered.
So what does all of this have to do with the new White Rainbow CD, "Prism of Eternal Now"? Well let's put it this way, upon first listening I knew right away that I was hearing once again "The Call". This amazing album is one to really pull towards your heart. Following somewhat the lead of Terry Riley with repeating patterns of tones and pulses White Rainbow goes it one better by delving into a deeper palette of sounds and a broader range of tones. This wonderful and organic disc comes at your head as though it must have existed in some other dimension, just hovering out there beyond, waiting for you to discover it. The whole 70 plus minutes of it feel as intimate as the blood flowing through your veins. It bubbles and coos. It soars and descends. You come away washed up on the shores of a freshened mind and an introspective calm. White Rainbow is apparently the work of one guy named Adam Forkner and he really pulls out all of the stops here. It's a cornucopia of instruments. There is guitar and synth and theremin and delays and loops and shakers and gongs. Yet with all of this plenty and multitude you never feel overwhelmed. It's simply a beautiful, strong and deeply spiritual album. Another nice aspect of White Rainbow's approach is the humor involved. The back cover is a perfect recreation of that old hippie standby a Dr. Bronner's liquid soap label. Not only does WR follow the layout of the label he appropriates the prophetic lingo and uses it to describe his music. I'm currently in the process of trying to get a hold of White Rainbow's 5-disc opus, "Box" but for now let me just come right out and say that everyone needs this disc. On it you'll find a warmth and depth rarely heard in music these days. And who knows, you might just end up hearing your own music.