Sean Washburn "Wave Mantra" CD
"Wave Mantra" CD by American soundexplorer Sean Washburn, based in Maryland, was released on Swedish gterma label during the middle of April, 2015, but the story behind this album is much much older. As far I know, it was originally released on CD format by the artist himself back in January 2000, now I believe out of print title, but unfortunately I have never got aware of this amazing piece of music until gterma made their announcement about reissuing remastered "Wave Mantra" at the beginning of this year. What a shame on me!!! Anyway, I am really happy to able to explore this classic tribal ambient jewel, even if more than 15 years passed already. As usual for gterma, the traditional jewel case packaging is accompanied by attractive 16-page booklet featuring additional photographs by gterma's driving force mr_rehn aka Johan Rehn. The mastering duties are handled by frequent gterma engineer Anders Peterson of Ghost Sounds acting under his A.P moniker.
Enigmatic gong announces the opening, 8-minute "To Thee Homage", which delves into deeply profound terrains driven by Tibetan throat singing and velvety whisperings by guest artist, Laura Numsen, while mesmerizingly meditative drone nuances continually float across. Tinkling subtleties with organic delicacies join this utterly tranquilizing spectacle as well. A very strong overture, which seamlessly moves through "Hemlock Grotto", where flute murmurs are persistently bridged with intangible tribal drumming and commingle with helixing drone mindscapes. "Cirrus" remains on the path of bizarrely spiraling patterns, slightly ear-piercing when hitting the climax. Flimsy tinkles clandestinely permeate through the undulating drone sheets. Distant primordial rumbles sneak towards the end and disclose the next piece, "Trans-World India", which mysteriously drifts through more expansive panoramas, yet perplexingly cascading and reinforced by fragile chimes. Assorted environmental urban sounds elusively infiltrate throughout and help to draw trance-inducing mandalas. "Welcome" immediately broadens the drifting scenario, moving through spaciously grandiose, stunningly rainstick-infused realms, magnificently augmented by ear-bending oscillations and enthrallingly rattling and shaking traceries. A truly shamanistic performance showcasing Sean Washburn at the very top of his magical craft, bravo!!! 9 and half minutes long "Inner Gate" introduces another guest and another sound shaman, a didgeridoo par excellence player, John Vorus. Soothing sounds of floating water coalesce with Sean Washburn's whispers, while hypnotic didgeridoo drones are hovering above. Then exquisitely expressive flute steals the journey and commingle with synth and didge walls, before bridging with contemplative Tibetan monk chants, transcendental throat singing and crystalline tinkles. Total sonic immersion is again meticulously achieved and the listener continuously explores a uniquely majestic and extraordinarily inexplicable landscapes on the Tibetan Plateau!!! Kudos to Sean Washburn and John Vorus!!! Shorter, nearly 3-minute "Low Barometer" is sculpted of thunder sounds (Peter M. Sullivan is credited for these recordings) and remote, yet gorgeously evocative flute. "Between The Heartbeats" reveals with relaxing, nocturnally delicious natural sounds and magically transporting udu beats, surrounded my gentle tides of drones and serenely embracing flute contemplations. Nearly 20-minute closing opus "A Sacred Voice - Cloud Tree" reveals with peaceful, cavernously echoed field recordings, then calm synth meanders join the scenery along with more gliding drone layer and distantly emerging drumming, which slowly becomes more apparent and profoundly engrossing together with inconspicuously arising Native American flute and persistent nightly songs of crickets. After the beat and flute evanesce around the middle of the track, Laura Numsen again steps to the stage with her airy whispering voice, remote throat singing calmly emerges as well and together paint seductively mesmerizing images. The closing, around 5 minutes long passage returns to deeply organic terrains counterpointed with smoothly cascading drone texture. John Vorus gets additional credit for his synth and obsidian shimmer (?) on this composition. Spellbindingly rewarding finish of this 74-minute album!!!
"Wave Mantra" precisely melts electronics with a variety of ethnic instruments and masterfully equilibrates them with large dose of exotic fragrances. Huge thanks to Sean Washburn and Johan Rehn/gterma for resurrecting this enigmatically distinguishing sonic gem!!! Keep in mind, there is no excuse for missing "Wave Mantra" again!!! And I really hope this reissue also marks the return of Sean Washburn after his long silence. His deeply soulful sonic meditations are always welcome!!! Keep on the path, Sean!!!
Richard Gürtler (Sep 14, 2015, Bratislava, Slovakia)
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