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På skive


«The Thousand Buddha Caves»
ROOM40, RM4125

American, the Melbourne-based experimental composer David Shea, a disciple of minimalism pioneer Morton Feldman and known for his collaborative work with John Zorn, has a deep and lifelong interest in the nexus of Eastern and Western musical forms. Since he was 14 years old he was fascinated by the mythological Silk Road, and especially The Thousand Buddha Caves (Chinese: 西千佛洞), a staging post for travelers on the Silk Road and a Buddhist cave temple in Dunhuang, Gansu Province, China, titled after the founding monk Yuezun’s vision of «golden radiance in the form of a thousand Buddhas».

Shea’s obsession with the Silk Road led him to study the reality of the people living along its routes, the travelers on it, and the indigenous cultures, belief systems, music, art, history and rituals created by its travelers. His previous works – «Hsi-Yu Chi» (Tzadik, 1995), «The Tower of Mirrors» (Sub Rosa, 1995), «Satyricon» (Sub Rosa, 1997) and «Rituals» (Room40, 2014) – were all based and evoked the myths, the historical adaptations and the connections of the Silk Road to many trading routes throughout the ancient world and their connection and relevance to current technological culture.

These unique forms of trading of cultural traditions, cosmologies, mysticisms, esoteric knowledge, historical eras and forms of rituals became the entrance into the Caves for Shea. «The Thousand Buddha Caves» is the outcome of Shea’s extensive of music, dance, painting, architecture and design, the stories, the history and the Buddhist influences, and his search for connections to the 21st century. The album was recorded at the Melbourne Recital Centre with Shea playing electronics, piano, singing bowls and overtone vocals plus samples and field recordings with a core band of guzheng and vocalists Mindy Meng Wang and percussionists Eugene Ughetti and Matthias chack-Arnott, and guest musicians including experimental guitarist Oren Oren Ambarchi and drummer Joe Talia and the contemporary Ictus Ensemble.

«The Thousand Buddha Caves» is an epic and untimely journey that crosses genres and real and imaginary electro-acoustic sonic sceneries. Shea composed a series of ten immersive, subtle and multilayered soundscapes that evoke the mysterious rituals and chants, sensual songs and melodies, and rich and cultures of the Silk Road. These highly detailed and suggestive soundscapes flow organically between Buddhist chants, Gamelan percussive patterns, songs led by the traditional Chines plucked zither – the guzheng – and meditative piano playing, electronic sounds and samples and field recordings. The minimalist and somehow modest and reserved spirit of this fascinating work triggers the listener’s imagination even more. It emphasizes how the myths that surround the Silk Road and The Caves, as well as the still relevant options of trading and creating hybrid forms of cultures still resonate and live in our individual and collective memories and imagination.

Eyal Hareuveni

David Shea (elec, p, singing bowls, v overtone, multiphonic singing, sample collage, field rec.), Mindy Meng Wang (guzheng, v), Eugene Ughetti (perc), Matthias chack-Arnott (perc), Tamara Kohler (afl, fl), Oren Ambarchi (g), Joe Talia (dr), Girish Makwana (tablas), Ictus Ensemble 

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