Bokar Rimpoche

Sacred Chants and Tibetan Rituals from the Monastery of Mirik(Sub Rosa 2008)

Sorry for the lack of posts lately, but I am currently up to my elbows in 320 pages of poorly written research papers. Grades are due tomorrow and time has been scarce. I’ll be back to my usual scattershot self by next week. In the meantime, here is a hypnotic coundtrack to Guy Maezelle’s documentary Bokar Rimpoche: Meditation Master. I haven’t seen the film, but it tells the story of Bokar Rimpoche, close friend of the Dali Lama, who devoted his life to meditation in the mountains of Tibet. The music is alternately soothing and terrifying. Calming moans build in intensity as additional voices enter the fray. The cumulative effect is like having dozens of voices speaking to you at once while apocalyptic blurts emanate from some undetermined horn. Some of it reminds me of Tuvan throat singing, other parts rely solely on Rimpoche’s soothing voice reciting his teachings on meditation. Despite its msytical origins, I have crassly used it as aural wallpaper to help me cope with poor grammar, half-baked thesis statements and colorful slang.

Bisk-Ticklish Matters

October 18, 2008


Ticklish Matters (Sub Rosa 1998)

This one is a puzzle to me. Ten years have passed and it still befuddles me because I cannot make heads nor tails out of it. I cannot compare itto anything because I have yet to hear anything that approximates the dada anti-music compiled on Ticklish Matters. I’ve heard more difficult, noisy and chaotic albums, but none disorient me in the manner of this one. It’s not even a satisfying listen because it jumps from genre to genre, sample to sample and beat to beat every few seconds, but somehow I believe it is one of the more soothing albums I own.Maybe it is due to its frequent usage of drones, classical motifs and quiet, but busy percussion, but its restlessness makes my woes seem like a mellow moment in time.

A few years ago, a Sudanese immigrant came to teach Science at my school. After months of monotonous meetings, he whispered “They are busy being busy.” I felt this was a perfect description of how our administrators puttered about the building making copies, handouts and speeches to create the appearance of progress. Somehow I have flashbacks to these words whenever I hear Ticklish Matters because it is definitely “busy being busy.” So much happens without any progression as this Japanese musician just poofs out clouds of chatter that say nothing, but creates a sense of calm. I feel like I am listening to  an ant farm cannibalising its progeny as samples trample ambient passages while orchestras slowly crush plaintive piano chords. Please don’t expect a difficult listen from my description because it really is an amalgamation of beautiful ideas piled onto one another until nothing quite makes sense. It is one of the most chaotic, but gorgeous albums that I’ve heard.  On first listen, a mess is apparent, but repeated journeys reveal more of its genius amidst the playfulness and insanity.