Meditation Objects, Supplements, and Sequences (MOSS) Vol. I [RGMS-004] (0,0)

Released November 17, 2020

MOSS will be an ongoing series, which aims at exploring the breadth of meditative experiences possible within sonic environments. Volume I explores more atomized realms produced by 8 members of rgms. This volume serves as an opportunity for the artist to begin to articulate their own personal musical language of meditation. Hereafter, the tracks within MOSS releases will begin to strive towards a cohesive whole, in lieu of the individual ca. 10-12 minute experiences produced for Volume I. The prefix appended to each artist's track 'MOSS #x' will be the perpetual indicator for this series. As this volume ends with MOSS #8 so then shall Volume II begin with MOSS #9. 

Reflections on MOSS #1: on the invisible lips of the dark by Sean Kiley

More and more I see the music I make as a mirror for ideas which have not yet come to light in my own psyche, and on the invisible lips of the dark is no exception. The thematic essence of the music seems to precede the articulation of the concepts my thought patterns are orbiting around. In this case, the articulated concept for this piece arose during a discussion with co-founder Davis, (Tony), right as we were uploading the files for distribution. In discussing the age of the internet and relativism, I realized we live in an unprecedented age of differentiation between 'this' and 'that'. That is, the internet has allowed almost universal access to discover the transcendent 'oneness' of seemingly opposing ideologies i.e. 'this' and 'that'. While previously this access was reserved for the sage or the priest and carefully passed down by tradition or word of mouth, now any Tom, Dick or Harry is a mere click away from approaching this transcendent perspective. This unregulated access to such lofty ideas is also arguably one of the leading causes of nihilism, since without proper instruction and guidance one may become confused and disillusioned with reality. My piece on the invisible lips of the dark explores the delicate balancing act for the modern beyond 'this' and 'that'. A barrage of musical ideas whirls into a landscape, which upon first hearing is nothing more than an undulating drone. However, upon closer inspection, therein lie many discrete musical phrases and motifs performed by a variety of instruments. These phrases almost compete for audibility within the dense texture and create the delicate balance where no one idea truly dominates. The extent to which these phrases fluctuate in volume and combinations makes it so that the structure becomes nearly unpredictable, and therefore with each listen the music may be experienced differently. Meditatively, there is a sequence, which unfolds into a landscape, and just as we may hike the same trail over and over yet continuously glimpse unfamiliar sights, so too here we experience a music which feigns the dynamic reality of nature by approaching the brink of auditory perception.

Reflections on MOSS #4: Loading Dock by Davis Connors

Upon collecting scores of field recordings over the years, many have collected metaphorical dust, idle and trapped within an external hard drive found at the bottom of a filing cabinet. It was the advent of the conceptual MOSS that led me to retrieve these from under my work desk in Chicago, marking files that fulfilled a certain sentimental criteria. A handful emerged and the processing began - seeking out overlapped and bunched up frequencies found in the field. These captured in bits were further shaped through EQ to deliberately paint a portrait, artificially accentuating ghost-like harmonics. A few recordings came together cohesively. The introductory component was a file named, ‘Loading Dock’ which embossed a chaotic and industrial landscape found in Washington DC. The others we may keep a mystery for the time being, as listeners may take their best guest. The field recordings, or ‘fielders’ as Sean (bobby) and myself have called them, eventually begin to fade as the second movement of the piece takes hold in center. Growing louder and louder is a mangled mellotron set to one never changing chord, modified by a shifting chorus and filter, harmonic rhythms emerge and dissipate. Finally the piece subsides into tape hiss and waves crashing on an ocean shore, dragged by tide. 
Pulling back from the detailed process, themes of tension and release are noted. The piece may be viewed in two sections – the first composed of a handful of cacophonous field recordings melded together, and the second a release into the sonorous, at times consoling, drone of the mellotron. Both sections on their own feature smaller themes of tension and release as they gradually morph - aided in part by the deployment of low and high pass filters, following a prescribed course so as to add variety and respite within this additional dimension. Ultimately, the piece offers a reward for those who get through the more tense introductions found in the piece, where the more inviting consonant section is concealed – and I do wonder how many will hasten to skip ‘Loading Dock’ for this reason. In a sense, this mirrors our many life experiences where discomfort is accepted in the present for some delayed gratification. This seems to be the highest quality of satisfaction, which is defined by contrast in context. In the broadest sense, whether one accepts or rejects the entirety of the piece, this is the opportunity presented, albeit unconsciously constructed. 

Reflections on MOSS #3: Sein Blick by Iminah Amal Hill

In the imaginal fog of psyche I find myself directionless, the sea submerges me into its dense soundscape. Looking for direction, the oceanic realm offers no answer, only reflection; refracted on the waves, wondering in circles. Why does one crave the sea? I think of aphrodite’s beauty birthing into the world from sea foam. My psyche yearns for her in dreams and aural fantasies. Drifting on the surface my soul wants to plunge into the vales of the seascape as my spirit tries to find direction towards the eternal. I brought my H2 Zoom recorder to the pacific shore, plunging my ears into the waves, capturing their sonic motion. After retrieving this tidal gift, I let it percolate in its natural form, bringing the ocean to my room as I allowed it to steep in its ominous misty brew, meeting its sensory demands with midi born drones. Other soundscape sounds were archived during various journeys, from a chattering bird party to the distant beckoning of church bells. Each recording called for direction, but was subverted to lunar demands, becoming a mirror of the transient high and low tides. 

While being immersed daily in industrial soundscapes, I like to imagine myself back home by the seaside. Growing up by the ocean on a small island, the sea has always been my home. When listening to this track, I like to imagine letting the sea seep into my bones, cleansing myself from some of the chaotic pathologies of modernity--although the dive is not always settling. The ocean is filled with mystery. It can be very nebulous and directionless, which I find reflected within this track and synchronistically within myself. When asking the imaginal/archetypal form of the track why instead of how or what, I see that perhaps my unconscious is seeking direction. It desires a lifting of the veil that allows that upward tilt towards the birds that fly above mid-way through this track; a vision that gazes outwards and inwards simultaneously wherein Sein Blick is born. The manifestation for the title of this track came into fruition much later. I usually have much resistance to titling tracks, finding it challenging to conjure up something that seems suitable, having the fear of stagnating the track once it has a ‘label’. I can see my resistance to a personal label, a sort of hierophantic phobia of taking charge, discriminating, sifting through the nebulous in order to extract a clear direction. When I was trying to explore ideas for the title, my partner sent me an image portraying a distant flame in the heart of a winter forest alongside the title idea a candle of vision. It was then that 'Sein Blick' appeared to me, a retrieval from the unconscious into the conscious, feeling like the perfect fit for the track. The words 'Sein' and 'Blick' are German and difficult to translate, often being best compressed into 'His Vision', but more appropriately referring to ‘a vision that gazes outwards and inwards simultaneously’. I first came across these words, when reading the poem The Panther by one of my most beloved poets, Rainer Maria Rilke. I would like to end here on this particular poem. I encourage reading the poem while listening to Sein Blick, allowing it to guide you towards your own direction. 

The Panther 
Translated by Stephen Mitchell 

His vision, from the constantly passing bars, 
has grown weary that it cannot hold 
anything else. It seems to him there are 
a thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world. 

As he paces in cramped circles, over and over, 
the movement of his powerful soft strides 
is like a ritual dance around a center 
In which a mighty will stands paralyzed. 

Only at times, the curtain of the pupils 
lifts, quietly –. An image enters in, 
rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles, 
 plunges into the heart and is gone.

Reflections on MOSS #7: Slidetracked by Aaron Stearns

Before anything else, it should be noted that every single sound in this exercise, barring the outdoor ambience, is simply my voice altered, allocated, and transmuted to transmit the official textbook Merriam-Webster definition of my personal qualms and victories with meditation. While being easier done than said, we’ll try to get through this examination together. As a team. Maybe even... in tandem. This process was and is both the product and the evolution. If you don’t understand that’s completely fine; all that means is that you understand everything you do not. Rather than personifying your very own personal red rubber ball I don’t think it wise to treat you as a clown by giving you everything right on the nose. Because sure, of course each and every timbre strewn across this non-proverbial garden has a very gross and sentimental meaning to my Self, but since I no longer have or seek control over the non notes to give would only be as effective as one of those mobile meditation applications whose application to your daily life will only cost a brief price of eighty dollars per year. Sure, I’ve fallen prey, I’ve tried to pay for happiness, but as they made the ship leave the dock, a larger one pulled in announcing its arrival with a massive blow of its incessant horn. So now I’m penniless with even more anxiety than before. perfect - 

So the stage was set. I’ve always counted on counting. Me and my favorite character on the “bagel topping avenue”, charted that ol’ tug boat a new course. Even when docked, there’s no need for unloading. There’s nothing of value locked within its seaweedy catacombs; only the baggage of people who set up camp so many years ago. They’ve since vacated. Rifling through their abandoned luggage won’t solve nothin’, I tell ya what. Have I said too much already? I guess it’s a battle with no beginning or end. While I want to have no influence on your perception, again, it’s out of my hands (and feet); cause I like made it, so like…