From the first track, Flowertz’s latest album Kumbhaka is captivating. Glitches and nob-twiddling aplenty, stringed instruments and a host of percussions, synthesizers and foreign prayers, thumping bass lines and mind-altering moods. For lovers of psychedelic downtempo music, there is nothing lacking.
What fascinates me as a fan of such music (besides the raw listening experience) is the blending of the ancient and the contemporary. The contemporary is apparent by the very nature of the music. It was no doubt compiled on a computer and arranged, chopped, processed, and refined until a final product emerged. But this aspect alone is not especially interesting as this sort of editing is extremely commonplace these days. It is the exact composition of each element and their old world influences which draw me in as a listener and which causes Kumbhaka to stand out.
Take, for instance, the track “World Confusion”. It opens with a deep reverberating bass note which intones throughout the first minute of the track. This note represents OM, which since antiquity is said to be the core of existence. As such, it establishes the musical universe in which the track exists. The note is followed by bright blips and glitches, the stuttering stop-and-go of impending rhythms, and bits of indistinct prayers. When the note falls off, a great emptiness is left and promptly filled with a clear bass line. The bass functions as time and structure within the track. Every synth note struck, every string plucked, every shaker shaken is arranged around the plodding dub line. The soundscape is full and active but not erratic. Perhaps paradoxically, it is also relaxed and methodical. “World Confusion” closes by summoning the OM once again while the rest of the track fades into the ether.
Another highlight on the album is the aptly named “Ancient Future”. It rewinds to the past with bending sitar strings and chants and a hint of what is to come in the form of stretched synthesizers. A pronounced dub line shares the spotlight with knocking percussion and a variety of rhythmic electronic sounds. As the track progresses, it draws on each of these elements to complete the soundscape. About halfway, a flute takes center stage, supported by an echoing tambourine and sticks. When the flute fades, the sitar transitions back to the present where everything is included. The sitar, the sticks, the tambourine, the bass, the synths, the glitches, it all comes together to form the final image, the marriage of past and future in the present.
Flowertz – “World Confusion”
Flowertz – “Ancient Future”