Restored 02 April 2017, original 26 April 2015
“The earth is not a big rock infested with living organisms any more than your skeleton is bones infested with cells. The earth is geological, yes, but this geological entity grows people. And so the existence of people is symptomatic of the kind of Universe we live in.” – Alan Watts
Have any of you, dear readers, ever sought “to find yourself” or sought a “greater purpose” in life? Whether you have or you haven’t, stick with me, and we’ll do some soul-searching together. As our sound track, we’ll enjoy the pulsing tones, soaring melodies, and insightful sayings found on Web Of Life, the recent release by Bulgarian artist Dimitar Petrov, a.k.a. Man Of No Ego.
Web Of Life is one man’s attempt at reconciling his (and his species’) existence with the Universe at large through ambient music. He combines beautiful instrumentation (piano, guitar, flute, violin), energetic highs and pacifying lows, delicious sonic contrast, a helping of psychedelia, and a series of quotes from philosopher Alan Watts to create one of the most listenable, most moving, ambient albums I’ve ever heard.
In the opening track “Galactic Girl”, this article’s opening quote serves as the launching point for this eight-track adventure through the cosmos. We begin with the seemingly trivial yet fundamental observation, people exist. This point is driven into our minds by a deep, resonating pulse that echoes the very heartbeat of Mother Earth. If we listen carefully, we’ll find our minds stilled and soothed by this pulse. This is no mere coincidence.
Mr. Petrov composed Web Of Life with the 432 Hz tuning principle in mind. In short, the 432 Hz principle intends to exploit the Earth’s natural resonances to tap into humanity’s basic cerebral functioning. While the principle has not, to my knowledge, been empirically demonstrated (see link), the mere intent makes a subtle, perhaps subliminal, contribution to the musical experience. With that in the back of our collective mind, we proceed on our journey of self-discovery.
In “Nebra” (referring to the Nebra Sky Disc which features humanity’s oldest known depiction of the cosmos) we are carried along by wave after wave of synthesizers and electronic effects while Mr. Watts shares a potentially startling revelation about the nature of time.
“Kali Yuga”, the title of which is borrowed from Hindu mythology, starts with a looping, reversed guitar that builds in intensity until it suddenly goes silent. When it begins again, the guitar plays forward. Measure by measure, the track’s energy increases while the tone takes on a haunting quality. Flutes and distant voices appear sporadically until we’re left with a ghastly impression.
“Vega”, which I’m sure is a reference to the book/film Contact, departs from the haunted state into one filled with sparkles and bright lights, ethereal creatures and joy.
The next track, “K-Pax”, undoubtedly a reference to the film of the same name, is one of the more encouraging and invigorating tracks on the album. The first half consists primarily of a somber piano solo and an accompanying violin. It then adds a long quote that touches on the existential question “What are we [as humans]?” Pardon the clickbaity phrasing, but if you haven’t considered it before, Mr. Watts’ answer to this question might genuinely surprise.
“Intersperse” carries me almost to tears every time I listen to it. Perhaps that says more about me than the track. Nevertheless, its quiet, reflective tone, its progression, and ultimately its climax in which we find an answer to the nagging question “What is the point of being alive?” all combine to be a moving experience.
The penultimate track, “Slowing Down” takes on a contemplative tone. It begins with a quote about humanity’s place in the cosmos. Brooding synthesizers, digital chimes, and whizzing, whirring effects turn us all around before settling into a quiet space wherein Mr. Watts expounds on humanity’s limitations as physical beings. As the track fades out, we are left with a question to consider, “What have [we] left out?”
Web Of Life‘s final track, which shares its title with the album, brings everything together in the absence of spoken word. Words thus far have provided unusual insights into the fundamental nature of reality, but now we move beyond the realm of abstract intellect and into the realm of direct experience. After such a journey, we owe it to ourselves, at the very least, to consider these lessons. We stand to lose nothing while we stand to gain an entirely new perspective on life.
Man Of No Ego – “Galactic Girl”
Web Of Life download page at Ektoplazm