Sunday, June 26, 2011

Sounds Reviewed #3/2011: Lungwash - By Myself to Myself Sacrificed.

Sounds Reviewed #3/2011

Lungwash  - By Myself to Myself sacrificed

(self-released tape 2011)

(10/10 Admiration-Points)


"Mark Time’s Finist Joke. Putting Allspace in a Nutshall“ wrote James Joyce in his famous book “Finnegans Wake” . If you are willing to follow this thought, it could be easily extended to a definition of the faculty of imagination. The faculty of imagination should be defined as the gift to interpolate in the infinitely small. The poetological advice given by Virginia Woolf to "saturate every atom" seems to be absolutely crucial here. In one of her notebooks she wrote: "Let us record the atoms as they fall upon the mind in the order in which they fell, let us trace the patterns, however disconnected and incoherent in appearance, which each sight or incident scores upon the consciousness. Let us not take it for granted that life exists more fully in what is commonly thought big than in what is commonly thought small".

This excerpt can easily be used to describe Lungwash's musical procedure. Where the naivités of natural theology have the audacity and stupidity to seek God's presence in the infinitely big and the so called sublime, Lungwash searches for the sparks of infinity in sub-atomic regions deep beyond the reach of God's will. With his third release Lungwash blessses us with one of the most beautiful HNW-titles ever "By Myself to Myself Sacrificed", and with the most carefully and thoughtfully crafted and composed microsound-world of this still young musical genre. 

A lot of time was invested in this tiny and precious tape. A careful listener will be pleased with one of the best designed HNW-compositions this year. I would even risk the formulation,  that this tape contains one of the best HNW-compositions ever, because it allows a pars-pro-toto analysis. To say it simpler: this tape is at the same time absolutely unique and a paradigm how HNW should be structured and sound like.
But you should take your time with this tape, because it is constantly growing. It goes deeper and deeper after each listening session, but devotion, abandon and attentive ears are absolutely necessary to discover the immaterial substance of this music. This music reveals its secret in the dark with a really good HiFi-equipment and very good headphones to minimalize the distractions. In any case this music - like any good music should do - establishes its own space-time. The total time of this tape may be "only" 18 minutes, but in the end, this is nothing more than a technical approximation.

The real extension of these sounds only reveal themself to the devoted listener. They give the listeners a deep and concentrated impression of the paradox of temporal contraction and nearly infinite sensual expansion. So dear HNW-Listeners, go ahead, train your ears ! Get ready to envision the metaphysical in the physical and the immaterial in the material when you listen to Lungwash's unique HNW-brand. The admirably intricate and dense aesthetic of microsounds needs a really developped sensorium for micro-perceptions like Deleuze / Guattari formalized them in "Mille Plateaux".
Already the use of the tape format is well calculated. The A side of this tape is marked, but after repeated listening I got the impression, that this is only a random starting point for a huge transformative process, which the composer calls "sacrifice" . But who wants to decide where this composition begins or ends? Who wants to decide what a musical climax really is ? Is this tape dramatic or anti-dramatic ? Is it Hi-Fi or Lo-Fi? But who is willing to use these silly categories anyhow ?

Lungwash generates with a slightly differing total time of the two sides of the cassette (9:50 / 9:55) some kind of strange symmetry or a "crippled symmetry" to use the title of a famous composition by Morton FeldmanBut maybe the choice of the tapeformat has also more practical reasons: it makes it easier to really introduce the cruel force of a general pause.  

With the choice of the tapeformat even the physical act of taking the cassette out of the player and turning it around in the hands and putting it back inside again, became an event. Pressing the start-button brings back the memories of the good old LP-days, when listening to music has had so many haptic and visual aspects. (Ah! The good old LP-melancholia is back !). 


The poetic and thoughtful title "By Myself to Myself Sacrificed" opens your mind up to the deep existential dimensions of this composition. The title contains some kind of user's guide. It is giving the advice, that the listener should depersonalize or should at least reduce his more variegated personality to listen to this tape properly, in order to enter the psycho-active dimension of this work.

The greek word psyche has a multiple meaning. In the art-historical epoche called Empire the word psyche also names a standing man-high cheval-mirror, which was used mainly in the boudoir. If you are willing to bring the two meanings of psyche together in a highly speculative manner, it is quiet easy to suggest, that the tape itself provides a kind of cheval mirror for the soul of the listener. It helps the listener to enter the uncanny spiral of loss and re-appropriation of the self.  It is a strange and uncanny mirror-play, that seems to provide a closed circle of reflection, but this circle remains open and uncanny, because the tain of the mirror will never ever show up.

In order to make the idea of the mirror-play a little bit stronger here, I want to cite to passages from one of the greatest artists of our times Michelangelo Pistoletto. In his works he has often referred to mirrors or used images of mirrors and mirrors themselves. In a brilliant text entitled "Art takes on Religion" he wrote:

"The mirror is a symbol which is at the same time an antisymbol. It is simply the physical and intellectual extension of the human phenomenon: from the eye to the mind, to action, the human being is an entire series of reflections. In the mean time, possibilities of mirroring are not containable within a limited dimension; a mirror can potentially reflect every places and goes forward reflecting even where and when the human eye is absent."

"The mirror (...) within the realm of art, becomes the meeting point between the human mirroring and reflecting phenomenon and the universal reality which the mirror itself is able to reflect. That is, the mirror is the mediator between the visible and the invisible, carrying sight beyond its normal possibilities. "

" I think there is only one mirror, which is divided and therefore multiplied in every other mirror. Man’s dimension must be seen in terms of this power to embrace the universal and the particular at the same time. An original creative sensitivity gave birth to the divine images of antiquity, and this transfiguration stimulated, through imagination, a unifying perception and a common understanding. Individual freedom and responsibility, as symbolized by the mirror, don’t generate a still image of man or God, but a creative movement that can be extended to everyone. "  (Pistoletto 1978)


Lungwash's music floats in a certain sense between immaterial and material things. The sounds vibrate in between, they are the vibrance of the In-Between. His sounds cut through space and time like the lightning cuts through the sky. These sounds open up your ears to the usually hidden non-spot between heaven and earth, where nothingness appears as nothingness. Maybe this site is closely related to sound, because only sounds have this deep relation to the non-visual and the secret, because the secret of soundwaves can only be perceived, but never be revealed. During the listening of this tape I felt like wrapped in an unheard of immaterial fabric of white linen and stardust. Almost like a monk of a secret order dedicating his life only to the production and perception of minimal and static sounds.

In his brilliant book called "Inner Rhythms" DovBer Pinson wrote: "There are those who through proper meditation become sensitive to the sound of the spheres above. A sixteenth century Kabbalist wrote that he heard of a person in India who actually went deaf, from the sounds of the spheres above, from the sounds generated by the motion of the sun. Although these sounds are very subtle, in heightened states of consciousness, even the smallest, faintest sounds can ring like claps of thunder."  

Everything seems to be in total silence, but when you are willing to transform your sensorium, you can detect life and movement even on a subatomic level on this recording, where all particles interact and are being created and destroyed continously. Once these particles are created, they do not remain static, but continously move in rhytmic motion. Sounds are produced by a wave with a certain frequency; thus, with each movement, new sounds waves are created. In this sense, every particle on Lungwash's tape is constantly singing songs in its own unimitable frequency. Sounds are made by other objects; even abstract sounds and thoughts have a tune that they sing. Everything in this world, an object, an idea, or a moment, has his unique tune that is connected to and inspired by it.

But you will need a lot of asceticism to learn to perceive the power of minimal and static sounds. I surmise, that Lungwash affirms this ascetic orientation - albeit an asceticism that is expressed through and not by the rejection of the body. Since no one can listen without a resonating body. And no one can listen without recognizing that his/her body is vibrating and resonating. The ethereal aspect of the sounds are always manifest in the most mundane. And the brightest light can be found in the darkest pit. The sounds evoke a feeling of containment, but not utter withdrawal as into sleep. The image of looking from the inside of a cave seems to be a more appropriate description for the act of reception. 

Almost in levitation or light as a feather, the attentive and imaginative (!) listener could - for example - take the opportunity to listen to the echoes of the monks of an unknown order, walking barefoot down the endless corridors filled with age-old gravel. Until they reach the dramatic sonic architecture of self-reversal (processio and reversio) at the end of the side B of this tape, where they can learn to divest their corporeality, in order to reach the point, where the corporeal encasement can be transcended in and through minimal and static sounds.

This ecstatic experience is necessary to ensure the return of the soul to the world. The eradication of the corporeal comes to fruition in the apophatic realization, that there is no thing outside nothing. And that the finite world itself is consubstantial with the unsubstantiality of the infinite universe. In the oscillating light of the sounds the necessity of sacrifice occurs. When there is nothing but nothingness around us - the attentive listener could ask himself - how can there be anything substantial to take possession of ? 

It is time to unknot the usual co-implication of world, body and mind - to cast off body-mind. And to breathe free and unhindered maybe for the first time ever. I think, that this is the subversive meaning of  the name Lungwash: it is a vehicle for in-spiration, re-spiration or con-spiration.


Lungwash's sounds try to find a sonic approximation to the connection between asceticism, minimalism and sacrifice. And in this brings out an important aspect in HWN: the sacrificial aspect.The nullification of something into nothing, and nothing into something. During the listening to real HNW you can experience the inaugural egression of nothing into something and the future regression of something back to nothing.

The formula ex nihilo nihil fit can become forever ridiculuos. But in order to understand this and to become a novice of HNW, you must already be proficient in an aptitude, I would designate as a disciplined search for a state of equanimity, which is the prerequisite to experience the depth of nothingness. This discipline consists in the suppression of the impatience of the ego, in order to open up the psyche to the more immaterial dimensions of reality, towards experiences related to intensity, vibrancy or those dealing with fleeting or lasting impact.

Our growing dependence on things and consumption makes it nearly impossible to have an experience with absolute nothingness. This fact entails the necessity of a sacrifice, that is the withdrawal of libido, the severance of ties with the commodity world, in order to break through to the true essence of the world. This sacrifical trans-appropriation is the appropriation in which the subject penetrates itself in the utmost negativity and learns that there is nothing outside nothingness. The fascination for sacrifice resides in this desire for self-transfiguration. Self-transfiguration is always bound to an ecstasy directed to an absolute and uncontrollable Outside. All these aspects are deeply engraved in Lungwash's world of micro-sounds.

Lungwash's HNW-sound - and real HNW-sound in general - can be used as a vehicle to replace the limited and stultified mind and body with superior forms of the mind and body, whereby a new sense of selfhood develops: compassionate, wise and pure. The highest level of achievement comes about - as I said above -  by the act of self-negation or self-sacrifice. This negation of ego-centricity is above the understanding of the intellect, insofar as it leads to the transcending of the distinction between compliance and defiance, worthiness and culpability.

Consequently the realization of the emptiness of the self should not be seen as a way to obliterate the self. It just means the contrary: it is a means to unleash the innate capacity for pure motivation and expulsion. This can only be done, if the meditation is clear and steady. Only then the naught will be a creative void, which produces an even stronger activism afterwards. Go on to subdue your heart to still more silence, truth and seclusion. Be ready for ascending and descending (via passionis - via perfectionis) during your attentive listening. 

But is not the possibility of repeated sacrifice which Lungwash's tape provides for every listener - in the end nothing else but the sacrifice of sacrifice ? Or will there be ever an end to sacrifice ? You may auto-reverse the mirrors of your soul ad infinitum, but is this act of sacrifice really the end of all reversal and mirror-play ? Maybe the sacrifice will be transformed into something else in the stoic repetition of By Myself to Myself Sacrificed. To leave the final words to Al Cisneros:

 Premise of pained experiencer attained.
Now shifts before the salving sun.
Cherubim stands.
The pilgrim kneels.
In tears immerse.
Identity negated.
Reacher of the state of non return;
The stream attained in non-duality.
Ensues yogic benediction.
Grace of the luminary prevails.
Astral, causal realms relinquished.
Into unmodified state reclaimed.

(written by S.K.G. in May-June 2011)

Lungwash's composition "By Myself to Myself Sacrificed" is one of the most intricate, inventive, thoughtful and elevating HNW-releases this year. This tape should be a part of every serious HNW-collection.This tape really captures the essence of HNW and delivers one of its deepest interpretations. It clearly links its sonic appearance with the deepest tradition of musical minimalism. Consequently this adds up to 10/10 Admiration-Points. I hope, that Lungwash will release a lot more in the future, because I really can't wait to listen to more of this. Every serious HNW-fan should put this artist on his list of favorite projects.

Lungwash - By Myself to Myself Sacrificed.
(self-released tape 2011, C20, limited to 40 copies)
Support one of the most remarkable,
singular and innovative artists
of the HNW-scene here.