Boomkat Product Review:
Compassion is a cycle of music born of the need for healing. It’s a great moment in life to realize when healing is required. No matter how broken in body and spirit, to be able to recognize what is needed — that something is needed at all — is the beginning of relief.
"Jim Becker has been playing music for several decades, in Chicago and around the world, with lengthy tenures in Califone and Iron & Wine and many additional production and playing credits to his name. Lama Lobsang Palden is a gifted energy healer, teaching Yantra Yoga and Buddhist meditation. As a young boy, he was recognized as a tulku — a reincarnation of a Nyingma guru yoga master. Following the path, he studied all aspects of Buddhist philosophy in Tibet and India and has taught meditation, yoga and the Buddhist Dharma all over the world.
The relationship that allowed Lama and Jim to make this record started with treatment, three years before the record was begun. Jim went to the Lama for healing, to address the many aches and ills that medicine couldn’t seem to heal. As Jim was leaving his first session, the Lama said to him, “You and me, we make a record.” It would be years and many other life events before a record could be undertaken, much less completed. It was a long road ahead to becoming whole, but that was the beginning.
Jim found the therapy sessions both personally restorative and stimulating. As a musician, Lama’s use of chants, bells, gongs and percussion in his practice resonated within him. A listener to all kinds of music, Jim understood that the recording would have to represent more than a straightforward capture of performance. Among other possibilities he heard in response to Lama’s music, he was inspired by the soundtracks in Satyajit Rayfilms, where the realities of life shown on the screen are accompanied by a climatic dreamscape of sound representing inneremotional and spiritual depths. This perspective gives the music of Compassion a wide space in which to place the listener, with Lama’s music at its center.
In 2013, they began at Lama’s house, recording on a Tascam Portastudio. Sessions stretched out over a year. Intent on an organic, acoustic sound-bed, Jim chose his instruments carefully, tuning to the drum skin or pitch of a gong. Then they’d play music! Lama’s performances and Jim’s accompaniment, filling first the channels of a 4-track cassette tape, then tape after tape with more music. As their horizons expanded, they included some sounds from the world outside — rain falling, waves breaking — with an eye toward the greater encompassing reality of the finished set. Finally, when they’d compiled nearly 450 minutes of performances, the music was bounced from 4-track to ProTools at Jim’s home studio, and he began the process of culling complimentary pieces to flow as one. Lama was receptive to Jim’s inspiration, making himself available to any idea. In this fashion, further overdubs and edits brought the arrangements of the songs and the album into shape. In addition to the many roles and instruments that the Lama and Jim played, music was played by Rob Frye, Teddy Rankin-Parker, Rob Mazurek, Becca Wilcox, Becca Ridge, Marion Jackson, Yngrid Diaz, with Quinn Tsan, Becky Levi and Clara Palden adding additional voices.
The 43 minutes that comprise Compassion are a deeply felt and wide-ranging musical synesthesia, a telescoped recapitulation of all the time over which they were conceived — for Jim, this was a recapitulation of years of experiences, some happy, some difficult; many moods and places, alone and in the company of different people and thoughts passing through. For Lama Lobsang Palden, this was a chance to teach about the relaxation of the mind, the Tibetan mantra, and most importantly, to allow people to know his heart through his chants and music. A transcendent collaborative encounter, Compassion is an epic piece of music about the epic search for the same."