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Boomkat Product Review:
Ghost-hunter CMvH and illbient pioneer Chandra Shukla render psychosonic readings of Bali on their immersive 2nd travelogue for Touch after 2021’s visit to Nepal
Both hailing from radical experimental peripheries of contemporary music, Hausswolff and Shukla here pursue their interests in ritual musicks, psychoacoustics and sensorial perception to the ends of the earth on ‘Travelogue: Bali’. Part documentary, part fantasy, the nearly hour-long album features field recordings made in situ over nine days in February 2020, and augmented post-fact to play with with notions of memory and cultural displacement. The results offer a subjective take on ancient ritual in contemporary world, filtered thru their shared decades of immersion in the Western avant garde, ranging from roots in the US and European industrial/dark ambient/illbient scenes and related paranormal sonic research.
Their five pieces are comparable to aspects of Senyawa recordings as much as Phill Niblock’s ‘Ghosts and Others’ salvo or work by Shukla’s (and Genesis P-Orridge’s) departed collaborator Carl Abrahamsson. The outstanding opener ‘Kecak! (Sanghyang)’ plunges us into the intense titular ritual of massed chanting and astonishing theatrics, pulling listeners in and out of the box between field recording and reverberant choral processing for 10 gripping minutes. The further four pieces continue to sweep imaginations between humid nocturnal scenes in ‘Rahajeng Semeng’, to eerie spectral impressionism on ‘Sekala Niskala’, and ephemeral echoes of gamelan on ‘Gong Ageng’, and place us as a fly on the wall of temple ritual in ‘Ramayana Melukat’.