U11 | Five Elements Music | Rishikesh
1. rishikesh : excerpt
2. vrindavan : excerpt
format : CD ltd to 200 hand numbered copies
release year : 2012
length : 41’10
status : still available
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Rishikesh (30 ° 06.00. N 78 ° 18.00. E )
“In this work, I present two acoustic environments. These sounds are born in India. Rishikesh is located in the foothills of the Himalayas of which it is a gateway to. Within this piece are sounds that were recorded near the flowing mountain streams of the Ganges; they have been captured at night time, where small streams of water eventually grind coastal rocks. There is also the echo of prayer wheels, and the noise of the slow Ganges and streams flowing from the mountains… and many more other sounds that were hanging around me.”
Vrindavan (27 ° 34.50. N 77 ° 42.02. E)
“This is the place I always wanted to visit. This is a city with an ancient history. It tells that Vrindavan is located in several spaces that are not detectable through simple vision. The city is the place where the God Krishna was once born. Almost all the recordings were again made at night along a small interval from 11:00 pm to 3:00 in the morning, when the city sleeps. I was there in Kartika time, and many people from all over India come in Vrindavan. At this moment, the city becomes filled with the sounds of religious mantras, people’s screams, songs, cars horns, noises of rickshaws and bicycles as well … And also during the day one can add sounds of birds, monkeys, dogs and cows. … Anyway, I wanted to reflect the sound of the advancing night … as such this is not a pure documentary work, but humble sound art trying to portray an intangible atmosphere…”
(Sergey Suhovik – words respectfully revised by Daniel Crokaert)
: reviews :
FEM is, I think, a chap by the name of Sergey Suhovik. This, his contribution to Daniel Crokaert’s series of site and memory specific recordings is an exploration of 2 sites in India – Rishikesh and Vrindavan.
Each piece is a montage of field recordings that, whilst being very nicely assembled and hugely listenable, suffer from the curse of these kinds of albums namely that for the most part the sounds heard have no sense of place; water sounds like water whether it was recorded in my Outer Mongolia or in my bathroom. What raises Suhovik’s recordings out of this trap though is he has allowed room for that most pervasive of sound generators, humans. When the people of the area make their appearance it lifts the piece from the listenable to the absorbing. Ok, so possibly it could be accused of a touch of ‘orientalism’ (see Edward Said) but it certainly gave a real sense of location.
Also welcome is the sound debris of these same humans particularly the section featuring, what I’m going to guess as being, fireworks.
As ever with Unfathomless this is beautifully produced and technically very proficient and a solid contribution to an interesting body of work.
Wonderful Wooden Reasons
Sergey Suhovik is a drone artist living just outside of Moscow who traveled to Northern India to collect sounds for this fine release on Unfathomless. As Five Elements Music, he presents two extended, environmental hums—the first with its head barely above water, the second milling about with the late-night crowds. Rishikesh is one of the names of Vishnu, meaning “master of the senses” and “Rishikesh” is a gentle trickle, the sound of the streams flowing through the Himalayan foothills that will eventually join to form the purifying Ganges. Temple bells and a hollow, gong-like undertone follow as the landscape widens to allow the gathering waters to pass. “Vrindavan” is named after the city in which Krishna was born and is much more lively and colourful, recorded in the hours around midnight. An impressionistic canvas attempting to capture the “intangible atmosphere” of the city at night, if not at rest. Motor scooters putter by, monkeys protest, loudspeakers broadcast, the city simply pulsates life, both as it flexes loudly and as it relaxes into a quiet disturbed only by crickets. Woken out of our revery by fireworks, as the last salvo is fired, we find ourselves at the banks of the river again, before being swept up by a chanting procession and carried off.
On a beau nous avoir inculqué depuis notre plus malléable enfance de croire en l’Eglise, une, sainte, catholique et apostolique, il n’en demeure pas moins qu’en grandissant on n’a cessé d’éprouver une sympathie certaine pour l’hindouisme, peut-être par le mouvement du corps pratiqué avec le yoga, mais pas uniquement, il y a eu aussi quelque chose de l’ordre de la méditation, à tout le moins de l’écoute.
Et voici qu’il y a ce disque dont on entame la chronique, Rishikesh de Five Elements Music, projet de l’artiste russe Serguey Suhovik, spécialiste reconnu ès drones et field recordings. C’est la onzième parution sur Unfathomless. Chaque disque de ce label suit un postulat d’une unité de lieu, d’exploration au plus près, et donne à entendre une harmonie, un en-deça de l’audible.
Serguey Suhovik nous propose ici deux pièces enregistrées en Inde, à Rishikesh et à Vrindavan, des villes de pèlerinage hindou.
On pourrait même dire de certains lieux qu’ils nous sont connus, osons même l’avouer, on a le sentiment de les avoir déjà visités dans ce qui pourrait bien s’apparenter à des souvenirs d’une vie antérieure .
L’artiste fait la part belle à la vie comme elle vient, les sons de l’environnement se mêlent à l’électronique, un drone toujours léger que l’on pourrait même imaginer venant du dehors, comme une harmonie issue d’un moulin à prière. Et ici plus encore qu’ailleurs le silence n’existe pas, la nuit est chargée de tumulte, toujours l’obscur est mouvant, ruisselant, pétaradant, et face aux objets qui finiront bien par se briser la méditation est le point central qui toujours revient, et sera même apothéose quand des chants cérémoniels viendront occuper l’espace final.
Il y avait cet ami qui partait souvent en Inde, parfois pendant plusieurs semaines sans donner signe de vie. Au retour il nous disait qu’il avait joué du tablâ dans des temples en ruine avec un gourou, il était transfiguré, pratiquait le pranayama puis très vite il oubliait tout ça, s’éparpillait dans l’attente de son prochain voyage.
Rishkinesh est un disque d’une belle sérénité, où chaque son trouve sa place dans un agencement subtil, l’ensemble digne de former le véhicule en devenir de notre retour vers une divinité hindoue.
Although we have been taught since our sweetest childhood to believe in Church, holy and apostolic, we cannot deny this ever-growing sympathy towards hindouism that accompanied our own growth, maybe through the body movement inherent to yoga, but not only, it must have been related in a way to some kind of meditation, at least to listening.
And here is this disc this chronicle is about, Rishikesh by Five Elements Music, a project of russian sound artist Serguey Suhovik, worldwide expert in drones and fields recordings. This is the eleventh release on Unfathomless. This label’s releases all rely on the postulate of a locus unity, of a close by exploration, and graces our ears with a harmony, an “under audible”.
Serguey Suhovik offers in his disc two pieces recorded in India, in Rishikesh and Vrindavan, two well-known hindu pilgrimage cities.
The listener might state of some places that he knows them already, and let us confess, we feel like having been there before in what could really be some faint and distant memories of ancient lives.
The artist focuses on life as it is, when environment sounds mix into electronics, a so light drone that could be imagined coming from the outside, like the harmony of a prayer mill. And especially here, silence does not exist, the night is loaded with turmoil, the dark is moving, leaking, backfiring, and facing objects that will ultimately break, meditation is the central point always revolving, and will even be apotheosis when ceremonial singings will finally occupy the entire space.
There was once this friend, heading to India, forgetting sometimes during long weeks to say hello. When coming back, he was reporting having played tablâ with a guru in the ruins of a temple, he was transfigured, practised pranayama and quickly, was forgetting all this, scattering himself in the expectation of another trip.
Rishikesh is a disc full of a beautiful serenity, where every sounds has it’s place in a subtle arrangement, the ensemble worth becoming the Vehicle of our way back towards some hindu divinity.
Flavien Gillié – translation by Sismophone
The Field Reporter
I just had a conversation with a fellow artist about how today media and culture seem to have been creating an atmosphere of fear and terror: we talked about how science TV shows tend to focus on the potential hazard that nature presents to us: from rare diseases that can kill us in a blink without any warning to catastrophes of massive proportions that potentially can destroy all life on earth.
Even the conspiracy theories seem to be just another medium that fear and terror find to spread in the ‘collective mind’.
We are in a point where we are all scared but where also nothing could really surprise us anymore: from drugs that turn people into flesh eaters to the terrorizing images of the Tsunami in Japan, we seem doomed to an imminent catastrophe and we just seem to be getting prepared for.
Visual artist and theorist José A. Restrepo wrote on an essay:
‘about postmodernity and its relation with the sublime and the catastrophic: a conservatory vision where the sublime is associated with the terror and absolutism or a renewing vision where the sublime is an essencial aesthetic characteristic recurrent on all art forms that pretends to be a testimony of the unrepresentable.’
Now what does that have to do with Sergey Suhovik project Five Elements Music and the ‘Rishikesh’ work?
Sergey Suhovik is an artist, curator and publisher from Russia well know for his project Five Elements Music and his labels Semperflorens and Still*Sleep. For ’Rishikesh’ he traveled to India to capture sound and in his own words to“…portray an intangible atmosphere…”.
Although the release is named ‘Rishikesh’ the sounds were captured in the city of Rishikesh and in the city of Vrindavan, the city where God Krishna was born.
Going back to the conversation I had with this fellow artist, he send me a few links to videos that lead me to a video of A. C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupad the founder of the Hare Krishna movement.
The fact that I was about to write about a release captured on the city where God Krishna was born and the fact that earlier I listened to some words by the Hare Krishna leader about his notion of machine and progress, seem to reveal a potential poetical and metaphysical relation between anticipation and coincidence, between the clues we follow and the clues that follow us.
‘Rishikesh’ is a release that seems to work on a deep level, on a level where the cosmological and genealogical seem to convey: where our origin and the origin of the universe convey as one.
Formally ’Rishikesh’ works somewhere between film soundtracks, ambient music and musique concrete. Fiction and fact melt into an extraordinary experience where doom seem to prevail over the first piece ‘Rishikesh’ and through most of the second piece ‘Vrindavan’ until minute 18 when the gloomy sounds fade out to recordings from chants giving to the whole work some sort of messianic character. The artist although not necessarily a redeemer seem to connect people with meanings and messages that are invisible to the ordinary eye / ear.
The fact that Suhovik traveled to India to capture the sounds in what seems a formal quest, reveals deep and meaningful questions: why India? why the city where God Krishna was born? Why capture all the recordings between 11 PM and 3 AM when most people are sleeping?
On ‘Rishikesh’ Suhovik’s role is that of the truly successful sound artist linking the present with the past and the future while giving a pertinent sense to the formal and conceptual questions made on the creative process. The artist operates as medium between the present time and a timeless universe where past, present and future collide into a vision that the artist envisions and make tangible through the sensible experience with his work.
The many sounds he captured on this trip from the most textural and gestural ones to the more environmental and anthropological-emphasized ones, puts the listener in touch with something that I’d call of a sublime nature. Sublime in the sense that José A. Restrepo mentioned on the fragment of his essay I quoted.
‘Rishikesh’is a beautiful release that can reach deep inside the listener, creating a sense of relation with things and the world that couldn’t be more valid and pertinent today: the expectations we have towards an apocalyptic event while this apocalypse is already an essential part of ourselves.
The Field Reporter
Rishikesh is a pair of sonically dissimilar recordings that reflect different facets of modern India: the peaceful allure of nature and the crush of human interaction. Each contains a religious element: the creaking of prayer wheels and striking of bells in the first track, the calls to prayer of the second. Together, they seek a higher reflection, a taste of the divine in the seemingly mundane. The sounds of traffic are allowed to intrude on the title track, recorded at the Ganges near the gateway to the Himalayas; today’s travellers pass by the holy like the people of Krishna’s time passed by the hurt and suffering. And yet, each continues, the river to the sea and back again, the endless cycle of suffering.
How to escape? A soundscape can offer only clues, not answers. In the running water, there is transcendence. In meditation, flight.”Vrindavan” amplifies the conflict with additional human intrusion, some welcome and some not. The place of Krishna’s birth is not always peaceful, and those who seek to rise above the mire often contribute to it with sound pollution. Voices raised in supplication can be beautiful or jarring, and examples of each can be found here. Bicycle bells ring, rickshaws race, monkeys screech. The traffic here is louder, and fireworks fight against the sullen serenity. Where is peace to be found? The answer arrives only at the end, in a children’s choral passage that is cut short too soon.
Sometimes it takes a visitor to reveal truths about the country in which one resides. Sergey Suhovik (Five Elements Music) discovers incongruences that may not be apparent to the local populace: a disconnect between worship and tone, a divine setting being ignored. It’s all there for the hearing. Sometimes we can’t hear the forest for the trees, or in other terms, the holy for the human. But the holy still calls, soft yet persistent : the quiet rustle beneath the rote.
A Closer Listen
Sergey Suhovik, also known as Five Elements Music, is not very well-known in the ‘west’, but this Russian fine master of drone music has had already a bunch of releases in Russia. Some of them made it to these pages. I might be wrong, but this might be his first CD release. Like with all Unfathomless releases Five Elements Music uses field recordings, in this case taped in 2009 on a trip to India. Unlike some of his other works in which Five Elements Music heavily treats all the sounds into vast amounts of drone like sound matter, the two pieces here extensively use original sounds from the field recordings, people speaking, birds, insects, along with sound debris picked up along the way. In the second piece it all seems a bit more denser and louder, with a greater use of changes in the equalization of the sounds. It gives the piece a more darker character, unlike the first piece which sounds a bit more lighter in approach. Its all very atmospheric with a strong emphasis on the long form sounds, rather than lots of smaller events, ending with children singing. A strange coda that is, but it works wonderfully well. Not an outstanding disc in this field of workers, but certainly one of the better works I heard recently.
Frans de Waard