For his 37th album, Italian ambient/electronic artist jarguna takes us within the mask behind the animal soul. On this release his mystical, deep atmospheres are infused with underlying rhythms. Thematically, ANIMAS-K brings the listener into ceremonies occurring across our planet’s many cultures. Jarguna travels the world collecting aromatic materials for incense while also gathering field-recordings to incorporate into his dronescapes.
Jarguna notes, “Incense in general has always been linked to ceremonies, rites, offerings. These aspects are interwoven with percussion and hypnotic sound with the essence that emanates from the smoke creating a profound, transformational environment. The theme of this release is the soul expressed in the masks used in ceremony. For this reason the title brings with it a play on words representing “Anima,” the soul, but also the animal, and the separate “k” is a third word thus forming the word ‘mask.’ Imagine: the soul of an animal in a mask.”
In my life I travel a lot with my backpack, never without my camera and my equipment for field-recording. Capturing sounds, soundscapes, traditions — especially ceremonies of various contexts — this is a passion of mine. Bringing home an “immortalized” moment through the recorder gives me immense joy. Most people have fun with photos and videos, but in my travels the prerogative is sounds and smells, the latter is part of my work. Yes, by dint of traveling it has also become my job. I opened a company in Burkina Faso in 2007, then in Madagascar and Uganda; I export medicinal plants, spices, tea, but one of my great passions is aromatic materials for incense.
Incense in general has always been linked to ceremonies, rites, offers. That is connected to another important aspect: singing, percussion, hypnotic sound with the essences that emanate from the braziers creating a mystical, deep atmosphere. This album is a dance aimed at purifying and protecting, crossing various cultures from African, Amazonian and Asian, while in the last track we immerse ourselves in valleys of Buddhist monasteries with very similar songs and sounds. To animistic contexts, therefore not religious but closer to shamanism, such as the ancient Buddhist branch called Bön.
Often and in many cultures, the dances with masks are meant to represent a sort of ‘exorcism’ an act of purification by expelling evil entities from the villages, a sort of carnival parade in which by making fun of the entities, you remove them, since you identify with them within the image of the mask you are wearing. Another peculiarity that masks have are they let you identify with the part, and therefore break down the most superficial self, conditioned by the environment (social rules). Taking off and putting on the mask is a profound gesture, like taking off something of ourselves.
In reality, ANIMAS-K is partly a collection of older tracks extracted & “modernized” with the addition of 3 unreleased tracks.
Let me tell you a bit about the individual tracks —
1 Earth Forged by the Sun
From Nouna (2008) • A small citadel in the north-west of Burkina Faso, in the hottest periods where the whole surface of the ground becomes dry and burning, and the light reflects on the ground like a mirror, the stone seems truly modeled by the Sun. Here there are populations especially Dafin and Bwuamu who live in close contact with nature and support themselves with their resources. The background voices are people discussing crops and how to best store for lean periods.
From Archetypes (2018) • The symbol of the Uroboro represents the cyclical nature of events, reactions, in short, existence itself and as they say in Africa, “everything is rhythm.”
3 Agartha (unpublished)
This track was created for the creation of a head and tail theme song for a video on a YouTube channel of a dear friend entitled Il Tetano della Quinta Razza. Agartha is a legendary kingdom that would be found inside the Earth. The long, deep, grotesque sounds want to represent the bowels of the Earth, where the sound cannot find a way out, continually bouncing off the walls of a hypothetical huge cave. The theme of the video is precisely the description of these mythologies of the hollow Earth.
From Altoplano (2009) • Is the 4th track of the homonymous album inspired by my travels in Guatemala. In the Huehuetenango region there is a plateau called Cuchumatanes, a landscape rich in contrast and where some Mam communities, descendants of the Maya, live.
5 Shuar Tales (unreleased)
Built on the song of a Shuar woman (Ecuador), an ancient people known for the cutting and mummification of heads during the preparation of the Ayauascha ceremony. The voice of a man spitting is heard in the background. He is a Curander, and in reality it does not simply spit, but is a method of sprinkling liquor on the “patient” to cleanse his soul or energy sphere.
From Waiting for a Call From the Unknown (2012) • a project built on an ancient Mayan legend, given that for them the calendar ended in 2012, and therefore the end of an era.
In Mathematics commutators are widely used in group theory, in ring theory, in Lie algebras, in quantum mechanics they are used to formulate the uncertainty principle. This last theory (the same observer modifies the observed particles) I find very fascinating because similar to some philosophical theories including Taoism and Buddhism, they say that reality is built by our own psyche, so we modify reality given which is subjective. I connect to the Mayan theory in the thought that so many people in 2012 hoped or feared in something, changing and transforming the reality around them. Who knows, maybe that’s how prophecies work?
7 Big Baobab
From Nouna (2008) • In this case the track is drastically restructured and modified to enhance the rituality. In Africa, numerous animistic ceremonies take place around the Baobabs including sacrifices, offers of fetishes, and fertility rites. Around these great specimens of nature often dances and songs are animated. The sound image represents me in a savannah walking slowly towards a village during one of these ceremonies and slowly leaving.
8 Demon Bön (unreleased)
The Bön is an ancient religion prior to Buddhism, quite similar to the lineage of today’s Buddhism of the Dalai Lama with more rigorous and often bloody rules and rituals. They think that in the “astral realm” it is pervaded by divinities and demons, and it is almost certain that the accompanying music during the sutras and mantras of all Buddhist forms were born to drive out and put fear into negative entities, even simply on a symbolic level. For many it is considered a religion. The Bön was born in harsh territories between Iran and Afghanistan (at least so it is believed) with roots very similar to animism.
Projekt is America's premier independent label specializing in passionately intense introspective music in the ambient,
electronic, ethereal & darkwave genres.
39-year-old Projekt is home to Steve Roach, Erik Wøllo, Michael Stearns, Black Tape For A Blue Girl, Aurelio Voltaire and many others. The label continues to nurture the careers of its select roster of artists....more
This album will grow on you. Listen in headphones or earbuds. It will blow your mind. Steve has so many amazing textures and dimensions on this release. It's hard to pick a favorite track. Probably in his top 5, if there is such a thing. 2020Guitarman
Now THIS is the ultimate Christmas-gift..! Deep, soothing, comforting, and above all: classic Steve! This will be on repeat a lot.. Hopefully this will come as a CD/vinyl-release as well! Thanks Steve and best wishes from the heart. Berkdrums