Beloved Polish fashion brand MISBHV present their first compilation featuring artists from across the globe.
This project, assembled across the space of only a few weeks, is a raw and immediate response to a changed musical landscape the past months have revealed to us. It arises from many hours of conversations about techniques of meditation and engaged withdrawal, fuelled by a sense of uncertainty about what it means to make music—in so many ways a social practice—at a time when we have little choice but to experience it in the solitude of our private homes.
Venturing into new territory, we invited artists – most of whom work within broadly conceived club culture – to search for a sonic form to foster a renewed connection to the here and now. This record emerged: a musical journey from Warsaw, through Berlin, to Rome, Ankara, Tehran, Taipei, Los Angeles, Rio de Janeiro; an exercise in shared intimacy; a record of our first pandemic.
About the record
The record begins with “Regression” by the Warsaw producer Lutto Lento, fresh after releasing his “Legendo” album on Haunter. Hypnotic layers of harp reminiscent of recurrent waves of moonlit sea set the pace of this piece—a meditation on death, impermanence, change, set in motion by stories of yogis who would once come to live on cemeteries where dead bodies were not buried or burned, but discarded out of compassion for hungry animals.
This is followed by “Landscape of Home” by the Taiwanese artist Vice City, who conjures a comforting soundscape-like track that combines field recordings with soothingly smooth electronics and a quiet recitation in Taiwanese Hokkien.
“Basen,” from the Polish producer Wirski, underpins pastoral vocal samples with subtle drones and machine-line rhythmic sounds that set the stage for a lyrical tale of pitfall and solace, as told by the voice of artist Zuzanna Bartoszek.
“Gwát,” by Vienna-based, Tehran-born composer Rojin Sharafi, takes its title from a malicious wind in the South-East of Iran that, some believe, may infiltrate one’s body, upsetting the mental balance. The track is a contemporary rendition of a ritual performed in the region of Balouchi to treat this perceived illness, layering recited lyrics—a collage of slangs and classic Persian—over an uneasy, avant-garde sound structure straight out of an IRCAM lab.
“Il Moto del Pendolo” by Eva Geist (of Macadam Mambo and Hivern Discs releases and the Quatro Di Troisi project with Donato Dozzy) is centered on rhythm, both hypnotic and natural. Lyrics on the pendulum motion fade into whispers while rhythms slowly dissolve as if in a Fellini dream sequence.
In “Ether,” the compilation comes closest to the would-be genre of “meditation music.” The prolific German producer Adam Port envelops a quiet-spoken narrative from Natalia Maczek in a steady bass groove laid against wave sounds, offering a new iteration of a familiar New Age sensibility.
This melts seamlessly into “A Crack in the Vessel”—a single-take recording of crystalline guitar tones by Los Angeles-based producer Julian Klincewicz who draws on his practice of Transcendental Meditation, as well as the purifying experience of playing live as a vessel for letting go of tension and frustration. At 25 minutes, it is more New Weird America or ambient country than actual electronic music, and evokes a sense of calmness in an open, wild nature.
“Teraz” centers on the voice of Eleonora Atalay, the Polish singer who lives in Ankara and daughter of tour de force of Polish music, Czesław Niemen. Lyrics by poet Anna Czarnecka are split into several vocal parts, from whisper to soprano, and artfully put together in a whirlwind of otherworldly sounds by Warsaw-based Newborn Jr and the compilation curator, Artur 8.
Coming to a close, “Cataratas” by Rio de Janeiro producer Valesuchi lingers on the theme of water—its depth, movements, importance to the world. “When there is no water, there is desert,” read the lyrics, delivered both in Spanish and Portuguese over celestial drones and irregular bubbling electronics in a reminder of what our planet—and we—are made of.
The record ends with “Meditation” by Alexis Taylor of Hot Chip: “a rumination on being absorbed by sound, vibration, inner-thought—being at one with something other than reality or the self,” as the artist puts it. With its lyrics derived from an actual dream, it is a heartfelt and uplifting lullaby of sorts, with Jonny Lam’s pedal steel guitar adding a special kind of hope-filled melancholy; a perfect closing, a ray of light among the dark clouds of global insecurity.
“Meditations,” a dream-like sequence of sounds, is no run-of-the-mill ambient record. It is diverse, at times adventurous, at times soothing, bringing together artists from Europe, Asia and both Americas, with their very own hopes and visions—and, perhaps, recipes—for healing our minds. Or at least some sonic food for thought and musical companion in a world that has already changed.