by Mark Krol and Louisa John-Krol
GENESIS, by Nebula, deals with the theme of creation and ultimately emergence of human consciousness. It begins with an exhalation, which the listener imagines as a moment of birth. Since the title of the album is GENESIS, our imaginations are led on a musical course with seven directional markers. Because it is a work of art, not a didactic treatise, the listener may interpret these points in any way they wish. Obvious references to Biblical, Buddhist, Hindu, perhaps even ancient Greek myths leaves us free to focus on one, all or even none of these traditions. This is a mixture of electronic and acoustic sounds, a blend of carefully wrought electronic scapes interacting with reverberations of Tibetan singing bowls and floating primeval sheets of flute, that can be experienced either as questions that the listener feels compelled to reflect upon, or else as answers that require deep listening in order to make interpretative patterns on our minds.
The first four movements invite us to step through visible and audible aspects of life, submerging in a space permeated with thoughts melting into music. This type of primitive thought seems simple on the surface, yet highly complex to our 21st century minds full of thousands of years of intellectual theories which create an illusion that we are strangers in the world.
The fifth movement introduces a tender composition, beautiful in its execution. This piece in particular is reminiscent of some meditation albums of the 80's, but soon gives way to an extended electronic whirling in the sacred pool of Tepeu and Gucumatz. It is this invitation to a long, extended journey beyond the wondrous scapes of #5 that make this album particularly interesting.
Many ambient CD's would be happy to end on a serene track like "Pulves et Umbra". Many would find the opening of #6 almost unsettling; it can be said to carry a dark-ambient hue. Are the musicians of Nebula asking questions about what lies beyond some visions of apparent beauty? We know from Rilke's first Duino Elegies that beauty is often an angel that disdains to destroy us. Therefore poetically, this moment is significant. About a third of the way through this track, familiar themes from earlier in the album return, and the ominous chords disappear. A stark emptiness envelops us, then stretches notes to introduce great swathes of silence. It is this part of the album that conjures some of the deepest meditative states. Nebula manages to sustain a minute variation of tone and sensation.
As #6 nears its end, the first stirrings of a shadow move into focus. Something hovers into our perceptions. We are not at this point sure if it is solid matter, a light, or a consciousness that wants to communicate with us. And this is what makes the album fascinating: mystery is never explained away. But we are given a clue. The final track, #7, is entitled "The Dawn of Man". It begins with a pause and concentration of energies, before shimmering waves of human voice emerge, barely audible, unfolding into nascent colours and sounds forming the backdrop to human life and imagination.
This music does not encourage a notion that human consciousness is an accidental mushroom that has sprung up on the chemical, organic soup of earth; rather, that we are among the destined manifestations of the universe.
Nebula is a melange of five talents:
1. Klaus Wiese (ex Popol Vuh member): Tibetan singing bowls, steel cello #4, synths #4.
2. Mauro Malgrande: shakuhachi flute and production.
3. Lorenzo Pierobon: harmonic chant and electronics #7.
4. Tau Ceti: synths on tracks #2 and #5.
5. Oophoi (referred to be some as a "Drone Master"): synths, samples, gongs, drones, loops, waves, processing and concept.
Recorded, mixed & mastered by Oophoi and Tau Ceti in the Kiva, April 2002.
Cover art by Alessandra Clini is tasteful and serene, a spiral shell in electric blue.