Sacred Tibetan music that is the background for the liturgy is not based on melody but rhythm and the iteration of constant primitive, or archaic, sounds. Each sound corresponds to a given instrument. They do not attempt to imitate human emotions but represent the total expression of elementary natural phenomena of which the voice is one of the many vibrations making up the universal symphony. Like Tibetan Buddhism, which sees man always and exclusively in relation to the universe, Tibetan ritual music concentrates on the present and eternal qualities of universal life in which emotions, personal joy and suffering have no role. Through the music we can visit the source of reality in the deepest part of our being. This is the intent of meditation and Tibetan ritual music, based on vibrations deeper than an instrument or the human voice can reach: sounds that seem to come from the viscera of the earth, the depths of space, similar to the rumble of thunder. Mantra-like sounds associated with nature, the creative vibrations of which symbolise the universal origin of all things.
Lama Anagorika Govinda
The SOMMA project has been created by myself and Bill Laswell with the aim of researching and analysing forms of sound and music linked to magical and ritual traditions. The starting point of the whole project is the will to process trough the electronic and technologic mean material coming from distant cultures, many times totally different from our western cultural environment. In this is the age in which sexes, cultures, ideologies, races are multiplying, dividing, melting together all the above generates the biggest hybrid we ever seen. I think this time is the right historical place for exploring new communication forms, forms common to all human beings but that at the same time they maintain their own identity. Forms able to generate new communication codes...codes touched by perception and giving birth to other codes more and more difficult to recognise. So why not experimenting hip-hop beats together with Tibetan traditional music? I can imagine the standard ethnic music listeners ready to label this as a sacrilege...but there's no sacrilege where there's no dogma and under this point of view the Tibetan Monks with whom we collaborated till now have been more than interested and disposable to experiment this new form of spreading the Dharma. Where the esoteric structure of the Tibetan Philosophy forbid the entrance to the non initiated, the exoteric form of communication evolves from time to time. Tibetans are simply exceptional: they can adapt their communication every time in a different environment using different media for reaching their aim. They're not scared by Chaos, they use it an experience to grow. I don't know if this experiment has been successful, better consider it as a "work in progress", in the future we'll explore other traditions: Voodoo, Bushmen, Siberian chanting, just to name a few. Maybe will be possible to provide new rituals for new communities where the electronic mean, the machine, could generate a binary trance but always processed by our subjective perception, that luckily it is totally different from the banality of a personal computer.
The "Lama Choepa" is maybe the basic text of the whole Tibetan ritual practice. It is a devotion hymn to the guru, the Lama, and in the meantime fascinating metaphors and images hide deep esoteric mysteries that can be fully understood and used only by the true initiated. The way Sed Gyued monastery monks recite the ritual is totally different from other more known Tibetan schools, in some points it reaches the form of a real singing, using harmonic-rhythmic figures not findable anywhere. It have been chosen "The Lama Choepa", a "Prayer for the Dying" and an "Hymn to the joy of the Doctrine". While western society was making successful efforts during the last thousands of years in order to destroy every form of living together that could be different from the leading format, other cultures were refining a tolerance and research belief adapting it to the changing times and ways of life while keeping the tradition unchanged. New forms, new languages, new communication ways, new containers...without limits, dogmas or acts of faith. If language and words are virus, someone transformed them into a more and more actual mean in order to carry on a universal message. "The Message is there...clear. Only the box has to be changed, and this is necessary if we want that other people in other times understand it" Lama Gangchen Rinpoce. The content is unchanged since thousands of years, the box changes, like a mutation; it lives in different ways taking the form more suitable for times. There's something magic in this, like a hook of infinite light. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
BILL LASWELL - American, Is today one of the most eclectic and active musician. Since his first appearance in the late seventies with improvisers as Fred Frith, David Moss and John Zorn his name has been associated with all the major moments of the last twenty years of music. Founder of groups as Golden Palominos and musical projects as Material, producer of very diversified recordings from Mick Jagger first solo album to Musicians of Jajouka and Derek Bailey, deeply involved in the diffusion of Dub and Jungle LASWELL is surely one of the best example of the artist of our times. ERALDO BERNOCCHI - Italian, after his first experience with Punk & Rock bands he starts to be involved in the electronic music; in mid-eighties is one of the founder of the group Sigillum S, experimental electronic band in Italy. Between late 80's / early 90's BERNOCCHI travels and lives in the Far East getting involved in musical and shaman projects. Back in 1993 starts with visual artists Petulia Mattioli the project Verba Corrige Prod. He is founder of Ashes and Helix and works with Bill Laswell, Mick Harris / Scorn, Jim Plotkin. In 1994 with Laswell starts SOMMA, an ideal meeting of shaman projects and modern electronic technologies with dub loops. In the last years his collaborations with International artists are increased, his music has been realized by Sub Rosa, Possible Records, Newtone Records, Polygram and EMI.
Originally released in limited printing as Low - LW 002
SOMMA (Laswell / Bernocchi / Tibetan Monks) from Felmay Shop
1. Generation Stage Awakening 15.53 2. Water Transformation. Chuu 7.40 3. Fire Channel. Me 15.13 4. Fluids Emanation. Khu-wa 16.23 5. Absorbed Path 2.20