Cloudwalker and the Ascent – Spotted Peccary Music SPM-2502
A flute produces sound when a stream of air directed across a hole in the instrument creates a vibration of air at the hole, and is sometimes called an edge-blown aerophone, projecting marvelous melodies and deep improvs that are matchless, seamless, and timeless, ecstatic spiritual journeys reaching ever upwards. Cloudwalker and the Ascent is a refreshing journey through windswept beauty, breathtaking high-altitude meditations, and Zen melodics.
1. About the album Cloudwalker and the Ascent
Wind-synth and woodwinds from around the planet skillfully blended with field recordings to form this musical palette, ecstatic wanderings sounding at once as ancient as it is contemporary. Zero Ohms (Richard Roberts) is a writer, painter, musician, teacher, and producer, who follows what he has termed Tao of Zero Ohms (literally: way of no resistance).
Most of this album was recorded while living in a small community prosaically called Little Switzerland due to its resemblance to an Alpine village. “I often walked to nearby overlooks that are breathtaking when clear but frequently were quite literally ‘in the clouds,’ hence, I became Cloudwalker,” reflects Roberts.
The beauty of this place combined with the uncertainties of the pandemic produced a collection of seven concise improvisations which have the feel of naked solo performances. Taking advantage of interrupted sleep patterns, many of the tracks on Cloudwalker were laid down in the hour just before dawn, their inspiration distilled from dreams, often with the Moon & Venus smiling through the open backdoor of his cabin. “I have tried to establish a sense of infinity and freedom, and the sense of timelessness that seems to come with it,” reflects the composer.
2. The tracks
The sound is very big but…
…not in a loud way, rather in a clever and delicate sustained calming way, deep listening you can follow into unknown territories. Zero Ohms adds his flutes and woodwinds to these electronic soundscapes and gets a very unique serene, mellow, and meditative sound. The first track sets the mood for our journey. “Cloudwalker and the Ascent” (5:57) opens with the sound of a flute in our ethereal big chamber, drones and breath play with symmetry as well as dissonance.
The composer reveals that he was inspired by Admiral Richard Byrd’s description of green, forested lands free of ice & snow which he observed ‘beyond the (north) pole’ which he referred to as “that enchanted continent in the sky,” and the track “Unknownland” (2:45) is a science fiction sounding blend of worlds, a pulsing atmosphere populated with mystical and acoustically astounding electronic flute-birds, and terrestrial avians as well.
Electronic dancing binary jewels near huge crashing waves, ringing bells pulse, “Vistas Beyond” (7:31) expands and encloses the listener inside a breath of warm melodic pulses. The next track’s title comes from a Taoist tradition of seeking high, craggy, seemingly inaccessible places for meditation, “Tum Gaon (ascending to higher places)” (10:20). The view of heaven flows mainly from observation and meditation, a single tone soaring and shimmering in the air. Breath and open echoey spaces go deep, this is the longest meditation on the album.
Maybe this echoey chamber…
…be it cave or cathedral, is bigger than we expect. A low drone immediately begins the ascent, very gradual and delicate. “Skybound (free from terrestrial bonds)” (9:20) allows us to imagine the biggest place to find an echo, immersed in the warm, contemplative groove conjured, and headed for the sky.
Earthy spirits might dream of disappearing into sounds in the heavens, “Deep Sky Tones” (5:22), sort of a slow duet between the electronics and the ancient, one side does something slightly different than the other side, but they are both long sustained tones that flicker slightly sometimes, with a layered texture, a reverb feel, bringing to mind mythical entities, moods, and deeper musical meditations.
“Across the Seven Skies” (6:10) has a folktale feeling in my opinion, a story told, a track that stands alone, climbing yet higher, spreading thinner & thinner, beyond the atmosphere, into nothingness. Now our echo chamber goes from a cave to the sky, not just one sky but seven skies.
2. About the artist
From the liner notes, “Just as the light of a full moon allows us to navigate a path through the darkness, Music allows us to find our way in the dark nights of the Soul.” Zero Ohms began his musical path around the age of 11 when he began taking clarinet lessons. Four years later, he learned the guitar and got into singing and playing pop and anti-war folk songs. He lists Phil Ochs, Donovan, Richie Havens, the Beatles, the Moody Blues, Leonard Cohen, and Jethro Tull, but seeing and hearing a concert in which Paul Horn accompanied Donovan on the flute changed everything.
3. Where to buy the album Cloudwalker and the Ascent?
Written by Robin James, June 21st, 2022