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A Universe to Come

By Srajan Ebaen
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Tulku "A Universe to Come"

Compact Disc Compact Disc: Koch World 333362 Compact Disc


Genre: Trance/Ambient

  With the honorific Tulku, Tibetans recognize an old soul reappearing in a new body. This consciously honors the endless cycle of reincarnation, of Spirit taking form, shedding form and manifesting again. Universe to Come is the third embodiment of this ensemble under the inspired guidance of producer Jim Wilson. It becomes contemporary vessel for the voices of Ayahuasca Shamans, Zoroastrian peace prayers, Indian puja chants and Gnostic Gospels. Thick with Neo-tribal atmosphere, Tulku III once again relies heavily on the complex, hypnotic and seductive grooves that carried its predecessors. Unlike much equally rhythm-driven but synthetic Techno or Ambient music, Tulku remains very organic and earthy. Synthesizers are subtle and disguised enhancements, not mainstay fare. Hence, the aural color scale isn’t cool but warm, the scenery not a rave but the Amazon Jungle, or perhaps a Ghanja-soaked Baul party on the Nepalese temple grounds of Swayambunath.

While groups like Delirium, Deep Forest, AsiaBeat and Dead Can Dance cover parallel ground, Delirium and Deep Forest lack relative depth by comparison. Perhaps a few more happy returns on the Grand wheel of life would add the respective gravitas. AsiaBeat sports Malaysian bol percussive patterns just like some of those here but it radiates a different cultural aura. Lisa Gerrard’s output is still closer to Tulku, and closer yet is Jamshied Sharifi’s A Prayer for the Soul of Layla – for those who know either.

A Universe to Come reintroduces Jai Uttal and Geoffrey Gordon from the former’s Pagan Love Orchestra, two genre leaders who already participated on the first Tulku release Trancendence. Ladino vocalist Consuelo Luz, a now local talent since the New Earth label relocated its headquarters to Santa Fe, sings on the title track, a Nuevo Flamenco inspired romp with Gabriel Osuna on guitar that opens with a cosmic homage to the Creator. Singers Gina Salá and Sita Jamieson add Enigma-like fragments and Indian chants while famous Kirtan leader Krishna Das opens the Bhakti number “Shanti Puja” along an ancient Sanskrit mantra before a voice-coder and reverb enhanced English-based answer chorus shifts gears.

Unlike many productions that aim at introducing a spiritual element into music but derail into the preachy, trite or perhaps well intentioned but weakly realized, Tulku III pulls off this tricky tightrope act with supreme poise. Whatever your beliefs, Jim Wilson neatly sidesteps the issue of collision. He seemingly goes backward in time, into more primitive but pulsating virtual soundscapes. They are palpably radiant with the sort of soul stuff that degrades when talked about but remains a living presence when the appropriate space is held in silence. By using mostly foreign vocals in an instrumental rather than lyrical fashion, this underlying silence holds and builds indeed for the duration of this album. Only the last track, “I am”, gets somewhat heavy. Bernard Pomerance recites a fragment from a Gnostic Gospel text found at Nag Hamadi in 1945 in too self-conscious a ‘Voice of the Almighty’ fashion. Outside this minor blemish, A Universe to Come is one of the best examples of the growing genre of “spiritualized World Beat” that includes the formation Vas on the Narada label and Rasa on Hearts of Space as other attractive forerunners.

Enter Tulku then and momentarily find yourself turning into a Shaman, shape shifter, ecstatic devotee or wandering sadhu. Once the music ends, you’ll be back in your room and this reality, but with the flavor of elsewhere lingering around you a while longer - a tacit reminder that deeper layers of being can be accessed not only through formal meditation or near-death encounters but also, simply, by listening to the right kind of music in a vulnerable state of mind.

An old saying has it that if you move toward the Divine with one step, it will rush toward you by hundreds of steps. Approach A Universe to Come with a simple gesture of relaxed attention. You’ll likely find yourself carried effortlessly much farther than expected. If you enjoy this type of aural rejuvenation, Tulku III is most highly recommended and serves as personal jumping-off place on regular occasions.








































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