2. ya-man 12:56
3. the disciple’s path 36:00
4. raga ayahuasca 10:39
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Mark Seelig’s ambient-organic The Disciple’s Path follows upon the passionate deep sonic enchantment of his previous Disciple (Projekt, 2010). After years of collaborations with Steve Roach, Byron Metcalf and Loren Nerell, Seelig returns to his solo work on this unique, engaging medicine music. Steeped in traditional Indian Ragas, the sultry ambient washes and occasional entrancing rhythms form the backdrop for Mark’s organic and intimate Bansuri flute melodies. Potent and seductive, the pieces venture to the frontiers of consciousness, animating the 78 minutes of music with an inviting enticement into dimensions of the beyond.
“The vision,” Mark explains, “is to honor life in general and to specifically pay reverence to all people immersed in ancient wisdom traditions of the world. As a student and practitioner of shamanic healing teachings, I am curious to learn from them and fascinated with finding musical expression of their mystique.”
“In troubled times, disciples of all kinds search for ways to understand current challenges and implement what they learn on their path to help create a healthy and conscientious way of living together with creation. Indian Ragas are deeply rooted in one of these ancient wisdom teachings. The pieces on this album reflect a musical journey that casts a bridge from indigenous traditions to the current world, as another disciple pursues the path…”
From a previous Textura review: Seelig “…plays with admirable humility. Never in his playing is there any hint of ego indulgence; on the contrary, his every expression seems tailored to strengthen the total musical effect, and the aromatic quality and haunting tone of the flute is consistently reinforced by the expansive backdrop.”
Over four tracks — the shortest running a touch over ten minutes and the longest 36 minutes — the mind is engaged and entranced by Bansuri flute, dilruba (Indian cello), electronic violin, harmonic chants, soundscapes, percussion, and drones.
|Limited edition of 500|
Mark Seelig: Bansuri bamboo flutes, dilruba (Indian cello), electronic violin, acoustic guitar, harmonic chants
Loren Nerell: Soundscapes and drones
Max Link: Percussion
Produced by Mark Seelig and Loren Nerell. Recorded and pre-mixed by Loren Nerell. Final mix by Sam Rosenthal. Mastered by Howard Givens – Spotted Peccary Studios NW, Portland, Oregon
Cover image – Secret of the Forest © mugwortdesigns.com
1 raga princess
… is based on elements of one of the most profound and revered Ragas in Indian classical music. I say ‘elements,’ as I would not claim the ability to even marginally explore the full depth of this particular Raga. But the ‘feel’ comes across. It’s deeply reverent, and I call it ‘Raga Princess’ to honor the divine feminine as it appears in all its forms for us. As a husband, I feel deeply indebted to, and in love with, my amazing wife Gabi, so this Raga is for her.
… is a simple but deep and relaxed exploration of the main themes of Raga Yaman. It’s a melody that consists of only full notes, no half notes, so it appears easy to learn and play. That said, what’s called the ‘Ma Tivra’ in Indian music lends a particular and beautifully haunting energy to this Raga.
3 the disciple’s path
…takes ample time to expand into a meditative taste of Raga Bhoopali and then veers off into free improvisation, breaking all laws of Indian Raga. If you are familiar with that special deep-meditation feeling of never wanting a certain song to end, then this one is still too short. But the idea was to have it go on for these 36 minutes and keep a steady space of silence between the notes.
4 raga ayahuasca
The search of a disciple leads to explorations that go far beyond the confines of the mind… This track honors one of the most powerfully loving and insightful sacred plants that has been used ritually for thousands of years by native South American culture. The visions it gives have the beauty of Raga, the bliss it brings have the depth of Raga, the darkness it teaches about have the wildness of Raga…
After over 15 years of collaborations with Steve Roach, Byron Metcalf, and Loren Nerell (resulting in 16 albums including his 2019 PERSISTENT VISIONS collaboration with Metcalf), Mark has developed a wide body of diverse recorded work.
Music is his second life following 30 years as a clinical psychotherapist. The influence of Asian mysticism and spirituality, South American ceremonial rituals, and the musical traditions of India worked their magic on his life in many humbling ways. Classically trained as a child on violin and self-taught on guitar, in 1999 at age 42 his musical focus shifted again: during a deep vision quest, he felt encouraged to take up the North Indian bamboo Bansuri flute. This was a rather late age for picking up a new instrument, yet he took the plunge; for 10 years he studied as a disciple of Indian Bansuri maestro R.K. Bikramjit Singh.
In his work as a clinical psychotherapist and in private practice, Mark embraces the approaches of Indigenous Ceremonial Traditions and Transpersonal Psychotherapy, utilizing music to create a setting for meditation and healing. Facilitating breathwork and shamanic rituals to induce expanded states of consciousness, Mark offers his musical compositions as a guiding element to support people’s inner explorations.
Immersive in the extreme, The Disciple’s Path draws the listener into its shamanistic lair for four mystical excursions, Mark Seelig your devoted guide. Working with contributions from Loren Nerell (soundscapes and drones) and Max Link (percussion), Seelig drapes his alluring North Indian Bansuri bamboo flute playing across trance-inducing backdrops more akin to traditional Indian Ragas than ambient-electronic soundscapes.
The Disciple’s Path is no half-baked exercise in cultural appropriation, as its creator, a self-described student and practitioner of shamanic healing teachings, treats the musical form with sincerity, humility, and respect. As Seelig himself states, his project aspires “to honour life in general and to specifically pay reverence to all people immersed in ancient wisdom traditions of the world.” It’s worth noting that in his non-musical life Seelig’s a clinical psychotherapist of some thirty years’ standing who utilizes music to foster contexts for meditation and healing.
A multi-instrumentalist too, Seelig was classically trained on violin as a boy and taught himself guitar, but then in his early forties decided to take up the Bansuri bamboo flute and studied for ten years with Indian Bansuri maestro R. K. Bikramjit Singh. Much of that comes into play on the recording, with Seelig supplementing his flute playing with dilruba (Indian cello), electronic violin, acoustic guitar, and harmonic chants. It’s hardly his debut either: collaborations with Steve Roach, Byron Metcalf, and Nerell have resulted in sixteen albums over a fifteen-year period.
With a tamboura drone firmly in place, “Raga Princess” initiates the release with a reverent setting, its title designed to honour the divine feminine as it manifests in all its forms. Enhancing the lulling atmosphere is Seelig’s breath-laden flute, its tone delicate and its effect seductive. Conventional ‘clock time’ falls away as the material advances and the meditation deepens. (Listeners familiar with Miles’s “He Loved Him Madly” might be reminded of the trumpeter’s half-hour Duke tribute as the slow drift of Seelig’s own material works its magic.) An exploration of the main themes of Raga Yaman, “Ya-Man” perpetuates the dreamlike drift of the opener, this time with percussive rattlings and synth washes part of the enveloping flute-and-tamboura arrangement.
Even more time-suspending is the oceanic title track, whose thirty-six-minute duration looks excessive on paper but in practice becomes a non-factor when its effect is so powerful. The presentation expands even more in this setting, with the music animated by a lilting percussive pulse and keening string textures added to incantatory flute musings that grow ever more impassioned. Without altering too dramatically the material’s Indian raga character, the other elements add a stately elegance reminiscent of ancient ceremonial Chinese music. Three-quarters of the way through, the rhythm elements drop out, allowing the material to settle into a deep-meditation zone for its outward journey. At album’s end, “Raga Ayahuasca” distances itself from the other three in merging Bansuri bamboo flute with guitar shadings, tabla, and Seelig’s own chanting.
At seventy-eight minutes, the release is long, yet avoids feeling overlong when its content so naturally lends itself to performances of extended length. On the inner sleeve, Seelig mentions that for those who’ve experienced the deep-meditation sensation of never wanting a certain piece of music to end, the title track will still seem too short. One expects they’d say much the same about the recording as a whole. -Ron Schepper
reviews editor –
Bansuri player Mark Seelig is best known for his collaborations with Byron Metcalf, Steve Roach, Loren Nerell and others, most of which we have reviewed in these pages. In 2005 he privately released his first solo album, Disciple, as Amaresh Mark Seelig, with Metcalf (percussionist), two guest vocalists, and a sarod and tamboura player joining in as needed, with Roach adding electronic drones to the sessions. Five years later it was re-released by Projekt for wider distribution. Now, after fifteen years, The Disciple’s Path is here, the follow up, with Seelig playing bansuri flute, dilruba (something like an Indian cello), electric violin, acoustic guitar, and occasional overtone singing, this time with Loren Nerell providing the backing soundscapes and drones, and a bit of percussion from Max Link, all across four long tracks bringing the CD out to 75 minutes. Throughout, the feeling created by the subtle drones and percussive elements going forward with Seelig’s wandering flute (and strings) being the music’s main focal point, offering the listener a beautiful respite, moving gently through relaxing and meditative moments, casting a beautiful and gentle expansive spell that one wishes could go on forever. Seelig’s liner notes provide some background and insights on each of the four tracks, including the 36-minute title track, much of which is improvisation. The totality of what Seelig presents here has a powerful and transcendental effect that has an articulate and reflective quality that can easily move the listener to a more tranquil state. After the disc plays all the way through, you won’t need to hit the repeat button, your spirit will already be at a beautiful destination.
From Darkroom Magazine
Era dai tempi di Disciple, realizzato in proprio nel 2005 e poi ristampato dalla Projekt nel 2010, che l’americano Mark Seelig non firmava un album in solitaria, avendo collaborato attivamente in lavori firmati assieme ad altri musicisti del calibro di Steve Roach, Byron Metcalf, Sam Rosenthal, Loren Nerell etc… Questa sua nuova fatica, alla quale il succitato Nerell collabora con soundscapes e droni, è proprio l’ideale seguito di Disciple, in cui Mark si cimenta non soltanto coi fatidici flauti Bansuri di bambù, ma anche con dilruba (il violoncello indiano), violino elettrico, chitarra acustica e canti armonici, sempre nel pieno rispetto di quei caratteristici Raga indiani su cui poggia la sua scrittura musicale.
Ottimamente prodotto e racchiuso nelle 500 copie del bel digipack a sei pannelli (completo di utili note illustrative), The Disciple’s Path prosegue nel viaggio sonoro di Mark a cavallo fra ambient e new age, mantenendo come stella polare la musica indiana già dalle prime battute dell’iniziale “Raga Princess”, in cui la melodia del flauto si dipana suadente e fascinosa con un ritmo sottile ma funzionale che subentra pian piano, come avviene anche nella lunga ed ancor più cadenzata title-track (36 minuti). Anche nel placido incedere dell’eterea “Ya-Man” l’intensità delle melodie sa crescere bene col passare dei minuti, mentre “Raga Ayahuasca” chiude l’opera all’insegna di quell’irresistibile richiamo mistico di terre e culture lontane che permea ognuna delle quattro lunghe tracce. Senza stravolgere coordinate stilistiche che non necessitano di particolari scossoni per funzionare a dovere, Mark confeziona un lavoro di grande fascino che metterà ancora una volta d’accordo – con la classe tipica del suo percorso musicale – i seguaci dell’ambient più aperta alle derive etniche e new age. -Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi