Considering the huge amount of releases that Portland, Maine’s Flower Room has covered, this new tape of guided meditation by Starbirthed might be a subtle and oblique point of entry. The label is more or less a portal for the various work projects of Ash Brook and Matt LaJoie. Wearing many hats, these various tangents all revel in an open hearted, open minded communion with the kosmic and natural worlds.
Loving-Kindness Meditation sees the couple offering two versions of a soaring ambient ecosystem that both stretch out to just short of a half hour each, of zoning bliss.
Side A – Loving-Kindness Guided Meditation has Brooks gently intoning the route, through your floating mind, over LaJoie’s looping guitar arcs, an inobtrusive invitation to connect into a deep stream of universal love. Touching on those we have relationships with, be that close friends, people we share a locality with but who are strangers and those of us we have issues with or that challenge us somehow.
It is, of course, easy to see this type of work as simple to derail but the essence of this work feels like a message fit for these times. Whilst walls are built, lines drawn and opposing ideologies harden, it’s perhaps unfair to assume anything here will trigger a huge awakening but the fact it exists, at least offers a tiny slither of hope.
What makes this track worthwhile is simply that it carves an invitation to just relax. That’s not an agitated disruptive chill out where your email notifications cut into your bubble of space – it’s time for you to actually do nothing other than float and listen. How often do we actually do just that?
Close your eyes and just go with it and as Brooks says at the end ‘open your eyes when you are ready’. Every time I’ve arrived at that point, the fundamental return to silence has always needed several seconds to prepare to re-engage with my surrounds.
The instrumental version on Side B again matches LaJoie’s guitar to Brooks but this time, her presence has morphed into drifting anchor-less synth smudges. With the overall limited palette, the change is as radical as it is subtle. The music feels as much a form of communication, where pure crystallised sounds have grown out of her words, now embedded in your memory.
What this actually does in the mind of the listener clearly varies on a whole host of factors. As someone that’s always seen the value in meditation but always toiled to switch off sufficiently, this album has been a hugely valuable tool in trying to actually and properly relax. In my own experiences of dealing with times of stress and unhappiness previously, nature has been the only key to stillness.
However, in these fraught times, music is one thing readily available to many, and whatever the genre, it adjusts your view of the world, if only temporarily. Whatever we face as individuals, relaxation and its benefits will always be part of an effective solution.
I think it’s not disparaging to suggest Loving-Kindness Meditation is not a major release or an album that’s been worked on in a studio for months after months. But it’s clearly part of Flower Room’s overall arc into music that performs a function as much as to stimulate and enjoy. Your brain is a muscle, why not try to flex it by chipping away, sanding down and simply defusing and reconfiguring any negativity. What this exercise does is to diminish the lows in which a universe of cause and effect results in increasing the highs.
For us at OBLADADA, the recommendation of any new music in its most basic form is that it’s worthy of spending time going where an album of new and unfamiliar music suggests you go. As such, Loving-Kindness Meditation is a mental tool, as much as it’s a slither of kosmic born universal bliss. It’s whole heartedly recommended.
Loving-Kindness Meditation is out now, on cassette and digital