Composed, recorded, produced and played by David Parsons
- Cloud Gompa [12:44]
- Other Realms [10:00]
- Masked Dancer [10:36]
- Above Clouds [10:02]
- Kangra Yatra [6:20]
- Vajra [12:50]
David Parsons is a veteran composer of ambient and world music. The New Zealander has made a lot of journeys and during these travels he gathered many impressions from the regions he visited, both musically and psychologically. Especially the East has his great interest. In his music, the moods and atmospheres, he picks up in these countries, are mixed with another love of him: electronic music.
In the past this already led to some legendary albums like "Sounds From The Mothership", "Hymalaya" and "Yatra".
"Vajra" is his first album for Groove Unlimited. Soft ambient soundscapes are combined with traditional acoustic instruments on "Vajra".
The opening track "Cloud Gompa" is a typical David Parsons’ piece with some beautiful, relaxing melodies and atmospheres.
"Other Realms" is even softer with excellent loops.
"Masked Dancer" is more alive. Here David uses an Eastern-sounding sequence, calm rhythms and plays a violin… a sitar can be heard in the background.
"Above Clouds" brings him back to the ambient, again added with a sitar. His sounds are excellent.
In "Kangra Yatra" he uses rhythms and an Eastern sequence. This brings the music somewhat in the direction of Klaus Schulze from the eighties or the early works of Steve Roach.
The title track is the most ambient sounding piece on the album with long stretched soundscapes.
"Vajra" is a masterpiece with an elegant mix between ambient, world music and traditional electronic music.
I was wondering what happened to David Parsons as since his Celestial Harmonies days I've lost touch. The good news is this new release goes back to his more Eastern/ cosmic electronic styles after his period of ethnomusicology anthology discs.
It’s deep, mystical and richly ambient/electronics, and some really nice undulating pulsations as well.
After several years of silence and only the recent sampler "In Retrospect", fall 2004 finally saw the release of "Vajra", a new album inspired by the extensive journey’s Parsons undertook in Tibet and especially the Himalaya’s.
The 6 tracks of "Vajra" display the remarkable musicianship Parsons his known for since he started making music, so it is a delight to listen and experience the cinematic music he has come up with this time. Next to flowing soundscapes David implements ethnic instruments and handplayed percussion in his music, which still works magic after all these years. But Parsons also used a drumcomputer and some assorted digital percussion and bells. Together they form a beautiful blanket of introspective textures, which has the most elevating effect in the closing title-track.
In all, "Vajra" offers an impressive journey inward which nicely complements his range of Tibetan inspired music.
2004. Bert Strolenberg / SonicImmersion.org
Excellent music, very powerful blend of ambient textures and rhythms. Lots of spacemusic leads. Great work David, definitely a favorite along with Shaman.
The music by David Parsons in this compact disc possesses a style pretty near to the Ambient, with an important presence of romantic melodies and magical environments.
The result, that incorporates elements from World Music and New Instrumental Music, is frankly interesting.
David Parsons does not release too many albums, he thinks it over quite a lot before he produces something new for the general audience. Yet once we see (and listen to) his new album, we wish he gave us his splendid works more often.
2004. Virginia Tamayo
This release from 2004 features 63 minutes of ambient soundscapes.
New Zealander Parsons explores the Far East with his electronic compositions.
Vaporous textures drift into audibility, evoking slowly forming cloudbanks that gradually encompass the sky with their calming tonalities. Gently growling synthesizers season this slowburn with a seething undercurrent of anticipation.
With the third track, the music adopts a more substantial presence. Violin strains lend a mournful edge to the chugging tempos. Periodic e-perc mixes with ethnic percussives, generating an exotic flair that is enhanced by the lilt of a tranquilizing sitar. The violin and sitar interplay with soothing ease, injecting a mild urgency to the drifting pastiche.
After a return to minimalist ambience, the music takes another upward boost as lively rhythms patter away to generate a blend of contemporary electronic music with easygoing soundscapes. The percussion goads the melody along with comfortable effect, while violin reemerges to color the tune with a melancholy touch of yearning. The presence of ascending keyboard riffs gives the music a softly dramatic promise.
The CD concludes with a strictly ambient piece that makes diligent use of elongated soundscapes and surging puffs of steam-powered drive.
Resolutely aerial in nature, this music pleasantly connects far-flung lands with the heavens.
2005. Matt Howarth / Sonic Curiosity
David Parsons has a distinctive sound that is immediately recognizable on "Cloud Gompa", the first track on Vajra. The soothing, relaxing tones conjure up Asian images in a manner similar to a variety of his other works, Himalaya coming to mind. New age, world, and electronic music blend seamlessly together into the inimitable Parsons sound.
As is typical for him, the music moves patiently, leisurely yet with intent. This is music that is equally effective for intentional focused listening or as background.
"Other Realms" is particularly spacious, perfect floating music.
"Masked Dancer" changes tone considerably, with a variety of percussion. The lead instrument is perhaps a violin or a synth facsimile. Most of the music has a more primitive quality, but a fair amount of electronic sounds are weaved seamlessly into the mix as well.
A deep resonant drone begins "Above Cloud,", signaling that we are back into drifting mode. Wind whooshes by as the drone swells and slacks. Parsons doesn't tip his hand as to what instruments he uses, so I'd be guessing at what some of the other subtle sounds are that he employs here. Suffice to say, it all fuses into an ethereal mixture.
"Kangra Yatra" moves back into a more active place, with world beats and an unusual vocal effect.
Parsons' juxtaposition of primitive and modern instruments seems incongruous but it somehow works, as this mostly tribal beat-laden number is laced with squelchy synths here and there. The title track ends by taking us to the mountaintop to breathe in the air and take in the expansive view.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy.
2005. Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
The music of David Parsons is best experienced with eyes closed. In this manner, the transportive qualities of his work can be fully felt.
His album Vajra (63'04") presents six pieces meant to be set against our own mental imagery. Here, Parsons works in either of two modes; one evokes inner stillness and peace, the other, a physical energy as that of a ritual dance. The quiet pieces combine solemn timbres and electronic tones with field recordings and acoustic instruments to the point where it is impossible to distinguish one from another. Classic synthesizer sounds are layered among eastern influenced drones, pads and accents. In a swirling mist of ever-changing tonality, Parsons moves us through areas of darkness and light. As detailed as these soundworlds are, their purpose lies beyond the examination of Parsons' studio craft and his subtle manipulation of the sound field. They aspire to lead the listener to a place of isolation and mystery.
His work on this album is meant to evoke a separation, as that felt when high above the cloudbase. The rhythmic pieces on Vajra are true works of pan-global fusion. Advancing past the instrumental filler of TV's more common, glossy "travelogue" soundtracks, Parsons creates intriguing and energetic songs which intermingle authentic instruments and indigenous samples with offbeat electronic percussion hooks and propelling sequencer patterns.
His music is from the middle of nowhere, which turns out to be the center of everything. Through his works, Parsons hopes somehow to support us on our spiritual path.
2004. Chuck van Zyl / STAR'S END
David Parsons is always on the cutting edge of ambient world music. He is a master synthesist and a master multi-instrumentalist. He combines those talents with a deep soul and a sharp sense of sound design to create brilliant electro-tribal music.
"Vajra", his first release on Groove Unlimited, is a major milestone in that style. While he emphasizes his use of electronics, David brings acoustic and ethnic instruments to the table as well. On this cd he uses no vocals but the music chants in its own language at its own pace. The messages vary but they tend to be about love, devotion, harmony and peace.
The messages are not subtle. David’s soundworlds are remarkably calm and intense. He uses very few rhythmic elements but the pace is overt. The juxtapositions enhance the listening experience.
Listeners are free to choose their own paths. This disc like all of David’s CD’s is essential!
David PARSONS est Néo- Zélandais (aucun lien de parenté avec Alan) et Vajra (63’03) doit être son 14e album. En plus d’être un musicien réputé, Parsons est aussi un bourlingueur et c’est sur polycarbonate qu’il couche toutes les impressions qu’il a recueillies lors de ses multiples voyages, principalement en Asie.
Vajra n’échappe pas à la règle ; c’est un mélange d’atmosphères ambient combinés avec des instruments acoustiques traditionnels. Tout n’est qu’atmosphères et mélodies relaxantes, en alternance avec des boucles, un violon ou un sitar. Les séquences du Klaus Schulze des 80’s et des premiers travaux de Steve Roach ne sont pas très éloignées non plus. Bref, Vajra est un parfait exemple d’une fusion réussie entre ambient, world music et
musique électronique traditionnelle.
"....Anyway the inspiration for Vajra was of course Tibetan Buddhism and the Himalayas. I have spent quite a lot of time in the Himalayan Dhauladhar/Kulu/Lahaul area of North India so this imagery is uppermost in my mind when working with the music. I'm never really comfortable with naming tracks because it kind of narrows down the listening perception to a specific thing or place. I feel my stuff is more abstract than that and I like the listener to develop their own imagery really.
Anyway these are the track details
Cloud Gompa. Imagine a Tibetan monastery so high that its in the cloud base. You can just make it out momentarily through swirling mist. It feels isolated and mysterious.
Other Realms. Dimensions beyond the material world one can visit with the imagination.
Masked Dancer. This reminds me of ritual monk dancing where they wear masks of skulls and demons. The music is not the sort of music they would use in reality but it paints that "Masked Dancer" picture in my mind.
Above Clouds. I've stayed in gompas (monasteries) in the Himalayas where you can be often above the cloud base. It gives a feeling of separation from the troubles of the world and a deep feeling of inner peace.
Kangra Yatra. Yatra means journey or odyssey and Kangra is the valley in Himachal Pradesh situated below Dharamsala, the seat of the Dalai Lama in India. I've travelled through it many times. It is one of the most historic sites in India because it is believed that many of the stories and battles mentioned in the vedas happened there.
Vajra. Vajra (also called dorje) is the diamond sceptre in Tibetan Buddhism. Almost like a laser it can cut through obstacles on the spiritual path. Sometimes referred to as a thunderbolt. "
2004. David Parsons