Lamp of the Universe – “Hidden Knowledge” (2016) review
Very similar albums, yet with hidden gems …
Being a child of the psychedelic 60’s, there’s no way I could have avoided the sitar and the musical influences that revolved around it, where majestic songs where laced with those hypnotic sounds, causing many of us to reach out for more, with visions of being swept away into an ethereally delightful atmosphere of blissed out wonder.
To that end, the obvious choice at the time was Ravi Shankar, a master of the sitar, with a heavy influence on those such as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones and countless others. The only trouble was that the music and attitudes reflected in Shankar’s inspirations were traditional to another part of the world, where his music was already fully formed, functional and very much woven in and of India’s social fabric.
Try as I might, lighting flickering candles and incense under heavily tapestried walls, while hazy blue smoke circled the room, the music of those like Ravi Shankar was too frantic and to fast paced, unable to be captured or owed by me … as I and many like me were searching for a musical attitude that had not been conceived of, a musical attitude that belonged to rock n’ roll, where those eastern attitudes could be molded and shaped to the reality I knew and could relate to.
It took years for those meandering sonically laidback Pink Floyd Dark Side Of The Moon visions to finally blossom into a reality, making me smile with delight, realizing that I was not on this path alone, that others were also traveling this road, others with the musical skills and abilities to bring those desired attributes to fruition … where from stage left, Lamp Of The Universe arrived.
Having gone through the entire catalog of Lamp Of The Universe, which is a rather lengthy endeavor, I will say that while hypnotically wonderful, there seems to be but one song on each album that stands out, numbers such as “Netherworld” from Hidden Knowledge, or “Transcendence” from the album Transcendence. Most of the tracks are lengthy, some with vocals, some without, though all strive to create a sonic tranced vision of enchantment and couch-bound intoxication, where you’re able to ride these psychedelic currents feeling that this music belongs to you, that this music has risen out of a culmination of rock n’ roll that’s come face to face with mystic eastern influences in a most specular manner.
For me, I had to make a conscious decision as to which of the songs I wanted to keep, where in the spirit of honesty, many come across as sounding very much the same, causing me to question how much of the same music I needed before it all began to sound so repetitive that it would hold little interest for me. Yet when collecting that material that resounded most aptly with me, I can finally, after all these years, layback and be softly swept away into another cosmic dimension, eight miles high and still ascending.
Consider: “Netherworlds” from Hidden Knowledge, “Transcendence” from Transcendence, “Our Celestial Flow” from Echo In Light “Astral Planes Of Knowing” from Acid Mantra, or “Lotus Of A Thousand Petals” or the simmering “Freedom In Your Mind” from The Cosmic Union, they’re all available for individual purchase on BandCamp. Without a doubt, this need to comb through the material with so much effort, as the music becomes very much the same, even the vocals and vocal inflections, is certainly the reason the albums do not achieve a more highly individual rating.
– Jenell Kesler
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