The story of music and popular culture is sprinkled with examples of outsider and visionary geniuses. There are souls who are so overcome with a singular and original perspective that they rarely make a dent in the mainstream consciousness, much less the pop charts.
Occasionally one or two will find some niche existence and within that subculture, achieve a measure of success. A few who come to mind are Captain Beefheart, Daniel Johnson and Jandek. A broader list might include such touched luminaries as Sun Ra, Eden Abez and Syd Barrett.
While none of these artists have almost anything in common musically, they all share the distinction of having created highly personal universes of sound. They also have in common that they made art that exhibits a unique stamp of revealed or self-created mythology.
Captain Beefheart with his surreal, Beatnik/Greaser/Biological Form limericks and Sun Ra with his complex Afro-centric re-envisioning of the cosmos. These flights of imagination are a testament to the power of creative will and are but a few examples of the hidden and mirror image parallel universe that operates simultaneous to the “legit” music culture. From the same slipstream of obscure visionary brilliance that gave us artists such as Apache Inca and the Father Yod Collective comes Vishudha Kali with his cracked and amazing disc, “Unfinished Devastation Narrative” (Faria Records).
This disc came to me as a happy accident. I was thumbing through the stacks of new releases at my favorite local music shop Lou’s Records when the artwork for this disc caught my eye. It appeared to be a collection of postcards with religious symbols on them. The imagery and song titles intrigued me and I decided to buy it on those clues alone. This is something I’m going to recommend to all of you readers out there. Occasionally take a chance on something you’re unfamiliar with. Yeah, you’ll probably have the occasional disappointment but that being said, you’ll also be opening yourself up to some potentially wonderful stuff. That is the case with this CD.
The musician behind the Vishudha Kali name is one Andrei Bulin. Other than the fact that he is from Saint Petersbourg, Russia I couldn’t find out much him. The instruments he plays are a wonderful variety of tone producers such as the accordionella, singing bowls, organs and vintage synthesizers.
The music produced is stream of consciousness drone. While some drone can lull one to sleep that is far from the case here. There is a creepy and ominous edge to the music that keeps you on your toes. You get the impression that you are witnessing the aural report of another person’s voyage to the Ether. Heavily processed voices fade in and out of the mix with snippets of prayer and admonition pouring forth. This is highly spiritual music. Spirituality of what variety is hard to say. It is vaguely Eastern and at times has the overwhelming nature of a Raga.
The artwork is a series of postcards bearing the artistic compliment to the music. They are emotionally direct and technically naive renderings of various spiritual scenes. The back of the cards comprises a jigsaw puzzle that when assembled reveals a portrait of a man (presumably Bulin himself) staring at a huge body of water. The whole experience is one of revealing. We gain slow and gauzy access to another person’s point of view. This is creative music of an intensely spiritual and psychedelic nature. It is a more than welcome addition to the pantheon of rare gems and is more than deserving of our effort to find and engage with.