The idea of living as a hermit is one that I find increasingly palatable. Taking myself away from the frightening realities of the world seems to be one solution that I could very much buy into. In fact were it not for my family I would be seriously tempted. It is partially for this reason that this solo album by Christian Peters of Samsara Blues Experiment hit me just at the right time. Although released digitally back in March 2016, the highly limited vinyl version has only just come out on Berlin’s Electric Magic Records, making it highly appropriate to have a look at it again now.
The first thing to remark on about the music on its album it its sheer beauty. This is an album that you put on and immediately feel at one with. It is an album that seems to understand you, and the sheer act of listening somehow makes you feel lighter. Add into that an element of ‘active’ listening and the whole this just takes off, with repeated listens only adding to that feeling. This is an album that sets up ideas and the comes back to them so that they add a sense of comfort as you move along, but also heightens the senses by bring the seemingly mundane into sharper and more meaningful focus. Yes it’s an album that you can listen to late at night, but it is also something you can hear at any time of the day and let it you just stop you in your tracks and see the world in a new way.
Musically there is a lot going on here, and it would be impossible to fit it into any particular genre. Peters’ influences range from ‘classical’, he cites Czech composer Smetana in particular; but also early electronic music such as the Radiophonic Workshop, and there are elements of 70’s Michael Oldfield and Jean Michel Jarre in his work. These are to a certain extent destabilised by elements of ‘Krautrock’, which allow for the sorts of departures that keep you guessing and don’t allow the you to fall into the trap of getting so carried away by the music that it loses you, or you it.
Similarly there are Middle Eastern and Eastern influences that further broaden Peters’ musical palate adding further colour and texture to the music in a way that, while you couldn’t say that at any point the music opens out into a full-blown raga, there are more than hints there, and especially on such as ‘Chandra Luna’.
This then is an album of great depth, an album that repeated listens allows you to peel back the layers. As you do so there are certain constants:
Musically there is a drone that always seems to underpin what is going on here, perhaps like the idea of ‘Om’ the background noise of the universe that informs everything.
Emotionally, however, there is the sense that at any level with which you listen to this album it is about you and the music and, at that moment, there is ONLY you and the music.
For me while this album is called ‘The Hermit’, it is in essence a sort of sonic hermitage into which you can retreat and reenergise. In today’s world that can only be a good thing.
‘The Hermit’ is released by Electric Magic Records on virgin white vinyl, screenprinted artwork, signed labels; limited to 200 copies, available here.
You can find my other writing for Backseat Mafia here.