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  • Writer's pictureZim Ahmadi

'In Zen We Have No Gurus' - Space Gambus Experiment [EP REVIEW]

Meditation within chaos; a disruption of peace that occupies your mind like an intrusive thought.


As the founder and embodiment of Ipoh Experimental Art School, Kamal Sabran has explored the many crevices of new media, mostly through the collective, Space Gambus Experiment. His form of experimentation is unabashedly avant-garde, pushing the limits of what makes music appealing, including the inherent concept that comes with it - from timbre, to melody, to the general notion of structure. The chaos of his sound teases my mind in ways that reminds me why I love experimental music. More often than not, experimental music is given more vigor when it has a setting acting as, at least, a vague compass to all the upheaval. This release was not the first time that Space Gambus Experiment has captured meditation within their own modes of manipulation with previous Bandcamp cuts like Lo-Fi Meditasi and the Obat Bunyi duology. But in In Zen We Have No Gurus, the serene focus of looking inward becomes more clearer in message, through both composition and curation (deliberate or otherwise). The disruptive take on meditation is thorough but not without its anchors. The name of the tracks act as topical bookmarks - all in line with the theme that there are no hierarchies in the school of Zen, no singular master to learn from. This lack of hierarchy is represented through several types of instrumentation such as the playful trombones in tracks like "Become comfortable with not knowing". Throughout the track list the sitars and percussion (the latter played through a SP404SX sampler ) act as anchors to turmoil, however sporadic. Where hilly plains are often punctuated by loud and rebellious calm. I insist it's calm because I don't think there's anything highly evocative about the direction of this EP. Clearly the shorthand is still meditation. There are moments in this EP that screams a short scream of conventional beauty - like the singing in "The menu is not the meal" or the bassline in "become comfortable with not knowing". Though the cello is not prominent, it also serves as a girder to a shaky tower of sound. Any low points in 'Zen' are simply flawed because they're nondistinguishable - either as ambient or evocation. What I got from Kamal Sabran's latest effort is an oxymoron found, evident especially in the last two track titles, where relaxation seems to be forcefully placed adjacent to the idea of uneasiness. In this contradiction is lodged an attractive ineffability of non-hierarchical mystique clashing with the glitched out disruption of the post-Internet age. All meditation deserves disruption to function. This is the soundtrack for it. RATING: 4 / 5 FAV TRACK: The menu is not the meal LEAST FAV TRACK: Nothing is what I want --------------------------- Kamal Sabran has announced on his social media of an upcoming release! Follow his Bandcamp or his social media to keep up-to-date.

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