Nigerian electronic musician and violist Ibukun Sunday offers up these gentle repetative suites of hypnotic electronics. The music evolves slowly, building momentum without ever changing direction. There’s something quite stark about these sounds, feeling almost ritualised, where field recordings and unencumbered synth tones collide. Whilst the music oscillates, and throbs gently but rhythmically, there’s something about the purity of tone and intention that allows us to let go, to no longer hear the music and drift off.
There’s not a lot of flourishes to mantra, no awe inspiring tricks, nothing to make you marvel at its maker. Instead it’s the music itself, the clear vision that is the flourish. The music feels like a tool, something more than entertainment. It’s sparse, filled with space and its approach is less is more. No wonder its on Phantom Limb’s Spiritual’s imprint. Mantra is based on the Sanskrit teachings of early Hinduism, especially the origins of the term mantra itself: “to release the mind.” It’s minimal nature definitely allows that to occur, as musically there’s no surprises, from early on it’s clear how much of the music will progress – everything maintains a steady tone. What’s less clear however are the field recordings, which whilst countering the stark nature of the synthesizer, they aren’t particularly highly articulated – aside form a spot of heavy breathing. Perhaps they’re imbued with personal significance for the author.
It’s hard not to be reminded of a sparser take on new age music. It’s quite experimental, somehow elegant, strange, beautiful yet creative. It feels like a launching pad to dive deep inside.