Carlos Casas – “Pyramid Of Skulls”

In Casas’ “Pyramid Of Skulls,” Ghosts of the past course in to a Sci-Fi future in a Field Recording album of note.

Inspired by the ‘common task’ (Fedorov) and the people of Pamir in Tajikistan, filmmaker and sound artist Carlos Casas deconstructs far away sights and sounds to create a unique field recording experiment that equally worships the past, present and future traditions of the people of that locality and for us as a shared species.

The music and sounds were recorded and mixed under the careful watch of Nikolai Fedorov. Apparently, the whole work is inspired by the teachings of Jomboz Dushanbiev.

Nikolai Fedorov (the man credited with the ‘common task’ credit) thought the Pamir to be the cradle of humanity, the hidden and forgotten nest, a Pyramid of skulls that holded the secrets of past human kinship. He believed that most of Asian myths of human origin pointed the Pamir region as their inception. For the Chinese, Indian, and Semitic myths that that mountainous region of Central Asia, often referred to as ‘the roof of the world’ was the key to understand and start his resurrection plan.

The album does not start with a gentle fade in – you are bombarded by sounds from this exotic place, the Pamir, that makes the mind somersault. A distant wind, with sounds of howling dogs and wolves, the wind becomes loud, sounds of birds in a distance confusion between what is the wind and distant sounds. Sounds of wolves. A distant radio is becoming clearer, a voice in Farsi (*I believe) is commenting and giving news, while a sound of working the land, earth working, sounds mix with the sounds of dance music pop music from the radio. We move indoors and we hear a praying session, apparently a funeral prayer, we hear the sound of a fire mill, and as we move to another space we hear a women singing a lullaby for a child, on a distance room we hear the voice of an old man speaking in Bartangi language,

Music in a low key sounds and there is a sustained ‘drone’ sound, a melancholic drone, with the sound of a room with a TV set on, the film The Bear is on, the old man voice comes back, while the film continues. There is a Farsi voice in the film.

And the sound of the mill returns, a loop and continues mill sound takes over.

Track two is side B. A water current is rhythmically flowing, while a chorus of female voices singing Dargillik, Lallaik, gets confused with electronic produced sounds, and interruptions or glitches like of digitally archived material, we hear a small river or water flowing, some voices appear, static sounds and a mechanical alarm sound becomes louder, like a mechanical beep, sound of a frame drum, a women voice start singing a lullaby, while we hear a rhythmic sound of cradle swinging, electronic sounds and static distortions become present, providing a confusion like a recording machinery, interfering with the voice, a rhythmic pattern of electronic beeps and clicks appear and sound of water flow returns, Become more intense, an artificial rhythm electronic pattern becomes accelerated and gets interrupted by water flow again, to close again in a crescendo of bursts, a zooming and bursting booming starts, music compose of glissandos like voices weathered from the past, a slow tempo melody of a distorted piano sound and the sound of rain in the background, and storm starts while the melody continues, the storm takes over.

Released as a double vinyl, the second LP is called SIPONJ VARIATIONS. The first side on the second LP is “Madoh – The Sound Of Ghijak” with the voice of Jonboz singing, a background sound flourishes in the back, a classic repertoire, and bells arrive followed by an instrument I cannot place being played simultaneously with a daf, a rappoh, followed by Lalaik Tanboh and a Nolai Tanbur.

Maddoh intertwines with electronic interferences and it makes for a great listen.

Side B of the second LP, Jonboz offers a rendition of Dargillik classic. I am unsure of the title of the track – but it is a great recording – really atmospheric. Yes, there is a bit of hiss in the recording but it adds to the atmosphere – I would not expect myself to get there in one piece. So, this record is a testament to the man Carlos Casas in that he went there. He met all these people and saw such wonder that it is making me get itchy feet.

I will never have the opportunity to travel to the Pamir so to hear recording of the daily life – as inhabited by a local of that region – truly is a blessing. I feel like I have paid them a visit and it is a true privilege to be invited along for the journey.

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