Normally, I experience a small fit of irritated dubiety when espying anyone but a Carnatically trained Indian musician playing sitar. It's a devilishly difficult instrument to sound authentic on and requires unbelievable amounts of traning (just read Ravi Shankar's autobio for proof), but Tim White studied for 25 years with the top dogs (Ali Akbar Khan, Vilayat HKhan, Zakir Hussain, etc.) and not only acquits himself well on the exotic axe but plays a mean bamboo flute and esraj (a very trippy sitar variant played with a bow) as well, not to mention the guitar. Keyboardist Joe Paulino interestingly acts much in the capacity of a very judicious tanpura player with wider aspects and colorations. White, tracking himself, is oft actually the more trad presence in that respect, which allows Paulino to adopt a Satie/Rachmaninoff/Strauss/Budd air, inserting just the right minimalist ornamentation and floes of gently undulating topography.
Inhale Slowly is supposed to be a meditation aid, but I say it's also an excellent collection of spacily flowing beauty and contemplative introspection (something considered a no-no in meditation). White's flute playing is outstanding for its imagistic and emotive literacy, never hurried or interested in staccato or hurried chops but rather in precisely the proper intelligent note at exactly the right time as the pastorales weave their way through air and soft light. In the best tradition, the disc's five songs are long (see times below), allowing thematics and swaying improvisations to stretch, dissipate, and reintegrate. More than once, I was reminded simultaneously of the best mellowsiding of Deuter, Fripp & Eno, Peter Michael Hamel, and many various other ambientalists.
A philosophical point, though, if I may. Having studied zen as a meta-anarchist for 30 years and having sat zazen for a few years with a director of Zen Center Los Angeles, I am not a proponent of the "breathing school" of thought on such things, though control of the breath is an excellent tool. I propose that the mind and the self take precedence, albeit both are quite difficult to locate, and Inhale Slowly is one of those instruments ripening the process of uncovering true beingness, allowing the usually hidden aspect of self to manifest over time, dispelling illusions of rigid false personalities erected to thrive in Industrial societies…if that's what you want to call 'thriving'. In the new millenium, our real problem is that we aren't who we are, the rest of everything is just the dross of hungry ghosts and programming. If you want to understand why, then this is a very good place to start…and perhaps even drop off…as you fall into a peaceful sleep…and that's verboten in meditation too. The roshi, however, can take a hike for all I care, but, if he's as sagacious as he's supposed to be, he'll be listening to Inhale Slowly while doing so.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2012, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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