Try to listen to Electric Sound Bath, a new tape of extended drone meditations by LA-based multimedia artists Brian Griffith and Ang Wilson, in a public location and you’ll miss pretty much everything. If some other music breaches your headphone space from an outside source, if some other pedestrians plod through your view, if some lingering preoccupations triggered by the sight of the others toiling at their laptops in the cafe rise and cloud your mind, you will not be able to focus.
Griffith and Wilson do not ask you to focus. They do not demand you give them a close listen. If anything, they embrace the notion that their slowly drifting exercises in ambient restraint and tonal fine-tuning serve as perfect background music to some other solitary enterprise: yoga, meditation, zoning out, reading. For their Electric Sound Bath to serve its purpose, its hushed improvisations on bass guitar, Nepalese singing bowls, and electronics must escape into the real world with some room to breathe. When the music fills the space without interruption and the acts that it soundtracks are allowed to unfold in isolation, winding through washed out expanses of low end and tintinnabuli for +10 minute durations, the Electric Sound Bath achieves its intended effect: a beautiful state of absence, capable of grafting onto some other presence as a layer of supplementary comfort.
I listen and I try hard to think of nothing. Clearing the mind is a form of mindfulness — one which I don’t think I have ever really achieved. My brain cannot stop bubbling. Perhaps it would stop if I didn’t try to make it stop. Perhaps it stops all the time and I don’t notice. With the Electric Sound Bath dripping from my speakers, a state of mental slo-mo creeps into position. I want to let it take over.