Tengger – Spiritual 2

Tengger is a band that believe that there is something invisible behind everything. We could dig into the view that all things are empty until meaning is projected onto them by an observing ego. But then we’d have to beg the questions ‘is ‘something other’ also not empty?’ ‘who is left to observe the loss of ego once the ego is lost?’ and then we’re stuck in the koan. Thankfully, Tengger have made an album called Spiritual 2. It makes no attempt to answer these metaphysical propositions. This is an album which prefers to celebrate exploration, and enjoy the question, rather than overstretch for an answer.

Harmoniums, drone machines, synths that expand and contract, and tempos that hypnotically explore the continuum – this psychedelic stuff is the bedrock of the meandering seven-track album.

The duo of Itta and Marqido set themselves in motion with a string of single-word tracks. On one hand it seems that simplicity – and a direct route of travel is the intention. ‘High’, ‘See’, ‘Middle’, open the sequence – later we here the track ‘Low’ and realize that the subtle undulations in each tune – the ethereal vocal tracks, and shifting timbre, is also played out across the album. This is one long, enquiry of dimension. Lines are suggested, and then leant against.

There’s something courageous in naming an album so explicitly. Spiritual 2 follows in sequence to Tengger’s previous release, Spiritual. (A similarly brave album released earlier this year) We can point to the balance between the two sequences. We can point to the sentiment that to be exposed, optimistic, and explore the more delicate aspects of ourselves is heroic.

Dropping guard and leaving ourselves open to radical vulnerability is a difficult charge in these cynical times – and yet here we are, subtly exploring the metaphysical sense of things in abstract sweeps, psychedelic pastels and the kind of drone music that borrows deeply from Asian traditional.

The reliance on electronic elements and synthesized tessellations, as melodic progressions climb and veer one way or another, there is a real sense of the natural at every turn. The organic is hidden, but it’s there – like an empty ego standing behind the system that expresses noise.

Spiritual 2 is an abstract album – it extracts and elements from the landscape and reconstitutes color and light. It demands replay, and yet it never seems to repeat itself. Tengger have channeled the good stuff here.


Leave a Reply