As part of Chicago’s Zelienople, Mike Weis helped to deliver hypnotic states and a sober form of drone-folk. In recent years, Weis has expanded into meditation and ritual within music performance. In Low Light (Music for the Winter Solstice) goes deeper, with shimmering gongs and repeating, tight patterns which are nevertheless spacious, somehow being both dark and radiant.
Unconventional percussive instruments – tongue drum, dholak, and changgo – create a shimmering, exotic listen, a meditation-encourager. Gongs, bells, and various objects are also used, and these instruments help to widen the sound, making it even more expansive. Sounds drift and pulse, but the rhythm, as it will naturally do, tightens and constricts the remaining mix. Secondary sounds are squished. The opposing forces of expansion and contraction are at work here, and deep contradictions open up, a wide gulf between two continents, but it still manages to create space enough for meditation and a deeper vacating of the mind.
Weis ushers forth a transcendental record where incorporeal tones flow over and through the physical body, enveloping instead of maliciously consuming. The gongs and chimes are slightly muted, because eyes are shut and the world, like an ex-girlfriend’s profile page on social media, has been blocked and then deleted. Sounds echo from a distance. Vibrations pulse, sending out ripples which curve the contours of space before coming into contact with the body, affecting both the inner senses and exterior environments. The music is dark, the sounds repeating and twinkling like tiny crystals of ice. Halfway through, one can hear the crackling of either melting ice or the lick of spritely flames in the fireplace on a cold January night.
Rhythmical and dense, the music is a form of hypnosis. Percussion has always had primal DNA, and the rhythms are entrancing, sometimes coming across as tribal and unique to this plane of existence. It isn’t just music for the winter solstice. It is eternal.