Messenger of Beauty: Frank Perry. -

CD Mountain Bell BELCD027 £10+p&p from http://www.frankperry.co.uk


I was introduced to Frank Perry’s work 30 years ago when I was sent a CD of his Belovodye for review. My ears were, literally, so struck by the sounds that I contacted him and we have been loosely in touch ever since. This new CD Messenger of Beauty confirms that that Frank is one of the most remarkable and original ‘composerformers’ working today. Some of his CDs produced during these decades have been ones where his evident esoteric motivation hasn’t always translated into a musical experience that conveys its full meaning to the uninformed listener, but when he achieves real personal clarity the audible result is as transcendently clear as the very paintings of Roerich (/Rerikh) from which Frank draws his inspiration on this CD. In Messenger of Beauty we have a work of unique and extraordinary beauty, clarity and depth which stands head and shoulders above the miasma of easy listening that passes for spiritual music.


Like all good music it works on many levels. On the conscious level it is both beautiful to listen to and musically coherent, while at a subconscious level it carries a tremendous vibrational power, literally so, as many of the gongs contain deep sub-audible frequencies whose harmonics convey physical sensations to the listener, which in turn conjure in the mind wonderful audio ‘pictures’ – whose complex meanings are morally clear to the hearer, even if they defy language.


What impresses me is Frank’s consummate ability as a composerformer to set complex patterns in train, and to sustain their internal logic, bringing them to a self-satisfying fruition. In Lotus each note is as jewelled and perfectly placed as Webern, yet the spiritual window opened by the sounds is as large as the night sky. A serialist composer like Webern shows us what by contrast might be thought of as microphotography of a beetle. Fascinating, but hardly the bigger picture!


When I reviewed Belovodye all those years ago I remember saying that it was music you could walk into and inhabit. Frank is a voracious listener to all styles of music, and in his earlier years was considerably influenced by Stockhausen’s concept of klangfarbenmelodie, that is a melody of different tone-colours rather than one of notes as such, which here he deploys with ‘painterly’ mastery to be heard alongside viewing of six specific paintings by the visionary Russian painter Nikolai Roerich.


The paintings are available on http://www.frankperry.co.uk. Whether or not you view the paintings simultaneously, the journey of listening each of these pieces is like being led throu a sonic Aladdin’s Cave, each sound following the previous in an enchanted sequence of supra-musical coherence that offers the revelation of profound spiritual perspectives for those ‘who have ears to hear’. This CD is a truly remarkable and coherently original achievement, where the native energy in each carefully chosen sound suspends before one’s ears a palpable spiritual path, unfolding step by audio step. It is music of an unimaginably deep and richly perceptive character. I can offer no higher commendation than to say that this music kept me from a busy morning, releasing me with renewed energy and spiritual clarity.


As a footnote, I might mention that when visiting Moscow in 2009 I found myself, en route from Richter’s apartment museum to the Pushkin Gallery, standing by a street sign to the Roerich Museum http://en.icr.su/museum/ and felt impelled to detour. It was no less interesting than my the visits that bookended it. There were three generations of Roerich, the greatest of whom was Nikolai (1874-1947). In a uniquely Russian way, he combined a profound and grounded spirituality with far-reaching interests in modern art and thought and, even more uniquely, achieved an extraordinary degree of individuation, or successful synthesis of these aspects of his personality. Learning from his father, Konstantin, a noted artist and teacher, Nikolai developed a personal style of painting which fully expressed his spiritual perceptions: but his interests were far wider. In his youth a pioneer conservationist, Roerich travelled tirelessly throuout Russia in the late 19thC trying to prevent the destruction of its architectural heritage. It was from this extensive exposure to the art of icons that his style evolved. He was one of the first to turn the gaze of his compatriots away from the West towards the richness of its native tradition. He even designed a ballet for Diaghilev.


Inspired by a growing interest in the role of spirituality within the human condition, Roerich was probably the first outsider to visit Tibet. He made two pioneering journeys, which are well illustrated in the museum, in order to study Tibetan Buddhism, later founding the Institute of Himalayan Studies. These were extremely hazardous as the theocracy of Tibet was actively hostile to all foreigners at the time (… which subsequent events have fully justified!) but Nikolai persisted, and was out of Russia when the Revolution occurred. Losing his estate, Roerich went to the West where he extended his influence beyond painting – by which I assume he lived – founding the Roerich (non-aggression) Pact, to which many nations signed up. An active supporter of Ghandi, the Roerichs lived in India and campaigned tirelessly on the international stage on behalf of Russia. Their younger son Svetoslav, also a painter, continued their work and, with the aid of supporters such as Raissa Gorbachova, established Roerich museums and study centres both in Moscow and New York.

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