Gino Foti,
(Net Dot, 2006)

There are four movements to Gino Foti's Bhavachkra, with the first and last movements being relatively short, while the middle two have shorter thematic arcs that run within the larger movement. This is by design as Foti uses modern instruments with the structuring of classical music. There is a range in intensity, from almost overwhelming at some points, to relaxing at others.

There is a dark transition in "Akusala-Mula (The Three Poisons)," which builds as the piece progresses. The movement slides into "Sidpa Bardo (Intermediate State)," which leaves you in the space between.

The first dance comes in gracefully as "Devas (Gods)" swirls and undulates to its steps. The next dance comes in rawer as "Asuras (Titans)" moves to a larger scope of movement. You can feel an almost constantly shifting movement in "Pretas (Hungry Ghosts)" driven by a harsh hunger. The music becomes stranger still in "Narakas (Hell Beings)," the guitar bringing in a darker and deeper hunger. The wildness of "Tiryakas (Animals)" lets you breathe a bit as it echoes, in places, animals in the wild.

The music returns to dance again in "Manushyas (Humans)" as the movement started in the first dance is brought to a close. There is a simplicity and beauty in the melody of "Avijja (Ignorance)" that almost runs counter to its title; contrasting with "Sankhara (Karmic Formations)" quite starkly. The notes of "Vinnana (Consciousness)" stretch out, bringing calm. The music becomes denser as it builds in "Nama-Rupa (Name & Form)" and there is a sense of something coming into being.

There is so much in the opening of "Salayatana (Six Sense Spheres)" that the music and its imagery can overwhelm. The piano opens "Phassa (Contact)." The music is exploratory, reaching for something new.

It is the flute that holds the melody of "Vedana (Feeling)." A moment's pause comes before the pulsing intro of "Tanha (Craving)" -- the electric guitars slowly raise the intensity of this piece. The arc that began in "Vedana" continues through into "Upadana (Grasping)" as the hunger in the music reaches a climax.

Themes from early in the third movement return in "Bhava (Becoming)," moving past the hunger through a state of transition. You get a very romantic image of birth in "Jati (Birth)" from the soaring lines of the melody. "Jara-Marana (Decay & Death)" is upbeat, which fits within the cycle, though it turns graver toward the end of the piece.

The last movement builds on the last notes of "Jara-Marana" as "Yama Raja (Lord of Death)" drifts on relentlessly. It is the piano that brings the themes to a close in "Amitabha (Buddha of Infinite Light)" and the music releases the listener.

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music review by
Paul de Bruijn

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