“Ataraxia Series No. 1: Heart and Insight Meditations” C61
(Crash Symbols)

Crash Symbols has unleashed upon us a new series of recordings, a maelstrom of cassette’d sounds that is bound to rend the very fabric of your being. The first entry in the series promises to shake you to your very core. Indeed, the Ataraxia Series, primed to blast through the cassette community with a vengeance … wait, it’s called the “Ataraxia Series”? I, uh… I think I might be headed down the wrong path here with this opening – I was under the impression that “Ataraxia” was something heavy, you know, with cool black metal fonts? Ataraxia. Yeah. But no, “ataraxia” is defined as “calmness untroubled by mental or emotional disquiet,” so basically the total opposite of what I was going for there. It happens – I am fallible.

Looks instead like I should have looked beyond the cover and realized that the series is actually called the Ataraxia Mediation Series, a “collection of guided and experimental meditation releases” that Crash Symbols is curating. Like those old tapes you find at Goodwill with the dated covers featuring inviting guides or smooth, stacked rocks or water drops or pan flutes – you know what I’m talking about – Ataraxia cassettes will serve as peaceful escorts through the inner workings of your being, acting as an escape from the everyday stresses while simultaneously serving as self-actualizers. Jesse Fleming, an artist from Los Angeles, and tone duo Electric Sound Bath combine their mutual interest in bettering oneself through relaxation techniques, with Fleming reading prepared meditative statements while ESB crafts the atmosphere. The result fills the spaces of your consciousness that have been overwhelmed by modern inconvenience and a fast-paced mentality, all while manipulating your outlook to guide – there’s that word yet again – you toward a sense of inner alignment. How is this not on the lovely Inner Islands label, which specializes in this kind of thing?

Anyway, Fleming’s words over the sound bath are exactly what you would expect from this kind of experiment, and I don’t know if I’ve heard the word “forgiveness” so many times in one sitting – forgiveness of others, forgiveness of self, etc. It’s refreshing in these turbulent times to consider that forgiveness is still an option. What does forgiveness look like again? Well, hey, I know what it sounds like – it sounds like Ataraxia Series No. 1, like coming to terms with yourself, like being a better person after hearing what it’s doing to the deepest parts of your being. It heals while it transforms, and you transcend while you hear, and time stretches out like a flat circle so that you encompass the forgiveness and the forgiving, living and understanding at the very same moment. You won’t even come out the other side an “enlightened jerk face” (ha, Jesse, good one), but a human being ready to interact with other human beings. Isn’t that the point anyway? You may even bond with someone over a good metal record – if you’re willing to forgive yourself first.

Crash Symbols

--Ryan Masteller