Samadhi 1

One cannot say enough about the genius and utter virtuosity of this man, the Berlin-based Nils Frahm.

Some people send me to links of electro-spiritual music, and it’s possible to get “moment” in this. This Nils Frahm is way different stuff — it is true spiritual trance. This is samadhi (yes, his, to be sure, but you can absorb the liberating glow of his buzzing one-pointed no-mind state well enough to imagine the possibilities, if you haven’t practiced yet). This is dharana (one-pointed concentration). This is meditation through the ears, if a human can ever create it nearly on par with the singing birds, the sound of that car, the sunlight on the floor, scent of this espresso wafting up: meditation: dhyana.

There: samadhi, dharana, and dhyana — already three limbs of Ashtanga. Kind of. Approximately, since mediated by “things.”

This music is just-now mind in aural form, and it leaves barely any traces of dust behind. When I describe it as meditation: not the real kind we must do ourselves, and certainly no “substitute” for it. But it is the picture and sound one of the closest mentally constructed things I have heard to real and true samadhi, in any cultural vocabulary. When you hear him, you know yourself in it, and yet it uses a language which is not familiar to our subject/object brains.

Since being introduced to his by Niko, I have returned to it many times. Here is a filmed version of two of my favorite compositions, “Says” and “Toilet Brushes.”

If humanity accomplishes its long-desired goal of destroying itself — either through thermonuclear conflagration (a more possible scenario than you would realize*) or as its own homemade flambé en place, I wish that — to whoever or whatever might be listening out there, witnessing this species’ self-immolation, to better understand what or who we were, passionately, and the most exalted spiritual heights to which we (quite often) aspired — some heavenward-facing satellite dish out in the vastness of some Chilean mountain range, or the Hubble Telescope — would use its last dying atoms of battery power to beam out into the unspeakable infinity Nils Frahm’s “Says”. Just out into space. It would really tell “them” of what we sometimes were, what we aspired to be.

At least we would be leaving behind a message that we were, though suicidal, capable of extreme profundity and the sincerest, purest yearning. The last signal we ever send, it should be this. This should count as one of the greatest pieces of sacred music ever created, the trance-equivalent of the Fourth Movement from Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. (Frahms’s performance of “Says” at at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 2015 tops even the transcendence offered above.)

Some more of his video performances:

“Toilet Brushes”, in its most manic and pure: (if this doesn’t turn you into a truer believer, then…)

And this:

“Says” in a radio studio, jamming. You can see details of his technical virtuosity with keyboard and machine:

But his live versions of it just astounds: