Ryonen is the two-track, 30-minute-plus collaboration between Man Forever (aka John Colpicks aka Kid Millions of Oneida) and Brooklyn's globally renowned So Percussion collective. While each artist approaches rhythm from a distinct perspective, they intersect through attention to detail, synched repetition, and the practice of circular rhythm. So Percussion have worked with Steve Reich, Paul Lansky, and Evan Ziporyn, and are well known for their performances of John Cage's percussion works. Man Forever is Colpicks' meditative drumming project, articulated over four previous recordings from solo to quartet with bass. Interestingly, So Percussion have also collaborated extensively with Matmos. Opening cut "The Clear Realization" is the more physical of the two pieces, played in expanding loops employing variations on circular patterns that create ripples then waves of sound that return to their beginnings no matter how far afield they travel. The use of vocals in similar layers through sung phrases of varying lengths uses similar principles. They are slowly incanted with poetic lyrics in a manner that resembles monastic chant. The vocals, always measured, calm, and spacious, provide a startling yet welcome contrast to the hypnotic and ever more forceful drumming. The longer title piece begins with a cymbal crash and rumbling low-tuned tom-toms and hand drums. As the piece reaches the eight-minute mark, the tempo picks up while larger and lower pitched drums are woven in until all we hear -- for a bit -- are tympani and kettle drums creating a series of percussive drones. Eventually, Colpicks' frenetic drum kit enters in full-on jazz syncopation mode and claims the center for time. Gradually, he uses fewer drums and So Percussion economically add low-tuned drums. No matter how fast he plays, the drones and beats are divided equally across the listening space. Finally, a wordless series of layered harmonic vocals add a wider dimension. As all the drums move again toward their lower registers, the vocal timbres expand their respective ranges, creating a rainbow effect of tenor and baritone notes amid the roiling yet harmonious tumult. Whether one is interested in percussion or not, Ryonen is a singular listening experience. Its beauty is multivalent: while the music is made of constant motion, it creates an utterly still space in the listener, who can not only eventually recognize its numerous patterns emerging and dissipating, but can follow them down through various levels of consciousness as they resonate inside and outside the body.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek