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Zen Breakfast


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Album Review

Should one judge an album by its cover? Not artistic design, but by what seems to be promised by the art and copy? Zen Breakfast, the title, the distinctly Asian painting, and the classic Zen overflowing teacup story all point to music offering empty-mind austerity, the stuff of wind cutting through bamboo on a moonless night. Karunesh tosses a bamboo bone in that direction with occasional Asian melodies using sampled shakuhachi flute and accents of gongs and chimes. On the whole his music is reflective, but, simplistic though it may seem, Zen experiences necessitate a stillness, a place between the impermanence of sound and the everything/nothing of the void. Zen Breakfast is not that, but the album does offer a serene, meditative — at times even blissful — musical experience. Karunesh does not stray far from beautiful, lush pads of resonant synth strings and Western-friendly scales, melodic lines, chord fills, and harmonies. The music pulses with a relaxed reflective breathing cadence tinged with a mystical melancholy. A few surprises — the spooky whish of a bullroarer and the silken bluesy guitar played by Govi — waken the senses, but you won't feel like punishing your knees with a severe round of zazen meditation. Zen Breakfast offers music to get lost in dreamy reveries, not to "just observe" the mind.


Genre: New Age

Years Active: '80s, '90s, '00s

Karunesh took an active interest in music during his youth in Germany, back when he was still known as Bruno Reuter. But it wasn't until he was 23 and took a mean spill off his motorbike that Reuter received his epiphany in the form of new age spiritualism. A pilgrimage to India followed, where he reemerged as Karunesh (Sanskrit for "compassion"). He issued his debut LP, Sounds of the Heart, in 1984, and never looked back. Karunesh was remarkably consistent over the next 20 years, releasing numerous...
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Zen Breakfast, Karunesh
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