“The Formless Track” by Arman Ray + Hyon Gak encourages reflection on the interconnection and impact of actions while exploring Shunyata and non-dualist thinking in Zen Buddhism through a thought-provoking and emotionally meaningful combination of philosophical insights and electronic music.
Chris Taylor, aka Arman Ray, a UK fine artist, music producer, and Soto Zen practitioner, collaborates with popular Buddhist monk Hyon Gak Sunim to create a Zen album that would promote the philosophy and practice to a wider audience.
Arman Ray is a UK fine artist and music producer who has exhibited in the UK and abroad. He began making music in 2014 as a new challenge. Following the release of numerous EPs, he approached Hyon Gak Sunim in 2020 about collaborating on an album that would deliver true Zen instruction to a new and distinct audience. Hyon Gak Sunim is a modern Zen Master who was ordained by the great Zen Master Seung Sahn of the Kwan Um School of Korea over 30 years ago. Zen Master Seung Sahn later confirmed an earth-shattering insight of awakening, and in 2001 Hyon Gak Sunim was publicly authorized to disseminate these teachings to the world.
“The Formless Track” is Arman Ray and Hyon Gak‘s latest spoken verse electronic album based on Zen Buddhism, which was released on January 1st, 2023. The album has twelve tracks and lasts roughly forty minutes.
“The Formless Track” Tracklist:
1. Mind Habits
2. Dreaming With Eyes Wide Open
3. Is This Norway?
4. This Infinity of Now
5. Stop and Go
6. Ashes to Ashes
7. Dust Thinking
8. The Formless Track
9. Right Here Right Now
10. Just an Echo
11. Keep Us In Moment
12. Bone of Space
The album’s opening track, “Mind Habit,” has a retro electronic sound with a spoken-word lyric that ruminates philosophically on causation. “Dreaming With Eyes Wide Open,” the second track, continues the song from the previous track, but the instrumentation is more powerful and energetic in terms of beats and melody. The fourth track, “This Infinity of Now,” brings a change in energy, with the arrangement being peaceful and serene yet spinning philosophical and spiritual theories. Arman Ray and Hyon Gak have created some incredibly unique music on this album!
With the fifth track, “Stop and Go,” the narrative flow reaches a plateau and a sonic break, while “Dust Thinking” makes excellent use of twangy guitars and sirens with an appropriate balance of spoken word. The title track defined the album’s atmosphere and auditory shape, and “Right Here Right Now” opens with a New Jack swing-type beat, with the synth spinning the arrangement. In this form, “Just An Echo” then builds a dancing groove. “Keep Us In Moment,” the penultimate track, depicts the limits of the senses and how modern technology is eroding our attention and consciousness. “Bone Of Space,” with its serene quietness and other comforting sounds, finishes the record. The voice sections and the stillness complement each other wonderfully.
This spoken-word electronic album is an insightful and thought-provoking compilation of tracks that examine the wonders of the world and the nature of existence. It incorporates philosophical and metaphysical topics into the lyrics and spoken word pieces over a variety of electronic music styles ranging from ambient to breakbeat. It looks at the idea of interconnection and how everything in the cosmos is linked on a deeper level.
“The Formless Track” expresses the idea that we are all part of a larger whole and that our actions and decisions have an impact on the world around us. Throughout the album, the artist combines their electronic music production skills with philosophical and spiritual insights, providing an intellectually challenging and emotionally meaningful listening experience. Beyond all of this, it discusses the concept of Shunyata, or the non-existence of the ego, as well as the necessity of non-dualist thinking and philosophy. Everyone who has studied Zen is aware that it is useless to try and describe it in words.
That being said, Arman Ray + Hyon Gak’s “The Formless Track” is an album that will have you contemplating the world around you and pondering the deeper secrets of life.
Arman Ray and Hyon Gak Sunim truly hope that people enjoy this album. They designed it to move both the body and the intellect, and they hope that it will do so for as many people that have ears to hear and eyes to see. As a result, I urge that you listen to “The Formless Track” album.
For more information about Arman Ray + Hyon Gak, click on the links below.