Jan Garbarek & The Hilliard Ensemble – Parce Mihi Domine. Aural massage music.
When I’m feeling stressed out and my muscles ache, there is nothing better than to run a hot bath, dim the lights, assemble some suitable reading material near at hand and put Officium on a suitable soundsystem with conveniently- located speakers.
As the bathroom, with light shimmering softly off the walls, echoes to the sound of male voice choir and saxophone, dip a toe gingerly into the hot water and then gradually ease leg, then body beneath the surface of this liquid blanket. As the water level rises up, feel the tension iron out and the stresses concentrate in a smaller and smaller skin area, until, final vertebrae submerged, the neck, scalp and top of head disappear under the meniscus.
The male singers create an ambience of calm, a reassurance that time is indeed slowing down, the modern world is far away and you are indeed in the sonic cathedral, beloved of music writers.
The saxophone, meanwhile, does the job of flicking away the last vestiges of angst, worry and tense tiredness, as you listen to its drifting, then piercing tones.
Finally, at one with your little cocoon, floating on the water and the music, you look at the reading material by the bathtub, and recognize that, while you had every intention of sitting, propped up, absorbing words with the mere background music, that was never a serious proposition – more demanding physical needs overwhelmed the busy little conscious mind and that too will be picked up, slightly damp, after the waters have drained, and the rough towel, the clammy foot tread, and the cold draught as the door is opened will shock you back to coherence.
There’s nothing like it, and my only regret is that I don’t have a bathtub where I live now.