Gabrielle Roth’s ecstatic dance was at the fore of the Human Potential and New Age movements – now reframed by the Time Capsule label on ‘Endless Wave Volume One’ – it’s a movement meditative masterpiece

Gabrielle Roth was a classically trained dancer and her 5Rhythms – her method of an ancient shamanic technique of ecstatic dance – created a globally recognised movement meditation practice and it has been lovingly reissued on Time Capsule’s Endless Wave Volume One. The label is at the fore of producing audiophile quality vinyl releases that revive key recordings of ethereal sonic beauty.

In the words of Gabrielle Roth, who passed in 2012: “I have found a language of patterns I can trust to deliver us into universal truths, truths older than time. In the rhythm of the body, we can trace our holiness, roots that go all the way back to zero. States of being where all identities dissolve into an eternal flow of energy. Energy moves in waves. Waves move in patterns. Patterns move in rhythms. A human being is just that, energy, waves, patterns, rhythms. Nothing more. Nothing less.”

Roth was involved with the early 1960s counterculture movement, as a dance instructor for therapeutic workshops, at the legendary Esalen Institute in San Francisco and Arica School in New York. These facilities and groups played key roles in the Human Potential Movement in psychology, which later led to Transpersonal Psychology and the New Age Movement.

Gabrielle Roth by Robert Ansell

Through study of and training with the era’s noted psychologists, philosophers, anthropologists, and spiritual gurus, “she single-handedly rediscovered and redefined the ancient shamanic technique of ecstatic dance,” the label documents. The practice of 5Rhythms consists of five movements: Flowing, Staccato, Chaos, Lyrical and Stillness.

“Through this dance sequence difficulties and obstructions in life can be identified and ultimately overcome. The sequence of the rhythms helps create waves that allow the dancer to reach a point of inner stillness,” according to the extensive liner notes that always accompany a Time Capsule gem.

As a globally recognised movement meditation practice, with more than 400 qualified teachers in more than 50 countries today, Roth’s spirit and legacy lives on and has been passed down to her family and extensive followers.

The music follows the shamanic tradition of using live percussion, focused on rhythm, repetition and without melodies. Minimal, abstract, and atmospheric, it enables dancers to channel what they hear into movement and free expression. While akin to ambient music, spoken-word, or abstract composition and various branches of experimentalism; these priceless creations were unique at the time and remained niche, underground. Even with the connections to other musics, as well as the mainstreaming of a range of its components nowadays (meditation, contemporary dance, theatre), Endless Wave Volume One sounds truly remarkable in today’s glut of revisited and repackaged sounds.

Gabrielle Roth by Robert Ansell

Roth’s releases did not really resonate outside of workshops. Between 1982 and 2008, Gabrielle and her husband Robert Ansell produced 16 original albums as Gabrielle Roth & The Mirrors. They brought together some of the best studio musicians in New York. Robert’s son Scott – who later became a Grammy-winning sound engineer – recorded and mixed all of their productions.

Endless Waves Volume One was originally released on their own private label in 1996 on CD, comprising a selection of their past recordings. “The first part acts as a seductive entry point into their rhythmic sound world,” the label explains. “with Roth’s voice intoning gentle instructions over each track. The opener Body Parts commences with a series of rolling polyrhythmic beats to prepare the body for meditation. From there the music shifts through a series of ambient moods that evoke each of the ‘5Rhythm’ states of being.

“Atmospheric synths and stately violins combine to help ease into movement on Flowing. Didgeridoos and funky bass lines evoke masculine energy on Staccato before the tumbling rhythms of Chaos encourage the uninhibited release of one’s mind and body. The soft vocal harmonies of Lyrical help the listener towards a lighter, more fluid, and creative state of being creating a becalming state that continues with the deep ritualistic chants and languid drums of Stillness. The second part of the album consists of a non-guided version of the same journey. Freshly recorded for the album’s release in 1996, the band deliver up an equally vital series of brilliantly realised rhythmic excursions.”

This is the eighth Time Capsule release – following reissues of Il Guardiano Del Faro, Yuji Toriyama, a first vinyl release of Gigi, followed by “Bombay” Jayashri Ramnath, then it was Serginho meriti, and a compliation of Island Sounds from Japan – with Kay Suzuki doing a sterling job at the helm.

All of the links above take you to previous WTM coverage of this amazing label and there are links to the Time Capsule shop.

Gabrielle Roth by Robert Ansell

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