I’ve never mastered the art of meditation. My back aches, my butt hurts, and my mind is always far from empty. Obviously, I’m far from a pro, but Bay Area musician Jake Wachtel sure seems to be one.
In the music video for his band Walktell‘s new single “Burning Breath,” Wachtel gives us a glimpse of how groovy and stimulating meditation can be. He wrote the song after attending his first 10-day silent retreat, and the video progresses from shots of Wachtel sitting in his living room, meditating with his hands molded in lotus position, to footage of him wandering barefoot through an autumnal Oregon forest and rowing a boat in a lake.
Though Wachtel grew up loving punk-rock, he’s spent the last seven years traveling around the world, exploring the sounds of different cultures and honing his meditation skills.
In Far In, Wachtel’s upcoming second full-length album as Walktell, the musician plays 44 different instruments from India, Nepal, Turkey, and Cambodia, including the hulusi, bulbul tarang, ektara, and the Turkish double-reed flute, duduk.
In fact, you can hear the duduk in “Burning Breath,” squeezed between the song’s thunderous drums and psychedelic strings (like the sitar and tanpura).
“I had picked [the duduk] up in Istanbul, and something about its mournful, grainy texture vibed just right with the lyric, ‘I, for one, just want to give it a rest,’ ” Wachtel says.
With “Burning Breath,” Wachtel wants to convey the “strange clarity/exhaustion hybrid” that you can experience after spending a long time meditating.
“Focusing on my breath for 10 hours a day, I began to notice lots of strange, physical sensations that I never had before,” he says, “like the fact that the ‘out’ breath is slightly warmer than the ‘in’ breath, due to it passing through your body. In some ways, it’s a whole song about that single moment that happens over and over, usually beyond our attention.”
Catch Walktell on Sunday, May 21 at Bottom of the Hill.