A Connecticut–based instrumentalist with a huge breadth of vision, Paul Avgerinos walks the line between ambient meditation and melodic meandering, with hazy shimmering drones and slide guitars creating brainwave-slowing, timeless free-floating ease in weary listeners. Bliss is this Grammy–winner’s twelfth album and marks a point of mastery and conviction without the need to prove his mettle. Each track is no more elaborate than it needs to be; the emphasis is on relaxation and the reward is 75 uninterrupted minutes of just what the title promises, enough precious bliss to make the album something like a family heirloom emerald you never knew was coming your way. It’s always been yours, Avgerinos just helps you “own” it.
“Bliss Is” flows in with morphing drones, Avgerinos’ cavernous bass violin, jangling accents, 12-string guitar harmonics, and warm synth beds that envelop the listener in snug stillness. “Contentment” takes slow, deep breaths of light and sound that come tingling on deep drone waves and then weave slowly out in long prana yoga-style breaths while “Fertile Soil of Peace” brings us even closer into the zone with drones that collide and create the sound like the snow of shimmering star-sky organs. Ambient nature sounds like running water and birdcalls are used judiciously but with effectiveness such as when they burble out under the synth and metal bowl drones of “Waters of Life.” Using his palette of subtle guitar harmonics and sustained slide notes with synthesizer drones, “Stillness” finds Avgerinos coaxing time down to a motionless state of suspended animation. It bends, melts, and coasts into a warm, pulsing stop that beats like a heart and flows like the breath. Movements become slow and more meaningful, and the music reflects these gradual changes as synth drones morph slowly and shift like a kundalini serpent shedding its skin in the afternoon sunlight.
No matter how regularly one practices meditation, it can be hard to start. The ego resists, citing many pressing engagements or better offers. But we can always put on some music while we anxiously procrastinate and if we choose Bliss, Paul Avgerinos’ music can lead us to where the true engagement lives, which is beyond the value of any jewel.