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Shea, David

The Thousand Buddha Caves

Shea, David: The Thousand Buddha Caves (Room40)

Composer, keyboardist and conceptualist David Shea continues his musical journeys through the world's ancient trading routes that began with his albums Hsi-Yu Chi, The Tower of Mirrors, Satyricon and Rituals, here in ten encompassing compositions exploring the trading route from ancient Xian to Rome, through music, stories, history and Buddhist influences.

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product information:

UPC: 739027482406

Label: Room40
Catalog ID: RM 4125CD
Squidco Product Code: 30103

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: Australia
Packaging: Cardstock Sleeve , sealed
Recorded at the Melbourne Recital Centre, in Melbourne, Australia , in March, 2017, by Chris Lawson and Duncan Yardley.


David Shea-composer, keyboards, percussion, voice

Tamara Kohler-alto flute, flute

Joe Talia-drums

Oren Ambarchi-electric guitar

Eugene Ughetti-percussion

Matthias Schack-Arnott-percussion


Girlish Makwana-tabla

Mindy Meng Wang-voice, Guzheng

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Artist Biographies:

"David Shea Born December 8, 1965, Springfield, Massachusetts, currently living in Melbourne, Australia.

David Shea is a composer working with combinations of samplers and live musicians, centered on the possibilities of electronic and acoustic traditions. The focus is on the interconnections between styles, histories and mediums with single pieces containing multiple layering's of compositional methods, electronic and acoustic orchestrations - Drawing from experimental music and film music influences as well as traditional musics from both eastern and western cultures, many pieces are based on films, novels, mythology and visual sources."

-Discogs (

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Tamara Kohler, flute, arts producer, educator.

"Tamara is a founding member and co-Artistic Director of Melbourne-based contemporary ensemble Rubiks Collective, whose performances have been described as "...incredibly personal, strangely spiritual and ultimately deeply touching."- Limelight.

Rubiks is particularly driven by a commitment to showcase the work of artistic pioneers of the modern age. The ensemble has collaborated with both celebrated and rising Australian and international artists including Marcus Fjellström (SE), Amy Zhang (US), Bec Plexus (NL), Ashis Sengupta (IN), Kinds of Kings (US), Jerboah (NL), Short Black Opera (AU) and Invenio Singers (AU). Their performances have been recorded and broadcast in Australia and internationally by ABC Classic FM. Rubiks' international appearances have included performances in Germany, England, the Netherlands and at the closing events for the 2018-19 Australia Fest in India.

In 2017, Rubiks launched the Pythia Prize, an annual commission project that supports an Australian female or non-binary composer to collaborate with Rubiks on the creation of a new work.

Tamara is an alumnus of the Australian National Academy of Music and completed a Bachelor of Music (Performance) at the University of Melbourne. Her teachers have included Mardi McSullea, Virginia Taylor and Jocelyn Edey-Fazzone.

She has also studied internationally throughout Italy, Canada, The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland and Sweden as a recipient of the Skills and Development Grant from the Australian Council for the Arts.

In addition to performing, Tamara's practice includes improvising, directing, curating, podcasting and teaching. Tamara is passionate about mentoring young artists in venturing towards less-conventional arts careers and has been invited as a guest speaker at the University of Melbourne, Australian National Academy of Music and the Melbourne Recital Centre. She enjoys working in cross-arts platforms and is currently developing a syllabus, working with emerging dancers in their approach to musical expression.

She is a contributor for CutCommon: The New Generation of Classical Music, Loudmouth Music Trust E-Zine and the producer and presenter of podcast series, MythirdEar.

Tamara has performed countless Australian and world premieres of new works, with her festival credits including the Melbourne International Arts Festival, Metropolis New Music Festival, the inaugural Eighth Blackbird Creative Lab (USA), Australia Fest (IN), Bang on a Can Summer Festival (USA), Darmstadt International Festival for New Music (DE), Port Fairy Spring Music Festival and the 2015 Australian Flute Festival, performing as a soloist in the Australian premiere of Salvatore Sciarrino's 'Il Cerchio dei Suoni'.

She performs regularly with Short Black Opera, Victorian Opera and has appeared with other notable ensembles such as Speak Percussion, Plexus and the Omega Ensemble. She has held multiple artistic residencies at the Banff Centre (CAN) and in 2017 was a Classical Freedman Fellowship finalist."

-Tamara Kohler Website (

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"Joe Talia is an Australian drummer, composer and record producer/engineer based in Tokyo. He first established his reputation as a drummer in contemporary jazz and improvised music fields in which he is now active as a member of the ARIA award winning Andrea Keller Quartet and in numerous collaborative projects, including a long-term duo with Oren Ambarchi. In the last few years a great deal of his work as a drummer has taken place alongside outsider singer-songwriters (such as Ned Collette, Yuko Kono and Francis Plagne), in groups which synthesize his adventurous, exploratory drumming with the demands of song form. His longstanding musical partnership with Ned Collette has resulted in four records, on which Talia acts as both drummer and producer/engineer, most recently Networking in Purgatory (Bronze Rat 2013).

Talia also works in the realm of electro-acoustic composition and performance, working with reel-to-reel tape machines and other analogue devices. Following the release of his musique concrete suite in/exterior in 2006, he established a duo with composer James Rushford. Although the duo's working methods and sound sources have changed radically between releases (and even performances), all of their work breathes the same peculiar air of lingering obsession and decayed virtuosity. Having worked with extended instrumental timbres and rapid-fire electro-acoustic techniques on previous releases, their most recent LP Manhunter (Kye 2013) develops a unique palette of submerged synthesizers, expiring drum machines and domestic detritus.

In addition to the collaborations above he has performed, recorded and toured with Jim O'Rourke, Anthony Pateras, Richard Pinhas, John Duncan, Brous, Mary Halvorson, The Australian Art Orchestra, Thembi Soddell, Anthea Caddy, Sean Baxter, Robbie Avenaim, David Shea, Marco Fusinato, Rand and Holland, Adam Simmons, Magic Mountain Band, among others. As a studio engineer, producer and mixer he has worked on records for Oren Ambarchi, Stephen O'Malley, Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke, Fire! and many others."

-Joe Talia Website (

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"Oren Ambarchi is a composer and multi-instrumentalist with longstanding interests in transcending conventional instrumental approaches. His work focuses mainly on the exploration of the guitar, "re-routing the instrument into a zone of alien abstraction where it's no longer easily identifiable as itself. Instead, it's a laboratory for extended sonic investigation". (The Wire, UK).

Oren Ambarchi's works are hesitant and tense extended songforms located in the cracks between several schools: modern electronics and processing; laminal improvisation and minimalism; hushed, pensive songwriting; the deceptive simplicity and temporal suspensions of composers such as Morton Feldman and Alvin Lucier; and the physicality of rock music, slowed down and stripped back to its bare bones, abstracted and replaced with pure signal.

From the late 90's his experiments in guitar abstraction and extended technique have led to a more personal and unique sound-world incorporating a broader palette of instruments and sensibilities. On recent releases such as Grapes From The Estate and In The Pendulum's Embrace Ambarchi has employed glass harmonica, strings, bells, piano, drums and percussion, creating fragile textures as light as air which tenuously coexist with the deep, wall-shaking bass tones derived from his guitar.

Ambarchi works with simple constructs and parameters; exploring one idea over an extended duration and patiently teasing every nuance and implication from each texture; the phenomena of sum and difference tones; carefully tended arrangements that unravel gently; unprepossessing melodies that slowly work their way through various permutations; resulting in an otherworldly, cumulative impact of patiently unfolding compositions.

Ambarchi has performed and recorded with a diverse array of artists such as Fennesz, Otomo Yoshihide, Pimmon, Keiji Haino, John Zorn, Rizili, Voice Crack, Jim O'Rourke, Keith Rowe, Phill Niblock, Dave Grohl, Gunter Muller, Evan Parker, z'ev, Toshimaru Nakamura, Peter Rehberg, Merzbow and many more. Since 2004 Ambarchi has worked with American avant metal outfit Sunn 0))) contributing to many of their releases and side-projects including their Black One album from 2005 and the recent Monoliths & Dimensions release.

For 10 years together with Robbie Avenaim, Ambarchi was the co-organiser of the What Is Music? festival, Australia's premier annual showcase of local and international experimental music. The festival hosted over 200 local and international performers. Ambarchi now curates the Maximum Arousal series at The Toff In Town in Melbourne and has recently co-produced an Australian television series on experimental music called Subsonics. Ambarchi recently co-curated the sound program for the 2008 Yokohama Triennale."

-Oren Ambarchi Website (

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"Eugene Ughetti is the founding artistic director of Speak Percussion. His artistic output is primarily an exploration of the materiality of percussion, but his work could also engage with ideas like drum aged rum, supersonic performance or the percussive military. Eugene is known for tackling complex and ambitious art music projects whether as director, composer, performer or conductor.

He has worked with some of the world's guiding lights in new music including Pierre Boulez, Liza Lim, Steve Reich and John Zorn.

Eugene's works have been presented at Darmstadt (Germany), Roulette (New York), SONICA (UK), Ruhrtriennale (Germany), Mona Foma (Hobart), Arts Centre Melbourne, Transart (Italy), Lucerne Festival (Switzerland), Noordezon Festival (The Netherlands), PICA (Perth), SIPFest (Jakarta), National Museum (Singapore), George Town Festival (Malaysia) among others.

Eugene has worked with most of Australia's leading new music ensembles including conducting ELISION in the world premiere of Richard Barrett's CONSTRUCTION in the 2011 Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. He has worked with some of the world's finest conductors including Valery Gergiev, James Levine, Pierre Boulez and Charles Dutoit. He has composed works for The Australian Ballet, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, ABC and Bionics Institute.

Eugene won the inaugural Sidney Myer Creative Fellowship (2012), MCA/Freedman Fellowship for Classical Music (2011), OZCO Creative Music Fellowship and various national Art Music Awards for his work with Speak Percussion."

-Speak Percussion (

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track listing:

1. Leaving 3:05

2. The Shape Of The Land 5:02

3. Ritual In The Sand 6:01

4. Fall Rice On The Guzheng 5:49

5. The Endless Desert 8:04

6. Attacks From Without 2:48

7. Mara's Daughter's Seduce Buddha 3:50

8. Meditation 14:12

9. The Final Gate 3:59

Another destination in the West 10:02
sample the album:

descriptions, reviews, &c.

A Note from David Shea:

"My path to the caves began when I was about 14, with my passion for reading Taoist, Buddhist and Zen texts, my love of Hong Kong films, Bruce Lee's influence, martial arts more broadly and meditation practice which has continued since that time.

In 1980 the series of films The Silk Road produced as a collaboration between NHK television in Japan and CCTV in China explored areas of the "Silk Road" in great detail and knocked me sideways. It laid the foundation for a life of exploring what these trading routes were and what the reality of the people living along it, travellers on it and the culture, music, art, history and rituals they created.

My works Hsi -Yu Chi, The Tower of Mirrors, Satyricon and Rituals were all recordings based on adaptations of the myths, historical adaptations and connections to the many trading routes throughout the ancient world and its connection and relevance to current technological culture, through the process of building a new work on the structure of an existing novel, film adaptations or sets of ritual practices.

The more I explored the specific history of the trading route from ancient Xian to Rome, the clearer it became that the Silk Road itself was a myth, a simplified 19th century explanation for a vast and very complex network of information, religious teachings, economic trade, spices and silks etc. that involved thousands of tribes, nation states, indigenous cultures, belief systems and spanned what only much later historically do we now speak of as the divide between east and west. The mountain of archaeological finds and research over the last two centuries is just beginning to be unravelled and the complexity of the purposes of the trade routes is exposing many new connections between the ancient realities of Africa, Asia, India, Europe and the Pacific region. The trading was contact and interest in difference, what does your culture have that we need, an economy of difference with less need to synthesise the traditions than to find practical connections to the value each culture may or may not have for another culture.

It was this trading of cultural traditions, cosmologies, mysticisms, esoteric knowledge, historical eras and forms of rituals that became the entrance into the Caves for me. I immersed myself in the music, stories, history and Buddhist influences, looking for connections to this century; the technology, the underlying belief systems, the dance, design, architecture, painting, film, mixed forms and including the misunderstandings that create hybrid forms as cultures and time periods absorb, fight, steal, destroy, mythologise and trade from and with each other."

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