Indigo Aura – People of the Trees

People of the Trees comes from Indigo Aura’s Deep Dreaming in Minecraft release from July of 2015. Along with three beautiful ambient tracks, the release also features a 75-page PDF booklet of images created by Google’s Deep Dream Generator, which uses neural network computing to analyze images and classify them according to their contents. The computing side of it is certainly beyond my understanding, but try to tell me these pictures don’t belong in a head shop right above the incense and Tibetan prayer flags. The images associated with this release were created from Minecraft screenshots, and Indigo Aura has found a way to get images that don’t just look like weird dogs.

Much of Indigo Aura’s music can be placed pretty firmly in the new age camp, which certainly has its share of misses. Much of Indigo Aura’s work focuses on demonstrating the benefits Pythagorean tuning. Attributed to Pythagoras, the thinking behind this system, at least in modern times, goes something like this: much of western music, starting in the 20th century, tunes their instruments to “concert pitch” of A-440Hz, meaning that the A above middle C on a piano, for example, would be tuned to a frequency of 440Hz. While this standard is in widespread use,  it’s interesting to note that well-known orchestras like the New York Philharmonic use 442Hz for A above middle C. There are conspiracy theories that accuse Nazis of supporting adoption of tuning A to 440Hz because it is more likely to induce feelings of fear and aggression. In any case, an effort to come up with a standard which started in the 19th century eventually led to widespread adoption of A440Hz as a common concert tuning.

Because Nazis and their evil tunings have to be stopped, some claim that tuning the A to 432Hz and tuning the other notes around that frequency puts an instrument in alignment with the vibration of Earth and the rest of the Universe. Indigo Aura has a webpage which discusses this concept in a more in-depth way and has in fact an entire release, Mathemagical Music Production, which demonstrates this slightly different scale and comes with a booklet about Pythagorean tuning. People have uploaded a shocking number of versions of popular songs that have been tuned to 432Hz. Maybe this is musical Wind turbine syndrome, but since nobody’s making you buy a peasant shirt, get one dangly earring, and start learning the didgeridoo, I’d encourage you to take it for what it’s worth. Like a lot of new age stuff, you gotta separate the wheat from the chaff and I think Indigo Aura is more wheat than chaff. Or chaff than wheat. I don’t really get that expression/know anything about wheat separation. Just listen to the music.

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One example of the many fun things that new age musicians get to do. Photo Source

 

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More Eaze – fine.

 

More Eaze is a performance alias of Marcus Rubio (not to be confused with the walking kernel panic currently running for president) that focuses on fusing dissimilar genres unified through tonal similarities. It’s a really fascinating project, and while I typically only pick one track a day I’ve added the whole release because he synthesizes so many disparate things so effectively that it’d be a shame to leave any out. Blending long synth drones with fingerpicking guitar and chopped and screwed sampling, he manages to blend a lot of things I really like but never thought could be put together. fine. was released on cassette by Full Spectrum records at the end of last year. While he’s released a few cassettes under the name More Eaze, Rubio also records under his own name and performed with {{{Sunset}}}, a group who may or may not be active considering their last release came in 2010.

H. Takahashi – Pearl

Pearl kicks off the excellent second installment of UK-based label Where to Now’s minimal ambient series Where to Be, which invited artists to

create works of total ambience, incorporating the idea that the power of the music presented is in that which is barely there, embracing space, silence, cyclical repetition, and minimalism. The music is to help us function – it’s music to work to, to sleep to, to help us find a sense of space and oneness within a world that is increasingly wild and untameable. [sic]

I am obviously not the only one to have taken notice, as the cassette pressing of that release is sold out, though if you can I’d recommend taking a listen and purchasing the digital version. A bit earlier in 2015 he released Sea Meditation through the label Entertainment Systems, which promises “practical audio solutions to everyday living,” which is available on cassette on their Bandcamp site.

Madeline Cocolas – I Can See You Whisper

 

Australian-born composer Madeline Cocoloas’ debut record Cascadia is set to be released in January from Future Sequence, and it’s gorgeous. Much of the material arose from a project she undertook where she created a song a week for a year. It was fittingly called the “Fifty Two Weeks” project, and lucky for us that material has been repurposed, repackaged, and refined for our listening pleasure. I Can See You Whisper was actually the final installment of the 52 weeks project, which she celebrated by releasing a video for the song. Blending her classical training on piano and (I’m guessing) violin/cello with subdued synth drones, she has composed original soundtracks to Hitchcock’s The Birds as well as for site-specific art installations. For more information and to hear past installments in the Fifty-Two Weeks saga, check out the blog she set up for the project or check out her website. You can also hear more of her music over at Soundcloud. I’ll have to remember this project when I get a bit lazy with the Music For Cougars stuff, because it’s not as good and it seems to take twice as long.

HOME – New Machines

 

This track comes off the debut record Odyssey from electronic artist HOME (aka Randy Goff). It was released in 2014 by Midwest Collective, and it’s only a dollar so I strongly suggest snatching it up because from start to finish it’s a treat. He released a second record Before the Night (also on Midwest Collective) that is in the same electro future funk vein as Odyssey so if you dig this I’d recommend checking this out. In addition to Bandcamp, he’s got a presence on Soundcloud where there is some material that is not present on either full-length releases.

 

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John Adams – Light Over Water

Part I

Part II

Part III

John Adams is an American composer who is often associated with the Minimalist and post-Minimalist movements in American music. While Light Over Water features electronics quite prominently (along with brass instruments), Adams has composed many works which are entirely “acoustic” but which are often influenced by electronic means of composition. According to composer Ingram Marshall, who wrote an essay on Light Over Water over at Earbox:

As synthesizers come to mimic the “real thing,” they truly begin to live up to their hitherto inappropriate name. Technology offers the possibility of a truly synthetic orchestra. Thus Adams, who has a natural gift for composing the lyrical and expressive sounds of instruments, found a technology that could augment and reinforce the orchestral traditions of several centuries.

This is the nascent situation of Light Over Water. Essentially electronic, it was nevertheless born out of the world of the orchestra. In previous works, Adams “electrified” his orchestrations. Now he “orchestrates” his electronics.

This tension between traditional orchestral sounds and electronic means of composition can also be seen in one of Adams’ best known works, Shaker Loops which was released along with Light Over Water by New Albion in 1987. Shaker Loops is written for a string orchestra but it’s repetitive structure of loops played by different string instruments harken back to early experiments with tape loops.

Light Over Water was originally commissioned by the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art in 1983 as accompaniment for an installation choreographed by Lucinda Childs and featuring set design by Frank Gehry. You can watch a tech rehearsal for the performance, which was entitled “Available Light,” here. You can read more about the performance in this article written to commemorate the thirtieth anniversary of the performance.

Other notable works by Adams include Nixon in China, an opera based on Nixon’s 1972 trip to China, Harmonium, and The Death of Klinghoffer. The Death of Klinghoffer has been controversial since its debut, as some have claimed that the opera distorts the story of the Palestine Liberation Front’s highjacking of a cruise ship in 1985, and their murder of Klinghoffer in a way which is antisemitic. After 9/11, the Boston Symphony cancelled a planned performance of excerpts from the opera and former mayor of New York Rudy Giuliani protested the Metropolitan Opera’s production of Klinghoffer.

You can hear samples of each of these works below:

Nixon in China
Harmonium
The Death of Klinghoffer

M. Geddes Gengras – Magical Writing

M. Geddes Gengras has been active in the experimental scene in Los Angeles for a number of years, releasing material under his own name as well as the moniker Personable. I initially heard this release in excerpted form on the Umor Rex compilation Collected Works Vol. 1 (The Moog Years), though the above represents the full cassette. He works primarily with a combination of modular synthesizers and other non-modular electronics, though he does play bass with Warm Climate. He is also active on the technical side of releases, producing albums for the likes of Sun Araw and Antique Brothers and mixing/mastering releases from Plankton Wat and LA Vampires (with whom he also performs).

Along with Sun Araw, Gengras founded the label Duppy Gun. The label came about following a trip to Jamaica to record an album with the reggae group The Congos. The dizzying blend of dub, dancehall, and Gengras/Sun Araw’s array of experimental electronics is definitely worth checking out on Duppy Gun’s Youtube channel. If you’d like to hear more of Gengras’ experimental works like Magical Writing, check out his Bandcamp.