Post-Techno Voyages

A review of Yenisei Crossing by Mystified

Dark electronic textures exploring generative-iterative extra-musical acousmatic and experiential mixed organic ambient spaces. The sound is largely consisting of repeated short segments which sometimes sound something like tape loops, perhaps to be listened to while working, sleeping or doing other things. There is no conventional sense of melody, the tempo and rhythm are not restricted and are not based on heartbeats or traditional dance metrics, so it sounds strange and unusual, which is why it is so highly prized. This sound is definitely rare in any music store, unless you already have considered the growing history of Musique Concréte and experimental composition by the likes of Rapoon or Zoviet France.

My experiences with audio loops were always with a reel to reel tape recorder, a razor blade, and some sticky tape to hold the circles of magnetic recording tape together. It creates an endlessly repeating sound that can be amusing to experiment with. I had the opportunity to ask Thomas Park aka Mystified about his current work, and this is one of the things he revealed.

“It has been said that all music is rhythm, or percussion. If this is true, then I hope to help musicians and listeners alike realize that they can be free of militant or precise rhythms, as I feel that the West has a sort of craze with rhythmic precision that is far from ideal.”

That leaves the door open to quite a lot of otherwise unexplored territory. Next I asked him what the album’s title means. When I searched for the word “Yenisei” I learned that the Yenisei River flows through Siberia and into the Arctic Ocean, it is the fifth-longest river system in the world. The maximum depth of the Yenisei is about 80 ft, the average depth is about 45 ft. Starting in Mungaragiyn-Gol (Mongolia), it flows north to the Yenisei Gulf in the Kara Sea. To the west is the often frozen Western Siberian Plain, to the east is the chilly Central Siberian Plateau. The Yenisei River basin includes the deepest lake in the world, Lake Baikal. The Yenisei River drains a large part of central Siberia.

This is what I learned from the composer about his album title’s relationship to the Siberian river. “The river “Yenisei” is part of “Yenisei Crossing”, which alludes to a crossing of that river. Why a remote part of Russia? I have had a series of dreams of varying clarity in which I live in primitive Siberia, eking out a living on the chilly plains.”

I asked him specifically about the story of the creation of Yenisei Crossing. Please note that Python is an interpreted, high-level, general-purpose programming language. What the?

“At the time, a lot was going on with me creatively. I had been working on a series of Python applications that enabled my processor to, mainly, choose a body of samples, treat them in any of certain ways, and then map them out on a live looping console. I could get some unexpected and really interesting loop-based compositions this way.”

“The first immediate advantage was that I did not have to spend hours preparing loops for mixing. The Python code took that task out of my hands. Nor did I have to rely on my own rather specific and perhaps predictable choices. The random functions available to me put sounds together in ways I would not have predicted. Sometimes the result was unlistenable, but more often than not it was intriguing, to say the least. Pursuing coded music has become a sort of dream-escape for me, or pastime. Like my nocturnal visions of Siberia, they took me places I never thought I would experience.”

The Yenisei River valley is habitat for numerous flora and fauna, with Siberian pine, Siberian larch, and Scots pine, or Pinus sylvestris, which was abundant in the Yenisei River valley before 6000 BC. Some of the earliest known evidence of human enigma can be found at the confluence of the headstreams of the Yenisei Valley, where stelae, or stone monoliths and memorial tablets which date from between the 7th and 9th centuries AD, are still waiting.

Tracklist

1. Luszg

2. Xtwz6

3. Oecv4

4. Dze3w

5. Fhovv

6. Oww98

7. Wixwg

8. L31mf

9. P64ii

10. Krr0e

11. Ti7n8

12. S46p5

13. Ex0gy

14. Ex98r

15. Eu9on

16. Emdsu

17. Bszo9

The song titles were generated using coded random string generation. The composer suggests that you might think of them as remnants of some forgotten language, or, perhaps, transmissions from space of someone we have yet to encounter.

Track by track, I have created sort of an impressionistic libretto of the invisible force of the sounds. The sound is unusual, so my descriptive approach attempts to meet the challenge presented by the new art forms. I know of no other way to describe what I am hearing.

What does the work say? Did we unravel the mystery? Is it music? Where does it take us? This strange so-called music has thrilled and alarmed researchers forever, long into the future. Laymen often find it unintelligible, a monstrous reunification of music, with dissonance, chaotic melodies, disturbing symphonies of noise. What does Mystified intend? When a situation leaves you baffled or puzzled, you’re mystified. I am mystified. There is wonderment. The verb mystify is at the root of the adjective mystified, from the French word mystifier, perhaps from either mystique, “a mystic,” or mystère, “a mystery.”

Subtle music using the generative-iterative method, created for those with a taste for the dark and minimal. It has also been said that the tracks have an inner consistency, that these tracks make a good set, that they work well together and with one another. They are also a bit dark and edgy– they push the boundaries of ambient. With this new release, we must admit, there is a chance, a possibility, that it will be summarily rejected, and that excites me. Taking chances is something we constantly learn to perfect, in order to build upon, or to plunder our own new treasures from, all in order to find an unexpected new way into our futures. We, the listeners, are at the center of things, sound identities can often be intentionally obscured or appear unconnected to their source, in order to unlock our own completely new possibilities for organizing the music of our future “Great River.”

Digging the bones of giants

The Bones of Giants and The Bodhi Mantra

The concept of light has boggled the minds of humans for thousands of years. We have tried to describe it, bend it, twist it, tube it, generate it, and some humans are continually trying to find ways to travel as fast as it does. Light is a symbol of life and well being, without vision it could be assumed that nothing exists. Hearing also offers proof, or perhaps just enough vague evidence to allow us to explore invisible worlds. The idea of going to new places, experiencing a new culture, and embarking on unique journeys is a beautiful part of being alive.

Howard Givens and Craig Padilla for many years have been operating at the confluence of technology and hearing, the integration of compassion and energy, and the purification of body, mind and wisdom using electronic music.

The Bodhi Mantra is their latest collaboration, previous titles include Being Of Light, Life Flows Water, and Spirit Holy Rising. In addition to his own work with many other artists, Givens has been involved as the Producer as well as Mixing and Recording Engineer, mastering the release of such Padilla titles as The Heart of the Soul, Below the Mountain, The Light in the Shadow, Genesis, and Vostok.

As we listen to these celestial sounds, we may be tempted to imagine pieces of evidence that there were giants on Earth a long, long time ago. Where did they come from and what practical importance is there now of them today? Music offers illusion as well as confidence. Mantras come in many forms, a reminder that yoga is a contemporary science, vitally relevant to our times. An arresting blend of profundity and pragmatism, some of our best evidence exists because someone long ago used their time to carve mantras into rocks as a form of meditation. Mantras are a religious thought, prayer, a sacred utterance, but are also sometimes believed to be a spell or tool of supernatural power. If there is one consistency in life, then it is the one of change. The recording studio has brought this passtime into heretofore unimaginable places.

Listeners to music do it to satisfy their love of mystery, and to make themselves comfortable, music creates a pleasing experience, and affects our health positively. I have learned from my many years of exploring the audio arts that it is too easy to proclaim that “This is the greatest thing I have ever heard in my life!” The words become meaningless the second time they are invoked, and further such exclamations of epiphematic miracles tend to lessen the intended effect. But heck, there is a whole lot of great music out there! What best makes this message real every time? Perhaps metaphor is an answer.

Water is an important source of life on Earth and about 71 percent of the surface of the Earth is water. A river can be portrayed by many as an everlasting symbol of perpetual and continual change and of the constancy of time and of life itself.

For many years people have wanted to find the gold in the river, or perhaps they seek a way of turning all kinds of substances into gold and thus become rich without much effort simply by picking up the nuggets. Here they are, the secrets of alchemy, and that begets the question of what is gold and what is illusion. Gold might be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, and gentleness, and the only way to demonstrate that one is truly finding gold is to produce miraculous and supernatural fruit, to demonstrate an ability to be filled with the Holy Spirit. What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? I know only that I cannot define the ecstatic experience. No one can, but still we love to try anyway. Being filled with the Spirit results in an abundant and overflowing life. That might be all the proof needed.

Let us receive immeasurable auspiciousness, brilliance, magnificence, and ease, let us use our imaginations to explore possibilities of time travel and the concept of creation of bodies periodically through time. The individual experience of time and how each listener experiences time is very different. There are multiple perspectives of time that one must consider when questioning time travel. Behold the sound engineer, she or he investigates hoaxes, legends, obscure accounts, and academic excavations of giant bones, skulls and skeletons found globally going back thousands of years.

Now think about the future and what might be found here.

I had the opportunity to talk about giant’s bones with Givens and Padilla, but we never used those specific words. We used email and were in different times and places, yet here is our short conversation for you to view right now.

ROBIN JAMES What is the story of your work together and creating your newest album?

CRAIG PADILLA Howard and I continue to grow as a musical duo every time we create music, both solo and as a duo. This new album evolved from our personal journey of music, which is based on our appreciation of the way we have been experiencing the perception of consciousness. This is The Bodhi Mantra. Bodhi is a Sanskrit name translated as “enlightenment” or “awakening” which relates to a Buddhist concept, wherein Bodhi is synonymous with the state of nirvana, being freed from hate, greed and ego. We represented this idea in the music by making it sound warm and peaceful; hypnotic and uplifting.

HOWARD GIVENS The work that Craig and I have been collectively exploring, thematically parallels an abstract journey within a sound/music experience… texture, expanse, mood, contemplation, movement, energy, etc., and the self-awareness, realization, and observation of a more expansive appreciation of our existence, usually expressed the abstract experience one has through meditation and yoga.

RJ What is your task as a composer?

CP My task as a composer is to make a musical story that I would want to hear and feel, and have that energy pass along to the listener.

HG There’s a powerful experience that comes from the synergy of working together especially when those moments of an unspoken, mutual tapping into a stream-of-consciousness flow happens. That’s when the magic really happens, at least from my perspective. I believe that this whole “conversation” of music is complete when the listener then becomes involved, creating their own vision, their own experience with the music. So ultimately it’s the goal of my work, with audio, composition, visual art, etc. and the goal of Spotted Peccary Music, to create and present as transparent an expression the art forms as possible, hopefully inviting a deepening space for the listener to participate in.

RJ The Bodhi Mantra is music to meditate to, what is listening?

HG So the music isn’t really a soundtrack for doing meditation or yoga, but rather an artistic expression OF the process of meditation or yoga. Because we are delving into the sense behind the music, we are trying to create a suggestion of the feeling of these practices. The title of our newest release therefore relates to the inspiration for the music, for the experience.

CP “Listening” is both a proactive and a subconscious act of being in tune with sonic vibrations emanating around and within us.

HG The sounds we choose, whether electronic or acoustic in nature, has more to do with the space created by their use, and how we resonate with the sonic experience in the moment of creation much like sound and ceremony have helped shift people’s state of awareness throughout human history.

RJ What is music?

HG For us, the abstract language of music allows us to communicate the nature of our life experience without relying entirely on the use of adjectives to try to define such a subtle sense that often times can’t be adequately described with words (outside of poetry) or pictures, much like how a photograph does not convey the feeling of being present in a particular place.

CP Music is the language of the Universe. It can be created with nature, and with man-made instruments. It can speak to the soul. It can tell a story. And all music is a part of history that gets preserved once it’s recorded. Music is vibrations of frequencies which stimulate the senses in all living things.

RJ When did you first come upon Spotted Peccary Music? What attracted you?

CP When I created Vostok in 2001, I had no intention of releasing it because I was making upbeat music at the time. However, I had sent a copy of it to a music reviewer who really enjoyed it, and he suggested that I send it to Spotted Peccary Music. I was not familiar with the label at the time, but I thought I’d reach out to them. Once they heard Vostok, they were interested in releasing it, as well as future albums. I was also attracted by the positive and creative energy from Howard Givens and Deborah Martin, and by the high quality of music that was (and still is) being released on their label. I feel honored to be included on their roster.

HG In the mid-to-late 1970’s, my closest friends and I were always looking for more music to listen to that described the space that related to our philosophical / spiritual explorations that we were all delving into at the time. This led us to recordings by Pink Floyd, Yes, Starcastle, Paul Horn, Wendy Carlos, Tangerine Dream, Klaus Schultze, Tomita, and early Kitaro, early Styx, Brian Eno… anything that would suggest the spacier, more textural side of any of this music, and oftentimes very electronic in nature. Later of course, this expanded to include more experimental music, David Sylvian, Steve Roach and music that finally was really defining a genre becoming known as ambient, perhaps more than New Age, which was moving away from textural and into more instrumental and melodic.And as we developed our own sonic expression in the early 1980’s with guitar, flute, effects, and then added synthesizers, we started to cultivate a sound while creating a sort of abstract “soundtrack” that was completely inspired by our experiences in the Sonoran Desert around Tucson, Arizona.
RJ What listening events changed your life as you were developing your ears?

CP I’ve been playing guitar all of my life. The moment I had first heard Jean-Michel Jarre’s Oxygene album in a local planetarium during a high school field trip, I decided that I wanted to make music like that.

RJ Howard, tell us more about Brain Laughter and your work with Spotted Peccary Music.

HG I have been directly or indirectly involved with many of the releases on Spotted Peccary throughout the years, with more of a focus on mastering in the more recent years. As such, I have to squeeze my own projects in between our different releases as well as mastering work for Steve Roach, who I work with “outside” of the Spotted Peccary catalog. So most of the time, sound development continues but compositional time has suffered.

Realizing that a label is stronger in its presentation to the industry and to listeners if it has several artists, we invited other artists who had like-interests to create music for the label.

So from that point on, the label grew and evolved, adding artists and releases, and even changing its principal ownership and staff to what it is today. But the original concept of a label owned and operated by artists on the label is still true and fundamental to the heart of Spotted Peccary Music, as is a dedication to producing the highest quality sound, visual presentation and artistic expression possible.

Drawing on all our spiritual interests as well as including the stories from Carlos Castaneda and his writings of shamanic experiences in the Sonoran Desert, our musical explorations were heavily influenced by all the energy of that powerful region, totally impacting these earliest collaborations that evolved into the “group” effort Brain Laughter and ultimately led to our first full release, In The Land Of Power.

As we learned more of what we would need to do to share our work and vision of this music, we created Spotted Peccary Music as our own label to support our work.

RJ What is next?

HG Lately I have been making a push towards completing some solo works, but I do often prefer the energy around collaboration, like the releases with Craig Padilla and with Madhavi Devi, which interestingly was where I started – with the energy behind the Brain Laughter projects.

RJ What is your advice to artists who are starting as musicians?

CP My advice to artists is “Never give up. Never stop creating.” If you want something bad enough, and you’re really passionate about it, then it’s possible to manifest whatever it is that you are trying to accomplish. It is the Law of Attraction. My other advice is “Listen to constructive criticism.” Criticism can be good and bad. If it’s constructive then there is something that an artist may be able to learn to better their craft.

RJ Thank you both for your time and for the amazing listening experiences you create!

FOOTLINKS
Spotted Peccary Album page: https://spottedpeccary.com/shop/the-bodhi-mantra/
Album Unboxing Video:
Bandcamp: https://ambientelectronic.bandcamp.com/
Howard Givens Spotted Peccary Artist Page: https://spottedpeccary.com/artists/howard-givens/
Craig Padilla Spotted Peccary Artist Page: https://spottedpeccary.com/artists/craig-padilla/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spottedpeccary/
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/spottedpeccary
Howard Givens Artist website: http://www.howardgivens.com
Craig Padilla Artist website: https://craigpadilla.bandcamp.com/
David Sylvian: http://www.davidsylvian.com/
Steve Roach: https://steveroach.bandcamp.com/
Jean-Michel Jarre’s Oxygene: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sj7A8SX7ccI

Craig Padilla Selected Discography

The Heart of the Galaxy Not On Label (Craig Padilla) 1990
Eye Of The Storm ‎ See Peace Records CP-0000-1 1996
The Soul Within ‎ MP3.com 27859 1999
Crystal Garden ‎ MP3.com 22714 1999
Beyond Volume One With Skip Murphy MP3.com 21752 1999
The Edge Of Eternity MP3.com 59425 2000
Exploring the Unknown ‎ MP3.com 34088 2000
Galactic Storm ‎ MP3.com 40007 2000
Reflections In Mercury With Skip Murphy MP3.com 10169 2001
Music For The Mind – Live (Volume Two) ‎ MP3.com 14341 2001
Temporal Suspension With Skip Murphy Space For Music
sfmCP1025 2001
Music For The Mind – Live (Volume One) ‎ MP3.com 143430 2001
Folding Space And Melting Galaxies ‎ Space For Music CP1028 2002
Vostok ‎ Spotted Peccary SPM-1401 2002
Planetary Elements With Skip Murphy Space For Music
sfmCP1060 2003
Genesis Spotted Peccary 2004
Echo System With Paul Ellis Groove Unlimited
GR-099 2004
Path Of Least Resistance With Zero Ohms
Spotted Peccary Music 2005
Planetary Elements (Volume 2) With Skip Murphy
‎Space For Music sfmCP1079 2005
The Light In The Shadow Spotted Peccary SPM-1403 2006
Phantasma With Skip Murphy Groove Unlimited
GR-137 2006
Analog Destination With Skip Murphy Groove Unlimited
GR-150 2008
Below The Mountain ‎ Spotted Peccary SPM-1404 2008
Beyond The Portal With Zero Ohms + Skip Murphy Lotuspike
LSM 12 2009
When The Earth Is Far Away With Zero Ohms Lotuspike 2012
The Heart Of The Soul Spotted Peccary 2012
Spirit Holy Rising With Howard Givens Spotted Peccary 2015
Life Flows Water With Howard Givens Spotted Peccary 2015
Heaven Condensed Spotted Peccary 2016
Being Of Light With Howard Givens Spotted Peccary 2017
AQUARII Not On Label 2018
Toward The Horizon With Marvin Allen Spotted Peccary 2019
TENDERNESS AVALANCHE The Fellowship of Hallucinatory Voyagers
(With Pete Bingham) Not On Label 2019
The Bodhi Mantra With Howard Givens Spotted Peccary 2020

Howard Givens Selected Discography
As Solo Artist
In the Land of Power • Brain Laughter 1989
Not Far From A Distant Sun • Brain Laughter 1995
As Contributing Artist
The Bodhi Mantra • Craig Padilla
Spirit Holy Rising • Craig Padilla
Life Flows Water • Craig Padilla
Being of Light • Craig Padilla
Beyond City Light • Jon Jenkins
Tibet • Deborah Martin / Cheryl Gallagher
Drum Prayer • Steve Gordon
Convergence • Deborah Martin / Greg Klamt / Mark Rownd
Deep Roots, Hidden Water • Deborah Martin
Flow • Jon Jenkins
Annapurna, The Towering Sky • Mark Hunton
Mohave • Bertrand Nadel
Ancient Power • Steve Gordon / Deborah Martin
Under the Moon • Deborah Martin
Continuum • Jon Jenkins / Paul Lackey
Russian River Serenade • Bruce Fitzsimmons
As Producer, Mixing and Recording Engineer, and/or Mastering
The Heart of the Soul • Craig Padilla
Masterworks • California Guitar Trio
Justin Vanderberg • Synthetic Memories
Brian Futch • And Then There Were Songs
Andromeda • California Guitar Trio
Subliminal Pulse • Bruno Sanfilippo
Agent 22 • Agent 22
Oregon Outback • Cam Newton
Sun Chasing: The Last Exploding Echoes • The Pink Snowflakes
The Crossing • David Helpling / Jon Jenkins
Deep Roots, Hidden Water (2011 Remastered Edition) • Deborah Martin
The Edge of a Fairytale • Between Interval
Below the Mountain • Craig Padilla
Radio Silence • Between Interval
Treasure • David Helpling / Jon Jenkins
Anno Domini • Deborah Martin / J. Arif Verner
Autumn Continent • Between Interval
Waking the Day • Jerry Marotta / Tom Griesgraber
In The Light of The Shadow • Craig Padilla
Beyond City Light • Jon Jenkins
Salvaging the Past • Dean De Benedictis
From A Distant Horizon • J. Arif Verner
Secret Observatory • Between Interval
Genesis • Craig Padilla
Chakra Healing Chants • Sophia
A Whisper in the Thunder • Tom Griesgraber
Tibet • Deborah Martin / Cheryl Gallagher
Very Thought of You • Peter Pupping / Jeff Basile
Vostok • Craig Padilla
Convergence • Deborah Martin / Greg Klamt / Mark Rownd
Of A Stranger Light • John Flomer
Dreams and Shadows • Spotted Peccary Artists
The Storm • Michael Stearns
Through the Timeless • J. Arif Verner
Sleeping on the Edge of the World • David Helpling
Deep Roots, Hidden Water • Deborah Martin
Flow • Jon Jenkins
Night in the Vapor Jungle • John Flomer
Annapurna, The Towering Sky • Mark Hunton
Mohave • Bertrand Nadel
Ancient Power • Steve Gordon / Deborah Martin
Painting Twilight • Mark Rownd
Fluxus Quo • Greg Klamt
When Thunder Sleeps • Spotted Peccary Artists
Between Green and Blue • David Helpling
Mysterious Motions of Memory • John Flomer
A Vision Beyond Light • J. Arif Verner
Gloria • Peter Pupping
Under the Moon • Deborah Martin
Guitarra de Paz • Peter Pupping
Continuum • Jon Jenkins / Paul Lackey
Tracks in Time • Spotted Peccary Artists
Fulcrum • Greg Klamt
Russian River Serenade • Bruce Fitzsimmons

As Producer, Mixing and Recording Engineer, and/or Mastering
(From Discogs – Extended Yet Incomplete)
Tracy Bonham – Modern Burdens
Steve Roach – Bloodmoon Rising (Complete 5-hour Collection)
Mark Seelig – The Disciple’s Path
Steve Roach & Serena Gabriel – Nectar Meditation
Steve Roach – Atmosphere For Dreaming
Between Interval – Radio Silence
Sverre Knut Johansen With Robert Rich – Precambrian
black tape for a blue girl – Blood On The Snow
black tape for a blue girl – These Fleeting Moments
DJ Yoda – FabricLive.39
Various – Axis Of Justice: Concert Series – Volume 1
Various – Tracks In Time
Vancouver Chamber Choir, Jon Washburn – Rise! Shine! The Music Of Jon Washburn
Skip James – Skip’s Piano Blues
Kelly David – Meditation In Green
Stonewall Jackson – Waterloo
Steve Roach – To The Threshold Of Silence (Remastered 2020)
Various – Vocal Groups – Classic Doo-Wop Remastered
Steve Roach – Slow Heat
Michael Stearns – The Storm
Chronotope Project – Lotus Rising
Deborah Martin – Eye Of The Wizard
Steve Roach – The Sky Opens
Tommy Bolin – The Ultimate…
black tape for a blue girl – Ashes In The Brittle Air = Aska I Den Sköra Loften
Sonny Stitt – When Sonny Blows Blue
Steve Roach – Structures From Silence
Steve Roach – Quiet Music 1
Steve Roach – Quiet Music 2
Steve Roach – Quiet Music 3
Hollan Holmes – Milestones
Howard Givens & Craig Padilla – Being of Light
Mark Rownd – Painting Twilight
Steve Roach – Structures From Silence
Healey Willan, Bryn Nixon, Vancouver Chamber Choir, Jon Washburn – An Apostrophe To The Heavenly Hosts (Anthems, Motets, Magnificat & Nunc Dimittis, Tenebrae Responsaries
Various – Great Country Stars Great Country Favorites
Rangers – 21x Rangers
Steve Roach – Emotions Revealed
Sprung Monkey – Situation Life
David Helpling – ᛚ
Voltaire – The Devil’s Bris
Various – Burbank
Craig Padilla – Heaven Condensed
Steve Roach – Bloom Ascension
Rudy Adrian – Woodlands
Ancient Cultures Featuring The Vancouver Chamber Choir* – The Miracle Of Christmas / Milagros De Navidad – A South American Christmas Celebration
Steve Roach – Long Thoughts
Steve Roach – Trance Archeology
Between Interval – Legacy
Deborah Martin ~ Erik Wøllo – Between Worlds
Steve Roach – Skeleton Keys (Expanded)
Tom Griesgraber – A Whisper In The Thunder
Various – Northeast Regional Oldtime Fiddle Contest & Festival 1970, Oldtime Fiddling, Volume 4, 1970
Steve Roach – Skeleton-Spiral Passage (Extended Version, Live In Tucson)
Northeast Regional Oldtime Fiddle Contest And Festival – 1971* – Old Time Fiddling Volume 5
Radiant Mind | Steve Roach – Heliosphere
Freddie Hubbard – Red Clay
Steve Roach – Bloom Ascension
Steve Roach – Nostalgia For The Future
Steve Roach – Bloodmoon Rising
California Guitar Trio – Andromeda
Erik Wøllo – Traces • Images Of Light • Solstice (Special Remastered Editions – Three Disc Set)
Erik Wøllo – Images Of Light
Dean De Benedictis – Salvaging The Past
Various – I Hear Music In The Air—A Treasury Of Sacred Music
Various – L’Anthologie Des InRocks – 25 Ans De Musique
Steve Roach – This Place To Be
Between Interval – Legacy
Steve Roach – Live In Tucson (Pinnacle Moments)
Steve Roach – Alive In The Vortex
Steve Roach – Vortex Immersion Zone
Radiant Mind | Steve Roach – HelioSphere
Steve Roach – Mercurius
Steve Roach – Electron Birth
Steve Roach – Return To The Dreamtime
Steve Roach – Dreamtime Return
DeeperNET – STIMULI
Various – The History Of Hip Hop
Steve Roach – Shadow Of Time
Steve Roach – Fade To Gray
Brain Laughter II* – Not Far From A Distant Sun
Numina – The Chroma Plateau
Massergy – Fire Opal
Steve Roach – Molecules Of Motion
Agent 22 – Agent 22
Madhavi Devi – The Truth Of Being
Howard Givens & Madhavi Devi – Source Of Compassion
Jon Jenkins – Flow
Allen Eager – Swingin’ With Allen Eager
Rangers – 21x Rangers
Black Tape For A Blue Girl – To Touch The Milky Way
Steve Roach – Molecules Of Motion
Brain Laughter II* – Not Far From A Distant Sun
Steve Roach – Slow Heat
As Lonely As Dave Bowman – Monolith
Steve Roach And Robert Logan – Second Nature
Steve Roach – Jorge Reyes – The Ancestor Circle
Various – The RCA Records Label: The 1st Note In Black Music
Robert Logan – Sculptor Galaxy
California Guitar Trio – Masterworks
Mystified – Morning City
Byron Metcalf – Steve Roach – Rob Thomas* – Monuments Of Ecstasy
Various – Ultimate Revenge 2
David Helpling – Sleeping On The Edge Of The World
Rudy Adrian – Coastlines
Various – 31 – Free Ambient Electronic Sampler
J. Arif Verner – From A Distant Horizon
Various – Ultimate Revenge 2
Jeffrey Koepper – MantraSequent
Steve Roach / Robert Logan – Biosonic
Steve Roach And Robert Logan – Second Nature
Emmalyn Moreno – Sister Moon (Songs Of Prayers & Chants)
Ray Price – All Time Greatest Hits
Deborah Martin – Under The Moon
Brain Laughter – In The Land Of Power
Martin* / Klamt* / Rownd* – Convergence
Craig Padilla – Below The Mountain
California Guitar Trio – Masterworks
David Helpling • Jon Jenkins – The Crossing
Csillagköd – Silent World
Deborah Martin – Under The Moon
WCKR SPGT & Friends* – Pure Heaven
Helpling* • Jenkins* – Found
The Howard Hanger Trio – Thru A Glass Darkly
Deborah Martin – Deep Roots, Hidden Water
DeeperNET – One
David Helpling – Between Green And Blue
DeeperNET – The Network
Steve Roach – The Passing
Steve Roach – Fade To Gray
Bertrand Nadel – Mohave
David Helpling – Sleeping On The Edge Of The World
Craig Padilla – The Light In The Shadow
Skelator – Death To All Nations
Steve Roach – Shadow Of Time
Various – When Thunder Sleeps
Chronotope Project – Passages
Justin Vanderberg – Synthetic Memories
J. Arif Verner – Through The Timeless
Csillagköd – All The Time
Various – Dreams & Shadows
John Flomer’s Primal Cinema – Mysterious Motions Of Memory
Greg Klamt – Fluxus Quo
Greg Klamt – Fulcrum
Various – 29 – Free Ambient Electronic Sampler
Steve Roach – Skeleton – Spiral Passage – Extended Version – Live In Tucson
Steve Roach – Live In Tucson: Pinnacle Moments
Howard Givens & Craig Padilla – Spirit Holy Rising
Steve Roach – Alive In The Vortex
Dick Curless – Stonin’ Around
Chronotope Project – Dawn Treader
Jurassic 5 – Jurassic 5 EP
Tom Griesgraber & Bert Lams – Unnamed Lands
Fabio Mittino & Bert Lams – Long Ago (Music by Gurdjieff * De Hartmann)
Bruno Sanfilippo – Subliminal Pulse
As Lonely As Dave Bowman – Monolith
Csillagköd – Silent World
Sprung Monkey – Situation Life
Rudy Adrian – Atmospheres
J. Arif Verner – A Vision Beyond Light
Jon Jenkins And Paul Lackey – Continuum
Erik Wøllo – Traces
Erik Wøllo – Solstice

Happy ANTIFA Day!

43,250 members of ANTIFA stormed Omaha beach on Normandy June 6th 1944.

Siberian Surrealist Crossing

Thomas Park has many projects, one is Mystified. So many more.

The new album comes out in July but something has started, why wait? Here are his words, with me playing the role of Q.

Music, for me, has become a way of life. I write most days, and in fact, it is a chief pastime. That being said, I can’t be sure how the lightning of ideas strikes the inorganic molecule and brings it life. Inspiration remains a mystery. I can suggest that it has helped a great deal to follow my instincts and intuitions, given that they tend to take my music into more fruitful and less-predictable places.

It has been said that all music is rhythm, or percussion. If this is true, then I hope to help musicians and listeners alike realize that they can be free of militant or precise rhythms, as I feel that the West has a sort of craze with rhythmic precision that is far from ideal.

I would add music is a virtue that tends to be human. And I want to add that I love music, even traditional music, and would suggest to no one that they throw out their recordings. What generative enables us to see is that humans can also systematically PLAN music, in some ways. In other words, we can enable the computer certain possibilities, which it then enacts– and often, then, we can and do curate the results.

That being said, music remains a mystery in many ways. Especially interesting to me are the ways that certain tones sound good together, and the existence of harmonics– a documented phenomenon that shows what happens as key frequencies unite.

The act of listening– we open our ears, and invite music into our minds. We allow it to create its effects. And I feel that we can open our ears and minds more or less according to our inclination(s). For example, Beethoven’s “Ode To Joy” makes me weep with emotion every time I listen closely, so I tend to avoid listening to it except for at certain times.

I try to amass a substantially-sized batch of sounds that I think will work together. These have to be iterable– they have to work with themselves and one another, in pretty much any combination. It is helpful, for example, if they are already in tune with one another, and don’t contain sonic elements that are silly or offensive or might stick out from the rest. The second level happens with each track, and that is where I use my Python to index the larger set and randomly make extractions from it, then treating the extractions in ways that make them more musical in a loop-based mixing context.

Q How did your own parents introduce music to you growing up?

They were great lovers of music. They played their records all of the time, including especially The Beatles and The Beach Boys. My father was, secretly, very talented, and could play banjo, ukelele and piano. I always imagined he could have become a musician, if he had wanted.

Q If a youngster was interested in making music, how would you advise her?

I am afraid the good old, it’s going to take a number of years and please stick with it, remains the best advice. It might be some time before the music even feels personal or relevant. Stick with it, and sooner or later, I believe it will. And as a young person makes the music more and more their own, so do they progress, until their relationship with music becomes an impassioned commitment.

Q How would you explain your creative process to a youngster who is curious about life’s possibilities?

There will be times, I would suggest, when life seems to restrict a person, to limit their range of choices. I would reassure the young person that music, and art, in general, have a way of re-opening these closed pathways, and restoring creativity and free expression to one’s life.

Q What is it about the sound that attracts you to your unique work?

All I can say is that I like what certain music(s) do to my mind. And I am amazed at the chance to help others feel the same way.

Q I close my eyes when listening to your music and find myself traveling to strange worlds I have never seen before, does your visual side influence your music?

It is absolutely great to hear. I often think of my music as a means, in part, for a clean, drug-free trip. I want people to let it take them places, to imagine those places, Using music in this way a creative catalyst has been really important to me. It is more than an escape– it helps to actually cultivate certain types of innovative thinking and behaviour.

Q What would you like to try that you have not tried yet?

It certainly would be a thrill to have a church’s pipe organ to play.

Q Where do you dream of going? (vacation, tour, exploration, by time machine, etc.)

Portland is already a favorite destination, though my wife and I have only been once. We actually plan to move there when we retire. I like the idea of setting down that close to the Pacific Ocean.

From the upcoming new album Yenisei Crossing on Spotted Peccary Music

https://mystified.bandcamp.com/album/robin-james-guitar-loops

TO BE CONTINUED

Djehuti Sonics: Ben Cox on Consciousness

I’ve been making music with electronics since I was about 12. It’s something I can’t not do. My previous album came out in 2005, and although I never stopped making music in the interim, I didn’t dedicate as much time toward my own music as I felt was necessary to come up with results that I was happy with sharing, other than a few tracks here and there that I was happy with. Much of my musical efforts over the past 15 years or so have been toward mastering other people’s music (see discography here). I decided it was time to come back out of hibernation and put together a (small) collection of tracks that I could be happy with presenting as an album; this is the result: Consciousness and other tricks of the light

I know that I am conscious. You know that you are conscious. This knowledge is itself consciousness. I know that you are conscious (and vice versa) because you and I know that we are the same sort of thing, and because we observe behaviors in each other that are consistent with our own experience of consciousness. And thus, (most of us) conclude by induction that others are conscious, as we are.

Now consider a cat. A cat exhibits complex behaviors, and most people agree that cats are conscious (at least, for a few hours a day). The jury is still out on ants, though. Plankton? Probably not, except on SpongeBob.

But now let’s consider artificial intelligence. You and I can say “well we know Siri/Cortana/Bixby/Alexa aren’t conscious”;  we know how they work. Are they not conscious because we know how they work, or are they not conscious because their behaviors are insufficiently complex and we can explain them away? Science fiction abounds with robots and artificial intelligences with varying degrees of consciousness and recognition/acceptance of their consciousness (and their free will and their rights). (Maybe you can tell that my favorite literary genre is SciFi and my favorite writers are Asimov, Banks and Clarke?)

What about the in-between areas, where (when?) we have robots which (a) we know and can explain how they work and how they make decisions, and yet (b) exhibit behavior that’s complex enough that we can’t explain all of the factors that went into a given course of action? (We already have enough trouble auditing/debugging convolutional neural networks.) I would say that if a system exhibits behavior that we can’t tell whether is conscious or not, then it is morally imperative that we treat it as though it is conscious, and recognize its rights accordingly. If we turn that back around, can we prove that we are conscious?

My position is that it doesn’t matter. Consciousness is a red herring; it is a property that we can’t define, and can only implicitly/indirectly observe. It is an illusion; a trick of the light.

I’m attracted to mythology and folklore in general, not exclusively Egyptian. I think it’s actually part of my fascination with consciousness, as the archetypes that are explored in myth tend to be similar across cultures and may have origins that predate the emergence of humans. As a teenager, I was completely captivated by The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes, and although I understand that current science rejects some of his ideas, I found them fascinating and inspiring.

I was born in Cleveland and grew up in Northwest Indiana. I went to college in Illinois, and then came to Pittsburgh for grad school. I liked it here, so I stayed. I currently live in the Strip District right outside of “dahntahn” Pittsburgh. I have a reasonably short commute, which has gotten even shorter over the last six weeks. (I lived in the north suburbs and had a long commute for 10 years, which influenced my decision to go work on autonomous vehicles from 2015-2019, though I’m now back out of that industry.)

I think my interest in drones is explicitly linked to growing up in the Midwest where you can look off into the distance on a hazy summer day and just get lost in thought for hours on end. Some of the drones I make are explicit attempts to capture aspects of “The Hum.”

As a kid, I was very interested in listening to the LPs we had at the house, which included Switched-On Bach and Rumours and The White Album, along with some rock classics like ZZ Top Tres Hombres and Tejas. In school I was in all (ALL) of the bands and really loved a lot of the band and orchestral pieces we played, by people like Percy Grainger and Paul Hindemith. I was also a big fan of Claude Debussy, and Holst’s The Planets was huge for me as well. As a trumpet player, I was (am) pretty enamored of Live at Jimmy’s by Maynard Ferguson.

I went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, so the Foellinger Great Hall at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts is pretty high on that list. It’s a gorgeous venue, which I got to know as an audience member and as a member of the University recording staff. I’ve seen hundreds of concerts in that hall, including the Chicago Symphony.

Another highlight was performing The Pines of Rome in a brass ensemble consisting of hundreds of high school and college students at Butler University in Indianapolis. I still get chills for that piece of music.

On the other end of the spectrum, there used to be a little cafe in Urbana called The Nature’s Table which was about 400 square feet with maybe five tables, that used to be jam-packed for live jazz combo music (many featuring university faculty) several nights a week until 3am or so.

I think music is particularly interesting because it is temporal. You can read at whatever speed you want. You can look at sculpture or paintings at your own pace. You can watch movies (or video of theatre) at a different speed and still get the gist. Music (including opera) is experienced at a specific speed which is part of the experience.

Wabi Sabi TODAY!

Wabi Sabi is the newest album from Seattle-New York-Eau Clair based world-hopping jazz band THE TIPTONS SAXOPHONE QUARTET & DRUMS and is available starting today, May 1, 2020, from their bandcamp website:

https://tiptonssaxquartet.bandcamp.com/

The sound of the Tiptons is all about saxophones, not just the energized type of sound you expect from all that brass, you will hear a massive grooving and pumping jump band music machine with lots of moving parts that takes influences from all around the world: Funk, Jazz, Scat, World, Soul, Groove, Eastern European Klezmer, and of course the way way way beyond. This amply provides the band members with a glorious platform to celebrate their individual talents, with lots of vocal improvisational experimentation on top. The first rehearsal was 30 years ago in November. The members are AMY DENIO: alto sax, clarinet, voice; JESSICA LURIE: soprano, alto, tenor sax, voice; SUE ORFIELD: tenor sax, voice; TINA RICHERSON: baritone sax, voice; and ROBERT KAINAR: drums, percussion.

The Tipton Saxophone Quartet was formed as an homage to Billy Tipton (December 29, 1914 – January 21, 1989) who was an amazing musician and noteworthy industry pioneer. Tipton’s musical career began in the mid-1930s when he led Louvenie’s Western Swingbillies for radio broadcasts. He played in various dance bands in the 1940s and in the mid-1950s recorded two trio albums of jazz standards for Tops Records. After that he also worked as a talent broker. Tipton stopped performing in the late 1970s because of arthritis. Tipton’s female birth sex was not publicly revealed until after death, and the revelation came as a surprise to family and friends. For decades, Tipton assumed a male gender identity because the music industry was not about to give a woman all of the breaks and opportunities that a man would automatically get, so she secretly took it all on her own personal terms.

THE NEW ALBUM RELEASE “Wabi Sabi” IS HAPPENING TODAY!!

https://tiptonssaxquartet.bandcamp.com/

Denio (rhymes with Ohio) says that “Usually when we finish an album we don’t want to hear it any more. This one, on the other hand, is really FUN! The material is well written, well played, and well produced. A trifecta!”

Support this amazing group of musicians by purchasing their album TODAY!

Joy and Mystery Flowing Together

An Interview with Spotted Peccary Artist John Gregorius

John Gregorius has served as a producer, guitarist and engineer, recording various bands at his own studio in Southern California, Sound Art Productions. When he started recording his own compositions. it opened up a whole new dimension to his life that he obtained only by making music that honestly moved him rather than making music that he thought people wanted. His first album, Under the Ice was released in 2000, followed by Heaven and Earth, which became his debut album on the Spotted Peccary Music label, where he shared some of his thoughts about creating his music. “I’ve always enjoyed fingerstyle acoustic guitar and ambient, processed electric guitar,” says Gregorius. “Heaven and Earth is a combination of these two styles, which may seem quite different, but much like the intertwining of the physical and spiritual this combination seems to flow naturally from one piece to another.”

Heaven and Earth has been played quite a bit on John Diliberto’s amazing nightly music soundscape radio program, Echoes, which is syndicated all throughout the known listening universe. Eventually, Heaven and Earth was voted number 62 out of the top 200 CDs for the last 20 years of Echoes. After this he recorded an independent release called Hours with John Wineglass on viola at Saint John’s Episcopal Church. His interest in the contemplative spiritual life influenced the song titles, which have been based on the hours of monastic prayer. Hearing these songs that were recorded live in that beautiful church is an amazing listening experience. His next album, Still Voice (continuing in his own words) “is a mixture of acoustic and electric instrumental music that ranges from earthy fingerstyle guitar to ambient textural soundscapes.” This recording features his well known electric and acoustic ambient guitar with piano, cello, upright bass, drums, programming and vocals. “There’s definitely a spiritual aspect to the music. Silence, simplicity, service, communion, mystery and contemplative thought, are all inspirations for this work. Still Voice is the Voice that tells us who we are, beloved and sacred.”

The music of John Gregorius is easygoing and engaging, from refreshingly simple fingerstyle guitar to the emotional resonance of layered textural soundscapes. The sounds that result grow out of life’s mysteries, through this process the listener and player continue a search for meaning within a highly dynamic environment that is tightly focused on the volatility and transience of listening, a sound that is easily appreciated and enjoyed. I had the opportunity to ask John why he makes the music that he makes.

I think what drew and still draws me to instrumental music is the mystery. It’s a spiritual thing, it’s an awe inspiring thing that 12 notes can produce something that moves us so deeply. Music has often been used as a product but in its purest sense it’s the connection with something bigger, something beyond our understanding.

It’s sort of like breathing, it’s just something I love to do. If prayer is simply talking, connecting and or listening to God, then while creating, recording or “painting” the music, being awake to this conversation or simply being awake to the divine presence is how music can become prayer. Instead of getting lost in the mechanics, get lost in the present, listening and speaking.

What would you like to share about your introduction to music as a child?

There was a new Music teacher in 4th or 5th grade who received a grant and bought a bunch of instruments for the school. She invited students to come in and just play instruments. For some reason I went right for the guitar and honestly don’t remember trying anything else out. Soon after I got a guitar and started lessons.

What advice might you offer for someone starting out and considering their possibilities?

Through my years of playing with pop bands and many other times in life, I tried to make it or play the music I thought people wanted. It wasn’t until I started making the music that honestly moved me that “success” happened. Now, success often doesn’t mean money or huge numbers of people listening. Remember Van Gogh only sold 2 painting in his lifetime. Yet, there are stories of people playing my music through tough times and they found healing in it. Now, that’s success! I say this to you and to myself. I constantly question the worth of my music and why I work so hard to make it. This has to be the answer. I make music because I love making music. If one person benefits, then it’s worth it. There’s a poem by Emily Dickinson called “Not in Vain” which speaks to this perfectly.

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
I shall not live in vain:
If I can ease one life the aching,
Or cool one pain,
Or help one fainting robin
Unto his nest again,
I shall not live in vain.

How would you describe your music’s spirituality?

My music comes from the desire for communion. It can be deep or distant or mysterious and at times it’s a struggle but much of the time it’s a space of being home or grounded. For me, I cannot be content without a close, honest and prayerful connection with our Loving God. I think this comes out in the music. On Heaven and Earth you hear a specific spiritual space compared to Still Voice which was a deeper time of searching for both God and who I was. Full of life is simply letting Joy and Mystery flow together, discovering spiritual connection in nature and love.

What is the most beautiful place you have ever performed in?

The most beautiful place I performed in was St. John’s Episcopal Church in Rancho Santa Margarita. The cathedral’s acoustics were amazing and was filled with natural light. It was a deep spiritual space which felt much like being up in the mountains with a breeze blowing through the trees.

What was your most positive surprise in life?

Well, this is an interesting one. I was ready to go into an Episcopal monastery to become a monk. Then, by some interesting circumstances I met my now wife Catherine. Soon we got married and moved to beautiful Tucson Arizona, where we are discovering together the awe inspiring Sonoran landscape and local culture.

What listening matter got you to where you are today?

This is a big list! I think Kansas and Led Zeppelin moved me early on in elementary school through Jr. High. In high school I was a big progressive music fan plus classical guitar which I was self taught during this time. A record by Allan Holdsworth called I O U came out in the 80s that simply blew me away. Another guitarist who influenced me was Phil Keaggy who could play incredible electric, classical and fingerstyle steel string guitar and is a man of faith. At the same time I loved Tears for Fears, Simple Minds and other 80s bands. Fast forward to my beginning of loving ambient music. After my daughter was born, I found this space of being in the moment, in nature and being a dad. Artists like The Blue Nile, Peter Gabriel, Cocteau Twins, Harold Budd resonated with me. I became inspired to start making my own instrumental music. As I look back, whether Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, Beatles, Yes or Genesis, I always like the slower, minor, more ambient songs. This recording I released independently and soon after recorded Heaven and Earth. Today, I love modern classical like Arvo Part, Olafur Arnalds, and Max Richter along with Post Rock bands like Hammock. No matter what, there is a spiritual side to music that moves me.

I see from your biography that you are involved with the Orange County Christian rock scene, such as East West, Reel Big Fish, Bionic Jodi…

Well, Reel Big Fish is a ska band I recorded while I was the owner/operator of Sound Art Recording. Now they definitely aren’t a Christian band but it was a lot of fun recording a style of music I hadn’t really listened to before and they were great kids. For other bands I became more involved in the production, guitar playing and writing processes. This was a great time to grow as a producer. As for bandmates, most of the people who have played on my recordings had a history of together in church. There was a great connection playing music together to celebrate God’s love.

Where do you come up with your best ideas?

I would say either sitting in a quiet room with a guitar, looper and reverb or out in nature. We were able to get a home on the east side of Tucson. We are only 2 miles away from Saguaro National Park west which is home to the Rincon Mountains. It’s a place we often hike. We often watch the evening light change these mountains to an amazing pink color.

How does the landscape you are inhabiting influence your music?

For this recording especially, I’ve been influenced by the Sonoran desert of Tucson. There is so much life that thrives in the many seasons here. We have a fairly short monsoon season in the middle of the hottest time of summer which nourishes the plants and animals through the year. The Saguaro cactus somehow thrives in the environment and can live up to 200 years. The spring is full of colorful flowers and creeks running from snow runoff. It snowed a winter back and it was amazing to see snow falling on the cacti. So there is this great mystery of life in the desert. Maybe this is why mystics and monks have found deep spiritual life in the desert.

What is one of your most meaningful moments/discoveries in your life?

On a beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest, I was walking with my freshman high school friends, laughing and having what seemed like a perfect day. Yet, once alone I had this deep question, is this all there is? This is where my deeper spiritual journey led me to communion with the Creator who loves us and brings us to wholeness which I found in Christ. Over time my faith has broadened and grown but the central view of Jesus’ life and death and life has been my connection, my communion with God.

What would you like to try that you have not tried yet?

I’d like to do a solo backpacking trip. There’s something about the solitude and challenge that interests me.

Where do you dream of going?

I would love to see what Southern California, Tucson and other beautiful spaces looked like when only the Native Americans lived here. I have a deep respect for the way the land was taken care of in a sacred way so maybe I could sit and listen to the wisdom and enjoy the clear air, flowing water and abundant wildlife.

How do you balance producing and teaching and performing?

This is interesting, because as artists we have to make a living. The kind of music we do with Spotted Peccary has a broad audience (and I find most people desire contemplative ambient music) but there aren’t many avenues to play live. So teaching became my main source of income but I don’t want to belittle it’s importance. I taught art, Music and coached sports for 15 years and loved it. Teaching is something that came naturally to me. Currently, I teach guitar to about 50 students at Allegro School of Music. This gives me time to keep creating music and I’m very happy with the new release Full of Life which is deeply influenced by my new life with Catherine and the Tucson desert. I think this is fertile ground because I’ve written many new songs for my next recording as well.

You have such an abundance of original music that you share with the world, what is your compositional process like?

It usually starts with one or two chords or arpeggio. Then, I add harmony which moves it the way I’m feeling it should go. Sometimes I start out looking for a certain space, like slower repetition or maybe a bit more complex solo piece. I’ve been inspired by using different tunings. For Full of Life, I used Robert Fripp’s New Standard Tuning which brought new ideas and ways of approaching the guitar and writing.

Much of the music is “written” on acoustic with a looper to either create atmosphere or second and third parts or melodies. Solos are improvised but I do this sparingly. The more ambient pieces like Rincon Fading Light are at least begun with improvisation. From there I work intuitively with layers, atmospheres and melodies.

How do you decide between electric compared to acoustic guitar sounds?

Hmmm, I wonder if it’s just what I picked up that day? I’ve always liked the sound of electric or electronics along with acoustic/organic sounds. So, as I’m recording, I may try different guitars to add interest or breathe a different life into a song.

What is next for your music?

I’m very interested in music as prayer. Does that mean a more stripped down, solo performance kind of recording or a simple prayer without ceasing approach to production? Maybe it’s an entire record where the listener can sit in a prayerful space? I’m not sure yet, but I’m excited and inspired right now to keep creating.

Thank you for this opportunity to explore your music further!

FOOTLINKS

THE ARTIST https://johngregorius.com/

FACEBOOK https://www.facebook.com/john.gregorius.1

SPOTTED PECCARY ARTIST PAGE https://spottedpeccary.com/artists/john-gregorius/

THE ALBUM FULL OF LIFE https://spottedpeccary.com/shop/full-of-life/

THE UNBOXING VIDEO https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XBZ_STwMTL0

THE ALBUM STILL VOICE https://ambientelectronic.bandcamp.com/album/still-voice

MORE ABOUT NEW STANDARD TUNING https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_standard_tuning

Reflections on the plague

Exploring the Path Less Traveled

Photography by Chris Russell, downloaded from his Instagram page

An interview with Ambient Electronic Musician Chris Russell

Chris Russell’s otherworldly creations often call to mind abstract sci-fi visuals, and the surreal soundscapes of Destiny, his third solo album for the Spotted Peccary label, keeps the dream alive. It feels to me like time falls away as the album’s glistening tones move toward terrifying horizons, rising and falling and rising again on the broad swells of a sizzling sonic sea.

“Russell’s mastery of expansive ambient electronic soundworlds is on full display within the music of Destiny, and the album’s subtle but all-encompassing spaces give rise to an immersive and thought-provoking listening experience that breathes and evolves with nuance and depth. Through the use of delays, granular filters, and long reverbs, Russell explores slow-flowing spaces with an artistic and cinematic flair, painting a world where delicate veils of sound are frozen in slow-motion breezes, where seething pools of shimmering electrons glisten in sonic starlight, and where distant drones and faraway textures approach and recede into mysterious swirling mists.”

From the Spotted Peccary press release

An ambient music artist who has been recording since 1999, Chris Russell finds his inspiration from both the simplicity of nature and the vast infinity of the universe. When he is using the studio as his instrument, he plays synthesizers (both software and hardware types), bass guitar, and various indigenous instruments to produce fantastically strange textures and abstract paintings of sound. In addition to his solo work, Chris has also contributed multiple tracks to compilation albums. On his bandcamp page there are currently 48 titles of recordings that Chris has created himself, or created in collaboration with other artists, or in some way contributed to compilations, all in the deep listening / atmospheric / cinematic and ambient electronic music genres.

Chris works with various natural (and otherwise) recordings he makes of interesting sounds which he collects and then processes electronically for us to enjoy, adding his unique effects and treatments. His newest album, Destiny, will be available March 27, 2020 from Spotted Peccary Music in CD format and in 24-BIT AUDIOPHILE, CD QUALITY LOSSLESS, MP3 and streaming formats.

I first came upon his album Echo (SPM 3502) last year and it made a big impression on me. The sound is mysterious and hard to describe, I hear dark clouds that reveal hints of large musical objects hidden in gigantic reverberating spaces. Sometimes there are melodic accents, usually there are strange buzzings, whistling things swirling about in the air above, all sorts of unusual but pleasant noises, and always nothing shocking or difficult to listen to or that would otherwise upset the sleepy neighborhood. There are almost no beats and certainly no drums, just wide open magic ear adventures. The whole album is like a strange and wonderful journey through a series of caves, hence the name Echo. Overall this is a great listen if you like mysterious textures! Echo has lots of strange and wonderful electronic audio events that you can crawl right into and get in there and really pay attention to all the fantastic details, or you can allow it to be something to listen to without being pulled away from your chosen thoughts. For me it’s all about odd things to hear in your headphones, which is what I am always looking for.

I interviewed Chris in early March of this year (2020), combining some telephone conversations with follow-up email and texting back and forth to prepare for the celebrated release of Destiny as well as explore some of his notions about the strange world of ambient electronic music.


Your newest album, Destiny, has just been released on Spotted Peccary Music, first of all, Congratulations! You work in a very specialized area of sonic arts. How do you find a way to create something that sounds so completely new on each album?

I usually work on more than one project at once, this time I balanced creating the peaceful music of Destiny with the recently released darker album Presence (2019 Exosphere). I hope it speaks to the spiritual visionaries out there. Creating this new album was very therapeutic, calming and relaxing. I had listeners who enjoy Yoga and Meditation in mind while creating it. Destiny took a lot of creative restraint from me, I kept it on a path of free flowing ambient, not too dark, not too strange, no hard left turns in the music. I am glad I challenged myself that way on this album. I feel it has paid off well for the listener.

Some say that the Greek composer Iannis Xenakis was the inventor of the granular synthesis technique. Xenakis created granular sounds using analog tone generators and tape splicing. Granular synthesis is based on the same principle as sampling, but the samples are not played back conventionally. The samples are split into small pieces called grains. Multiple grains may be layered on top of each other and played at different speeds, phases, volume, and frequency, among other parameters, creating a cloud of sound that is possible to manipulate by varying the waveform, envelope, duration, spatial position, and density of the grains. Many different sounds can be produced.

Granular synthesis was used on this album. Destiny has no field recordings, it is all synthesizers. Destiny was finished over a year ago and I am currently still having fun exploring the sounds created within that zone.

You do it so well, why do you do what you do?

One reason I make Ambient music is to peer behind the veil, as an attempt to explore other realities. I love to go out at night stargazing, staring into the black void on a dark night far away from the light pollution of the city. My music is all about the vast expanse, other dimensions, paranormal, sci-fi themes. Sometimes I imagine that this music is what aliens would like to listen to, riding in their UFOs!

Why don’t we go way back to the beginning? Tell us a little bit about your journey as a composer so far.

I was born in the Peoria, Illinois area and currently live in LaSalle, Illinois with my wife Megan and our two cats Leo and Lulu. I started off with computer based music tools, as the technology evolves I get new plugins, that is what I dive into, I like to keep it all on my personal cutting edge. All my music is DIY (do it yourself), I have had no classes, I watched no YouTube tutorials, I had no training. It’s all just what I have figured out for myself. I started in the early days with two boomboxes, keyboards and a drum machine, I would bounce recorded tracks back and forth to add layers, one box playing and the other recording. Then in 1999, I got a PC with Sound Forge, and another program called Acid, which I currently still use today.

I do not have a background in technical training, I spent about ten years playing and exploring electronic music in my bedroom, not being too serious. My first music released to the public was on mp3.com and then later Myspace Music. MySpace got me in touch with other ambient musicians and helped me get my first record deal on AtmoWorks. My first ambient electronic album I released was titled Aralu.

What do you have on your personal entertainment playlist now, for when you are just getting through your day?

I am currently listening to Lisa Bella Donna, Tame Impala, Lord Huron, Fleet Foxes, Mint Julep, Rush and Led Zeppelin. Music runs in my family My dad’s father Paul was a big band leader. My mother Mary Ann was a piano teacher and my son Gavin is a skilled guitar player who is currently in college for music and performance arts.

The only ambient music I usually listen to is mostly my own, along with Steve Roach, Aphex Twin, Max Corbacho, Alio Die and the late Darshan Ambient. As technology evolves so does the ambient electronic genre.

How on earth do you get your ideas?

Nature is a big inspiration for the art I create. I love to go hiking, going into nature, recharging my creative battery. I feel like I am trying to bring the energy from the forest back into the studio. Inspiration is all around. You have to slow down and observe. I paint a picture in the mind’s eye with sounds, all my tracks usually are, multiple takes stacked together with no composition or planning, for me my music is a mixed media collage that comes to life.

My Dad was a big believer in spiritualism, UFOs, Cryptids and Government Conspiracies, I have seen and experienced things most people have no grasp on. That all influences my deeper dive into creating soundscapes. I feel this is music for the future, I like to think I’m making it for a coming golden age.

With some of the themes on Destiny and Echo I was thinking of it like a Stanley Kubrick film soundtrack.

I just have to ask you some more about Echo, which really made a big impression on me. How did the album come about?

Echo was a big gamble, it seemed too odd and experimental and I was expecting Spotted Peccary to turn it down when I submitted it. But I was thrilled when they decided to put it out. I don’t always know how listeners will respond to what I create. That’s one of the reasons I like to try new things. I just did my first live ambient music concert in November of 2019 in an old clock factory with Kevin Kramer that was recorded and to be released later this year. That performance was my first in a decade.

Kevin Kramer teaches private lessons at the Westclox Music Studios, and creates music with his band, Ahymnsa and is an Illinois Valley music institution.

What are some of your most recent projects?

My most recent release was an EP called Gnostic, in December of 2019 and was made up of recently found lost pieces from the Illuminoid album. The albums Illuminoid and Gnostic have a strong influence of spiritual mysticism.

The Gnostic EP is a collection of newly found and recently finished unreleased music from the Illuminoid sessions. The sounds have an ethereal and very strange choral presence, as if they were sampled from field recordings made in dark ancient cathedrals lit by flickering candles in the wee hours. These tracks date back to 2011 and were misplaced, they were thought to have been lost forever, but now they have been polished and brought into his current catalog.

To me what I hear in some of your music is all about spirits, without any of the old fashioned or possibly corny “haunted house” type sound. Spiritualism is the belief in the real existence of immaterial entities such as angels and ghosts, with séances conducted by famous professional mediums. One of my ancestors was a practicing Spiritualist in the Galveston and New Orleans area back in the late 19th century, so I have a personal perspective on this phenomenon from the past.

I was baptized and raised a Catholic and now I feel like I have an even deeper spiritual level, I do not follow religious dogma, my church is the forest, nature. On the album Echo the last track “Abandoned” contains a recording I made walking through an abandoned house, recording the sounds of my footsteps on the creaking old boards, with the insects and birds in the background, and the sounds of nature reclaiming the old house. This track was a homage to my love of Urban Exploring. In the studio I took the sound of walking and everything and made the track by putting atmospheres around it.

I look at your catalog of albums, your discography and I have to ask you about your incredible production pace, how do you get so much done?

Steve Roach inspired me to always work on 3 or 4 albums at once. Because of that by the time an album gets released I have already moved on down the road to newer music. And have to go back to listen to and get reacquainted with the album close to release.

So… how about the future?

I love collaborating, I wish to do it more, I always pick up new things working with other people. I believe a good collaboration is going somewhere you couldn’t get to yourself. I just recently finished a collaborative album with Philip Wilkerson, that is a follow up to our 2014 release Vague Traces.

Destiny on a personal level is my ten year celebration of releasing my own music, and is a celebration of taking the creative path less traveled that can be both challenging and rewarding.

On Spotted Peccary Music, I feel like my albums are being heard by more listeners, Spotted Peccary are very supportive of my work and helping me grow my audience. I look forward to a long and fruitful relationship with them.

Chris, it is always a pleasure to talk with you, and I very much enjoy listening to your music. Long may you hum and buzz and click and whirrrrrr!

Review of Destiny

Ambient Electronic Soundscapes from Spotted Peccary Music (SPM 3503)

Slow sustained transforming textures, mystical hissing, sounds of gigantic spaces, things happening in a strange world, never too crowded, there is always lots of room for what goes on. At the heart of each track you’ll find trillions of tiny bits of sound, or grains, and the craft involves manipulating each grain’s duration, pitch and so on, for awesome visualizations in your mind’s eye. It’s not often that you can come across such sonic particles of dust or sand that are being energetically lifted to great heights by a strong and turbulent wind, and then it all calms and you find yourself on a sunrise-gold beach. That is your privilege, listening to Destiny, as you gaze out at this shimmering flower on the horizon, huge over the sea.

If you visit the bandcamp page of Chris Russell, you will find 48 titles on various labels, such as Spotted Peccary, Relaxed Machinery, Disturbed Earth, VoidMusic, earthMantra, Ambient Online, and aatma. Most of these projects are solo albums but a great many are collaborative adventures as well as single track contributions to anthologies. His first ambient electronic album was released in 2009 and titled Aralu, which was made possible through his MySpace account. MySpace got him in touch with other ambient musicians and helped him get that first record deal on AtmoWorks. Lots of things have happened in those cerebral repositories and vaults leading up to his release of Destiny.

What you will hear is always changing, sometimes a strong dry wind blows over the desert that raises and carries along clouds of glittering sand or dust often so dense as to obscure the sun and momentarily reduce visibility almost to zero, then your perceptions are released to see a strange new world through over a billion pure eyes of light. Sometimes the sound is soft and cold, with white snow blowing above the ground like a thick fog blanket of tremendous height, the wind carrying the bitter snow past the singing frozen river, the stiff trees held with cold frost that melts into a dawn chorus of melodic electronic neobirdsongs drifting in, casting a rosy hue across the morning sky and golden fingers of sunlight that light up the scene.

To begin this tripped light fantastic the album opens with “Invitation“ (10:02), evoking an opening transformative soundscape, setting the stage for what is to come next, electronic textures without melodies. With electronics everything is possible and the journey begins well.

Two roads diverge in a modern wood, the sky opens up above, inner space beckons below, we shall take “The Path Less Traveled“ (6:56) looking for a long time at the path going one way, then taking the other path, traveling through a landscape with slow textures and strange sounds unfolding in large reverberating chambers. I hear a subtly scary cinematic soundtrack, dark and lonely in places, perhaps a cathedral organ has been held on one note for all eternity and we are just discovering it now, things are happening in darkness and they might be dangerous, but this is clearly figurative, the interpretation of sound is noted for being complex and (like the road fork itself) potentially divergent.

As these supernatural electronic paths take us on its course we are put up against the surreal world of fate. Fate is the supposed force, principle, or power that predetermines events. No matter how much we attempt to look past fate, it will never flee. “Destiny“ (7:07) the title track, has a slow sustained feeling with sweeping tones and textures in a dark cave. I hear some kind of an unfolding process, building and uncoiling, huge purring creatures down below, lots of open area above, things circling way up there, off in the distance but possibly getting closer, drifting around and around but invisible.

The 17th century French fabulist and poet Jean de La Fontaine once said that “A person often meets his destiny on the road he took to avoid it” which speaks of a mysterious inevitable circular return to what one was actually dodging. “Life Cycles“ (6:15) has a glowing, awakening pattern, with layers of sustained electronic chimes, building slowly. The song title makes me think there will be an overall circular motion but perhaps the sound just gains more altitude. Life is like that, things happen but sometimes the life cycles are imperceptible because we are too close, perhaps when seen from a distance the circular directions become more obvious.

These are the sounds of enlightenment, hidden knowledge, and healing. “Soul Nexus“ (9:52) brings to my mind a connected group or series of windstorms in which large quantities of sand are blown about in the air in varying proximity to the ground. The word nexus comes from the Latin nectere, to bind. Nexus can also mean the central and most important point or place. The sounds are sometimes fading, revealing sustained sheets of grains upon which textures slowly play and evolve, voices coming from the ocean, reverberations coming from hidden caves.

A granularly synthesized sonic event is designed to start and end microscopically in the invisible light of sound, “Density of Light“ (6:36) helps to break us through the darkness, bringing rays of sound, representing the well lit universe, building and layering, getting closer and bigger. Some strange noises emerge from above, then they fade back away, then visit again, like souls calling out. I think that this music is like some kind of magical dust in the wind, eventually returning to a drifting spring equinox of passion.

“Awoken“ (8:37) is the past tense of a word referring to the process of awakening, it has already happened, but for me somehow the dreamstate continues with hissing and reverberating tones and textures, hidden immense spaces echoing in the darkness, and towards the end there is lightening, as if the sun were beginning to dawn again.

Chris Russell has an adventurous approach to his unique art, he has many years of experience starting with his bass and keyboard playing in various touring rock bands such as Syntax Error, followed by about ten years of exploring electronic music in his bedroom, not being too serious. Working alone, painting new pictures with sound, diving deep and figuring out everything for himself, with no technical classes or training, no YouTube tutorials, for all those years he was just making mixed media collages come to life alone in his Sanctum Sanctorum until he had enough of a vocabulary developed to bring his music to our ears, and to occasionally reach out to other musicians to create collaboratively.

This new album has a very therapeutic feeling, calming and relaxing. It is designed to speak to the spiritual visionary’s out there. Listeners who enjoy Yoga and Meditation will enjoy the consistent mysterious and adventurous soundscapes that are never punctured by disruptive surprises or haunted in a sustained way by gloomy darkness. I hear granular ephemeral flurries which bring the times that mark the beginning of twilight before sunrise as clearly and accessibly as ever, I even dare to dream of an adaptive and profound mental and cultural sonic landscape that space aliens would like to listen to, riding in their UFOs. Listen and peer behind the veil, exploring other realities.

1 Invitation
2 The Path Less Traveled
3 Destiny
4 Life Cycles
5 Soul Nexus
6 Density of Light
7 Awoken

Available March 27, 2020 from Spotted Peccary Music in CD format and in 24-BIT AUDIOPHILE, CD QUALITY LOSSLESS, MP3 and streaming formats. https://spottedpeccary.com/shop/destiny/

FOOTLINKS

Artist website: https://voidmusic1.bandcamp.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/chris.russell.7587370
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/voidmusic1/

Iannis Xenakis: https://iannis-xenakis.org

Spotted Peccary Album page: https://spottedpeccary.com/shop/destiny/
Spotted Peccary Artist Page: https://spottedpeccary.com/artists/chris-russell/

DISCOGRAPHY

Release Date Title Label Notes

2009 Aralu Almo Works
2009 Merge Almo Works
7/11/2010 Frozen Relaxed Machinery
3/1/2011 Mechanical Slumber Relaxed Machinery sleepMODE (anthology)
8/8/2011 Home (album 1) Relaxed Machinery
8/8/2011 Home (album 2) Relaxed Machinery
5/12/2012 Bloom Relaxed Machinery
9/29/2012 The Approaching Armada Disturbed Earth
12/20/2012 Borealis Free Floating Music all|is|calm 2012 (anthology)
2/14/2013 Portal Relaxed Machinery
5/4/2013 Twilight Woods Relaxed Machinery Butterfly Effects – James Johnson Recycled (anthology)
5/18/2013 Aralu VoidMusic (re-release)
5/18/2013 Merge VoidMusic (re-release)
1/14/2014 to the far corners Cave Dwellers (Disturbed Earth-pixyblink-Antum7) Disturbed Earth Bubble Juice (anthology)
1/24/2014 Revive Relaxed Machinery reBOOT an rM sampler
2/7/2014 Cosmic Lushness Chris Russell and pixyblink MySpace.com
4/4/2014 Mystic Zones MySpace.com
7/18/2014 Illuminoid Relaxed Machinery
9/30/2014 Particles in Sunlight Free Floating Music Quiet Friends: a 30th anniversary tribute to Steve Roach’s Structures from Silence
11/11/2014 Vague Traces Phillip Wilkerson & Chris Russell Spotted Peccary
12/8/2014 Memory Palace Chris Russell and eyes cast down VoidMusic, Kalindi Music
1/23/2015 Far Past Phillip Wilkerson & Chris Russell Spotted Peccary 28 Spotted Peccary ambient sampler
2/7/2015 Still earthMantra
7/3/2015 Blur Relaxed Machinery
12/18/2015 Goloka earthMantra Orchid (anthology)
4/26/2016 Enki Ambient Online Ambient Online Compilation Vol 6
9/1/2016 Refraction Free Floating Music Reflection (anthology)
10/28/2016 Fallen Draconid Ambient Online Ambient Online Compilation Vol 7
12/17/2016 Spectra earthMantra
2016 Reflections In Transit Chris Russell With Mystified (deactivated)
3/24/2017 Labyrinth Spotted Peccary
5/26/2017 Another Dreary Day Ambient Online Ambient Online Compilation Vol 8 Part 1
10/27/2017 Helix Chris Russell
1/7/2018 to the east of evening (single) anotherAntidote
2/16/2018 Blurred Lines Chris Russell & Disturbed Earth Disturbed Earth
3/19/2018 Ventus earthMantra
4/30/2018 The Rift Ambient Online Ambient Online Compilation Vol 9 Part 1
6/10/2018 Memories of Akhenaten Chris Russell & Dawn Tuesday aatma 9/10/2018 Echo Spotted Peccary
11/30/2018 Spirit of Aten Chris Russell & Dawn Tuesday Unexplained Sounds Group USG anthology
12/7/2018 Moonrise Chris Russell & Erik Norman Chris Russell
3/20/2019 Umbriel Ambient Online
5/14/2019 Presence Exosphere
7/6/2019 Legend of the Moai aatma The Unity by various artists
7/13/2019 Coronium Ore Distorted Void The Black Orb (anthology)
10/18/2019 Föst jarguna and Friends Projekt Trapped Vol 3 (anthology)
12/7/2019 Gnostic Chris Russell
3/27/2020 Destiny Spotted Peccary

Software Synthesizer Sounds

Shimmering and floating, dynamic patterns of sequencer-spun urgency eventually give way to lush atmospheres and glowing textures before taking one more giant leap into the next compelling sound immersion, hypnotic rhythms and extensive use of the sound-design capabilities of his instruments–with repeated pitch, filter and effects changes– to render genuine spacescapes. Holmes is creating or discovering music using different tone qualities that breaks free from existing ideas.

https://ello.co/robinja56/post/nypinfzsoqwsa6ek9pw-qa

Interview with Hollan Holmes, sound designer

https://www.einpresswire.com/article/510142448/sound-designer-hollan-holmes-makes-his-spotted-peccary-music-debut-with-energetic-synth-based-soundscapes-on-milestones

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