A hive mind mentality is quickly infected with a meme, engaging partly consciously, partly unconsciously in a shared hallucination, projecting a common fantasy, as the planet’s population is wrapped up in a single idea. I’m speaking, of course, of myself and the Internet, as I and friends skittered across the Web’s social networking tools giggling over the common joke that May 21 was to be the end of the world, inside joke gone viral. In fact, I’m not sure which was the commentary on religion and faith: the handful of people who believed the world would end, or the far-larger media and Web commentary, “worshiping” at Foursquare check-ins. Thanks be to Facebook. The lesson: it’s fun to play along.
Music can respond to these imagined scenarios in moving ways. (Scientists and atheists are pretty good at conceiving the apocalypse, too, so this doesn’t cease to be topical, at least until the end.) Here are just two examples that, even though the occasion has passed, I know I’ll be listening to this week — an Eigenharp jam and a Loscil mix.
Via Synthtopia’s Sunday Synth Jam, our friend bar|none has a gorgeous live jam on the alternative instrument Eigenharp. (Recently, I pointed to Philip Glass covers and GPL software for the instrument; see also extended commentary from the players.)
The otherworldly sounds come from KYMA, the inconceivably-deep digital synthesis environment. bar|none explains:
This is a bit of noodling with a KYMA sound designed by Edmund Eagan for the Continuum that I adapted for the Eigenharp.
As you can hear, it has a lot of per note expression. Each key controls, velocity, pitch, timbre (reresonation of the strings), volume. phase, pick sound mix using roll, yaw, pressure, velocity of the keys, each key sending all this information INDEPENDENTLY!
There is a bit of bowed cello added which comes in only when I use the strip controller, everything else is one KYMA sound.
I’d like to extend my appreciation to Geert Bevin who designed the new MIDI configuration options for EigenD and made this connection possible. And of course to Edmund Eagan for this amazing sound, and to Symbolic Sound for KYMA.
For more of bar|none’s music, visit the blog of this Washington state-based “software developer by day, music enthusiast by night.”
In other news, CDM favorite and ambient maestro Loscil contributes an entire mix of end-of-the-world music. It’s streaming on the terrific Web streaming service Mixcloud, with music by the likes of Ben Frost, Tim Hecker, and Max Richter, but also Nick Cave, Estonian composer Arvo Part, and film composers Hans Zimmer and James Newton Howard, among others.
I believe I owe a Facebook friend the original pleasure of listening, but when I couldn’t find that, I found this on a wonderful music blog. This one post alone could give you great listening for the rest of the day.
Passing by: Dauwd, sgnl_fltr, Adam X, Loscil & Matthias Rock [astrangelyisolatedplace]
There’s an insanely rich set of ambient and electronic mixes, and links to appropriate blogs. Whoever you are, sir, thinks for the great work, described as:
Biosphere’s Norwegian Winter.
Eno’s inspirational airports.
The Orb’s psychedelic London.
Aphex Twin’s Cornish isolation.
The KLF’s American road-trip.
Harold Budd’s Mojave desert humming telephone wires
To me, the power of music remains that it can make you feel better when it seems as though your world is apocalyptic. And if we do ever find ourselves in the midst of an apocalypse and have the strength to make a sound, I imagine the band will play on.