[In order to make my monthly newsletters a bit more manageable, I’ve decided to occasionally send out special edition newsletters. These special edition newsletters allow for more in-depth analyses/descriptions/information about updates (such as in this instance, when a new album is released) than would be possible in a single monthly newsletter. I hope you enjoy these new special edition newsletters!]
Now available on Bandcamp (and available soon on Amazon Music and Spotify) is the newest edition to my electronic music album series: Aurora, The Uninvited Guests, & Other Works: Electronic Music (Volume VIII). This album collects electronic works I composed between approximately August – October of this year.
The album as originally conceived was a bit different from its final form. Unlike the works on, say, Computer Music (and on many of the other electronic music collections, for that matter), most of the works on Aurora are, to an extent, autobiographical; “to an extent” because, with the exception of a couple tracks, these works aren’t programmatic. While some of the compositions on the album are musical illustrations of some of the situations in which I’ve found myself during the last three months, the autobiographical aspect might be more accurately understood as real-life providing a starting point for a work, rather than the works’ being musical depictions of real life, as it were.
An instance of this would be one of the compositions mentioned in the album’s title, The Uninvited Guests. The title was indeed inspired by a real-life situation. Nonetheless, while there are a few musical clues within the work as to the nature of this situation, the piece isn’t depicting it. Rather, the “point” of a work like The Uninvited Guests is the timbre/atmosphere. While the situation that inspired the title was truly a nightmare, the composition it inspired has more of a humorous quality (a coping mechanism, no doubt!); something that would be both entirely inaccurate and inappropriate if the work was intended to be programmatic.
When I began considering this collection and what works to include, etc., the first draft of the album painted a bleak – really, a rather dark – musical picture. While most of the works featured on this album were composed and recorded during three of the most difficult months of my entire life thus far, I had no intention of creating an autobiographical or programmatic album. This album was, from the beginning, conceived of as a collection. (Some albums that are indeed autobiographical and/or programmatic include Heartbreakers and Clues & Sublimation).
Naturally, regardless of format, when putting together an album, the sequence of material has to be well thought-out to ensure an enjoyable listening experience. After considering the first track list, I realized that the album needed a couple lively/upbeat works to create a greater sense of musical and emotional balance. To this end I composed and recorded three short but suitably complex (for an electronic music album, etc.) pop/rock instrumentals: Reitanna, Maria in the Garden of Eden, and Nilu.
All three feature unusual meters and complex metrical structures; particularly Nilu, which combines not only a heterophonic “accompaniment,” but several instances of polymeter (basically, two or more different meters being heard simultaneously). In Nilu, the wordless solo female vocal sounds as if it’s in 3/4 or 4/4, while the “accompaniment” alternates between (mostly) 5/8, 7/8, and 11/8.
The album’s opening track, Reitanna, was named after the young lady whose vocal recordings are heard throughout the album. The album opens with her exclaiming, “AND SO IT BEGINS!” Another interesting recording is heard at the beginning of The Uninvited Guests when she chants, “I KNOW YOU’RE HERE!” Please check out the album’s liner notes for more details about these recordings.
A track that was ultimately included on the album but was not originally intended for it was For peace – a work I composed to show my support for my Iranian friends and colleagues, and for Iranians everywhere in general, in the aftermath of the death of Mahsa Amini.
Another last-minute addition to the album was Trick-or-Treat, a short and rather quirky piece I composed just for fun, as the Halloween season approaches.
Naturally, given the newly composed tracks and a couple last-minute additions to the album, some tracks originally intended for the album were cut. These include a darkly atmospheric piece entitled Rust, and a quirky, Spanish folk music-inspired instrumental entitled Watch Party. I may revisit these works in the future.
As always, there are “clues” in the album artwork. These “clues” provide details about the compositions – and their sources of inspiration, when applicable – that are never otherwise explained, for one reason or another. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I design the artwork for my albums, and the choices I make in designing the artwork are as deliberate as the choices I make when composing the music featured on the albums. I not only want the artwork to be beautiful and to contribute to the overall enjoyment of purchasing and listening to the album, I also want the artwork to service the compositions. People who know me personally will, of course, instantly recognize the symbolic nature of the Aurora artwork (none of which, incidentally, was chosen because the album’s release was near Halloween. I would have approached the design of the artwork in the same manner even if I had planned on a release date around Christmastime, because the artwork provides clues as to the background of the music on the album).
When people purchase my albums, I want to give them their money’s worth. That’s why I put so much time and effort into the design of the album covers, the PDF booklets, and whatever other bonus materials are included with the purchase of the album. I’d like contemporary audiences to have a listening experience similar to the kind I enjoyed growing up, when the act of listening to music was multi-sensory (with CDs, and their accompanying booklets, etc.). My goal is that the artwork will serve to heighten the interest in the music and in the enjoyment of the listener’s interpreting it.
I hope you’ll check out the new album. As always, thank you so much for your interest in my work!
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