Thallium is mostly found in potassium-based minerals in the Earth’s crust, although it cannot be extracted in this form. Human biochemistry mistakes Thallium for Potassium (K), and the resulting accumulation slowly poisons the brain, kidneys and heart, and leads to severe health problems.
Boron is the lightest element of Group 13, and neighbor to Carbon, to which it is very similar in many of its properties. Despite the fact that Boron has 3 electrons in its outer shell, which would suggest metallic properties, its relative small size make these bond too strong to behave as a metal.
A very special fact is found in its origins: almost all elements are created by nuclear fusion in the cores of superheavy stars, but not Boron. The Boron we find on Earth is actually formed in space: fast travelling protons colliding into atomic nuclei they encounter in interstellar space. This process called spallation has been the main inspiration for the music of Boron on this album: travelling particles, now and then colliding, sometimes fusing.
Well known and very visible applications of Al are in the construction of practically all airplanes and helicopters, and high voltage wire systems, it is the sounds of these two that lie at the heart of the music presented on this album. The sound of fast or pressurized air recreated by intense noise, and the sound of wires sounding, recreated by electronic triggers modulated by the noise bursts on to piano strings, by means of a specially designed module van Dillen named transverter.
“The new BIG STORIES are all told by science, their scope is vast, and their telling has only begun relatively recently. We are daily getting updates on answers to all the ancient basic questions of life that inspired human art, cultures, and religions for millennia, and we are getting verifiable answers this time. Most important is perhaps that we are also facing completely new questions.
It is high time the old myths and beliefs are abandoned and replaced by contemporary, that is to say: scientific sources of information, imagination, and inspiration. The vast field of modern science is far more complex, has a verifiable and direct relation to reality, and it offers a far greater abundance of possible stories and references for artists in all disciplines than any older belief or myth system, however poetic, could ever come up with.
In our times we need new and innovative operas and symphonies, whether electronically or no; let these forget the simpler stories of our past and use these new narrative sources of our present and future for reference and inspiration.”
The music of Indium contains very slow transitions with pantonal use of tanpuras, suggesting the world of the traditional transparent element of Akasha, prior to and behind the ragas in which these instruments are usually employed. In opposition to their traditional use here the many tanpuras take an almost melodic role, meanwhile keeping their normal harmonic horizon function. The music is developing so slowly that discerning its overall long form is a challenge to the attentive listener, and the sections created in this album can help as a guide.
van Dillen, with a background of years of studies in Hindustani music, has long had a vision of a larger work featuring many tanpuras on many pitch classes, and here it is to last: Indium.
Van Dillen composes the method of composition as much as he composes the music itself. There is a double layer of composition here, leading to a way of working adapted to each composition: a good process yields the best possible result at all times. It is a method, not a system.
As a logical consequence, a lot of attention is spent on the way of working, and the method of creation itself is an essential focus, next to the actual result. In the completion of a work a variety of professional skills are needed. A blend of skills comes into play: there are sound design and electronic skills along with knowing repertoire and music history, knowledge of styles globally (traditional, classical, jazz, world music and pop), and finally instrumental and musical theoretical knowledge are needed. Sometimes such processes build upon one another sequentially, as is the case in the music of the Alkali Earth Metal Elements: gradually a way of working was discovered which was then developed along with the compositions created.
The yellow-colored layer was used to simulate a kind of Brownian motion bass register, in which many possibilities can be heard simultaneously. Going far beyond the 1950’s and 60’s deterministic avant-garde experiments by Xenakis, this is a true music of possibilities and probabilities, especially in the sense that it plays with the probability an attentive listener will hear or not hear certain phenomena.
One of the phenomena one can possibly hear is a very fast tempo driving the music in an almost free-jazz forward motion, not arising from bass progressions nor percussive sounds, but from the structured chaos of the interacting registers, which are polyphonically tied together. All in all the music of Barium yields an extremely intense listening experience. Despite the space it also offers, the listener can be overwhelmed by the stream of sound. As to the space one hears enveloping the sound: in the production of this work no added reverb at all was used, space was created with polyphonic and micro-canonic means.
The music of Beryllium is a free pantonal polyphony of registers rather than of pitches or linear melodies. Registers used include the extremes, and extend far beyond the instrumentally feasible – a true electronic music therefore. One can clearly discern the references to outer space.
Whereas the music of Calcium (an important organic chemical component) is very much a musica humana instrumentalis by virtue of its registers and sounds, Beryllium (not part of vital organic chemistry) is represented by an opposite musical approach, much more abstract, and not resembling human instrumental music at all.
With the extensive presence of a variety of musical events in extreme registers, both high and low (the composer used 9 such distinct registers xtreme hi – very hi – hi – hi mid – mid – lo mid – lo – very lo – xtreme lo, the outer 4 of which are not found in instrumental music), in a way this music represents the emancipation of timbre to tone.
The challenge with innovative contemporary music made for listening per se such as this album, lies in a challenge to connect in a free way, and go through the steps of open perception and appreciation individually, without recipe, without a priori dos and don’ts, without expectations but with memories, with a sense of exploration as in starting a new novel or unknown movie without spoilers:
1. Observe – hear everything, don’t be distracted, be aware of what happens in the various registers of time, tone, timbre, space, and volume (the range of each is much larger than with instrumental music): try to imprint what you hear into memory, ask yourself what is it objectively that I heard?
2. Evaluate – can you perceive every form distinctly enough, some things may be harder to hear, or are sounds that affect you emotionally or even physically: observe and evaluate the effect of it.
3. Interpret – observe your mind creating associations of its own: they are yours and not in the music itself yet are created by the music in you personally.
The meaning of the term electronic music has changed dramatically since modern composers started to work with electronic equipment in radio studios after the second world war. In the 50’s and 60’s of the 20th century it meant mostly avant-garde esthetics by an elite group of mostly male composers making the headlines for this at the time niche medium. Today the term changed meaning but at the same time its history is in the process of being rewritten as more and more female composers are being credited for having played a defining role in the development of the medium. In 2021 the acclaimed documentary film called Sisters with Transistors was released, it demonstrated this process for a larger than specialist audience. One can also conclude that on the whole and over time the term electronic music defines a medium, not a style.
In 2365 an obscure recording and score were found in a cave in the Sierra Nevada. The composition was titled “100+ Recorders and 4 Organs (2022)”, it does not appear in any surviving catalogue of the digital era. Purportedly performed and recorded in the Granada cathedral nearby, two portative organs were added to the two positive organs already present. One can only speculate if that many recorder players participated, or that perhaps the audience were handed out flutes to participate? The work does give the impression of some kind of ritual.
A reflection of and on the volatile basic nature of the element Phosphorus can be found in the sparkling and resonant distorted sounds used overall. In all three parts a variety of rhythmic elements arise and decay. In view of the overall presence of the complete spectrum of sound, this album comes close to being a kind of sculpted noise.
This has been achieved in two ways: by sculpting noise from various sources (white, pink, brown) into resonances, and by sculpting and distorting resonances and sounds into noisiness. Both latest and more traditional electronic modular technologies have been used to achieve this.
Among the inspirations for this album have been works such as Sisyphus by Pink Floyd (which was on the very first record the composer ever bought in his life), Free Form Guitar by Chicago, and the overall sound explorations of many of the later Jimi Hendrix solos. Van Dillen found works such as these to capture best the basic nature of the character of the element Phosphorus in sound.