This album presents a unique work for bandoneon and electronics, one of the rare few since David Tudor’s work “Bandoneon ! (a combine)” from 1966 started the genre. Vervelde compared Oneirology 5 to a cubist sculpture, like Ossip Zadkine’s “The Destroyed City” from 1953, which stands in the center of Rotterdam: from every angle it looks completely different. In the same way this music is also widely different depending on the listening, despite the fixed master version presented on this recording. All special sounds and bandoneon effects, percussive, bellows and air, rattling and cracking noises have been included. Vervelde was especially happy with how this album captured the unique tone of his bandoneon, quite different from his usual repertoire, where it figures in ensembles, not solo. In a way then, the unique character of this very special instrument was captured, but also transcended by the interactions with electronic sounds and the subtle live granular synthesis added to some bandoneon layers. Those who know the bandoneon very well will recognize all details of its unique tone and noises.
The 3 tracks follow a path of reverse deconstruction and unraveling, going back to the origins of this composition, and presenting earlier stages of creation as later tracks progressively. In this way the listener is not only able to hear details that might be hard to hear in the tutti version (track 1), but also the tracks become more introvert, while striving to keep their emotional impact. Gradually the clear and concrete music of We will never forgive you merges into the slightly more abstract The song without words, which is in fact a minus-two version, to be followed by the even more abstract Planet of the Ants, connecting to the sound universe of van Dillen’s earlier Dronescapes. The title of the last track explicitly refers to Dronescape 5 – Myrmecology, this time as a planet of the ants, which may be the very thing we are currently creating and heading towards. As mammals succeeded the dinosaurs, now ants may have a good chance to succeed the mammals, once extinct. If that happens, may they thrive and develop collective intelligence instead!
The making of Oneirology 4 is placed in the period of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic. The two composers worked together meeting by a remote computer connection, which was a bit of a surreal situation when compared to the time before the pandemic, but people got used to a remote working, teaching, studying, and collaborating actually very soon.
The surreal element also actively inspired and influenced the making of Oneirology 4 and its basic choice to face the introspective side of the dream. The plot refers to the elements of drone and dream, those are already present in the original work and its title by van Dillen.
The development in this specific Oneirology 4 is influenced by artistic suggestions from literature and cinema, like the surrealism and the sense of estrangement of Lynch’s Mulholland Drive, or the dystopian dimension of Philip K. Dick’s novels, but also by consulted documentation on scientific research about sleep and dreams.
Helium is the first compound element, and the first of the group called the noble gases. This name was chosen because this group (column in the periodic table) is chemically unreactive under conditions that favor human life. Since Helium was among the first-born atoms, it is very abundant in the universe. Though rare on earth, Helium’s universal abundance is second only to that of Hydrogen.
One can imagine that at the reality of a larger than primal atom, the road is open for more complex atoms, and so it was: in the heavier stars, thermonuclear fission processes produced heavier elements still. In fact, there is not a single heavier atom that was not created at some point in time in some star. All matter is stardust. All heavier atoms are the product of nuclear fission in stars.
We ourselves are the children of stars become aware.
One of the main aims when creating Azote was to create a music in which sounds move musically, and where the pitches are not the necessarily most important sound aspects, but sound, register and dynamics are, and it was composed so that each sound has its own sense of space with it. Also sometimes these spaces move independently within the music, allowing for sounds to enter and sound in these spaces. Thus beat becomes breath, or the lack of it.
Although at first hearing it appears that rhythm is the main musical area explored, deeper listening reveals that the music is happening within the virtual spaces created by what we can call breathing rhythmic bubbles of sound.
The importance of the sense of architectural space gives Azote aspects of soundscape, but the fact that these spaces are formally treated and move about in an overall very rhythmical way, points again to a possible symphony. But these are mere words, insufficiently able and possibly obsolete to describe let alone categorize this music.
During the development of this album, Tournier remarked it almost felt like a trio sonata for 2 flutes and electronics, pointing at the closely knit counterpoint in sounds and pitches resulting. In fact, the work combines a classical sense of form, at the same time rigid and clear, as well as open and flexible, with the improvisatory element added. Classical then has to be interpreted in both the European and Indian sense, and this form bridges formal principles shared and developed along different styles across two continents. Existing forms were not literally used, forms such as the classical European song-form, rondo, or sonata from types with their clearly outlined sections and repetitions, depending on functional harmony to work, nor is there literal use of the classical Indian forms, depending on the gradual build-up in speed, register, and intensity, all to a single drone tonic. The Dronescape Oneirology is a far more adventurous and moving drone, in sound, dynamics, pitch content and form, and is not treated as background or accompaniment, but interacted with to create a larger story.
During the finalizing phase of the compositional process, the unthinkable happens, and Reason is again abandoned or abused in the larger world of politics, leading to a new global war, and to more polarization between people, to complicated processes the end of which may not be so near, the scope of which none fully comprehend. This has affected the admission of fearsome and ominous sounds in the second half especially, but since they still fit the larger theme, the work likely benefitted from this sad fact. Isn’t it time the old man-made myths were abandoned, all of them, to make place for a new and freer reality in which all humans can share and grow?
The work Jñāna – Rigpa is exploring the boundaries of autonomous drone composition, both in the sense of its duration (it has the longest single-track duration streaming platforms allow today), as in the sense of its minimalism of musical and technical means used. While creating an atmosphere of almost trance and meditation, it also serves as a means, a tool, for deep and inner reflection. Reflection on one’s own hearing is intended explicitly here: a music that serves to listen to one’s own hearing.
Silicon is the second most abundant element in the Earth’s crust, after Oxygen, the latter being also abundant in the atmosphere. In the periodic table Si is placed just below C and the two elements share many characteristics. Still, Carbon is the basic element for life, and no Silicon-based life has been discovered yet, although Science Fiction novels speculate on this possibility. Still, our simulation of life, A.I. technology (Artificial Intelligence), is largely Silicon-based because microprocessors depend on Silicon and other semiconductor elements, such as Germanium and Gallium, all of these lower neighbors in the periodic table. Their semi-conducting micro-circuitry is etched into them. Silicon makes present-day digital technology possible: our computers, phones, games consoles, our so-called smart household machines, the lot of them contain many elements, but essential is Silicon, and not just as semi-conductor, without which all this technology would not be possible.
Human life burns a lot of fuel, both in our bodies and in our factories, and both emit a lot of carbon dioxide. This is the exact opposite of what algae and plants in general do: plants and algae burn carbon dioxide, emitting oxygen. One wonders why we cannot have more artificial “plants” (this is what we call our factories no less, power plants being an example) burning carbon dioxide instead? This would potentially solve our most urgent environmental problems at a single stroke. As the numbers 2 and 4 are found in our bodies, in patterns of crawling, walking, running, dancing, so the numbers 3 and 5 can be observed in our breathing and heartbeat rhythms. This 5-beat pattern, consisting of a minim and an accented dotted minim, is the rhythmical cell used in the many layers of Ozone’s slowly evolving beat patterns.
Two structural elements that make carbon bring life to our planet are therefore 1) the chains and 2) the cycle. These two structural elements form the base of the originally created modular instrument on which the music of this album was performed. The composition process for the music on this album therefore involved the design and creation of the instrument, of the 7-part music, and the recording of the performance of the music.
The music of Oganesson is a one-part large and slowly evolving sound architecture, monolithic as it were, yet developing. Within this continuous composition, 5 parts each consisting of 5 layers can be discerned, each with a different balance and each with its own composition, but all created of similar, related elements, in similitude to the 5 atoms of the element Oganesson that have been created under laboratory conditions at its discovery, earlier this 21st century.