Time and Eternity

It’s Easter weekend, the end of Passover, spring is catching on in the northern hemisphere, and time for another At Water’s Edge program (also, it’s yours truly’s birthday today, and the one-year anniversary of this show, so I’m especially aware of time this week!).

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Roberta F. [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Sundial in Bribir, Croatia (via Wikimedia Commons)
We have some treats for this week’s program–some full releases from some artists not often heard on Stillstream!

“coordinated universal time” – litmus0001 Aberrant Process (2007)

Litmus0001 is the artist project name of Jonathan Ewald, based in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. He wrote to us about this track:

“coordinated universal time” was recorded and constructed in late 2007 during a time when I was first exploring the use of spoken word in my pieces. This piece includes many themes and techniques that I continually explore, including radio broadcasts, numbers, radio interference, and the phase-interference of harmonic dissonances.

It was constructed by first recording a soundbed of lower/mid pitch chords in an improvised progression that was basically toying with the phase-interference of dissonant harmonies thru heavily distorted guitar with the tone knob turned to 0. This gave me a really warm tone that seemed to exaggerate dissonances and produce powerful, pulsing overtones. The progression became the basis of the structure and momentum of the piece. It is worth noting that this piece uses multitrack recording rather than live-looping, and so the organization of the composition is more linear than cyclic… which might be the case in a minority of my compositions. Over this, a high guitar part was improvised that repeats a melodic theme using a limited set of notes that remain constant throughout the piece in contrast to the chords progressing beneath, producing a modal effect. The chord progression seemed to have developed in three sections, so the spoken word samples were arranged thematically within these sections.

At its surface, this piece is about the sound and content of nighttime radio broadcasts, which is a recurring theme in my music. I am enchanted by the idea of disembodied voices broadcast from somewhere out in the world, talking about something in a room far away, whether there is anyone listening or not. And the random listener who happens to hear these broadcasts late at night, far away from the intended audience as broadcast signals bounce errantly across the atmosphere.

The texture added by the pops and crackles is enhanced by the understanding that each one corresponds with some electrical discharge occurring between the points of broadcast and reception: a lightning strike in a city or in a forest, breaking power lines after a car plows through a telephone pole, an arcing transformer in a power station, a dying neon sign outside a 24 hour diner.

And within this context, the piece is more specifically about time as tangible information. Time passes constantly without much notice or concern. But time’s relevance lies solely in whether or not people are synchronized in the context of time. Time doesn’t work if people live their lives in different timeframes, and so requires a reference. Otherwise, time is like a series of coded numbers repeated in deliberate combinations with no relevance outside of itself. So among all of the static and pops and lonely distant broadcasts is a time standard by which all clocks may be set. The time standard signal is a series of rhythmic pulses that divide and subdivide time by different periods and intervals. On rare occasions, such as those used as samples in the piece, unscheduled vocal announcements were made to inform of upcoming interruptions or alterations in the time standard broadcast… another anonymous voice in the aether… another voice with the intended purpose to inform, heard by tens of people, and otherwise scattered and lost… and returning to the constant subtle pulses of subdivided time passing over the quiet breath of static interference.

Jon 7: TIME (2008)
“Hawaii Aleutian Time”
“Alaska Time”
“Pacific Time”
“Mountain Time”
“Central Time”
“Eastern Time”
“Atlantic Time”
“Newfoundland Time ”

After an extended break in recording, Jon 7, who heads the “Timetheory” netlabel, presented his first full release for the label in 2008, an expansive, double-CD contribution to the “Time” series.
Each track on “Time” was inspired by a time zone on the North American continent, and the mood of each piece tries in some way to capture some quality, real or imagined, of the geographical areas in each zone.

An overall calm and tranquil feeling runs through this release, designed to be just as useful for relaxing the mind as for watching the night sky with a telescope. It’s the most ambient and almost new-age music Jon 7 has recorded in a long time, but it has twists and quirks closer to the older school of electronic space music. As part of the exploration of the “Time” theme, each track also makes use of the space between notes and sounds to resegment the sense of time in different ways. “Newfoundland Time”, a full disc-length single track, especially embodies the concept. Sparse bell tones ring out and into silence like the space between stars and begin to fill it up as cluster of them appear.

“Time” is full of synthetic textures and dynamics. Though essentially a relaxing album, its shifts and changes try to keep a relaxed mind stimulated with intriguing patterns and tones.

Psicodreamics: ETERNAL ANGEL (2003)
“Descensus Averni”
“A Heaven In Your Eyes”
“Azrael Tear”
“Dana and the Field of Sunflowers”
“On The Shore Of Hell”
“Die Sweet For An Angel”
“Cherubim Dance”
“Labyrinth Of Seduction”
“The Gift”
“Eternal Ending”

“Damned for Eternity” – Psicodreamics – Theatre Des Vampires (2006)

Psicodreamics is the music project of Salva Moreno, based in Valencia, Spain. He is largely inspired by fantasy tales and mythology.

“Eternal” – Andrew Lahiff – The Constant Horizon (2007)

“El Amor es Eterno” – Juan R Leon – Rompecabezas (2005)

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