Taking the Leap

image of paraglider
Paraglider © Stanisa Martinovic | Dreamstime.com

We’re doing more than just touching the sky this week, we’re leaping into it. This edition of At Water’s Edge is called “Taking the Leap”.

Leaping requires an act of courage, large or small: facing one’s fears and surmounting them is an often frightening and ultimately fulfilling spiritual exercise. This week, we leap, we fly, we face our fears. (Note: the program goes a little long this week.)

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“Brave Heart” – Uwe GronauMidsummer Disc 2 (2011)

Uwe Gronau is a top German musician, singer and composer. Born and raised in the Rhineland in northwest Germany, Uwe grew up in Dusseldorf and Bocholt (where he currently resides), which is only a couple of miles from the Dutch border.

“In the ‘70s and ‘80s the Netherlands were more involved in the evolution of jazz, pop, rock and soul music than Germany, so I profited from this situation and was influenced by much great music.”

Uwe began playing piano at age six and grew up immersed in music as the son of a choir-leader, orchestra-conductor, music school-teacher and piano instructor.

In his early years Uwe studied classical music, but soon became passionate about jazz and rock artists such as Brian Auger, Keith Emerson, Patrick Moraz and Refugee, and Joe Zawinul and Weather Report. As Gronau got older, his musical tastes expanded to include Supertramp, Jethro Tull, Gilbert ‘O Sullivan, Keith Jarrett, Sting, Peter Gabriel and Dream Theater. When Uwe was 14 he began to play in a series of bands and built a reputation in the area for his musicianship and professionalism. One thing that always set Gronau apart from many other musicians is that from the beginning and continuing to today, Gronau has always played original material and has never covered compositions from others. In college, Gronau majored in music, German and theater-science.

First Jump” – Saul StokesZo Pilots (1998)

Saul Stokes is based in Oakland California. Described as one of today’s most eclectic electronic musicians, Stokes has been producing and releasing his own angle of electronic music for over 16 years. He creates music using an array of modular hand-forged electronics to achieve his signature sound. An avid live performer, he has performed across the U.S, Canada, and Europe.

Instruments used on this release included:

– Stokes’ custom hand made Abstractor Synthesizer with Circle 16 Analog Sequencer
– Stokes’ custom portable analog modular synthesizer with modules from Electronotes, Serge, Buchla, Blacet, Tb303
– Akai MPC2000
– Hand Made Cocktroller Modular Synth Controller
– Chroma Polaris

“Hovering Above Fear” – Deep Chill NetworkCyber Sleep 5 (2004)

With this 2004 release, Deep Chill Network returned to their Cyber Sleep series, which had begun in 1995 and was suspended in 1997 when the Dreams series took over. They are infatuated with the use of music to relax, leading them into the darker realms of sleep and dreams. With the use of synthesizers and effects, they weave a unique brand of neu-chill designed to calm the frayed nerves. Influenced by the work of Pete Namlook, Tetsu Inoue, and Steve Roach, their music features subtle ambiences with a strong emphasis on chill.

There have been two other Cyber Sleep releases after this one, and all can be found on the Dark Duck Records netlabel.

The Jump” – Ben Coxmulti threaded (2003)

Ben has been a musician for twenty-five years and a recording engineer for fifteen years. His lifelong interest in music has taken many forms over time, from playing trumpet in jazz bands to singing bass in an informal renaissance music group. His interest in electronic music follows from interest in experimentation with musical formal structures, metrical and rhythmic complexity, and the wide sonic palettes made possible by electronic instruments and electronic manipulation of acoustic sound sources. His musical works reflect these interests, and have been heard in television and radio advertisements, installation projects, and at trade shows, in locations ranging from Indiana to Australia.

“Inner Strength” – Interzone IncWings (2008)

Interzone Inc is an ongoing process whose aim is to explore different sonic and harmonic landscapes, their attributes and the energies within. Interzone has existed in different shapes and formations since 1980. Its output is a combination of experiences drawn from the past years of sonic experimentation and collaboration, and the ambition to explore completely new areas.

The output ranges from soft and minimal ambient, to noise and experimental. Sometimes dark, disturbing and devouring, sometimes soft, warm and soothing. Close your eyes, listen and experience the journey through different landscapes, atmospheres and moods.

The music can be found on several digital stores. Spotify, iTunes and Amazon are a few. There is also Interzones own store where you will find many additional free downloads. For a complete listing of all releases – go to the Discography section of their web site.

Wings solidifies Interzone’s journey into ambient zones. It is a release of dreamy soundscapes, perfect for healing and meditation.

“Fear in a Gaze Towards an Unknown Horizon” – litmus0001Fear in a Gaze Towards an Unknown Horizon (2010)

The first release on BFW recordings from litmus0001 is a beautiful, lush soundscape of looping guitars and synths. Rooted in the beginnings of ambient, it draws comparison to Fripp and Eno’s collaborations. But this is the work of one man, Jonathan Ewald. The music is recorded in one live take and completely improvised. It was done on April 24th, 2010 at Worthless Research Laboratories in Madison, WI.

Instrumentation for this release is six-string bass; electric guitar; MC202; percussion; AM radio; effects; loops and delays.

“Fear and Hope” – Ambient Festival Munich 9-11 Feb 2007 (2007)

As near as I can tell, the Munich Ambient Festival in 2007 was an event generate by the Spheric Lounge, a loose group of ambient musicians, video artists and dancers who meet regularly to perform live sessions.

“Dreaming of Flying” – Celestial Aeon ProjectAeon (2006)

Celestial Aeon Project is Finnish composer Matti Paalanen, who creates music under a number of different project names (largely because they vary so widely). Celestial Aeon Project is a pure soundtrack project that publishes instrumental, orchestral background soundscapes. General atmosphere and visual feel lead to fantasy worlds and to the realm of the role playing games. The general style is quite nostalgic and simplistic, even – harmonic structures and melodies are quite straightforward and almost improvisational, which may remind listeners of old school computer rpg soundtracks.

Main influences include such composers and projects as Jeremy Soule, Hans Zimmer, Joe Hisaishi, Ben Houge, Nobuo Uematsu, E.S. Posthumus, Vangelis to name a few.

“Without Fear of Wind or Vertigo” – Encomiast – unreleased (2003)

Encomiast is Ross Hagen (composition, production, performance), Nick Paul (synths, programming, 1999-2003), Samantha Balsam (vocals, 2000-01), Megan Garland (flutes, vocals) and Neville Harson (anything and everything), with additional live and recording contributions from Toby Sinkinson, Joe Skinner, Travis Bellet, and many others.

Encomiast came into being around 1999 in Colorado, USA and has released five full-length collections on various labels beginning with the self-titled self-released Excursion in 1999, followed by:

The View Beneath (self-released EP, 2000)
Winter’s End (Lens Records, 2001)
Espera (H/S Recordings, 2003)
Mers de Sommeil (Mystery Sea, 2005)
Laurentide (Absolute Zero Media, 2005)
Havens (Crucial Bliss, 2006)
Transit Bed (Gears of Sand, 2007)
Encomniast – Remaster (Lens Records, 2008)
Bathed in Sunlight (Crucial Bliss, 2008)

In addition, the project has been featured on about a dozen compilations, been involved in film music, and performed live in a semi-consistent manner. As indicated by the “members” section, the lineup is fairly malleable, as are the sound sources, encompassing everything from analog synths, to field recordings, to old rock demos.

“Fly” – Gregg PlummerInvisible Bird (2008)

Gregg Plummer is a prolific ambient artist based in San Francisco, California.

Invisible Bird is a shimmering journey through pristine light ambient soundscapes.  Like many of his works, Invisible Bird was born from a dream.  In this particularly vivid and powerful dream, Gregg experienced a vision of being with someone very close during their final moments of life in this plane and witnessing the release of their soul… “It was like an Invisible Bird had carried them away to another reality.”

Gregg Plummer’s music crosses several genres, among them atmospheric, ambient soundscapes, eclectic experimental tracks, relaxation and easy listening offerings, and contemplative drones and space music.  “For as long as I can remember, I’ve been creating my own soundscapes, plinking out mysterious chords on the piano or strumming odd patterns of sound on the guitar or keyboard. Since childhood, I’ve dreamed of creating unsusual, inviting symphonies, mixing harmony with cacaphony, juxtaposing bright beautiful sound with dark haunting drones.

“Though I’ve learned much along the way regarding music theory and “right vs. wrong” techniques to creating music, I tend to ignore these basic principles and just allow my fingers to transcribe and deceipher the thoughts and inspiration that comes to me as gifts from my muses.”

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