Friday, August 7, 2009
Cosmosis - Psychedelica Melodica
After 2 years, the music for the eagerly awaited new album from Cosmosis...
...Psychedelica Melodica is finished.
After releasing the popular and successful Trancendance album, Cosmosis has spent much of the last two years touring and playing worldwide at parties in places such as Brazil, Mexico, Australia, Canada, South Africa, Israel, Russia, The United States, Japan and all over Europe Cosmosis now returns with a stunning collection of powerful quality tracks in this, the sixth Cosmosis artist album to date.
Overall, the music on Psychedelica Melodica emphasises melody more than the previous record Trancendance and yet manages to combine that with a deep psychedelic sensibility - hence the title. Psychedelica Melodica also majors in rubbery basslines and throbbing dance grooves often at times with a liberal dash of funk.
All this is presented with the state of the art production level as well as character; that rare element that distinguishes artists from the artisans and which in this case makes the music uniquely identifiable as Cosmosis in a genre in which tracks often sound formulaic.
1 No Such Thing (Throb Factor Five Mix) (7:41)
2 Creature From Outer Space (8:23)
3 Metaphysical Worlds (7:16)
4 Dance Of The Cosmic Serpent (8:17)
5 The Other Side (9:01)
6 Martian Blues (8:18)
7 Journey Of The Soul (9:05)
8 Spanish Gypsy (9:07)
A brief summary of where the creative sparks for the ideas for each of the tracks on Psychedelica Melodica originally struck ...
1. No Such Thing (Throb Factor Five mix)
This opening track for the album grew out of a studio experiment in polyrhythm - imposing groups of six 16th notes over a 4/4 rhythm - which you can hear as one of the main filtered synth lines. That spacey sounding idea inspired me to create something a bit more musical and a little less frantic than the rest of the tracks on the album, something perhaps more suitable as part of a morning set at an outdoor party. This is a later mix in which I re-worked the kick and bass to make it really pump using a compressor and sidechain hence the Throb Factor title. The rather odd opening statement and track's title was taken from a lecture by Alan Watts who was speaking on the subject of language and it's role in the creation of human perception. In pre internet days I read pretty much everything that Alan Watts wrote and it had a profound and positive impact on my life. I was thrilled when I discovered that his lectures were available in audio online and I could actually hear the man speak for the first time, fifteen years after reading his books (and 35 years since he passed over.) The internet is superb for some things.
2. Creature From Outer Space
Creature From Outer Space actually started life on my laptop as a throwaway demo project that I created to help some of my Brazilian friends figure out how to use their new music software. By the time I had finished demonstrating how to create a groovy bassline, programme hats and percussion, timestretch a percussion loop, create some synth parts, arrange and generally put a track together, I realized that I had the bones of a new Cosmosis track. When I returned from my tour of Brazil to my studio in Europe, I transferred the track to my main studio and further developed the ideas into a coherent piece. The "outer space" theme was inspired by the wonderfully cheesey 50's vocal sample, which in turn gave rise to the theramin-esque synth line and some spacey guitar parts. The underlying theme is something like: " If human beings were visted at several points in human history by benign aliens for the purpose of genetically modifying our DNA for evolutionary purposes then surely we are the creatures from outer space." (And if you could get all that just by listening to the track then clearly you deserve a life membership to MENSA ) Hopefully this track shouldn't sound too out of place at a disco at the edge of an Andromedian star system.
3. Metaphysical Worlds
A funky 16's bassline provides the sonic vehicle for this journey through several of the Bardo states to "the outskirts of human awareness" led by none other than the Uber trip guidemeister himself; Tim Leary. I had the original idea for this track while lazing about in the shade of an articulated lorry escaping the midday sun after playing the sunrise set at a party near a beach in Acapulco in Mexico. It's perhaps the least melodic track on the album. Still, the twisted fragments of a tune can be made out. Relatively minimal but definitely syncopated and funky with all the emphasis on the groove.
4. Dance of The Cosmic Serpent
The title is inspired by anthropologist Jeremy Narby's book " The Cosmic Serpent" in which he suggests among other things that the global network of DNA based life.is actually a conscious entity and furthermore, that human mind can communicate with this DNA consciousness via trance states, enthogenic experiences etc. and to receive detailed and specific information and wisdom. The dance of the cosmic serpent in the title refers to the total manifestation of this underlying consciousness via the massive variety of lifeforms on planet Earth including us - human beings. As it dances, so it manifests. This idea along with an already existing notion of mine to create a track purely based around a central melody were combined for this track. I derived the melody from an Arabic sounding scale because to me it sounds kind of wiggley and serpentine and often seems to suggest snake charmer music. Given that I wanted the tune to be the centrepiece I used approached the composition in a different manner. Rather than starting out with the kick and bassline as I often do, I sat down with a guitar, decided on the implied harmonic movement and made sure that I had definitively composed the entire tune before booting up the sequencer. Once I had the tune, I built the track up around it.
5. The Other Side
The initial basic idea for this piece was to write a melodic section over a couple if implied chords and then to create a second contrasting, spookier section to alternate it with in the ABABAB manner common to most other styles of music other than trance. However, with all the best intention in the world, the track soon took on a life of it's own and demanded that I added another section which served to build tension before the melodic sections (which repeats again later) and then a couple of breakdowns, and then an added climactic section and so on and so forth. I find this often happens during the process of creating music and over the years I have learned to become sensitive to it and to listen and follow orders by adding (and removing) parts and ideas as neccesary until the track is through with telling me how it wants to be. At this point the track is usually complete and just needs to be mixed down. In this particular case it appeared to have a lot to say about itself, with the result that I ended up with a track that was longer and very much more complex in terms of arrangement than my original idea.
6. Martian Blues
"Oh my God, who was this? ... it sounded like someone from Mars playing the blues!" Such was Carlos Santana's reaction the very first time he heard a recording of Jimi Hendrix playing guitar. Santana was a huge musical influence on me, and Carlos' reaction to Hendrix in an interview I found on the Internet was the catalyst that inspired the concept for this blues flavoured, guitar riff driven, galloping psychedelic mayhem. The bluesy acoustic guitar intro theme developed from an idea that I was noodling with in a dropped D tuning on Tristan's acoustic guitar while laying in a hammock in Trancoso, Brazil. Tristan remarked, "Why don't you put that into a track?" I never found a good reason why not to. Sometimes you need someone else to tell you something obvious. So what does a Martian playing the blues sound like? Well, given that the first time I ever heard an overdriven TB303 in a track, to me it sounded like an alien instrument from another planet and given that the 303 is to dance music what the guitar is to rock, then a Martian playing the blues might sound a just a little like the overdriven 303 freak-out during the last "race to the finish" section in this track. Incidentally, in the second guitar riff after the breakdown I "pay homage" to the harmonica riff in the theme from BBCs "The Old Grey Whistle Test."
7. Journey Of The Soul
Titled after Michael Newton's extraordinary book "Journey Of The Soul". The music, following on from the theme of the book attempts to use music to evoke images of the soul's journey into and through several metaphysical locations in the state between death and eventual physical rebirth. Absurd? Of course. Nevertheless, despite being an overly ambitious and impossible task, as a compositional device, I find using music to try to evoke locations and states of being does serve to engage my imagination much more fully in the creative process. In a way, using organized sound (music) may be more suited to the task of evoking abstract phenomema than words (which come to think of it, originate from the vocal chords as a collection of serially emmitted sounds) The process is a bit like scoring to picture but with the picture provided by the mind`s eye and imagination instead of a video screen. It can also be a lot more fun. So, does the finished music describe a journey through several states of being? I like to think that I captured something. Does it actually describe the soul's journey? Well, who knows...
8. Spanish Gypsy
Until quite recently I lived the Sierra Guadarrama mountains in Spain for several years where I was exposed to a lot of excellent Flamenco music, which is the music of the Gypsies or Romani. Being a guitarist myself I couldn't help but get sucked into figuring out how to play this style on guitar. While I was learning, I was struck by the similarity between Flamenco and North African and Indian music and when I analysed it, I found that they share certain musical scales. (the Romani were originally a tribe from India that travelled to Europe in the12th century) Another musical conjunction was the similarity (to me) between the harmony and rhythm of the opening bars of that quintessentially Spanish dance the Pasa Doble and a lot of Trance built on a gallop rhythm. So the original inspirationalbspark began with the possibility of combining all these musical threads into one piece of music. So, I started by creating the melody on a Flamenco scale, over the rhythm of the Pasa Doble with it's semi-tone harmonic movement and mixed that with certain elements of the older Indian influenced Goa-trance sound, but built it all on a foundation of the big kick and bass from the more modern Psy-Trance sound. Later I dusted off the (steel strung!) acoustic and recorded some melodic guitar parts using some newly learned Flamenco licks to emphasis the Gitano flavour. The track you hear is the result of this weird musical synthesis of Goa, Psy trance, Flamenco and the Pasa Doble.