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As Dusk Becomes Night by Rudy Adrian
- posted by Robin B. James on 3/27/2021
As Dusk Becomes Night
This new album of electronic ambient soundscapes from Rudy Adrian is about being awake outdoors on a nocturnal journey with timeless diversions to investigate various discoveries. All the music on this album was created using the Yamaha SY77, plus the similarly-designed Yamaha Montage 6, with lots of sampled sounds. Rudy is not a fan of having a recording studio filled with many different synthesizers, whenever possible he might want to spend more time outdoors celebrating nature.

I asked the composer himself about his approach to this craft. "Making this music was also a celebration of the technology from when I started out making atmospheric music in the late 1980s," muses Adrian. "I still enjoy using my Yamaha SY77 synthesizer from 1988 and an Apple Macintosh Plus computer, which boasts one megabyte of memory and floppy discs that hold 800 kilobytes of data."

Featured prominently throughout the album are some interesting trill-like insect sounds that sound a little like a cricket chirp or click, perhaps the winding in of a fishing reel. Sometimes I think it sounds like creatures who are making their signature in the night. Many arthropods are able to generate such sounds by rubbing two hard parts of their exoskeleton together, in a fashion similar to dragging a microscopic stick across a tiny wooden fence.

The dream begins in the sky, "Stars Appear" (6:42), opening up, emerging and swirling, suspended across the night above, the infinite and the supra musical, blending flute and synthesizer with accents from clicking insect calls on earth, and adding a chime or bell's double call. The title track, "As Dusk Becomes Night" (6:28), begins with rushing sounds which are expanding into the void, the night is a time for active hunting and exploration. The synthesizer provides an inclusive blanket of protection and security against the unknown darkness while containing the hand percussion and breath.

The smell of walking in a conifer forest at night is always a delight. The gases that escape the pine tree leaves in the form of vapor carry the strong scent of pine oil, a volatile organic compound. Conifers are aromatic plants that have cones. Conifer seeds develop inside a protective cone called a strobilus. Examples include cedars, Douglas firs, cypresses, firs, junipers, kauri, larches, pines, hemlocks, redwoods, spruces, and yews. "Conifer Grove" (2:05) blends flute breaths with small chimes, enclosed in the synthesizer strobilus, for a short tone poem. Looking through the pine boughs into the night sky overhead, the next piece of music unfolds, "Starlane" (5:32), elements of tonal color and linear ordering reveals new astral vistas, which carry and radiate personality and motion in the atmosphere, as I am thinking about travel in the future, remotely beyond this planet and constantly heading towards increasingly extreme distances.

There are numerous caves in New Zealand, such as the Ngarua Caves, with a variety of stalagmites and stalactites, and skeletons of the extinct moa, which resembled very large ostriches. The word "moa" is from the Māori language, the moa were the largest terrestrial animals and dominant herbivores in New Zealand's forest, shrubland, and subalpine ecosystems. No records survive of what sounds the moa made. The preservation inside the caves is fascinating. "Moa Caves" (4:20) is the fifth track, and develops from water sounds with a melodic presence, soon joined by tones from a glowing synthesizer, and what sounds to me like a rain stick, which combine to take over the subterranean atmosphere. A rain stick is a hollow tube filled with pebbles or seeds that creates a pleasant rustling rain-like sound when gently rotated.

The word crepuscular derives from the Latin crepusculum meaning "twilight." Special classes of crepuscular behaviour include matutinal (or "matinal", animals active only in the dawn) and vespertine (only in the dusk). Nocturnal creatures generally have highly developed senses of hearing, smell, and specially adapted eyesight. "The Crepuscular Wildlife" (5:17) brings a sense of secret motion hidden in the darkness. Crepuscular birds include the common nighthawk and the barn owl. Many moths, beetles, flies, and other insects, as well as bats, rats, jaguars, ocelots, bobcats, servals, strepsirrhines, red pandas, bears, moose, sitatunga, capybaras, chinchillas, the common mouse, skunks, squirrels, Australian wombats, wallabies, quolls, possums, snakes and lizards, ocelots, deer, marsupial gliders, tenrecs, and spotted hyenas are also active at night, especially during dawn and dusk, so mind your step.

Pittsburgh based artist Jeff Kowal (aka Terra Ambient) was a trained visual artist and graphic designer, his musical approach had a visceral, painterly quality to it, leaving a deeply unique collection of crossover of electronic, ethnic, acoustic and experimental sounds. Sadly, Jeff Kowal passed away in 2016 following a battle with cancer. Reflecting on his friend, Rudy shares that "He also created some of my early album covers. One of the pieces I was working on (for this current project) reminded me of the cover he created for my album MoonWater, featuring a somewhat surreal moon rising over a beach.” The seventh track, "Moonlit Beach (for Jeff)" (5:15), has a peaceful glowing energy, sparsely accented with those insect-like purring sounds. Are they lobsters calling to each other?

Continuing on our velvet sojourn, tenebrous shapes take form and I sense that we are approaching something in the darkness, it appears to be a structure, I hear distant night birds calling in the void, and now a lake is open before us. Here is a "Lakeside Shelter" (5:22). The darkness provides space for gigantic overhead activities, I hear rushing sounds carrying chimes and subtle whistles weaving around, "Western Wind" (5:34) depicts an overall zephyral architecture or form fundamental to the ancient language of poetry, dance and music.

The rising of the sun brings a new world belonging to the morning, quiet with emerging light in the Eastern distance, "Night Becomes Dawn" (3:45) and the darkness falls away slowly, as the new morning watches. Now we are left with the final track, "Sunny Day" (7:53), it is quiet and contemplative, giving us time to realize that a new day begins here.

Rudy Adiran has a complex career, his musical accomplishments include being a successful planetarium soundtrack composer, which brings a new dimension to appreciating his studiocraft. He said that this new album "was pretty much entirely created during New Zealand's lockdown in late March 2020, so the album was put together very much in the confines of my own home. Luckily there are some nice views to enjoy from the deck at the rear of my house and watching the sunsets and stars slowly appearing, plus checking online to see if the International Space Station was to soar overhead were some of the inspirations.”

As Dusk Becomes Night is an homage to experiencing the night, suggesting the concept of transformation associated with closure or relaxation, born out of the unusual events which the whole world went through in 2020. "I was trying to make an album which would seem to my listeners to be a logical continuation of what I've done before, as a 'thank you' to those who've liked the music I've created thus far." Rudy wanted to make something peaceful and calm for people to listen to, something to soothe the anxiety and stresses of life in these historic, unusual and uncertain times. The timeless spirit of the hours of darkness will bring you back again and again to an electronic dream of future and ancient nocturnal beauty.

01. Stars Appear 06:42
02. As Dusk Becomes Night 06:28
03. Conifer Grove 02:05
04. Starlane 05:32
05. Moa Caves 04:20
06. The Crepuscular Wildlife 05:17
07. Moonlit Beach (for Jeff) 05:15
08. Lakeside Shelter 05:22
09. Western Wind 05:34
10. Night Becomes Dawn 03:45
11. Sunny Day 07:5
Rating: Excellent
Stairway to Nirvana by Samir Bodhi
- posted by Robin B. James on 3/9/2021
Stairway to Nirvana
Traditional Indian instruments and vocals blended with synthesizers, studio effects and electric guitar in an amazing cinematic sounding production. Strong, resonant sounds encourage directed attention on a journey through the stages of life, moving from the mournful to joyful, and eventually ascending to reach enlightenment, engaging with naturally restorative influences.

Vana means "weaving" and nir means "negation," thus Nirvana might be the ending of suffering and the cessation of the weaving of the mind. Swirling in space, it all comes together with hypnotic percussion which picks up in dynamic moments, and then always returning to the open satisfying bliss. The climax offering on the album, the track "Nirvana," brings sparkling electronic effects to complex sarangi sounds while being led by a mystically weeping electric guitar played by Sanjoy Das, with Joydeb Nandy on Sree Khol and tabla. This satisfyingly conclusive track is an instrumental, bringing to account a state of freedom from suffering and rebirth, freedom of mind, release of the heart, attaining a peaceful and clear state of mind, and a desire-less state of living. Brilliantly fusing East Indian classical music and instruments with modern Western music, Indian born musical visionary and tenured professor Samir Bodhi's multi-faceted life and career illuminates the American immigrant experience of thriving in the pursuit of his ambitious dreams.

Track Listing

Tranquility, OM, Harmony, Peace, Nirvana.


Samir Bodhi: guitar; Sanjoy Das: guitar; Rakesh Chaurasia: flute; Partha Paul: keyboards; Rajeeb Chakraborty: sarod; Pankaj Mishra: various; Subhajyoti Guha: tablas; Debarpito Saha: keyboards; Joydeb Nandy: tablas; Sudipto Charkraborty: percussion; Chintu Porel: percussion; Madhumita Chatterjee: voice / vocals; Suvodeep Mukherjee: voice / vocals.
Rating: Excellent
Other Weather by Jeff Greinke
- posted by Robin B. James on 2/20/2021
A New Album of Elegant Music Landscapes
Ambient electronic instrumental music that is based on acoustic instruments including piano, cello, viola, violin, French horn, clarinets, flutes, and small percussion, blended subtle and exquisitely with electronica from a Roland FA 06 workstation, Ensoniq ASR 10 sampling keyboard, and an iPad equipped with the Animoog app. All of the music on Other Weather was composed, arranged, and produced by Jeff Greinke. The album was recorded at Another Room studio, in Tucson, and Invisible Studio, in Seattle. The Seattle session was engineered by Rob Angus, and Howard Givens of Spotted Peccary Music mastered it all.

High-level stratocumuli form clouds open out before me, an enchanted world of the genus cirrocumulus forms, where snow begins when moist air at high tropospheric altitude reaches saturation, creating eloquent ice crystals or supercooled water droplets. Other Weather presents with eleven pieces, chiefly excited by movements taking place high up in the air. The overall mood of Other Weather is subtle, the sound is primed for interpretation, like clouds, with a huge vista appearing solid while being gentle. The sound possesses a quite extraordinary range of different timbres and vibrates along with the air inside it. The sensation is of the instruments having a conversation or perhaps painting a picture, always truly beautiful, and often formed by woven piano with strings and various wind instrument combinations, a complex satin fabric of sound.

…celebrates the vibrant introspective ascendance of the piano, the gossamer light texture of spirit and form floating in the sky, slow, supernatural and dreamy, with subtle electronic highlights and drifting melody fragments. “A Stretch of Sun” (04:35), Greinke makes use of the extra brightness, which vibrates to produce appreciable magic.

Full, lustrous, and metallic, a clear, clean, and brilliant sound, “Rain Through the Night” (04:00), is an introspective piano and percussion exposition, building out of the heart of darkness and joined by subtle sensuous deep strings with a mellow, dark and rich tone. My favorite track of this album is “Falling Sky” (05:19), coming in with very distant cold shimmering glimmers of tones, subtle glimpses of approaching astral matter traversing from so far away. A dreamy piano emerges from electronic clouds that hang there.

Cumulus clouds are rounded masses heaped upon each other above a flat base that hangs in the sky. These are the big puffy clouds you see most of the time, but they can appear to be quite huge and rise to fantastic distances. Cumulo is a Latin word that means heap or pile. “Rising Cumulus” (04:27) features a piano joined by bowed strings, building to great heights, massive acoustic forms accentuated by emerging electronics and shapes that continue on and on, building and ascending, a thread woven through, blending and balancing, a beautiful, mellow, sweet tone. Depending on the atmospheric conditions, cumulus clouds can eventually turn into other types of clouds, including storm clouds, also known as thunderheads or cumulonimbus clouds.

…an insulating blanket of diamond dust, what you will hear is an orchestral meditation on a big-sky winter horizon, an endless horizontal vanishing point under an infinite outlook. The hunter-magicians play their musical bows, Heather Bentley on cello, viola, and violin; Greg Campbell on French horn and small percussion; Alex Guy on viola; and Paris Hurley on the violin. “Snow Across a Windswept Plain” (09:05), interleaving a slow, melancholic section, the snow drifts with the wind leaving sastrugi forms, which are the wave-like ridges caused by wind erosion on the surface of mature snow.

Greinke sometimes intrepidly includes the squeaks and bowing sounds that real instruments make, and that adds a lot of emotional depth to the pictures that he paints with his compositions, thus the sound characteristics of the violin are not predetermined by the score, but their presence is accommodated to bring about a deeper realization of the intended compositional design.

From silence there is a lustrous distant sound, we are drawn in closer and pause to hear some fine details, then we float on beyond the source, and our perception of the sound fades, the music possibly forever continuing in our absence. Piano and classical guitar glide together using subtle phasing techniques to layer up lots of depth and gradual motion across the sky, to create a tone poem that defies categorization, “Clouds Like Flying Saucers” (04:19). Now join a search for new resonance and a new type of voice for the keyboard dream machine, “Outflow” (04:38), with electronica arranged in changing layers, bits of piano sustaining this solemn transfer, with sparkles and hints of complex forms hidden inside.

…travels to locations where severe weather is forecast, as a hobby, or to study it, or perhaps just to take photographs. The sound of the track titled “Storm Chaser” (05:41) features strings plucked in simple stuttering patterns, emerging like gentle rain, met with slowly glowing electronica which brings breezes from different directions, and color with texture associated with the sweet, round, dark, and rich earthy cyclic forms that come about following a storm. Next, behold a piano emerging like the gentle sun, slowly covering the wet earth with warm and joyful light, discovering bright new complexities and patterns while easing away the puddles and dripping surfaces, “After the Rain” (03:49) with its colors constantly changing, mixing melodic motives to create a fabric of refreshed air and calm cleansing.

Shelf ice occurs when floating pieces of ice are driven by the wind, piling up on the lee shore. The track’s title, “Icebreaker” (07:26), made me think there is going to be a crushing sound and shattering sheets of ice, but to me the music is actually about delicate arctic poetry, cold shivering strings take form, joined by woodwinds and haunting brass, featuring Heather Bentley on cello, viola, and violin; Greg Campbell on French horn and small percussion; James DeJoie on clarinets and flutes, with the sound perhaps portraying the electromechanical properties of ice and its nano rheology (the flow of sub-microscopic crystalline water matter). In the final analysis, what I am left with is a dream about traversing the vast northernmost waters.

…ambient standards, proceeding like a stream of veiled consciousness that determines the degree of freedom you have at any given moment, “Across the Sky” (05:41), is imagination let loose, to swoop and drift, ephemeral hesitant piano mirages engaged in a sort of echoing conversation that is often disjointed, distracted by flights of distant electronic birds becoming audible now and then. The empty sky is calm, interwoven seamlessly into the overall compositional texture, with distant constellations and falling stars isolated in the vastness overhead.
Rating: Excellent
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