Songs of Mountains and Wetlands

Songs of Mountains and WetlandsBefore the advent of mass communication technology – you know, stuff like television, radio, internet, wireless, youtube, bluetooth, metro, etcetcetc, music played a much more important role in the life of your average yeoman. Not to bring up statistics, or risk any sort of regression to Music History 101 or anything, but there was indeed a time when sheet music was a hot commodity and musical literacy was more than just an after-school special aimed at increasing your adolescent statistics at being accepted into a “good” college as some sort of stab at a page torn from the Horatio Alger copybook. In short, music was not just a hot topic, it was THE hot topic – it was what you did. I mean, imagine coming home and gathering around the piano to play the latest programmatic score hot off your Schubert subscription and then packing up to head out for choir rehearsal for the local cantata – neat! And then… well, folks like Edison and Tesla had to come around and provide the grease for the slippery slope that lead us to our current manifestation of musical culture, dominated by iPhones and ring tones, where music is a commodity at best, shuffled around as bits and bytes like sampler spoons in a sea of infinite pseudo-memes – where spectacle and explosions aren’t just a garnish, they’re a norm, partially produced by Bruckheimer’s and Bay’s, with remixes by Diddy and that guy from the Postal Service. I could go on, but hey, we’re all here now so one can only hope that you get my drift. However, what if we were able to take a step back for a second and reset the clock to about 1897 or so – with the proviso that we can take our technology with us? What if programmatic song cycles were still a cultural fixation reserved for the population at large, and not just regulated to individuals concerned with the “preservation” of culture in music libraries nested in suburban New Jersey, hoping their next cultural discovery will secure them a speaking slot at the next musicology conference, taking place just outside some other suburban music library? And what if these programmatic art-songs were presented with the same respectable grandeur as a contemporary cinematic blockbuster, equip with all the explosions, glass shattering and gruff-voiced pituitary-cases rasping “freedom isn’t free,” while suspended by one hand from an Apache helicopter above a pit of molten lava…

…or something to that extent. If you’re still with me after that particular rant, then Songs of Mountains and Wetlands might right up your alley. Imagine songs inspired by nature and transitory environs, composed on custom software and analog electronics tuned to seven-limit just intonation – hyper-compressed and oversaturated to the point where all aspects of delicacy have been smoothed away into a wash of fuzzed-out static – where the smallest sound is grandiose in a post-Bruckheimerian, digital neo-Wagnerian spectacle. Where even the mundane deserves it’s own twenty-minute explosion-sequence.

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