Bob Phillips and Jim Steele / Making Waves
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Making Waves: A Demonstration of Kymotropic Inventions sat far too long in my stack of albums to review, mostly because I didn’t know how to tackle it. It is startlingly original – especially for a local release – in that it’s a CD/DVD set where both the music and images are leaps away from the accepted norm, but top quality regardless. Then again, top quality is exactly what you should expect from 20to20SoundesignStudios.
The music itself is a collaboration between studio guru Bob Phillips and local jazz virtuoso Jim Steele, who comes armed with his usual assortment of vintage keyboards. Tom Myers also adds sax, flute, fippletube and guttural utterances. “Saturn Slant,” featuring a mellow new age sax over hesitating analog pulses that grow increasingly erratic, is typical of this atypical music. “So Close” is classic Steele, layering cool metal synth sounds atop an alien landscape, abruptly veering into a beatnik poetry reading (sans the actual reading but definitely with the bongos). A reedy organ and a breathy flute make “Ribbon Twist” a mysterious favorite. Next is “Subject To Change,” a variation on the Usquebaugh’s classic “Change,” complete with sitar, tabula, mellotron flutes and a spacey rock beat. Other titles include “Global Sweep,” “Gravity Wave” and Healix Fragment,” all of which appropriately match the unearthly atmospheric soundscapes that only this crew could conjure from their imagination.
The DVD includes images for each song using a a process so simple that I’m best off letting the creators explain: “Microtonal scales of sinewaves provided the tones and chords which were arranged as compositions, recorded in stereo, then visually analyzed using a simple x/y scope” with “the resulting Lissajous figures documented on video.” Got that? The intent is to “explore the fluid relationship between shifting sounds and morphing forms.” Basically, it’s all that heady stuff with the result being a psychedelic head trip of spiraling, slowly spinning mathematical spirograph-type patterns that, while not synchronized to the music, work to enhance the listening experience (with or without pharmaceuticals).
With video manipulation access on the rise (usually thanks to personal computers and affordable technology), projects like this just might be the start of a whole new era of multimedia manipulations. To be on the bleeding edge, contact 20to20Soundesign at email@example.com and ask about Making Waves.