I’m finally getting around to mining all the creative inspiration I gained from a recent trip around Lake Superior, both through western Ontario on the north side and on the southern side through Michigan’s UP (upper peninsula) by way of Duluth. What an amazing trip!
For a trip that’s literally a day’s car ride away and within the Great Lakes Basin, I had no idea how beautiful, how breath-taking and just how awe-inspiring it could be. One such bit of inspiration came from our visit to Agawa Bay and the Lake Superior Provincial State Park. These places left deep impressions that I’ve tried to tap into with this new long form work – Agawa Bay
Ambient Soundbath listener Simon brought this recording to my attention a couple months ago, not long after I had posted the Upper Astral Soundbath, of which David Naegele was part of. These are some vintage sounds to be sure, but it’s also a darker, somewhat spookier recording. I like it. The recording I had was pretty scratchy so I spent some time working on it, fixing the equalization, adjusting the depth and redefining the stereo field to make it a better listen on the podcast.
This episode wouldn’t have been possible without listener Simon’s kind generosity in more ways than one, so this program is dedicated to him. Thank you, Simon.
p.s. This is the first Soundbath since I deleted my Facebook accounts, so letting your friends and other folks know about the podcast directly, word-of-mouth, the old-fashioned way, is more important than ever. Please continue to spread the word about the Soundbath. If you’re curious as to why I would delete my Facebook accounts, I highly recommend reading Jaron Lanier’s fantastic Ten Arguments for Deleting Your Social Media Accounts Right Now.
Ambient Soundbath #70 is another original work in the vein of Parallax Drone; a piece inspired by Philip Glass’ Early Works where I’ve experimented with some compositional devices called parallel and contrary motion that he worked with on that recording… You can hear it in the criss-crossing of the sounds as they move from speaker to speaker, but also in harmonic and intervalic (space between note pitches) opposition to each other. Musically, as I was working on this it felt like many helices moving in, out and around each other.
This is definitely a deep listening work and one that lends itself to close listening. This is also a work, like Parallax Drone, that’s meant to be a dimensional drone, one that you can retreat into and let it surround you.
Upper Astral is an interesting artist that I found when scouring YouTube for vintage new age cassettes releases. I found a variety of Upper Astral recordings, but when I looked at how I could put them together for a single Ambient Soundbath program I couldn’t get many of them to work well together. I played around with different configurations of recordings of the era (1981 – 1988), generally released on the, long defunct, Valley of the Sun label during that golden age of the new age music genre.
Some might argue that it wasn’t a golden age at all and was, in fact, a highly opportunistic period where consciousness trends hung over from the 1960s, 1980s capitalism and the price-points (and accessibility) of home recording studios all intersected to create a miasma of products and services that tried to sell well-being with little regard to quality. That may be somewhat true, but there was also some great music and some great sounds happening during this period. Frankly, even if there was a lot of schlock to wade through, there were some fine recordings made by little-known artists capturing the wide range of synthesizers that were hitting the marketplace.
This episode of the Ambient Soundbath features re-imagined and re-treated Upper Astral compositions, two in fact – Celestial Harmonies and Astral Massage, sides one and two. I reworked these recordings to take off some of the rough edges and artifacting left on the decades-old cassettes, thereby increasing the listenability and immersion of the pieces. Howard Givens of Spotted Peccary Recordings, when counseling me as a young recording artist, once cautioned: “You don’t want the fidelity of the recording to be a barrier to listening to the music.” Sage advice. He probably doesn’t even remember that, but I never forgot it and think about it often.
Upper Astral, for these recordings, features the work of David Naegele and David Storrs. This recording features two re-imagined tracks from two distinct recordings:
The Ambient Soundbath Podcast website is now ad-free, and I just wanted to take a minute and acknowledge one of our listeners, and now a sustaining member, and thank them for their donation – Thank you.
The Soundbath has many listeners (nearly 1,600) and my hope is that the Soundbath becomes the public service that I had always hoped it could be. Moving to WordPress.com and not hosting the Soundbath myself, as I had done for years was a tough choice, but I wanted the Soundbath to be available in perpetuity. That’s also why I moved all of the Soundbath files to be hosted at Archive.org. This might have started as my podcast, but now it’s our refuge, our place for thinking and being.
Thank you for listening, donating and staying in touch; I love hearing from you.
This episode of the Ambient Soundbath Podcast features the evocative sound worlds of electronic musician and sound synthesist, Max Corbacho. Max’s work, more than any other artist I know of, reminds me of the work of Steve Roach, but Max journeys a bit more deeply into the tension of discord and sweet resolve.
I’ve been wanting to include the work of Max Corbacho on the Soundbath for a long time and I think that these selections, make for a great soundbath and a great session of music for thinking and being. Please check out Max’s extensive catalog and learn a bit more about his otherworldly soundscapes.