Most of these works were inspired by the artists who introduced us to the trance and/or ambient genres, from Tangerine Dream to Steve Roach. Included are a few experimental pieces. By the way, I enjoy pretending this is a special 3-LP vinyl release from Unreasonable Records; click the cover art at left to see the completed jacket, inside and out.
Disc 1 Side A
Track 1: Alien Ancestry
Here's a classic electronic trance piece to start things off, nothing more than a satisfying blend of stock loops—some heavily manipulated—from many different sources. This is yet another track that began as something altogether different; when I changed direction, however, I kept the opening percussion, which gave the finished piece its "foreign blood." I could make tunes like these all day.
Track 2: One Hundred
With my first big serious ambient piece, the feeling I was after was that of driving on a long, straight, empty highway at night, passing nebulous memories drifting by in the distance. You can get some idea by watching the video I made.
Disc 1 Side B
Track 3: Rebecca
Beginning with a synth pad best described as cheerful melancholy, this exercise in ambience gradually deepens and expands before drifting off into space. Rebecca is actually an old college flame with whom I'm still in touch. Despite living at opposite ends of the country, we're still close, as paradoxical as that may seem. The sound is rather bittersweet, since I realize I'll never see her again.
Track 4: Green Magic
This fifteen minute opus—planned for years to be the title track for my first "album"—is an homage to an old Italian movie, Magia Verde, a documentary about Italian explorers trekking across South America in the 1950s. Some of the sounds from the film still echo in my mind over fifty years since last seeing it. The incessant drumbeat carries us from one exotic location and experience to the next. I do wish I could see it once more before I die, but I have a feeling in my gut that's not going to happen. While perhaps not to everyone's taste, it was something I had to get out of my system.
Disc 2 Side A
Track 1: The Missing Piece
The origins of this track date back to the late 1990s. I've been carrying the fragment of a melody around in my head for decades, and have struggled on and off to, first, successfully transcribe it, and second, to do something with it. Originally I'd wanted to compose an orchestral symphony. Fat chance. But it could serve as the seed crystal for a serious trance track, a genre I've not only been obsessed with lately, but also find quite satisfying. It takes me back to the days of Tangerine Dream, when you didn't need drums or electric guitars. Just imagination. (And headphones.)
Disc 2 Side B
Track 2: Tectonic Symphony
If you enjoy artists such as Steve Roach, this track may be of interest; if not, then you may as well move on—nothing to see here. It's almost exclusively realized in the lower registers, so it's pretty pointless to play it on your cell phone. The title evokes its theme: massive, earthly sounds progressing ponderously through space and time, carried along by the ever-present planetary heartbeat. Put on your headphones (or, better yet, fire up that subwoofer), lie back, close your eyes, and escape into an ancient epoch.
Disc 3 Side A
Track 1: DNA Sequence
Every sound in this energetic piece is 100% mine—no commercial samples, clips or loops. You might enjoy it, or you might want to bang your head against the wall for relief after it's done. Definitely different, very dense and repetitive, just like a deoxyribonucleic acid strand.
Track 2: Deep Wood
Imagine such a place... a lush, verdant, dripping forest, mysterious, secluded primordial. Separated by perhaps kilometers, unseen denizens participate in an impromptu jam session using nothing but what's at hand—even the birds join in. Completely re-engineered from the ground up on 12 March, every sound used is in sync with the rhythm, including the rain and thunder. Also, except for the thunder, rain and birds, I created all of the sounds. This is an experimental piece, so it may not be to everyone's liking. Incidentally, the two "soloists" are a white-throated sparrow and a wood thrush.
Track 3: Fade to Grey
Whilst taking a walk in the woods one day recently, a melody popped into my head. I immediately returned home to realize it, and it gradually morphed into a long electronic trance piece. I'm still not happy with how the melody is voiced, so a remix may be in store one day.
Track 4: Place and Time
Have you ever been in perhaps a seemingly ordinary place at a seemingly random time and found the experience eerily magical for no identifiable reason? Perhaps you were standing beside a pond, surrounded by woods, and perhaps there was an airplane passing far off in the distance, and the sound of the plane put you into a trance state. Here I've attempted to recreate just such an experience, one that I had when I was a teen. Most listeners will likely find it boring and a waste of time, but there just might be one or two listeners out there who might grok the experience. Certainly among my least musical works, this soundscape is also one of my most personal pieces, and occupied months of my time on and off. The plane sound is from a recording I'd made back in the early 1970s using a cassette recorder while drifting around in a canoe; cleaned up and carefully filtered to extract just the plane sound, it's mixed with modern recordings of natural sounds, such as gentle wind in the trees, birds, bullfrogs and other related effects. It also features as a brief introductory synth pad, just as an excuse to call it "music," not that I really needed one.
Disc 3 Side B
Track 5: Into the Sunlight
When a good friend and fellow music lover gave me a challenge, I gladly accepted. My task was to create a musical sound that evoked the sense of water running in a brook. I took my time addressing the challenge, and the sound I eventually realized naturally required a composition to utilize it. I knew in advance it would be a lengthy ambient work, and after days of experimentation and refinement blending both synthetic and natural sounds, a composition emerged. It's is not for everyone; it's for those willing to surrender their spirit to the ebb and flow of rich, complex soundscapes. As to whether or not I was successful with the original challenge, it doesn't really matter; the sounds can be whatever your mind may envision during the journey. A little side note: from moment to moment, the sound is never the same; it is always changing, albeit very slowly. I also recommend playing this at lower volume levels.
Copyright © 2012-2022 by David K. Smith.