MP3 Kirk Sugars - Organic Chemistry
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7 MP3 Songs in this album (51:59) !
Related styles: New Age: Relaxation, Jazz: Piano Jazz, Featuring Piano
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I started improvising music on the piano before I even took piano lessons. Whatever I learned, I tried to incorporate into my "noodling." Eventually it took on more shape, especially as I learned classical and jazz theory. After 37 years of practice my improvisations embody not only everything I know (or think I know!) about music, but also everything I know about anything.
When I entered the Crystal Mountain School of Therapeutic Massage as a student in 2008 one of the first questions people asked me was, "Are you going to do a massage CD?" I have indeed become increasingly interested in the therapeutic value of music, which is what led me to become involved in the drum circle movement a few years ago. At that time I began listening to African music ranging from tribal ceremonial to contemporary pop. I love the plaintive, modal melodies of West African musicians such as Salif Keita. I have also become addicted to what I call "non-metric subdivision of the beat" which underlies most African tribal music and has found its way into American jazz. ("Swing" rhythm is neither a triplet nor an even eighth, but rather something in between.) Listening to Babatunde Olatunji's "Healing Session" album really helped me to understand the hypnotic power of asymmetrical and poly-rhythmic patterns to open the person up to healing possibilities, and so all of this became the theoretical basis of my attempt at an album of therapeutic music.
When I was in college way back in the early 1980's I turned out to have a gift for organic chemistry, which quickly became my major. Although I didn't complete that degree, I still have a fond place for the idea of trying to decode the inner structure of the chemicals that make life possible. I chose the name "Organic Chemistry" for this album as an acknowledgment of how my pursuit of music and therapeutic massage today is really just an extension of the path of exploration I was on then, just in a new form. The names of the tracks on this album are borrowed from the methods of organic chemistry.
1. Hypothesis - borrowing the term from the "scientific method", this brief track introduces the basic feeling of the album
2. Lab Techniques - when I set out to record this album my original plan and preparation was to do the entire thing in a single 55 minute take, as if giving a massage treatment. That was probably a bit ambitious, and it didn't help when my first 45 minute attempt got accidentally erased. However, this mega-track (22 minutes!) is what remains of that original idea. I put myself into a mild alpha-wave self-hypnotic state, summoned the energy that I would use when giving a treatment, and just "followed my hands" as I was taught to do in massage school. You will feel the energy move from a gentle "introduction of touch" through a series of movements of varying intensity. Close your eyes and and just go with it.
3. Distillation - referring to the laboratory process by which a substance is boiled and the vapor sent through a column of glass tubing to separate the pure and the impure elements, in many ways this is the strongest track on the album. After a careful setup, there begins a long crescendo sequence intended to stir up buried emotions, allowing release of unconscious tensions.
4. Catalysis - is a chemical process where the presence of substance that is neither a precursor nor a product of a chemical reaction participates in it, speeding it up. In this case the catalyst consists of elements of Flamenco music which enlivens the rhythm and harmony of this track!
5. Synthesis - in organic chemistry "synthesis" is a process by which raw materials are taken through a series of transformations resulting in the putting together of a complex molecular product. The feeling of this track is of "it all coming together."
6. Spectroscopy - a technique where electromagnetic radiation (i.e., light, infra-red) is shined on a substance to reveal its inner structure. This exquisite eight minute track intends to illuminate the soul. You will have to let me know if it succeeds.
7. Conclusion - another reference to the format of a standard lab write-up, this tasty little final track seems to sum up the entire album for me, touching upon many of the themes and elements and tying it up neatly.
Recorded in a single one-day session on a Baldwin L1 Artist Grand Piano using Audio-Technica AT4040 Studio Condenser Microphones, this is acoustic piano music at its best. At higher volumes you might notice pedal noises, creaks, and - from time to time - the artist breathing.
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