Photo credit: Derek Rush
What place does spirituality have in electronic music?
That is the question being asked by our latest immersive multimedia feature Angels in Electronica. Launched today, it investigates electronic music’s taboo subject - spirituality. Though the terms ‘soul’ and ‘transcendent’ might be used, rarely, if ever, do you hear an electronic artist talk about spirituality or faith. Ariadne are the New York electronic duo seeking to challenge this status quo through albums such as Stabat Mater and Tsalal, whose visceral live shows are influenced by a strong sense of spirituality and a belief that the music is a channel for something higher.
This marks a nice contrast to a previous feature of ours, Synapse, which suggested an scientific explanation for our love affair with music, as well as expressing the belief that neuroscience was well on its way to being able to map musical creativity, such that AI will be able to replicate it. Not only that, but specialised MRI scans were beginning to read people’s minds - scientists can actually work out the sounds and pictures people were imagining. This was quite revelatory and sobering news which could have consequences not only for the way we operate in society, but in how we see ourselves as humans. Will we still be ‘special’ once AI can produce the most beautiful music?
In our exclusive interview with the New Yorkers behind Ariadne, we find two people, in the form of Christine Papania and Benjamin Forest, who believe music is not some functional thing but is actually a way to connect with a higher universal power. “When we're improvising”, says Ben, “there's a lot of times that we feel, you know our... like your ego sort of let’s go and you're, you're more of a channel for, it feels, it feels like something else, you know, you can call it whatever you want.“
Their shows, which feature Christine’s soaring vocals, alongside Ben’s harsh soundscapes, are completely improvised. When you add in to the mix Ben’s dramatic generative visuals, it combines to form a profound experience for the musicians and the audience. Christine says: “I’m not sure what emotions they felt or if they were able to take meaning behind it, but they were definitely changed in some way I guess from the performance. I mean that’s the best compliment, that you’ve changed someone or moved them in some way is really cool.”
This made our immersive special feature the perfect vehicle to try to capture their spellbinding live show and see how it relates to a wider cultural context. When Macho Zapp was started, its mission statement was to seek out profound ideas about music and present them in a striking way - it doesn’t get much more profound than the nature of our existence.
Check out Angels in Electronica.