Matt Pond, Eva Magill-Oliver, and Chris Hansen offer a space of musical rejuvination through An Orchestrated Impulse, a new and enriching audiovisual collaboration.
Stream: “Pink Waves” – An Orchestrated Impulse
Every Friday like clockwork, we get the notification from our music apps: Someone whose name we may or may not be familiar with has released something new, and it’s time for us to listen. If Spotify and Apple Music are the shepherds, then we are their sheep – grazing where they guide us, engaging with the litany of “top” and “viral” lists that dot their respective platforms. Music has been a commodity for well beyond any of our lifetimes, and yet the open and unassailed commodification of an art form continues to feel inherently icky: Somewhere, in the back of our heads, there’s a lingering sense that perhaps, art ought not be boxed and sold, ranked and awarded to the extent we practice here in the United States.
An Orchestrated Impulse is in some sense a response to this uneasiness, and yet it is very much its own standalone entity. The collaborative effort between visual artist Eva Magill-Oliver and recording artists Matt Pond and Chris Hansen, An Orchestrated Impulse blends the aural and visual fields to create an enriching, uniquely interactive experience wherein audience members can be moved by a creative work. It is more than a soundtrack; it is the entire presentation.
Atwood Magazine is proud to be premiering “Pink Waves,” set to be the final track off An Orchestrated Impulse. Releasing October 11 as a twelve track album, “An Orchestrated Impulse will be comprised of twelve paintings and twelve instrumental compositions across twelve keys.” The art and music will also be on display at O+ Festival in Kingston, NY on October 11.
“Pink Waves” exhibits this project’s close connection with nature, leaning into a wash of warm sights and sounds to evoke a sense of wonder and calm serenity. Sweet, muted guitars blend together with a gorgeously rich, emotive synth backdrop throughout the track’s three-minute performance. Against this music, our eyes witness an array of sightings from the natural world, created and compiled by Jen Taylor and Randy Lowenstein: From a leaf floating along in the water, sunlight trickling through the trees, to waves crashing on rocks.
As we are currently undergoing the transition from summer into Autumn, now is the perfect time to enrich ourselves and reflect on the special importance of nature’s changing faces and colors. “‘Pink Waves’ is a sincere, unpretentious vision of autumn,” Matt Pond tells Atwood Magazine. “It is the thirteenth composition in the collection, the précis before the precipice. It’s an unfinished sentence at the end of the conversation. And after viewing the paintings and hearing the music, my friends Jen Taylor and Randy Lowenstein pulled on the creative thread to complete it.”
It’s art not as a commodity, but as a vessel for contemplative thought and emotional experience.
For Chris Hansen and Matt Pond, both of whom were formerly in Matt Pond PA up until the group’s disbandment in 2017, An Orchestrated Impulse is a freeing return to the core of musical exploration and self-expression. “Matt Pond PA has a long history of mixing instrumentals into the fabric of their albums,” Hansen explains. “It was fun way to bridge some songs and inject some different colors and pacing. I love having a forty-five second interlude that adds both a breath and some breadth to the overarching piece/album.” [i]
Matt Pond expands upon his longtime musical partner’s observation: “When I was younger, I used to do a lot of free-writing. I would pull the thread of a thought and run with it as far as I could across the paper. This was back before I dove into a lifetime of songs and shows, this was when I had assumed I was going to be a college professor at some small liberal arts school in the midwest. I had a strange affinity for elbow patches. An Orchestrated Impulse brings back that freedom of thought — an impulsive sprint through woods while swinging a birch tree branch. We didn’t know where anything was going to land. We just took a leap into the darkness. The project is a committed conversation. Communiqués between mediums with vague guidelines, but no rules. We spoke slowly and thoughtfully in our own languages to try and make something intensely meaningful. It is a sincere call and response that ultimately became a monument to understanding and respect.”
Pond continues,” Lately, a lot of the projects we’ve been working on concern listening with compassion. As we advance through a landscape of technology, it appears as though we understand each other less and less. I claim no pretentiousness in this human form that I’ve taken. But An Orchestrated Impulse requires a longer look than a scroll. And if that’s the only way you roll, then you’re going to miss it. Honestly, if that’s the only way you look at anything, you’re going to miss everything.”
An Orchestrated Impulse demands that we sit we back; it implores us to interact with the natural world, and to experience music not as a commodity, but as a means for deeper learning and discovery. This is a project that very well may deserve its own gallery space a The Whitney or MoMA-type museum; online it is already moving, which bodes well for an even stronger in-person impact.
Stream: “Pink Waves” – An Orchestrated Impulse
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[i] Hansen’s quote expanded here: “These gave us the confidence to attack our radio show “In Dreams”. We learned to embrace minimalism (I’ve certainly been a proponent of “more is more” in the past) and non-traditional structures. Also, letting outside forces dictate the pace and direction of a piece. In the case of In Dreams, another person’s speech patterns and cadence, the timbre of their speaking voice. An Orchestrated Impulse is reactive in a different way. We’re responding to Eva’s visual motifs and trying to strike a music correlative, while at the same time reacting to the previous piece we composed. Stretching the idea of “call and response”, not only responding to a melodic motif, but also to textures (sonic and visual) and structures. Another inspiration for me was when my year and a half year old daughter discovered Brian Eno’s regenerative music apps, Bloom and Trope on my phone. She was intuitively creating this beautiful, endless music that was pleasingly shapeless, but still had a cohesiveness. It made me think about creating a form of regenerative music that felt handmade and maybe a little bit more “composed”, while still having a feeling of endlessness. An interesting side project I want to try would be transpose the keys of certain instruments and move them into a different corresponding piece. A sort of harmonic reshuffling to see what new interesting things come to the surface. An underling guitar part in Bb Major could be transposed and sonically toyed with so it becomes a prominent feature of say, the piece in F# Minor. Inverting the call and respond premise after the fact. If we could figure a way to this live, in real time, I would be thrilled.“
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