It’s a Friday morning in Portland. The sky is blue and the sun is actually blinding me through my office window. It’s one of those surprisingly random moments of perfect stillness, and coincidentally the ideal time for me to have just discovered this “remix” that Phoenix put out 3 years ago. Goddamn, these French fellas just never cease to amaze me. To put it quite simply, their own words about this little project do the best justice: A long time ago Grizzly Bear asked us to remix one of their tracks, but we never found the boldness to mess with their beautiful songs. So the other day we figured, maybe if we combine great things together (Grizzly Bear, Eno, chance), it would create something good.
Basically, all they did was acknowledge that Grizzly Bear‘s delicately lovely track “Foreground” off 2009′s Veckatimisest is in the key of D Major, and never really wavers from there except some slight variations into the relative minor of B Minor. Then they took the most well-known song ever to be in D Major, Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major” and set the two side by side. You know the Canon even if you don’t think you do – about half the brides in America walk down the aisle to it at their wedding. Why? Because it’s an incredibly beautiful song. But they didn’t use just any version of “Canon in D Major,” they used one of the epically divine variations that Brian Eno crafted for his 1975 album, Discreet Music. His variations combine different angels of the song in different patterns to create a much more ethereal and ambient vibe – essentially eliminating the structure of the song and just leaving a psychedelic drift-off behind. I believe this specific variation is actually titled “Fullness of Wind.”
Anyway, the drifting nature of both tracks means you can essentially start them at any random times and they will syncopate into something truly beautiful, and truly worthy of the word divine. It’s like synching Dark Side of the Moon to The Wizard of Oz but not stressing about hitting play right when the lion roars. I’m already on my 4th go-round this morning, and the timing is really never off. Go HERE NOW to experience it yourself. If you can, don’t be afraid to close your eyes for a second.
Obtrusive geek alert warning – I now speak of my acclaim for the sadly under-esteemed Robert Schneider. Perhaps one of the smartest men in rock music today, Schneider is a pop-perfectionist when it comes to his band Apples in Stereo. And while I could drive my rant towards comparisons to a level-headed Brian Wilson and my adoration for nearly the entire span of the band’s 10+ years of work, I instead highlight an awesome new segment that’s popped up on the band’s site as of late.
While many genius artists have involved mathematics in their music before – from Mozart to Phoenix, the Apples may be the first band I can recall using a new non-Pythagorean music scale. Now if you go to the band’s page: http://www.applesinstereo.com/pythagorean.php, you can get the full rundown. It is fairly complicated though, so in short:
Essentially, the twelve-tone music scale that we associate with all of Western music, is based on a scale that while sounding good to our ears, actually doesn’t fall into a natural mathematical formula. If we were to make a new 12 tone scale as based upon the natural logarithms of successive whole numbers, we would get a whole new system of instinctively irrational numbers and tones. The new scale begins with large spacings between the notes, and ends with smaller spacings between the notes. It’s easier heard than explained, so let Professor Schneider make it clearer below.
Magically what he has done though, is written new songs using this brand new scale. And while odd at first, after a few tries the new patterns begin to sound and make sense. It’s almost as though the patterns within tones are so deep, that we could have actually evolved into a humanity that pulses within an entirely different set of wave structures. A crazy way to think about the realms of potential destiny we all spiral within, know what I’m saying?
And some Apples: