Elements I – Earth

(Image: By Dave Bunnell (Own work) [CC-BY-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons)Part of a five week series celebrating the elements, this episode explores “Earth” with a new work by Brian Wright, music of Altus, Andrew Lahiff and much more.


Last week’s “Elements” program was just the beginning! This week begins a five-part series on the Elements, beginning tonight with EARTH.

1. Brian Wright – Elements (28:56)
(Emphatic, klearnote productions, 2012)

Brand new this week by Brian Wright, this long form work encompasses all the elements. “Earth” begins the work, then “Air”, about five minutes in; at about the 9-and-a-half minute mark, we hear “Fire”, then “Metal” at 15 minutes, “Water” at 20 minutes, and then the convergence of all of the elements closes the work beginning at 22:30. It’s available for download on SoundCloud at http://soundcloud.com/klearnote/elements . This track uses Absynth 4, FM8, Halion Symphonic Orchestra and ProteusVX. It’s mastered with iZotope Ozone, and was composed using Cubase 5 on his Oxygen49 USB midi keyboard.

Brian Wright’s band name is ‘A Big Guitar’ (http://www.facebook.com/abigguitarmusic), and his production company is Klearnote Productions.  He composes, produces, records, mixes and masters many genres of music including rock, pop, cinematic, soundtrack and ambient.

From EARTH by Altus

2. The Forest Pathway – Altus (10:28)
3. Mirage – Altus (10:15)
(The Elements: Earth, Altus Music, 2003)

4. Tracing Memories of the Silent Earth – Andrew Lahiff (61:16)
(Tracing Memories of the Silent Earth, Andrew Lahiff, 2009)

When I asked Andrew about this work, this is what he wrote:

This was my first attempt at doing a long form piece. It was done at the same time that I was working on “A Perpetual Point in Time”, so they both have some similar sounds and have a similar feel (to me at least). I don’t think I had a particular narrative in mind; it just developed and evolved naturally. After making a number of versions I ended up being quite happy with the final result.

And Brad Ross-McLeod of FreeFloating Records wrote of this release:

I am a big fan of long form pieces because I often find that abstract drifting ambient music works best when the material has time to grow and stretch out organically. While not all soundscapes lend themselves to such treatment, the long, slow and deliberate tones of this piece take excellent advantage of the space that Lahiff gives them to breathe. He strikes the right balance between constant, glacial tones and smatterings of sonic frosting that show up occasionally to provide some contrast and foreground focus to the track. While I would definitely hesitate to categorize this as ‘dark ambient’, I would have to say that there are aspects of the sound that can be, at times, ominous.

5. The Resonant Memory of Earth – Max Corbacho (38:15)
(The Resonant Memory of Earth, Space for Music, 2002)

Max Corbacho is an independent artist born in the southwest of Spain, in the province of Badajoz. This enormous land sprinkled with oaks where he was born and he spent the first years of his life, is perhaps the deepest track that marks his music: “…starry summer nights, the caress of the nocturnal breeze, the sedative song of the crickets, immense horizons, deeply blue skies and silence.” Corbacho’s dense sonic landscapes are a constant reference to these elements, which converge and act as catalysts, pointing to the essence of the great and ineffable mystery of our existence.

He began his musical journey studying guitar, then playing in local rock bands and, after some years as an electric guitar player, slowly become interested in electronic music, first being introduced to legendary sounds of Tangerine Dream, Richard Burmer and Vangelis. Later, his influences expanded to include artists such as Brian Eno, Robert Rich, Steve Roach, Vidna Obmana, Alio Die and Michael Stearns.

The Resonant Memory of Earth was originally released in 2002 on the US-based Space For Music label. The entire album is a slow landscape of organic, waving, and mysterious atmospheres, and completes some of the themes he began in his earlier release Vestiges, but in more atmospheric form.

6. Gaia. Mother. Earth. – Musical Nature (20:12)
(Forgotten Textures, Musical Nature, 1998)

Released as a cassette (remember those?) back in 1998, the collection Forgotten Textures from Musical Nature include heavily manipulated drum loops over haunting drones and noise. “gaia.mother.earth” is a remarkable track that could easily be, as one online reviewer described it, “…the soundtrack for a journey to the center of the third rock.” This track embodies the idea that we’ve been exploring on “At Water’s Edge” that music is all around us, and doesn’t always have to be “pretty” to be “beautiful”.

7. Earth – Mystified (8:34)
(Audio Paintings, Treetrunk, 2007)

“Mystified” is the artist name for American ambient music composer Thomas Park. He writes of the Audio Paintings release:

In February of 2007, longtime friend / collaborator / painter Sandy Spreitz introduced an idea to me that I really loved. He offered to paint 2 paintings for me, with a total of 4 elemental subjects, and asked for me to write music for the paintings. The first painting was to represent the elements “earth” and “air”, the second “water” and “fire”. And, while Mr. Spreitz painted his paintings, he promised to listen to music by mystified.

Mr. Spreitz allowed me a special sneak peak at the 2 paintings while they were in the works. I paid special attention to his process of layering, of coloring, of brushstrokes, of textures. To me the paintings themselves are and will remain better than my accompanying music, but I hope you will at least find the music to be interesting.

The four pieces were created, incidentally, using layers of found sounds from my apartment in Saint Louis and from my shortwave radio.

Visit Sandy Spreitz’s online studio at http://www.sandystudio.com.

8. Earth – Phrozenlight (51:50)
(Earth, Phrozenlight, 2007)

“Phrozenlight” is the artist/project name for Dutch composer Bert Hulshoff. He began composing ambient music in 1995.  His work prompts the mind’s eye to travel into darkness, and Earth is another fine example of the use of ambient sounds, electronic effects and events that we might consider “random noises” to make highly detailed, evocative music; it might paint a picture of how our planet looks from space, or from deep within its cavernous spaces, or both…

9. Dreaming Earth – Robert Carty (9:27)
(Dreaming Earth Water Memories, Robert Carty, 2002)

Robert Carty is based in Utah. A prolific composer, has nearly 60 releases available from his web site, “Deep Sky Music” (http://www.deepskymusic.net). Memories of the flowing atmospheric ocean of sound is a good way to describe this CD, according to the composer. “Dreaming Earth” has as its basis a steady earthy rhythm and a droning didgeridoo. From there the music is more upbeat, with a faint native sound. The entire collection includes a number of different styles: upbeat, floating, dreaming, atmospheric. Robert used various synthesizers, samplers, shakers, Spring drums, didgeridoo, conch shell, voice tones and environmental sounds.

Notes also available at

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