This Winter Solstice, on 21 December 2020, Art Abscon will share a free download album, “Electromagnetic Grandmasterland (relax or sleep and dream well in Abscon)”, via bandcamp. Alternatively, the album will also be available through Opus Abscondi on music cassette.
About the album
The subtitle of the album, “relax or sleep and dream well in Abscon”, precisely communicates the album’s intended purpose. I have produced it in all its aspects so that you can listen to it at daytime for the mere purpose of relaxation and well-being without paying much attention to the music, or in the evening, when going to bed to fall asleep to it, so that it will give you deep sleep and interesting dreams. In fact, this album can even lead to lucid dreaming experiences and has been specially conceived for this purpose. You will find precise instructions further below.
We are currently experiencing times in which our regular daytime experiences have almost come to a complete standstill. Life as we knew it is on hold. Let’s not forget, however, that we spend almost a third of every cycle of twenty-four hours in a realm that is still as exciting as ever: the Realm of Sleep and Dreams. There is so much to discover and learn in that realm. The purpose of “Electromagnetic Grandmasterland” is to take you on a dream journey deep into your mind.
The cause and the inspiration
There is one particular album I have been listening to over and over again since my teenage days without getting tired of it: “Music for Airports” by Brian Eno. Over the past months, I have been trying to answer the question why this album is so important to me, why I have been listening to it so often in the background while I was busy with other things and so many times while going to bed to fall asleep to it. There are not many albums that have given me that much in life. For quite a while now, I have felt the urge to produce an album that would have similar virtues, so that I could send it out as a gift into the world. Out of gratitude. Out of gratitude to music itself, but also out of gratitude to the small handful of people who have been listening to my music over the years, who have never failed to support me and who have always given me a reason to make and explore new music. Thank you.
I have incorporated many things in “Electromagnetic Grandmasterland” that I have discovered in “Music for Airports”, but also many other things that I have discovered for myself – especially in the Realm of Sleep and Dreams.
Here is a list of a few things that were important while producing this album:
I have used tape in many different ways for the production of “Electromagnetic Grandmasterland”. Each track of the album has been recorded electromagnetically and not digitally. Tape, unlike digital recordings, offers many highly musical sound characteristics that have a very positive effect on our brain and mind. I have taken advantage of this property to create sounds that are wholesome to our brains and our organism and create deep sensations. My friend Nathaniel Ritter has done the analogue audio mastering for this album to further enhance these qualities.
Moreover, tape loops offer the possibility to let hypnotic repetitions of certain musical elements circle around themselves in an unpredictable way. The constant repetitions, on the one hand, have a relaxing effect while, on the other hand, they open up certain areas of the mind. By manipulating the tape speed and creating various other fluctuations, however, two repetitions will never be the same while new, unpredictable musical events will constantly occur, so that the repetitions will never become tedious. This is actually the big secret of Eno’s “Music for Airports”. And it is precisely this continuous, progressive cyclical self-rearrangement of musical motives – mimicking the complex movement of the planets – that feels like a massage to our brains to solve many things while setting other things in motion.
Tape noise and other interference
Tape hisses and hums – and some of the equipment I use is old or simply “broken”. While producing “Electromagnetic Grandmasterland”, I did not consider the hissing or humming of some of my analogue devices as noise, but treated these noises as musical elements. I myself have been suffering from a hissing tinnitus for several years now, which sometimes makes it difficult for me to enjoy music. I have found out that tape noise is nothing irritating to me, but rather something very pleasant that relaxes the area in my brain that produces the tinnitus by laying itself over the tinnitus and thereby neutralising it.
If you listen carefully, you will notice that I have used and processed tape noise as a musical element on this album. Even the grounding hum of the power supply of a certain broken device has served me as a meditative keynote from which a whole piece of music has emerged. Some devices even “broke down”, suddenly or temporarily, during my work. For example, my tape deck suddenly started to wobble. I did not interpret this as an accident or bad luck, but as a wish of the device to communicate something specific as a contribution to the album. So I made a feature out of it. I think there is a wisdom inherent in these devices that has been important for this album and for the dreams and reveries of its future listeners. During the entire production process, I was listening very closely to what my dear devices had to say.
Unlike my favorite Eno album, I wanted my album to have words. However, I did not want these words to communicate a particular message. Rather, I wanted these words to evoke a meaninglessness that, like a universal mantra, prompts the mind to create free images that can weave interesting dreams and reveries. I have used haikus for this purpose.
The Japanese haiku is considered to be the shortest form of poetry in the world. I have recorded each of my haikus once and then played this recording back over and over again on an audio cassette whose speed I could manipulate by hand to create a strange wobble. This wobble makes it sometimes difficult to understand the texts, even for German ears. That is alright. You do not need to understand this text. You may hear what you want in it. The mantra only serves to send the mind out on a journey. This applies specifically to those who do not understand German.
There is a passage on the album that is specifically meant to induce lucid dreams. It is exactly the point in the course of the album at which the listener will surely have fallen asleep. For this specific point, I have asked as many friends and confidants as possible in different countries to speak the sentences “Áre you dreaming?” and “Yes, you are dreaming” in their respective mother tongue.
Experiments in sleep labs have shown that telling a sleeper that he or she is dreaming during the REM phase helps induce lucid dreams. However, since a sleeping person only enters the first REM phase about one and a half hours after falling asleep, it is advisable to hear “Electromagnetic Grandmasterland” as an infinite loop during your sleep, so that the spoken hint that your are dreaming will be perceived during a REM phase of your sleep. Since this little trick only works well if you are addressed in your mother tongue while dreaming, I have used as many speakers with different languages as possible for this purpose.
I would like to thank all the people from all over Europe and even Russia, Israel, Estonia, Lithuania, Belarus, Georgia, the Basque country and South and North America for their great contribution, from the depths of my heart.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE
“Electromagnetic Grandmasterland” is composed in such a way that it does not require any special attention. This artistic concept goes back to Eric Satie’s “Musique d’ammeublement” and leads, via John Cage, directly to Brian Eno’s “Music for Airports”. “Electromagnetic Grandmasterland” can thus be used simply as background music that does not require you to listen closely. Just like Eric Satie’s “Musique d’ammeublement”, this album has no other function than, for example, the wallpaper in the room where it is played. You can listen to the album while reading, studying, driving a car, lying in the bathtub, assembling a cupboard, etc. But, of course, you may also pay attention to the music, and even to the lyrics, if you like. It is, however, not necessary.
“Electromagnetic Grandmasterland” is also designed as a brigde into the land of sleep. The first piece on the album is still a bit upbeat and mildly “stressful”. It picks you up where the tensions of the day are ending and is specially designed for you to adjust the volume to a level at which you can easily fall asleep. As the album progresses, nothing really exciting will happen. The album is supposed to merely transport you gently to sleep.
However, since this album is not just the sort of relaxation music one might find in a New Age store, but also an experimental work of art, it might be a bit challenging for less daring sleepers.
If it is only used as a bridge into sleep, it is sufficient to play the album just once. It will still bring interesting dreams to the sleeper and hopefully help you if you are having troubles falling asleep.
3) Lucid dreaming
Lucid dreaming is probably the greatest and most exciting success you can achieve in exploring your own mind. Some people – not many – are born with this ability, others need to learn it, and this can take months or even years. Experiments have shown, however, that a very good way of inducing lucid dreams is to tell the dreamer during a REM phase that he or she is dreaming. This is exactly what “Electromagnetic Grandmasterland” does at a specific point during the second half of the album.
To ensure that this event also falls into a REM phase of your sleep, it is a good idea to listen to the album to fall asleep to and set it to infinite “repeat” for this purpose. The album version on music cassette has the album on both sides so that it will run continuously if you have a tape deck with auto reverse function. The music that follows the dream hint has been recorded in a special spiral tuning technique that provides a particularly enjoyable listening experience that will provide a beautiful soundtrack to your lucid dream, provided you will have one.
Another trick to develop the capability to become lucid in your dreams is to develop the habit of asking yourself whether you are dreaming even during your waking state if e.g. something surreal or weird happens, so that you will incorporate this habit also into your dreaming habits. If you are listening to “Electromagnetic Grandmasterland” during the day and while awake, make a “state check” when the album asks you whether you are dreaming: ask yourself whether you are dreaming and test it. Try, for example, if you can levitate. If you cannot levitate, you are probably not dreaming, but you will have trained the habit to make state checks. The next time something weird happens, you might make a state check during your dream and you actually WILL be able to levitate.
When I became lucid in a dream for the very first time in my life after having trained for a few months, I became so excited that I immediately woke up. Remember that the best thing to stay in the dream is to look at your hands. Whenever you notice that you are waking up, just look at your hands.
I wish you many good hours, deep sleep and many interesting dreams and discoveries in your own mind with my album. Thank you very much for all your wonderful support and your interest in my music. It has always been made for you.