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Ether Music by David Lee Myers

   (1 review)

This CD premieres ten works from David Lee Myers, the most prolific composer of Feedback Music.

The album’s content spontaneously emerged from Myers’ self-designed, hand-built conglomerations of elaborately interconnected sound processing devices, with no external audio input. Some call the results “sounds from the ether” (hence this album’s title).

The CD’s music is distinctive and enticing. We hear an otherworldly, hallucinatory trip to a Martian jungle; irregularly accented bongos overlaid with frog-croaked arpeggios; a rapidly sputtering, helium-inhaling synthesizer; a demented organ, gasping for life; all concluding with the piece dorsal streaming, which presents a lovely, placid atmosphere, tinged with calming panpipe-like chuffing.

Dan Visconti writes:

“ 'Ether Music' is hardly David Lee Myers’ first foray into this brand of sonic invention, where explorations on the edge of audible electronics mirror a visionary quest into the same electronic pulse that inhabits all organic life. It’s a place where advanced technical experimentation forms the perfect complement for this ancient journey through the bardos of vivid inner landscapes aglow with the fission of an illuminated world, a world that answers our inquiry and is alive in a way less like a thought than a mind.

"The 'Darwin of electromagnetic lifeforms' (Mark Dery), Myers has always been singular in this ability to create vast spaces, indeed ecosystems, in which chance and intentional vision all play out in a dialogue where each enriches the other. The creation of several new and original electronic systems, which led to the compositions on this disc, further cements Myers’ reputation as the foremost explorer of 'Feedback Music' – and to those unfamiliar with this sound artist’s unique harmonization of science and magic, this beautifully realized recording serves as the best currently available introduction to the panoramic range that Myers commands.

"Myers brings together worlds that have confounded generations of composers, visual artists, and philosophers – and in doing so, he plays scientist and shaman alike, presenting us with imaginary worlds that teem with life, personality, and a pure and deeply considered musicality. As a composer predominantly of acoustic chamber music, I marvel that whereas Myers’ work has strayed far from the world of string quartets and pianos in which I labor, his creations nevertheless manifest a profound display of the paramount principle of classical chamber music: everything that happens is motivated by something prior, an unbroken chain of brainstorms in conversation. If Myers at times has the sonic trappings of his influences Tod Dockstader and the Beatles, his musical rhetoric has the subtlety of classicists like Haydn and Mozart. Myers shapes chance into something not quite random, and vision into something just shy of intent... This collection comes across as grandly symphonic yet also meditative and intimate.

"The first recording on this disc (implicate order) begins with gradually thickening or radiant bands of sound that linger, tremble, and falter while ultimately becoming the backdrop for more rhythmic pops and hisses, expanding on a kind of drum-machine texture. The dialogue between these two layers – with each destabilizing the other – ends with a hum reminiscent of the drone in Myers’ favorite 'Revolver' cut, Tomorrow Never Knows.

"Effervescent drops, blips, and drizzles greet the ears on rigid and fluid bodies, sweeping across the harmonic series, fusing liquid gestures with relentless ticking, rising, gliding, and darting between both adroitly, before seeming to sink from view into the deep trenches of one’s inner ear.

"astabilized begins with recognizable feedback without complication at first, achieving a kind of eerie home quality that could be my own amp or other device beginning to feed back. Before long, this fleeting, quotidian moment begins to stutter and argue with other layers sweeping in competing Doppler motion, taking unexpected turns before ending.

"Another standout, arabic science is a meditative moment more exploratory than affirmative, singing out through liminal spaces in a kind of ecstatic glossolalia. the dynamics of particles, the poppiest offering on the disc, kicks off with an immediately catchy ostinato hook that soon croaks with quality of a vocal fry.

"radial/axial is perhaps the work which most fully showcases Myers’ mastery and range, and as such it’s one of the most lushly symphonic selections as well. Exploring a range of timbres unsensed by most orchestrators, Myers shows us how unlikely sound sources can give voice to the symphonies within. It’s a fitting calling card for the entire album: daring, aurally eloquent, and epic in scope."

This new Myers CD contains the most complete documentation of any Myers release, offering not only his biography and notes on the music, but also a new essay on the history of Feedback Music, photos of his custom designed, hand-built hardware, and Dan Visconti’s enthusiastic Introduction. The album was mastered by Grammy-winner Silas Brown.

Track Listings:
    1. implicate order 05:28
    2. rigid and fluid bodies
    3. astabilized
    4. what's happening inside highs and lows
    5. arabic science
    6. the dynamics of particles
    7. radial/axial
    8. royale polytechnique
    9. growth cones
    10. dorsal streaming
Artist Name(s):
David Lee Myers
Release Year: 2017
Ambient, Classical, Drone, Minimal, Noise
Album Type:
Compact Disc, Digital / Download
Label / Publishing
Label Name:
Catalog Number(s):
Boulder, Colorado
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Jack Hertz


Deceptively simple, "Ether Music" is too inviting to call experimental. Still, this fusion of impossible synthesis with contemporary composition. Evokes a distinguished freshness that rewards repeat listening.

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