#Writing #MusicMonday: Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie

coverThis both is and is not the first work by Chris Zabriskie I have shared with you for Writing Music Monday.

Zabriskie was one half of lo-fi is sci-fi, whose first album (of demos) I shared for Lyrical April. But this is his first solo work I’ve gotten to, despite all his work being Attribution-only.

Among the less obnoxious post-modernist literary types — you know, the ones who actually have something to say, rather than just posturing and expecting everybody to praise their superiority merely because they know how to sneer at everything — there is the idea that a novel, especially if it is experimental in any way, must teach you how to read it (or how to interpret it) in its opening pages.

So, for example, Catch-22 has, in its first few chapters, the story of The Soldier Who Saw Everything Twice, which very neatly encapsulates the madness of war, its effect on the minds of warriors, the utterly insane and useless ways authorities respond to those effects, and how soldiers not in authority must go along with the insanity in order to get anything at all, but not so much that they lose their own minds in the process. The one chapter is almost a blueprint of the entire novel, and prepares the reader for the madness that lies ahead.

This idea can certainly be carried over to film, where it is considered good screenwriting to have the first ten pages (and thus, first ten minutes) of the script be a sort of a primer for the audience for the rest of the film. The diner conversation in Reservoir Dogs is, metaphorically, an introduction to who each of the characters actually is, even though at least one isn’t revealed till the climax in fact. The opening of The Shawshank Redemption puts you in the position of every character in the movie except for Andy Dufresne, not knowing whether he’s cold-blooded or merely aloof, so that once you learn that he’s actually the most honest man in the story, you also have the heartbreak of realizing that by the time you learn it for certain, you realize he’s been corrupted (to an extent) as well.

This notion of a work of art teaching you how to appreciate it, within itself, very definitely applies to Zabriskie’s Cylinders. The first track is light, and almost sounds like someone just noodling around on the piano. And yet, every track that follows builds upon it, building up and out, priming and preparing the listener for what is to come, to the point that when “Cylinder Six” plays, it’s a viscerally thrilling experience, even though considered on its own, it’s hardly a romantic sweep, nor a crescendo of any kind. But taken in context of the rest of the album, it has the goose-bump feel of sudden revelation and release. And each track that follows just keeps building further.

The Free Music Archive page compares this album to Philip Glass and John Cage. I don’t care for the Cage comparison, but the Glass one is apt (and I’ll be using Glass as a reference point again next week). I don’t personally care for Glass’s work, or the part of it that I know, but the influence is definitely there, and what Zabriskie does with it is very much, very much to my liking. It takes some listening and getting used to, if you don’t go on sonic explorations very much. But the result is well worth the time you invest in listening.

Download Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie free from the Free Music Archive, or get it for one dollar (or as much more as you care to pay) from BandCamp.



Cylinders by Chris Zabriskie is licensed under an Attribution License.

Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at http://chriszabriskie.com/licensing.

#Writing #MusicMonday: Invent the Universe by Stellardrone

Cover“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe.”

— Carl Sagan

And once again I bring you Stellardrone, the Lithuanian synth composer and musician whose Vangelis-inspired work puts him into my heavy writing rotation.

As with all of his other work, this album works both as pure background music, or as inducement to a reverie of exploring the cosmos. Virtually all of Stellardrone’s releases make explicit reference to Carl Sagan’s Cosmos, and this one is no different, with the above quote turning up at the most enthralling possible moment in the opening track. The rest of the album could easily back Sagan’s exploration of the universe in his “spaceship of the imagination”.

At this point, he’s only got two albums left that I’ve not shared, so I sincerely hope he puts out some new work soon!

Download Invent the Universe free from the Internet Archive, or get it from Bandcamp and send some well-deserved money Stellardrone’s way.


Creative Commons License
Invent the Universe by Stellardrone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

#Writing #Music Monday: On A Beam Of Light by Stellardrone

On A Beam Of Light coverI’ve shared two Stellardrone albums previously, but I have to confess: there are days, sometimes weeks, when I simply queue up a playlist of every single thing he’s released, put it on repeat, and let that be my writing/working soundtrack for the day.

So today, we go back to his first album, On A Beam Of Light.

In one of the two posts where I’ve dealt with Stellardrone before, I suggested that his earlier work was less melodic and more drone-y than his most recent two albums.

That was unfair. His more recent work is sharper, and manages more complicated build-ups both in individual tracks and album wide, but he was, as this album amply shows, melodic from the get-go.

The Vangelis influence is just as obvious as in any one of his other works, and again that is no bad thing.

This is music of wonder and exploration, that will put anyone my age in mind of Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series. (We will not talk of the travesty of whatshisface’s “update” series of the same name, nor of the horrific musical choices it made.) It is perfect for firing the imagination and exploring unknown worlds.

You can download On A Beam Of Light by Stellardrone free from Jamendo, or free from the Internet Archive, or you can name your own price (including free) and get it through BandCamp while sending money Stellardrone’s way.


Creative Commons License
On A Beam Of Light by Stellardrone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Yes, different licenses are listed on the Archive and Jamendo. But this comes from Stellardrone’s own website:

Once Stellardrone publishes his tracks on the Internet he waives all the rights to them and only kindly asks for attribution. Any person or organization is free to use any track of his on any kind of project (commercial, independent etc.), including selling, remixing and distribution of music.

stellardrone/use of music

Writing Music Monday: Echoes by Stellardrone

Echoes CoverI’ve only posted one album by Stellardrone, and that was more than a year ago. This is not a comment on his quality, but rather on my dependence on mood. Stellardrone is very good, but I’m very often not in the mood for his sort of sonic wallpaper.

Well, I’m back in the mood, it would seem, and since he hasn’t released a new full album since the last one I linked, I went one back.

Stellardrone released Echoes in 2012, and it’s an interesting bridge between his older works and 2013’s Light Years. The older works tend to be less melodic, more of a drone (per his name), and that’s the part of his musical sensibility that I just don’t care for. But with this album (and more so in the more recent one) he began experimenting with build ups and releases that sound more melodic to me, and if not, certainly shift the listener’s mood more successfully than the more neutral sounds he was creating before.

You can download Echoes by Stellardrone from Bandcamp in almost any audio format you want, as well as send money his way (or for free). You can also get it from Jamendo.


Creative Commons License
Echoes by Stellardrone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.

Writing Music Monday: Light Years by Stellardrone

Light Years coverThis is one direction that ’80s synthesizer music should have gone. I have almost no patience for techno, let alone “house”, “industrial”, or (shudder) dubstep. But this? This works for me, at least as appropriate sonic wallpaper.

Light Years is the latest album put out by Stellardrone, and it’s fully worth downloading and putting into your writing playlist.

Here’s what Stellardrone has to say about himself:

Stellardrone is a pseudonym of [an] amateur composer (Edgaras, b.1987, Lithuania, Vilnius) who started creating music in 2007. Using only computer software (Reason, Ableton, Audacity) and virtual synthesizers. He is mostly interested in ambient/electronic/space music. Releasing all albums for free and promotes free sharing of digital copies. His main inspirations are Kelly Bailey (computer game composer), Aaron Marshall (emerging film composer), Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Altus, Vangelis and Aphex Twin’s selected ambient works.

All he had to say was “Vangelis”. 🙂

(You can also download the album from Jamendo, but if you go through BandCamp, you can actually throw some money Stellardrone’s way.)


Creative Commons License
Light Years by Stellardrone is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License.