Switched On – Simon James: Electronic Breeze (Lo Recordings)

by Ben Hogwood

What’s The Story?

There are just two tracks on Electronic Breeze, an album whose name really is matched by its contents. The composer is Simon James, described on the press release as ‘a master of electronic manipulation’.

The two tracks were written as a sound installation for the Lowry Gallery in Salford. James describes them on his blog as ‘durational environmental sound pieces’.

The electronic breeze of the title is a semi-random construction, made with wind chimes, modular synth clusters arranged in loops and field recordings. While using wind chimes, James was keen to avoid the clichés that can occur when they have been used in New Age music. Instead he chose a different set for each track to depict different times of the day, and programmed his Buchla synthesizer to randomly play back the notes from each chime, never repeating itself.

What’s The Music Like?

While the initial method of construction might sound like a cop-out initially, James used it as a springboard to begin his own composition, using the ‘breeze’ to dictate other musical events such as intensity, speed, pitch. Then he added the wind chimes themselves. At all times he wanted to complement the installation – so that means the dynamic level of the piece is low, and best enjoyed in isolation.

If you have the right listening conditions then Electronic Breeze is a piece in which to let your mind run free. The two extended sections complement each other, and the resultant sounds, which occupy mid to upper pitches most of the time, give the impression of floating. It is in effect the musical equivalent of gliding.

Does It All Work?

It does – certainly as background music to ease the troubled mind, and as a helpful accompaniment for mindfulness sessions or meditation.

Is It Recommended?

Yes. Electronic Breeze is a soothing way to spend just north of an hour, taking the edge away from the pressures of everyday life.

Listen and Buy

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