What does it say about the current state of modern society when two artists living in the same city create an entire album over email/Dropbox/etc? Convenient? Lazy? Radical?
Composers George Hurd (Innova Records) and Joel St. Julien (his own damn self) struggled with this question during the creation of their self-titled debut album Nightmare Light. Created in San Francisco, the two shared sketches via email, developing them pass-by-pass into fully realized compositions. George would send something to Joel, who would recreate it and send it back. With each exchange the songs grew and became more of a collective process. Numerous late-night sessions together in the flesh solidified the pieces.
Indirectly these songs speak about technological isolation in their genesis, but also of connection and collaborative creativity made possible through the technologies of today, of inspiration stemmed from these digitally shared ideas that made something fresh and challenging, yet undeniably accessible.
The album spans electronic genres from IDM to drone to ambient music with ease taking nods from influences like Aphex Twin, Dawn of Midi, John Luther Adams, William Basinski, Brian Eno, and Autechre. As “Photic” starts as a groove laden invitation to enter their otherworldly soundscapes, the album ends on a sparse note as “Dawning” provides an anticipation for something new to unfold. Nightmare Light’s first EP moves into that space to explore and unfold new sounds.
George Hurd is a San Francisco-based composer whose work focuses on chamber music, electronic music, and the fascinating world where they intersect. He heads The Hurd Ensemble, an electro-acoustic chamber group made up of some of the Bay Area’s finest musicians, dedicated to performing his compositions for chamber ensemble and electronics. His work often fixates on the role of memory in music, using electronic sounds that are made entirely by him, recorded from his life and on his travels, each encapsulating a memory from the place and time they were recorded. He has composed well over a dozen electro-acoustic pieces for other groups and musicians, many acoustic chamber music pieces, and a sprawling catalog of works for solo electronics. His debut album with The Hurd Ensemble, Navigation Without Numbers (Innova Recordings, 2016) has received critical acclaim from WNYC's New Sounds, All About Jazz, WFMT and BBC Radio 3, and includes a composition for violin and electronics written for and performed by acclaimed violinist/composer Carla Kihlstedt. He's performed his work and had his work performed at The Kennedy Center, ODC Theater, The Bootleg Theater (LA), the Switchboard Music Festival, and more. www.georgehurd.com
JOEL ST. JULIEN
Joel St. Julien (b.1980) is a musician, songwriter and sound artist. Joel has written music for documentaries, short / feature films, and dance. His work has been featured on PBS, AOL.com
, TED, and various film festivals nationwide. He is a firm believer in experimentation/fusion with acoustic and electronic elements in sound and music. Joel’s style is similar to a chameleon, never attaching to one single genre, but keeping a highly distinct sound exploring the myriad possibilities of sound and music. This year he released his acclaimed Every Rise EP. www.joelstjulien.com
“Composer George Hurd doesn’t subscribe to any of the monolithic definitions around musical categories. [He] successfully closes any preconceived gaps between electronics and traditionally composed music and what the listener is left with is sometimes warm, sometimes angular but always accessible.“ – All About Jazz
Joel St. Julien:
“You will mostly be listening to a lot of experimentalism, but if you pull your ears a bit closer into the construction of the sounds, you will experience a medley of different genres, each and every time.” - Indie Shuffle