On The Monome Community Earthquake Disaster Emergency Album

by Thomas Brett

The other day I talked about music in terms of its having no specific meanings, and so available for us to project what we want onto its designs.  But this doesn’t mean music can’t be made in the service of a worthy cause besides its own pleasures.

In the days immediately following the recent huge earthquake in Japan, a number of electronic musicians who use hardware controllers made by monome (a very interesting company based in NY state) coalesced and composed new music.  Many of the tracks on this (free) release are based on sampled and synthesized representations of seismic data collected from the earthquakes.  Usually, basing music composition on this kind of non-musical “input” can seem contrived, but in this case it feels like an appropriate response.  The musicians write that their compilation is “intended as a cathartic response to the impermanence of our existence on this planet.  If you are moved by these musics, please donate something to aid the ongoing rescue and reconstruction efforts in and round Japan.”

The music on this compilation is very strong, and gives you a sense of the kinds of exciting things electronic musicians are doing in 2011 with computers, software, and very, very cool open-ended hardware controllers such as the monome (see pic below).

The download is free here and you can also donate to aid organizations:

www.doctorswithoutborders.org/donate/overview.cfm
www.jrc.or.jp/english/index.html
shelterbox.org