Tristan Perich / Drift Multiply / 2020

“You could strike sparks anywhere. There was a fantastic universal sense that whatever we were doing was right, that we were winning. . . . We had all the momentum; we were riding the crest of a high and beautiful wave that sense of inevitable victory over the forces of Old and Evil – Hunter S. Thompson / Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas 

As the winter of 2022 approaches, perhaps we should takes some time to reflect on music, art and politics.  Maybe even slow down, converse with a friend or family member about the important topics to life.  You understand, a chance to share and exchange thoughts about the complex matters of life and the ideas that both inspire and frighten us.  Or at least those were my thoughts before I got the look from a close friend.  Maybe you know this look? That sad, discouraged face on the other side of the table as you allow your imagination run free in a conversation. Your thoughts running wild in an ocean of free-thought and (percieved) kinship. And suddenly, your enthusiasm is paralyzed by the look on the face of the other person. So it seems to go with most conversations that steps outside the mudane; as if you have engaged in some strange topic forbidden by the authorities.

I’m sure these are all citizens in good standing. And given this look is no high treason.  But there does seem to be a lesson our fellows wish to teach us with these agonizing facial expressions. Try this impromptu test; start a discussion about art or politics or…which Hawkwind album is the very best. You will quickly be discouraged (unless you are very lucky) by the distorted frowns of many of those around you. We live in a society that like to keep actual thinking to a strictly enforced mimum. What is happening to the educated-class of the mainstream culture? Have we lost our ability communicate about anything in a meaningful way? Has our dedication to endless consumption finally destroyed our ability to simply talk? In his book, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Hunter S. Thompson states that the cultural crest of our civilization had broken long ago but with the “right eye” you could still see the high watermark. Thimpson wrote those words back in 1971.  As of 2022, even the watermark is now obsured and vanished from our view.

But let this not be an indictment; there are rare occasions we can still find the bedrock of culture and art among us. Once, maybe twice a year we may discover a piece of music that reaches for, even surpasses, that high watermark. Art that not only challenges our perception of the current environment but also realizes our highest potential. It’s the idea that art should do important things; challenging a stagnant society trapped into institutional thinking. I stumbled a cross Tristan Peich’s Drift Multiply CD by chance in 2020; the sleeve design caught my eye on bandcamp. The simple black and white design of intersecting curved lines on the cover art; the light and shade; the clean, hand-made aesthetic.

But no sleeve design could prepared me for the amazing noise within all those digital 0s and 1s. Tristan Perich’s Drift Multiply is music of the highest order; music that deserves a healthy amount of conversation. 50 violins and 50-Channels is that odd sound you heard from a room previously thought to be empty; it just shouldn’t be there. Telling us that are perceptions are off. That our view is obscured. You listen close and struggle to identify with all that you are hearing.  And you may grow increasingly unsettled as the music grows in scope and measure.  Drift Multiply builds slowly in scope and measure; climaxing into a vortex of swirling black and white noise that will (joyfully) engulfing your head. Like a thousands tiny piece of sound, the music floods your consciousness like a watery, sonic wave.  Initially this is difficult music; individual segments will seem barely discernable from the entire orchestration. You may struggle with the fullness of the sound. That is, until your ears have a chance to adjust. The brain scrambling to find the patterns within these particles of noise and distortion.  But like the simplicity of the sleeve design, the first impression of the music can be decidedly deceptive. When given the time, each individual movement or segment of sound unfolds into a deep tapestry of sharpened, beautiful music that sparks with details of a starry sky above your heads. There is room here to dream and talk together. Drift Multiply is comtemporary music that will force you to give time and attention. That is, if you are going to full understand the ritual and conversations happening within.

I will never forget my parents taking me to an old train-station when I was a boy.  My ears had never been so full with raging sound. It was frightening to me. The screaming noises from those trains left no room in my head to think or react.  Only the power and edge of steel on steel sound.  Harsh and piercing, the noise was deafening and overwhelming my senses and emotions.  But eventually I did begin to hear the individual patterns within the dense noise. There was indeed rhythm and forward motion in this brutal environment. Every thought in my head was swept away and I became completely unaware of the crowd around me. All that sound was damn well intoxicating. An environment that was alive with sound, noise and, yes, a kind of music. I saw and felt nothing else, nor did I search for it.  

Tristan Perich’s Drift Multiply is a dense, difficult composition, but also a living, breathing organic environment.  A composition that was first performed live in 2018 at St. John the Divine Church in New York.  Perich combining the sound of 50 violins, loud speakers and electronics with the amazing acoustic of the world’s largest gothic cathedral. Each of the individual speakers where plugged into a single circuit board that allows a 1-bit audio output used to contrasts the noise with waveforms of each instrument. Those present for this performance, called the music “overwhelming” and spiritual. Flooding the senses with stimulus. Moving between the abrasive, white noise static to a heavenly detailed melody.  It seems entirely fitting that this experimental music was performed within the old cathedral. A space and sound that seeks a dialogue of the higher order.   

I was never touched by the soft hymns of Sunday School my parents forced me to attend when I was a child. How could this sour music be the dialogue between man and his creator?  These simple hymns touched neither my head or heart.  Conversations between us demand a rare, demanding voice; Drift Multiply touches on a vocabulary that we all should be looking towards. A dialogue that requires the listener to use both our intellect as well as our emotions.