BRAD GARTON/DAVE SOLDIER, The Brainwave Music Project
If you’ve ever wondered if human beings could dissect the art form of jazz in meaningful scientific ways, this fascinating but sonically offbeat collection offers a powerful and emphatic “yes!” Over the past ten years, composer/computer musician Brad Garton and musician/neuroscientist Dave Soldier have developed the use of inexpensive EEG (electrioencephalograph) sensors that could measure the electrical output of the brain (“brainwaves”) to develop a set of software tools that could generate music using brainwave data. Seem interesting? Their only sometimes tuneful, alternately compelling and off-putting synthesis of sounds has been the foundation of popular concerts by the duo everywhere from rock festivals, radio stations and the NYC Opera to colleges and even the Guggenheim Museum.
In their shows, Dave enhances the music with a lecture on and slides illustrating the brains cortical activity and how it senses and produces rhythm, and Brad explains how the waves recorded from the cortex are translated to music. That context is crucial to what would by itself be a strange, challenging listening experience like no other. For this debut recording, they invited four instrumentalists (flutist Margaret Lancaster, Hardanger fiddler Dan Trueman, mandolinist Terry Pender and drummer William Hooker) to add distinct approachable elements to the mix. If you like well-structured tunes, move on. But if you like some wild adventure in your jazz, classical and electronic music – or if you’re a scientist or student thereof – you might just dig it.