Modular Synthesizers and Eden

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Wildering Haven

Where the conscious and unconscious mind meet to create a playground where the totality of unity can be experienced, held together by the grace of the Tree of Life. Sculpting musical forms and raw sounds into a VISION OF EDEN by electronic music composer and modular synthesist Bart Hawkins.

Electronic music composer and modular synthesist Bart Hawkins’ dedication to inner sonic exploration began in the early 80’s when his practice of Zen Meditation and love of the Berlin School style of electronic music launched him into a world of musical landscapes, sonic textures, and silence, sparking a spiritual awakening into the power of sound. His time as a professional film & video producer and cinematographer soon led to experiments with tape loops, delays, re-recording techniques, and the mixing of ambient sounds to create visual listening experiences. Now, diving headlong into the world of modular synthesis, Bart’s sonic creations guide listeners through an electric universe of sound, vision, and consciousness.

Incorporating the sounds of energy with field recordings, Bart Hawkins has created a meditation inspired by the ancient story of the Garden of Eden. In this new album, there are five visions that take the listener on a musical journey from the peace and unity found inside the Garden of Eden, to the serpent’s temptation of a ‘better’ world of all-knowing power, to eating the forbidden fruit that contains a ‘virus’ of an illusionary world of separation and the loss of innocence. The last vision returns the listener to the garden with a message that the Tree of Life and its experience of the totality of unity has never left.

This journey begins where the conscious and unconscious mind meet to create a playground where the totality of unity can be experienced and is held together by the grace of the Tree of Life. Ambient landscapes with distant melodies that echo with the sounds of children playing blend with soft and warm tones that surround the listener in this angelic Garden of sound. This harmony and suspense foreshadow the rest of this album. Structures of experience and consciousness, of abundant fertility and luxuriant vegetation emerge playfully, “Garden of Grace” (7:40) is sparkling with life, bird calls and waterfalls, the sounds of children frolicking bring about a greater understanding of nature as the universe evolves in time, more and more of its energy becomes transformed.

Out of chaos comes order and creation. Trance-like patterns overlap to create evolving and shifting layers that give rise to new patterns and graceful melodies. There is a circular quality with its bright and airy passages. “Orbital Eccentricity” (9:12) emerges with looping keyboards arpeggiating, representing the apparent motions of the planets dominated by the gravity of a central source. Planets and satellites follow elliptic orbits, with the center of mass being orbited at a focal point of the ellipse. These circular fractal-based loops provide the structure that defines all matter. What gives rise to the diversity and creation of new forms lies in the degree of its orbital eccentricity as they evolve into diverse self-organizing systems.

A dream-like and mysterious guitar echoes patterns and textures that weave through deep powerful drones. I can hear chanting in the distance as it invokes mystery and magic. Primitive yet techno, this snake dance organically builds up the intensity of the temptation, as the sly rhythms drive the storm to a climax. “Sidewinder” (13:31) blends rushing synth winds and guitar sounds, mechanical activity on the strings, the emerging rhythm of a machine, merging into a wonderfully scary sound with all that mechanical string and experimental textural stuff going on.

From the book of Genesis 2:16–17: "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die." The story of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve tested by temptation and dangerous forbidden knowledge, has been found in the Talmud and the Jewish Kabbalah, in the Sumerian story of Enki and Ninhursag, in Greek mythology as the garden of the Hesperides; the term jann?t ?adni ("Gardens of Eden" or "Gardens of Perpetual Residence") is used in the Qur'an for the destination of the righteous. Followers of the Latter-Day Saint movement believe that after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden of Eden they resided in a place known as Adam-ondi-Ahman, located in present-day Daviess County, Missouri.

Knowledge has many strange histories, sources and forms. The Garden of Eden has many versions with common elements, but the character of the snake has been interpreted in different ways by distant cultures. The Snake Spirit is a guide for the path to “Kundalini Awakening” and teaches you how to live in sync with nature and, in particular, the seasons. The snake spirit can teach you how to get in touch with the Earth Mother and to see things anew, serving as a symbol of life, change and longevity, a universal sign of healing, a guide for Spiritual renewal and a guide for Astral Travel and trance work.

Living snakes are found on every continent except Antarctica, the oldest preserved descriptions of snakes can be found in the Brooklyn Papyrus, dated around 450 BC and kept in the Brooklyn Museum in New York. The earliest known true snake fossils (members of the crown group Serpentes) come from the marine simoliophiids, the oldest of which is from the Late Cretaceous Period (100.5-66 Ma). There are more than 3,000 species of snakes on the planet today, including five species of snakes that can fly.

I had the opportunity to explore ideas with the composer Bart Hawkins, and he shared many insights about the creation of this electronic meditation on an ancient tradition-rich story. “I always wanted to create a concept album based on the book of Genesis.” Ever since he was a child, Hawkins has been fascinated by the creation story with the garden that contains the two magical trees of creation and a deceptively talking snake. "As a child I wanted to be a herpetologist, as I had several boas, lizards and other reptiles and amphibians. I currently do not have any pets, but have plenty of wildlife in my backyard." He moved to a 64-acre ranch where he could draw upon the inspiration to create Vision of Eden. “I was inspired by the dynamic relationship between the Tree of Life and the Tree of Good/Evil and the different ways they affect human life in real time.”

Using the modular synthesizer as a musical instrument is a unique immersive experience unlike any many have attempted. It forces the composer to be open to possibilities and non-rational exportations. “As a sound artist, using a modular synth is extremely freeing and challenging at the same time by creating, shaping and sculpting the raw sounds into a musical journey.”

This journey begins where the conscious and unconscious mind meet to create a playground where the totality of unity can be experienced and is held together by the grace of the Tree of Life. Ambient landscapes with distant melodies that echo with the sounds of children playing blend with soft and warm tones that surround the listener in this angelic Garden of sound. This harmony and suspense foreshadows the rest of this album. Structures of experience and consciousness, of abundant fertility and luxuriant vegetation emerge playfully, "Garden of Grace" is sparkling with life, bird calls and waterfalls, the sounds of children frolicing bring about a greater understanding of nature as the universe evolves in time, more and more of its energy becomes transformed. Energy is the quantitative property that must be transferred to an object in order to perform work, or to heat an object. The Sun is the source of energy for most of life on Earth and to change energy from one form to another and then use it takes forms in open and ever-renewed experiences, often having different results, and the sounds become a catalyst for the “awakening” of humanity.

Out of chaos comes order and creation. Trance-like patterns overlap to create evolving and shifting layers that give rise to new patterns and graceful melodies. There is a circular quality with its bright and airy passages. "Orbital Eccentricity" emerges with looping keyboards arpeggiating, representing the apparent motions of the planets dominated by the gravity of a central source. Planets and satellites follow elliptic orbits, with the center of mass being orbited at a focal point of the ellipse. These circular fractal based loops provide the structure that defines all matter. What gives rise to the diversity and creation of new forms lies in the degree of its orbital eccentricity as they evolve into diverse self organizing systems.

Crotalus cerastes is a venomous pit viper species found in the desert regions of the southwestern United States and northwestern Mexico. As its body progresses over loose sand, it forms a letter J-shaped impression, with the tip of the hook pointing in the direction of travel, an unusual form of locomotion, which is thought to give it traction on windblown desert sand. A dream-like and mysterious guitar echoes patterns and textures that weave through deep powerful drones. I can hear chanting in the distance as it invokes mystery and magic. Primitive yet techno, this snake dance organically builds up the intensity of the temptation, as the sly rhythms drive the storm to a climax. "Sidewinder" blends rushing synth winds and guitar sounds, mechanical activity on the strings, the emerging rhythm of a machine, merging into a wonderfully scary sound with all that mechanical string and experimental textural stuff going on.

"On the track ‘Sidewinder,’ I placed an electric guitar on my lap and weaved several forks and spoons between the strings to produce a hypnotic effect of the serpent’s temptation." The Sidewinder cannot be seen in the normal field of vision, rather it appears out of the corner of your eyes. When you turn to look at it, it disappears. This ‘hidden’ serpent whispers the promise of an all knowing knowledge and power that has been withheld from you. The Sidewinder’s tongue dances from ear to ear, tempting you to see this all knowing world that just lies ‘outside’ the Garden of Eden.

Upon eating the forbidden fruit, you do not eat from a good or bad apple, you can only eat both good/bad at the same time. The illusionary perception of separation is downloaded like a virus and alters your reality where the totality of unity you once experienced is replaced by a false reality based on the perception of separation. The Sidewinder enters your mind, like a parasite, and sheds its skin transforming itself into your Ego. Enslaving you in this deceptive world of separation.

Other worldly subterranean creatures and exotic sounds give way to a single powerful hypnotic tone that starts to bend space and time of your mind. It pushes you to your limit and then beyond. It is an intense descent into Self Separation madness with a thunderous atmosphere echoing in the background.

For the track "Descent Into The Forbidden Fruit," Hawkins muses, "I wanted to play with a single tone, how far can I push it and still be interesting and powerful? I wanted this piece to be like a ‘bad’ psychedelic experience, where you take a bite of the ‘fruit’ and the descent or fall into separation madness begins. It begs the question of old sages, are we hallucinating our separate reality right now as we continue to eat from the Tree of Good/Evil?"

A dream within a dream? Or an abandoned nightmare?

There is something magical about dragonflies, which were some of the first winged insects to evolve. Fossils of very large dragonfly ancestors in the Protodonata are found from 325 million years ago (Mya) in Upper Carboniferous rocks; these had wingspans up to about 750 mm (30 in). About 3,012 species of dragonflies were known in 2010, dragonflies live mostly in tropical areas from sea level up to the mountains on every continent except Antarctica, the Treeline Emerald Dragonfly also lives in northern Alaska, within the Arctic Circle, making it the most northerly of all dragonflies.

Some Pueblo, Hopi, and Zuni traditions associate dragonflies with transformation, and are said to refer to dragonflies as "snake doctors" because they believe dragonflies follow snakes into the ground to heal them if they become injured. "Dragonfly Speaks" is a return to nature. An ancient healing drum beat with warm overtones in the background give way to bright shafts of light appearing and disappearing as sounds of fluting wings dance from ear to ear. Yet the temptation to take another bite from the forbidden fruit still lingers with tension. The natural attitude that consciousness is part of nature as experienced by the person experiencing it, which invites systematic reflection on and study of the structures of consciousness and the phenomena that appear in acts of consciousness.

Dragonflies are represented in human culture on artifacts such as pottery, rock paintings, statues and Art Nouveau jewelry,, and now dragonflies are present here on what I think of as the joy track for Vision of Eden. Fade ending.

Modular synthesizers can convey the sound of energy with extended textural planes with some variant areas that provide contrast, imagine a winged Snake that communicates with the Earth Element or the great feathered Serpent Quetzalcoatl, from Aztec traditions. Among scholars who consider it to have been real, there have been various suggestions, frequently in the path as a healer who must undergo trials and tribulations takes the phenomena of stars, nova, supernova, quasars and gamma-ray bursts, the universe's highest-output energy transformations of matter and the objects of consciousness do not have to be a physical object apprehended in perception, it can just as well be a fantasy or a memory.

“Vision of Eden” is an impressive and immersive philosophical musical experience. This visionary album is beautifully created, crafted and well thought out. “I embrace the modular challenge to create my own unique sonic signature and to shape the character of that sound to tell a story in real time.” The Tree of Life can be experienced as a nonlinear, non-rational unity experience, where the Tree of Good/Evil is a linear, rational, separation experience. Both Trees exist simultaneously yet the Tree of Life includes the Tree of good/evil but the Tree of good/Evil excludes the Tree of life.

There is an old expression: “Be in this world but not of it,” (interpreted, for example, in the Book of John, in the Bible). Reflecting on this scientifically, Hawkins realized that for tens of thousands of years we are taught to observe and react. Repetitions of this process perpetually reinforce a reality in which we exist separate from the source, or eating from the Tree of Good/Evil. This self organizing pattern exists prior to any human awareness and serves both the structure and process of every living system. This separation "construct" becomes hardwired in our brains, thus we perceive and experience everything as separate, absent of source.

Thus humanity has built all social, political, religious, economic, scientific and any organizational systems entirely based on the human illusionary perception of separation. This limited perception of reality keeps humanity on the road to Hell that is paved with 'good' intentions. An endless fractal loop, an echo chamber, of our own making. Now how to put this into a musical form?

Behold this Vision of Eden.

The album released on June 18, 2021 in a variety of formats available at https://spottedpeccary.com/shop/vision-of-eden/ as well as on Bandcamp and on streaming platforms worldwide; visit https://orcd.co/vision-of-eden for popular links.

 

Portland-based Spotted Peccary Music is North America’s finest independent record label with a focus on deep, vast and introspective soundscapes. For over three decades, the artists of Spotted Peccary have been on a mission to develop, produce, publish and release ultra-high-quality, deep-listening experiences that engage the listener and exceed expectations. Every release is carefully prepared in a variety of high quality formats from MP3 to high-res studio masters. Explore more than 165 titles and 45 artists at www.SpottedPeccary.com and www.AmbientElectronic.com.

Links:
Bandcamp: https://ambientelectronic.bandcamp.com/
Spotted Peccary Album page: https://spottedpeccary.com/shop/vision-of-eden/
Album Unboxing Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DuiWMigrDsw
Spotted Peccary Artist page: https://spottedpeccary.com/artists/bart-hawkins/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spottedpeccary/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Barthawkinsmusic
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/user/spottedpeccary

 

FOOTLINKS FOR A DEEPER DIVE

Bart Hawkins: Modular Synthesizer Composer -- a sonic journey
https://ello.co/robinja56/post/hzmrzzbhavm059p4gish3w

https://ambientelectronic.bandcamp.com/album/21-pulse-eclipse

https://spottedpeccary.com/shop/21-pulse-eclipse/

https://barthawkins.bandcamp.com/album/last-ride-in-leonardo-da-vincis-helicopter

Genesis
https://www.vatican.va/archive/bible/genesis/documents/bible_genesis_en.html

Kabbalah
https://kabbalah.com/en/?_vkey=b

Enki and Ninhursag
https://www.worldhistory.org/Ninhursag/

Hesperides
https://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Minor_Gods/Hesperides/hesperides.html

The Qur’an
https://quran.com/about-us

LDS
https://www.churchofjesuschrist.org/?lang=eng

Daviess County MO
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adam-ondi-Ahman

Kundalini
https://www.anandgholap.net/Kundalini-GSA.htm

Snakes
https://snakesarelong.blogspot.com/

The Brooklyn Papyrus
https://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/60690

Serpentes
https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/serpentes

Simoliophiids
https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-018-36979-9

Late Cretaceous Period
https://www.britannica.com/science/Cretaceous-Period

http://oceansofkansas.com/

Flying snakes
http://www.flyingsnake.org/

Crotalus cerastes
https://www.birdandhike.com/Wildlife/Snake/Cro_cer/_Cro_cer.htm

Protodonata
http://palaeos.com/metazoa/arthropoda/odonatoptera/meganisoptera.html

Treeline Emerald Dragonfly
https://inaturalist.ca/taxa/112805-Somatochlora-sahlbergi

Snake Doctors
https://rosedalegardens.wordpress.com/2019/09/03/snake-doctors/

Quetzalcoatl
https://www.azteccalendar.com/god/Quetzalcoatl.html


Submitted: June 18, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Robin James. All rights reserved.

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