LY Foulidis ventures inwards on this score for Picture Yourself a Blue Light – a meditative four track EP plugging into another plane.
Over four tracks, LY Foulidis presents a hopeful journey towards something arcane. Drawing from both the devotional sincerity of new age musical traditions and the concision and texture of early electronic and minimal music, he carves precise atmospheres from synthesised and acoustic sounds – combining into music that drones, jitters and shimmers in equal measure. The result echoes with the mixed moods of a trip compelled as much by a need to escape as by a search for serenity.
Far from being coincidental, this stems from the subject matter of the documentary for which it was recorded. Picture Yourself a Blue Light, directed by Thomas William Foster, follows a handful of alternative therapy sessions during the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic: from tantra to extraterrestrial healing. No longer able to take place in person, these encounters play out at a distance – their participants reaching out through the blue light of computer screens.
Like the film, the soundtrack was composed among the strange and emotionally fraught first phases of lockdown. As such, it also opens itself up similarly to both the anguish and healing within the journeys shown there. It resonates with these struggles towards togetherness, and yearning for meaningfulness in the mundane – right when spirituality in lockdown became something increasingly urgent.
That tension – between life in isolation and the transcendence to something more immaterial – finds parallels in the score’s spare use of sounds. Across these four tracks, acoustic instruments share space with drones and synth patterns that evoke something more routine, perhaps even claustrophobic.
But, as with much esoterica itself, these symbolisms are not made of neat contrasts – after all, synths are spiritual too. One pitter-patter sequence recurs between ‘Zoom Drone’ and ‘Transmissie', speeding up and slowing down in a register that alternates between the soothing, frantic and kaleidoscopic. Meanwhile, the percussive synth backbone of ‘Lege Straten’ treads a gentle path somewhere hypnotic – but it also echoes the busy footfalls missing from the ‘Empty Streets’ of the track's title.
At the same time, this record travels beyond its new age influences. Its featherlight autoharp strums are familiar talismans, recalling masters of spiritual musics from Laraaji to Alice Coltrane. Plucked guitar and soft violin also add both intimacy and allure – especially on the sumptuous resolution of ‘Afsluiting’. But, like the Zoom therapies of the film, these are spiritual conversations with the technological. And this is ultimately electronic music – in many ways delivering the promise so desired by the participants of the film: to find meaning in so much mediation, and peace in a surrender to devices.
released May 4, 2022
LY Foulidis: iPad, modular synthesizer, autoharp, guitar, violin
Thomas William Foster: autoharp and shruti box on Zoom Drone
Master by Wim Bult at Inline Mastering
Liner Notes: Callum McLean
Poster by Michiel Mutsaerts
Cover by Joachim Bovin
Special thanks to Adam Van Russell and Floortje Kattemölle