Andrew Reddy - The Other Master
In today's fast paced and stress filled world, many people, myself included, do not take the time to sit and relax, or meditate, to center themselves and cope with the harsh reality that we are forced to take on every day of our lives. This release is crucial to our beings and when we do take the time, it is quite reasonable to want to listen to the right music that will help to calm or heal your turbulent mind. Andrew Reddy, a young artist from Ireland, has perfected the skill necessary to create beautiful soundscapes that enthrall the mind and still the soul.
The opening track, 'Streams,' is light yet menacing, bringing to mind a dark fairytale whose ending is happy and teaches the listener about the fragility of life. The ambient noises and effects that Reddy conjures from his synthesizers provide the perfect background to a peaceful meditation. 'Urizen Wept' is slow and quiet, the music incredibly minimal, allowing the listener to comprehend the notes that are not being played. The use of sounds similar to horned trumpets rounds out the track nicely. The dual tracks, 'The Other Master – Devoted' and 'The Other Master – Despised' are wonderful companions to one another, 'Devoted' being a track reminiscent of the industrial instrumentation of Nine Inch Nails, and 'Despised' has the dark ethereal overtones that contrast it's predecessor perfectly. The longest tracks on the album, 'Ossuary' and 'Tonight, They Plot,' are grand and sweeping works of instrumental art that invoke the primal sensations in all of us when we are let loose into the night. Clocking in at almost twenty minutes a piece, these tracks offer the listener the opportunity to truly relax and fall into an almost dreamlike state as these songs take you away into blissful serenity. The gritty, visceral feel of the tracks are softened at the edges with quiet tones and gently punctuated with a foreshadowing of sorts, making the listener feel safe yet tense, in a way that is both gratifying and soothing.
I am very impressed with the composition and pure intensity that Reddy pours into this album, as I am not usually one to take the quiet, melodic route when I sit back and take in some music with my relaxation time, but with this album I am convinced that conventional methods are not always the best, and I should take the time to step away from the stress of life and revel in a great album that proves the artists' passion for creating music that evokes strong emotions and heals at the same time. I highly recommend this album and would hope that all who listen to it will be gifted with the revelations that this album can provide.
Interview with Andrew Reddy
Tell me a bit about your background and why you started playing.
I first became seriously interested in music when I was in school and a friend of mine introduced me to Metallica. I was instantly hooked and I started playing guitar in 2003 when I was 13. I took lessons for a few months with a local guitarist and apart from that I am completely self-taught. I played in a lot of rock and metal bands when I was younger and I started doing music production around 2008 and it was around this time that I started to really diversify the type of music I was creating. I was fascinated by how much you can manipulate audio so it was a natural progression for me to start using music production as a key element in the composition of my music. I probably spend more time experimenting on the production side of things now than I do playing actual instruments and I rarely write music on the guitar anymore. My desire to create is more of a compulsion, if I go more than a couple of days without working on something new I tend to get frustrated. This is both a blessing and a curse as I am constantly hopping from project to project and generating a lot of music but it takes me a long time to fully finish a project.
What/Who are your musical influences?
I have a hard time filtering out other artist’s ideas when I am writing so I do my best to avoid listening to music similar to my own to avoid being directly influenced by them. Steve Vai, John Cage, Sikth, Tom Waits, Kaikhosru Sorabji and Xasthur have all been major influences on me at different stages of my development as a musician. The most significant influence would probably be Devin Townsend, both as a producer and a musician. His ability to work in so many different styles of music and consistently push the boundaries of what he is capable of creating is truly inspiring. His attitude to write what he wants without considering how it will be received by the public really inspired me while I was making the album. A lot of artists focus too much on writing for their target audience and often this prevents them for taking chances and pushing their boundaries too far. I write for myself and my own expression and Townsend really gave me the confidence to start putting my music out there despite it not being particularly appealing to the majority of people.
What kind of emotions do you hope to evoke, if any, with your soundscapes?
On this album I really wanted to create music that was both tense yet still had an overall sense of serenity. It was written at a time when I was struggling to balance a lot of different commitments and I tried to capture the moment before sleep where feelings of stress and relaxation collide. Using sounds capes and drones it allows the listener to immerse themselves in the track in an almost meditative way and I wanted to build on that using simple melodies to create feelings of tension and uncertainty. I wrote the album in such a way to bring the listener into that mood with the first two tracks and then to develop and explore these emotions further during the rest of the album before finishing with a song I wrote specifically for the listener to fall asleep to. This album was mostly written late at night and I really wanted to create something that would evoke that feeling of sitting back in the dark and just thinking. Most of the music on the album was improvised as a stream of consciousness of what was going through my head so gives the listener a chance to experience the moods of what I was feeling at the time. To me music, especially instrumental music, has always been about expressing the inexpressible. I can convey these emotions and feelings without a telling a specific story and let the listener relate to it in whatever way they want.
What is most appealing to you about the idea of soundscapes and how does that inspire your work?
I love how significant the tiniest changes become when they are part of a minimalist soundscape. When there are so few elements in a song it forces the listener to focus on every detail so a couple of notes or a subtle change in tone can have a huge impact. Sonic texture and atmosphere become more important than melody so it provides an interesting challenge to come up with sounds to convey emotions instead of chord changes that are typically used in music. With soundscapes you can create long, immersible atmospheres to fully submerge the listener in the mood of the piece which can be hard to do using more conventional song structures.
Most of the music on the album was improvised once I had come up with the sounds for the songs so I tried to immerse myself in the piece as I was writing it. Everything I played was a reaction to the developing atmosphere and this approach allowed me to really explore the mood and let the songs develop in a direction that flowed best. The closing song ‘Tonight, They Plot’ was one of the first songs recorded so I would listen to it before working on any new material to help me get in the head space and focus on the overall mood for the album.
How do you feel about the digital revolution in music and has it helped or hindered your success?
The digital revolution has without a doubt helped me. Without it I would not be able to create the music I do today or reach the ears of fans around the world. It is now possible for an amateur to have a home setup that is capable of producing high quality recordings for relatively little money and learn from experienced producers and musicians in online communities and this has caused an explosion in the amount of amazing music being produced. The gap between professional and independent artists is closing although it is still incredibly hard to generate much income from recorded music.
Streaming has become the primary way for people to consume music and piracy is still a major issue so recorded music generates very little direct income. Artists now have to rely on advertising, merchandise and live performance, if they are in the position where it is possible and lucrative enough for them to be able to tour. It seems a shame to me that artists are now forced to rely on this and use their recorded music as advertising when Bandcamp and other services provide artists with the opportunity to sell music directly to the fan without labels or other middle men taking a cut. I think if Bandcamp had existed before Napster when fans still paid directly for recorded music we would have a much healthier industry where independent musicians could focus on the music without the distractions of building a marketable image and still pay the bills. Overall the industry is in a transition to a primarily digital market and everyone is trying to make the most out of the opportunities that it provides and accepting that recorded music will never generate a sustainable income. I don’t expect to ever make much money from my music. I’m just happy to be able to create it and put it out there for the world to hear.