Florian T M Zeisig - Music for Parents Music Album Reviews

Florian T M Zeisig - Music for Parents Music Album Reviews
The Berlin sound artist explores the creative potential of vibroacoustic research, composing ambient music for therapeutic mattresses that transmit ultra-low frequencies directly to patients’ bodies.

For Florian T M Zeisig, ambient music is as driven by ideas as it is by immediate feeling. As one half of the Berlin new-age duo OCA, the sound artist has used samples cribbed from YouTube synth demos to explore the hidden aspects of contemporary music production. His 2020 solo album Coatcheck made a similar attempt to shed light on invisible labor, weaving field recordings captured during his job as a coat attendant at a Berlin nightclub into a stark meditation on nightlife’s structural underpinnings. On Music for Parents, Zeisig turns his attention to the domestic sphere, crafting a series of compositions through the lens of vibroacoustic therapy.
As a therapeutic method, vibroacoustic treatments use low-frequency harmonic pulses to address chronic health issues. Established by the Norwegian sound therapist Olav Skille in the early 1980s, the relatively experimental practice has been used to treat Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, dementia, and depression with varying degrees of success, and the practice lives on as a wellness technique that’s especially popular in Scandinavia. In addition to therapy sessions with alternative healers,  a variety of pillows, mattresses, and massage tables come fitted with speakers and transducers designed to blast ultra-low, 20-60 Hz sound waves at their respective points of contact. The effect is something akin to the rattling sub-bass of the TR-808, but directed toward specific areas for holistic bodily treatment.

A student of Alva Noto at the Dresden Academy of Fine Arts, Zeisig has long been interested in composition that tests the limits of human perception. During a visit to his hometown in Bavaria, he discovered that his parents had purchased a vibroacoustic mattress in hopes of improving their chronic sleep issues, and he became fascinated with the mattress as a medium for site-specific composition. After nearly two years of research, he emerged with a collection of tracks that combine the soft, mid-range tones of ambient music with the rich, low-end frequencies that are essential to vibroacoustic perception, presenting the album as a gift to his mother for her 60th birthday.

Zeisig’s use of vibroacoustic therapy’s low-end frequencies serves mostly to complement his foundation in the ambient tradition. The album’s opening track, “Dad Is Painting Again,” starts with a gentle flourish of cricket chirps and aquatic burbling before slowly introducing sub-bass frequencies mirrored by synthesizer tones. Soft, reed-like synth lines sweep through the mix at steady intervals as the track alternates between natural samples and distinctly digital keystrokes. The piece feels like a clear continuation of Zeisig’s earlier work with OCA, which channelled the spirit of Japanese environmental music into a careful study of the Alesis QS6 synthesizer on their album Aging. But beyond the arrangement’s careful restraint, the track nonetheless leaves listeners guessing as to exactly how it might be informed by the composer’s relationships with his parents, despite their obvious presence in the album’s backstory.

The album has presumably a different effect in headphones than it would if encountered lying on a vibroacoustic bed, but the musical content remains the same, regardless of the medium through which it’s experienced. Tracks like “Giving/Receiving” and “Dip Pool” make attempts to capture the furthest limits of the audible spectrum, with warm pads and organ tones that add a resonant, full-bodied feel. The former uses glistening textures and gentle gusts of white noise to achieve a delicate, ASMR-like effect in the upper register, while the latter leans into the voluminous low end associated with vibroacoustic listening. While these pieces are attuned to the knotty specifics of their technological parameters, the album feels like a missed opportunity to say more about these technologies, or about ambient composition in general in a moment saturated with digital media.

Ambient music has long defined itself in opposition to commercial background music, and a similar tension exists today amid the sheer abundance of ambient listening options. Ad-supported platforms have made albums like The Disintegration Loops and Music for Airports more accessible than ever, while mobile software applications like Calm and Endel promise endless relief through mood-altering playlists and generative algorithms. Functional listening has become a million-dollar industry, and even the cognoscenti are not immune, judging from the popularity of albums like Mort Garson’s Plantasia and Hiroshi Yoshimora’s GREEN. While less commercial than their app-based counterparts, these albums show that there’s a real audience for this kind of holistic, new-age approach to ambient composition, and Zeisig’s work builds on this tradition.

Comparisons with the sustained popularity of ASMR on YouTube feel apt; vibroacoustic therapy also promises to induce new kinds of bodily feeling. While Zeisig doesn’t make any claims about the album’s ability to induce ASMR (though he’s mentioned it in the liner notes of earlier releases), Music for Parents presents an equally compelling case that there are still untapped possibilities for ambient composition that lie beyond the perceptual limits of the ear. But by using this technology in pursuit of the same functional ends already so common in ambient composition, Zeisig risks papering over what’s genuinely unique and exciting about vibroacoustic listening with ambient clichés. A minor statement from an artist doing exciting work within the art world, Music for Parents remains a static proof of concept in place of what could be a more meaningful engagement with its premise.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Florian T M Zeisig - Music for Parents Music Album Reviews Florian T M Zeisig - Music for Parents Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Thursday, February 11, 2021 Rating: 5

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