Memories of 2055 - a cinematic, multi-genre fusion album
Celebrating the Beauty of Human Intuition
Memories of 2055 - a cinematic, multi-genre fusion album
Celebrating the Beauty of Human Intuition
This project will only be funded if it reaches its goal by Sun, December 8 2019 7:46 PM UTC +00:00.
What makes us human?
Is it our ability to love, dream/imagine?
Why do we feel moved when we look at the mountains, the forest, the skies, or when we swim among fishes while diving or look into the night sky and see the stars beyond? Why do we whether as a child or adult, always find joy in doodling, dreaming, making up stories or building something.
There is something unique about us as human beings. Each of us possess this intuition that allows us to dream up/imagine that which has never existed before, and appreciate beauty itself. We made great works of art, created inventions, made discoveries that changed the world, and dreamt of reaching the stars. We recognise beauty, fall in love. This intuition allows us to experience life and something beyond, and makes us feel... human.
What this album is about:
A Celebration of Beauty of the Human Intuition.
I explore what humanity is, through the lens of an Artificial Intelligence.
Against the backdrop of a future post-human world, where only remnants of civilization exist, Man's final legacy, an Artificial Intelligence - HAL2055 awakens in orbit of Earth to discover the world humanity left behind. It immerses in the collective memories of mankind, and lives through a lifetime of a human, to uncover where humanity's future lies.
Despite what most people think, I don't believe machines will ever become "superior" to humans. We are two very different, distinct entities. They will never understand what being self-aware/consciousness the way we do. This is because they have an eternity, and we don't. They will never understand the concept of the journey of life, because what takes us a lifetime to learn, they can master in the blink of an eye.
Without a concept of time, life has little meaning.
Our limited time here on Earth is what makes our lives precious. It makes us love, remember and yearn for moments that take our breath away, because we do not have forever. We all have a gift. And that is that we are flawed. We are emotional, and hence we have flights of fantasy. But it also allows us dream, make mistakes and imagine something that has never existed. We are destructive, yet we have the same infinite potential to create, forgive and love, help others. All this makes sense, because each moment we have here, is precious.
This album celebrates all that makes us human, and is created with the same intuition, innate desire to experiment, create/improvise, search for something beyond what exist.
Memories of 2055 is an unique visual / cinematic multi-genre music album (or what I call an audio-film).
This album does not belong to a single music genre/category. Each track/chapter is a piece of musical work layered with different sounds/styles of music, from classical, jazz, film scores, Carnatic (south Indian) music to anime/video game soundtracks.
The music itself is the narrative, with the instruments (piano, violin, Carnatic violin, saxophone and soprano voice) painting images/scenes of a post-human future.
There are 9 tracks in the album, each a chapter in the story. To further immerse the listener in this future world, the album comes with an art book I have illustrated, with an art work for each track/chapter, and also concept art sketches.
First conceptualized for a concert at the Esplanade Recital Studio (Singapore) in April 2019, this project is philosophy meets science meets human expression; it pays homage to the past (the roots of different genres), celebrates the present/”the moment”, and most importantly, looks to the future - imagining a sound beyond.
It's been 7 years since my first album Stories from Wonderland (which The Business Times selected as one of the top 10 albums in 2011, for having "helped shape music in 2011"), which the title track An Indian Folk song meets Jazz won the first prize in the instrumental category of the 2011 UK Songwriting Contest, and encouraged me in pursuing this unque approach to music-making. I am truly excited as Memories of 2055 is not just my second album, but it is also the cumulation of the original contemporary fusion music I have developed in my audio-film concerts over more than a decade.
Since the debut album, my musicians and I (in particular, Lazar T.Sebastine), have performed around the world in New Zealand, Poland, Scotland, the Netherlands, the Maldives, Thailand, Indonesia, and my original music has been used in productions/performed in Brazil, Spain, Japan, France, among others. I have been fortunate enough to have the opportunity to compose for international brands such as Cartier, Nendo, Toyota, Club Med, Rosewood, Discovery Channel, National Gallery Singapore and Changi Airport etc, but there's nothing quite like creating your own album, and bringing your musical vision to life.
I have composed and arranged/orchestrated all the music in this album, recording it with some of the finest musicians whom I have worked, including Lazar T.Sebastine (Indian violin, 1st rank in Kerala state for violin (Ganabhooshanam) from R L V College of Music & Institute of Fine Arts), Martin Peh (violin, Masters of Music, Yale School of Music), Marvin Leung (saxophone, Master of Music, University of Surrey) and Eunice Suen (soprano, Master of Arts, Trinity College of Music). I am also producing it, and mixing it with long time collaborator sound engineer Jeff Wong.
After 'Oumuamua (the first interstellar object to enter our solar system) happened in 2017, it made me think about our existence, life itself. I created music and did a concert inspired by this breathtaking landmark event in mankind's history, but one year on, I was still pre-occupied by the question - what is the purpose of our existence?
I decided to look into what motivates us to live as human beings or rather, what we live for. In my search I discovered the Japanese concept of Ikigai - "a reason for being" and subsequently wabi-sabi.
The former enlightened me, but it was the latter that really answered many of my questions about life and "how to live". Wabi-sabi talks about the transience of life, and reminds us that life itself is perfectly imperfect.
Most importantly, it talks about an appreciation for the beauty of the impermanence of life itself. All living things have a limited lifespan, and that is why each moment is precious. (Would we live the same way we do if we were immortal? I doubt so.)
Despite this, we spend most of our life trying to make sense of the world through the over-simplified frameworks we create. We spend our time being upset, having regrets about the past, what's gone, and the rest of the time worrying about the future which may never come. But, yet we are never in the present.
How can we live if we are not present?
As a self-taught composer-pianist, I have been improvising, creating ideas for compositions since age of 10. As an improviser, you truly appreciate the beauty of the moment, the need to be present.
What if we are able to capture such moments, where one single idea can lead to entire works of music (be it symphonies, operas, a film score) being created?
What if we could let the listener experience this moment of magic when it happens? This is what this album sets out to capture.
To imagine, dream one needs to be aware, be a consciousness, so what exactly is it? I needed answers.
As a tech-enthusiast in trends in technology, I am constantly reading discussions, interviews and articles by scientists, mathematicians and futurists on the impact of developments in Artificial Intelligence (A.I) on human society.
In my research I came across a thought-provoking article by mathematician/theatre practitioner Marcus du Sautoy titled Can AI become conscious? Bach, Escher and Gödel's 'strange loops' may have the answer, and was immediately fascinated. He wrote, "In 1979, a cult book by Douglas Hofstadter explored consciousness via a mathematical idea found in art and music.”
This thought of Art and Music solving what Science can't explain set me on a journey of research, reflection and introspection. This led to creation of this story and music.
Who am I?
As a full-time composer-pianist, I have been composing music for more than 30 years, creating original works for film, contemporary dance, advertising and creating immersive concerts.
I have also collaborated with visual artists, poets and chefs to create multi-sensory experiences and performances. I have worked with international brands including Cartier, Nendo, Club Med and Discovery Channel.
As both a composer and improviser, I am constantly trying to reconcile creating "perfect" works, crafted over time through thoughtful elaboration in the studio and living in "the moment" performing and improvising on stage. It is a difficult choice searching for beauty – and whether this was simply, truly, a balance between order and (apparent) chaos? Encountering the Japanese philosophy of wabi-sabi (finding beauty in imperfection), I discovered my answer.
I have always been struck by how intriguing human intuition is, when it comes to creating and bringing together seemingly disparate elements. Our minds seem to have endless capacity to connect what may seem like unrelated points or nodes – across time, space and dimensions. This serves as a great contrast to the reactive trait we possess in order to survive –instinct.
I believe realizing that we possess this great gift of intuition will help us appreciate what it truly means to be human, and treasure the world we have today.
Where do we go from here?
Through this album, I hope to inspire people to appreciate the impermanent beauty of life itself, and to celebrate the gift of human intuition.
We are at the crucial point in humanity’s history where the way we use technology will decide if we survive and progress as a species or end our chapter with as the one responsible for the Anthropocene/sixth mass extinction.
These days we hear it over and over again - climate change, overpopulation, unsustainable use of natural resources, pollution, conflict, food shortages etc. These are just some of the problems we face now. So what kind of world (if any) are we leaving behind for our children's children?
I believe the bigger question is, so, what can we do as individuals?
One of the reasons for creating this album: to understand what it means to be human, through the journey / eyes of a logical machine, an artificial intelligence. Human beings make great discoveries through accidents, intuition. Machines will never understand journey, experiences because e.g. a human takes decades to become a grandmaster at chess, but an A.I may take just few hours, days.
Our ability to dream, overcome insurmountable odds through intuition is our greatest opportunity to alter the course of history. We have proved time and again, that flawed as we are, it is this imperfection that also allows us to see possibilities when there's none, and create the impossible.
I hope this music journey will in some small way, spark a change in the listener, to see life in a different light, and the world in a hopeful light, and inspire him/her to dream of a better world where the whole of mankind work together towards a better future.
Please be part of our journey - your support will make it possible for us to complete this album. Together we can make a small but significant change.
We are trying to redefine what an album is.
Creating this album has pushed me and my group of musicians, sound engineers, to go beyond conventional methods of composing, recording, approaches to sound engineering and sound design. In combining the advantages of what music sequencing can offer in experimenting with vast amout of ideas, and capturing "the moment" (in improvisation), we have gone further than we ever have. I have combined my years of knowledge (more than 30) in composing, improvising in various genres of music, creating sound design for all kinds of context.
This is album one of a kind, the music of which can never ever happen again. It will be near impossible to replicate the same music experience in a "live" concert because of the way the music is created, which combines composition with improvisation and intuitive re-arrangement of ideas, on-the-fly in the studio. From creating new ways to get a violin sound, designing a soundscape that features 7 layers of improvised piano, to building an orchestration around an improvised solo, to manipulating improvisations, this album is a cummulation of more than 30 years of unique creative ideas and experiences.
Stay tuned for regular updates on our progress with the album!
More concept art-based merchandise + and story-related updates will be available soon!
Online Articles/further references:
Can AI become conscious? Bach, Escher and Gödel's 'strange loops' may have the answer: https://www.theguardian.com/culture/2019/mar/09/bach-escher-godel-douglas-hofstadter-consciousness-ai-revolution-mathematical-idea-art-music
Technological Singularity: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Technological_singularity#Intelligence_explosion
The Cognitive Scientist, Strange Loops all the Way Down: https://mindbodyproblems.com/chapter-two/
Kurt Gödel--Separating Truth from Proof in Mathematics: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/298/5600/1899
Wabi Sabi: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20181021-japans-unusual-way-to-view-the-world
Risks and challenges
Not much risks - the album is 75% complete and we are currently focusing on fine-tuning mixes, designing the album cover + working on the art book etc. Vinyl delivery takes longer to produce than I realised (apparently 3 months!).
We expect to start production of CDs, Vinyls early December and probably earlier for art book, posters etc.
We look forward to delivering the CD albums in Jan 2020 (or by Christmas 2019 if we are lucky!) and Vinyl edition by Mar 2020.
Stay tuned for regular updates!Learn about accountability on Kickstarter