Last December, a 30 minute mp3 named “built_off_off_mix_5_cello7” unexpectedly guided our travels through New Zealand. The file had a way of draping terrains, scoring moments of wonder across myriad landscapes, colors both vibrant and muted, golden and glacial. Landon Speers, an interdisciplinary artist (and friend of S&S) from the ‘prairies of western Canada’ now living in Brooklyn, sent over the rough edit for feedback. This was the early days of Aluphor, his serene new album as Headaches, out today on Human Pitch. A series of pulsing movements—built primarily from synth and cello—Aluphor can inspire sensory awareness, over time proving itself very generous, understated, and fully realized ambient work.
Landon is an accomplished photographer, and his eye informs the album’s tasteful artwork and audiovisual stream (embedded below via FACT). He’s a dreamer for sure, drawn to “people’s ability to have heightened visceral experiences when listening to music.” Here, in loose conversation, he explores this interaction between mediums:
“I’m a really big fan of repetition. I often like to think of myself as one that appreciates minimalism too, but I think I’m often shit at executing things that way. Texture is a big thing as well. As is a sense of place.
I find it interesting that photography (at least the sort I do) is about capturing an existing place, person and time in a way that gives a sense of presence with that moment or at least an appreciation for the tone, mood/vibe. There’s very finite parameters to work with. But music is like painting in that there is nothing existing when you start. It’s entirely restricted to what your abilities can make from scratch. I guess the only limitations are your own shortcomings or logistics. You’re still trying to do the same thing in a way though. Give a sense of time or place, mood, or scene. Inclusion in your moment. But it’s all someone else’s moments so it’s all escapism I suppose…. just taking different forms. So I appreciate the different starting points each begin from.”
Regarding the choice to go from the stark micro/macro texture of the album cover (and its alternates included here) to the more abstract color field of the stream, he adds:
“The jump was inspired by a desire to find different ways of revealing very little while trying to get a lot across. There’s barely any context to the photographs save for the bits of grass. The streaming visuals are the same in that there’s little telling of what the sources are. Both sets are meant to be a vague visual reference leaving lots of room for interpretation. I didn’t want to dictate someone else’s experience with the music and would be happy to know it’s different from my own.
One of the pleasures of music without lyrics for me, is the ability to transport the listener or enhance environments. I think it’s safe to say that a lot of people end up having music play a soundtrack to their life. Their songs playing through their moments—even if rather trivial—end up having a bit more presence when accompanied by music. I wanted to have visuals that left a lot of room for people to see what they wanted, where they wanted and how they wanted. A curious imagination is a wonderful thing and I wanted to embrace the freedom that has.”
This past Wednesday night at Trans-Pecos in Queens, Landon performed as part of Human Pitch’s ‘Ambient 1’. Droners in attendance were already quite primed following sets by James Place, Foxes in Fiction, and new age icon Laraaji. Projections hit an adjacent wall, positioning Landon off to side in the dark. Most of us sat on the floor, vibrating to an exceptional low end. Some eyes fixed into the morphing Aluphor palette. Others simply closed, allowing their own versions to develop. A moment, indeed.
Cassettes can be ordered at bandcamp.