Brad Garton and Dave Soldier ‘The Brainwave Music Project’ (Mulatta) 4/5

A snail is close to reaching a lettuce leaf, only to be stood on. It could almost taste the succulent greenery.

An agoraphobic juggler, trying to impress her friends, is suddenly afflicted with the power of flight, and lands onto a tightrope. She does not stop juggling.

Meanwhile, ten Native Americans meet ten Ancient Romans at a beach resort, have a fantastic time, and remain lifelong friends. They never miss each other’s birthdays, but cannot read the cards they receive.

The images passing through my mind whilst listening to Brad Garton and David Soldier’s new album are as random and sporadic as the music itself, which is precisely the point.

In 2008, Garton, Director of Computer Music at Colombia University, and neurophysiologist-cum-composer Soldier (a.k.a. Sulzer, a.k.a. the person who built giant instruments for Thai elephants), began developing software which could generate music from brain patterns. Using Electroencephalographs (now to be shortened as EEG’s) to measure brainwaves, the data is outputted sonically, translating a stream of numbers into sound.

Cut to ten years later, the result is ‘The Brainwave Music Project’, 58 minutes of complete auditory madness. Four soloists – Dan Trueman, Margaret Lancaster, Terry Pender, and William Hooker – duel with their own waveforms. Linked up to the EEG, each musician, equipped with their respective instruments of the hardanger fiddle, flute, mandolin, or the trap drum, interpret the peaks and troughs, whilst the EEG creates music of its own.

Gabbling terror on Harajuku Hiccups gives way to moody Serotonin, whilst the later antidote Histamine evokes peaceful lulls of parting clouds and shining sun, only for the peace to be broken by the rolling thunder of Initiates, and then drenched by the ensuing irrational downpours of Rational Entities.

One can imagine David Lynch sticking this on, kicking back in an easy chair, dreaming up his next feature whilst his pet log whispers sweet nothings in his ear. It’s human music at its purest form, displaying the true nature of our untameable minds.

The Brainwave Project is made by the brain, for the brain, so don’t worry if you don’t enjoy it, your grey matter will be having a rollercoaster of a time. It’s a fascinating, high concept album with a truly unique construction. Give it a listen, and see where the cranium-composed cacophony takes you.

Sam Turnell