Stephen Arnold Music

The Most Heard, Least Known Composers In America

Halls of the Machine: What does Silence Sound Like?

06/23/09 UPDATE: Halls of the Machine has launched! Go hear.

We are finalizing the details for a new release that we are particularly excited about: the ambient instrumental group Halls of the Machine.

A unique ambient addition to the Vault music library

Halls of the Machine: Due for release next week

Since several of the band members are local, we had the privilege to meet with two of them, Michael Jerome and Mike Graff.

Over lunch in historic downtown McKinney, Graff and Jerome shared some stories about their previous band, the “post-industrial rock” group Course of Empire. CoE thrived in Dallas’ Deep Ellum music scene and garnered a reputation for theatricality – they passed out oil drums so the crowd could join the band’s planetary vision with universal tribal rhythms. But as you and I both know, when listening to a killer groove and banging on oil drums, it can be difficult to resist picking up and throwing said oil drums. Needless to say, a mass hurling of hulking metal barrels could be hazardous to one’s health. Especially those standing on the receiving end, like, in this case, the band. Consequently, over time, the oil drum supply at live shows tapered off.

Anyway, Halls of the Machine is a different animal – rhythms are more atmospheric, less oil-drum-launching.

The project was originally Graff’s brainchild, as he described it to us, a semi-spiritual endeavor to capture the nuances of music as a form of meditation. Or something like that. As he spoke, his eyes were distant and occupied by the scene he described: a vivid painting hanging in his father’s room. As a child, he once lifted it from the wall and peered behind it, expecting to see something akin to Narnia. In addition to this memory, Graff wanted the music to represent a state between reality and dream, to sound, as he said, “like the burning of incense.”

After Graff’s brief monologue, we all stood behind him, gaping over his shoulder for some portal to the netherworld. Stephen cracked the ambience, “That’s really wierd, man.” There was a round of laughter, a shaking of hands, and a few slaps on the back.

It was great to put friendly faces to such faceless music. We are excited to be working with Halls of the Machine, all great musicians, each in their own rite.

I have to say, they pretty much hit the nail on the head as far as the whole “music as incense” thing goes. While I edited the material, my spine slackened like well-cooked spaghetti, and out of the languor, I slouched low in my chair. The music certainly has a mystical, minimalist quality to it, and one that will be brilliant synced to picture.

You can check out a sample here.

Lastly, if you’ve got spare time, you should catch Michael Jerome on tour with Better Than Ezra through August. If you see him at a show, tell him SAM says hi.

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