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by Sebastian Reynolds

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Cascade 02:41
Shortest Day 03:35
Temple Gong 02:23
Fetus 04:03
Canary 02:46


Musically Canary was inspired by the claustrophobic dystopia of The Eraser by Thom Yorke, the artists such as Four Tet and Susumu Yokota in their combining of Asian instruments and electronics and the haunting, alien spaciousness of Fetus and Vimutti recall film composers such as Vangelis and Jóhann Jóhannsson. Canary features a host of collaborators and guests including Sebastian's long-time musical comrade the violinist and producer Alex Stolze on Vimutti and When I Leave My Body and a heart-stopping cello performance from Stornoway's Jonathan Ouin for Fetus.

A reference to the canary in the coalmine as a warning of encroaching threat, the penultimate title track features an extract from a speech by John F. Kennedy where he outlines the dangers of secret societies, apt that within years Kennedy was allegedly murdered by the very institution charged with his protection. This is also taken as symbolic for one's own mind, the failure to perceive threats, and the fact that those threats can come from one's own psychological systems designed for self-preservation.

Other tracks such as Imminent Collapse and Cascade similarly encapsulate the feeling of dread in the face of encroaching catastrophe. "Keep calm and figure out how to move forward" is an injunction from decorated Navy Seal Jocko Willink and in this context the army maxim of "keep your world small" is held up as a self-help doctrine of the simplest and highest order. Even through the hardest times self-betterment is always possible, and there is a cult-like, quasi-religious overtone to it when rendered as a mantra.

Temple Gong and Viññāṇa explore an interest in Buddhism and meditation and are through lines into contemporary contemplations on the mind/body paradigm, with samples for Viññāṇa coming from a podcast discussion between scientists Sam Harris and Lex Fridman on the nature of mind and consciousness, a debate that is probably as old as our species, hence the track title Viññāṇa being the Pali Buddhist word for consciousness and the sound-world combining ancient Asian instruments set alongside modern, electronic sounds. Within the tracks themselves the juxtaposition of new and old is presented and also their juxtaposition alongside esoteric musings from 20th century psychologist and mystic Carl Jung for album opener Sleeping Meadow and from Robert Monroe, whose 1971 book Journeys Out of the Body is credited with popularising the term out-of-body-experience for When I Leave My Body.

In July 2020 our son Noah was born asleep. At a personal level this was the tragedy that these songs speak of, this is my redemption album, for the missed warnings and canaries in coalmines. Fetus speaks to the grief, pain and despair at the lowest point, and the chink of light in the dark. That it is possible to be reborn from grief into transcendence. My mother passed away in August 2016. She was computer engineer, building computers for IBM in the 1980s and I grew up surrounded by dusty, strange machines that played games from cassettes. Shortest Day is based on an improvisation that I did at the family home on the Shortest Day in 2013, and mother's voice can ever so faintly be heard in the distance as the track fades out.

After all the noise, tumult and broo haa The After Life offers a taste of the relief, peace and freedom that comes to us all eventually. The path to transcendence takes in extreme pain, facing one's fears, conflict both internal and external and the contemplation of the mind and body in these extreme states, as well as under the influence of various substances and deep in meditation. The question is, what remains?


released September 29, 2023

Composed and produced by Sebastian Reynolds. Mixed with Mike Bannard at Safehouse studios, Oxford. Mastered by LUPO.

Performed by Sebastian Reynolds with guests:

Sleeping Meadow - additional drums and percussion by Greig Stewart, guitar by Jody Prewett, bass by Mike Bannard, clarinets by Rachel Coombes,

Imminent Collapse - guitars by Ben Pritchett, additional programming Stuart Fowkes, vox Freddie Mason

When I Leave My Body - Violin and mix by Alex Stolze

How To Move Forward - vox Jocko Willink

Temple Gong - gong circle by Pradit Saengkrai

Fetus - cello by Jonathan Ouin, vox Sarah Tresidder

Viññāṇa - additional percussion and programming by Greig Stewart,

Vimutti pts I+II - additional percussion and programming by Greig Stewart, violin by Alex Stolze, coat hangers by Adrienne Hart

Canary - percussion by Greig Stewart, clarinets by Rachel Coombes,


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Sebastian Reynolds UK

I'm a music producer, composer and sound artist, supported by the likes of PRS and British Council / Arts Council's Artists' International Development Fund.

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