by manny marx
Posted on Dec 13, 2016
The heater is beeping again, either it's out of kerosene or another 3 hours have passed. My eyes are fixated on the display. I tap away on my keyboard determined to bring life to these ideas. Ideas which have been aching to escape and manifest into something material. As soon as I get home from work they pull me to my computer with an electromagnetic force. No longer impeded, the winter cold begins seeping in through the walls. "...Work...", I murmur to myself as I glide the cursor up to the top of the screen, clueless as to what time will drop down from the menu bar. 11pm? 2am? I've no idea and it doesn't really matter because I know I'm not going to bed until I finish what I set out to do. "Excellent", I exhale. It's only half past one and I still have a few hours left in me. Although, I hope my wife doesn't get too worried if I don't sleep tonight for the nth time this month.
Diaspora was more than just an another album to me. I could refer to it a "passion project" but that just sounds a bit too cliché. It pushed me to my creative and technical limits. Not only was I composing music and writing a story but I was also designing and coding a web page. There is probably some Ancient Greek or German word which sums it up better but in layman's terms I was firing at all cylinders. There were many days where I "ignited the midnight petroleum".
So what exactly is Diaspora?
Diaspora is a science fiction concept album / short story about humanity's relation with itself, its relationship with technology, and its relationship with itself with technology. In brief, the setting takes place in the not too distant future right after a super virus reduces the world's population, in less than a decade, to a few billion people. This shock to the system birthed a paradigm shift in how humans related to each other and altered their view of objective reality. Also, in the mad-dash for a cure to combat the virus many technological breakthroughs took place. Notably, the ability to digitize consciousness––which in large part was inspired by Richard K. Morgan's cyberpunk masterpiece, and soon to be Netflix series, "Altered Carbon".
The Diaspora album begins when an exploration team, on Jupiter's moon Europa, comes across an artifact which is in the form of a tesseract. The music on the album itself are audio files from said tesseract. These audio files are streams of consciousness from the distant future. Those streams of consciousness range from a space janitor at work to a patron at a bar who is smitten by a particular barkeep. I did my best to bring together the music, lyrics, and story on its web page.
Diaspora holds a binary meaning to me personally. On one hand, it's an anthropological statement and my hope for our future. On the other hand, it was a polymorphic endeavor, in other words, a challenge to my inner Renaissance Man. Not to regurgitate too many of my neurosis on you but creating Diaspora was a push back against this current era's glorification of monomathic culture (more reading here). I wanted to show myself and anyone else who would click, read, and listen that I am a "Jack of all trades" and despite being a "master of none" (e.g. music production, audio engineering, web design, programming, authoring, etc.) I still have value...given, such value is qualitative and lacks the quantitative bounty which specialization brings ¯\_(ツ)_/¯... I guess the statement more or less was, "Just because a person isn't highly specialized in one task doesn't mean they are inconsequential." To whom I wanted to make that statement? I'm not quite sure, probably myself (those damn neurosis again!) but I more so just wanted to put it out there, into the ether... into the Strata.
In terms of composition, Diaspora was produced similarly to my first album Vagabond. Like Vagabond, I used many samples from relatively forgotten music from the 60s and 70s. However instead of the in-your-face approach I took in the previous album, I experimented with a wide array of effects in the latter. The goal being to use the samples themselves as instruments. As for vocals, I wasn't keen on using my own voice on every song but I had to make do. That being said, I am forever grateful to my friends Bulla Fey for working with me on Arp 87. Looking ahead I would like nothing more than to work collaboratively with a vocalist on my next album.
My ultimate hope is for you, the listener, to launch into this universe I've created. And not only to listen to the music but ponder what the real world will look like in 150 years. To imagine what the overt culture will be and what kind of effects our actions today will have then.
Lastly, I'd like to point out that Diaspora is intended to be listened to exactly how it was written––with headphones, late at night, in a dark room illuminated solely by a dim light of a screen.
Thanks for reading!