Alva Noto * Jon Hopkins


ALVA NOTO – HYbr:ID VOL. I   Also on Spotify

While we are still waiting for the fifth and final edition of his Xerrox series, Alva Noto (Carsten Nicolai) surprises us with the release of what will become a new series “bringing together heterogeneous composition methods”

The music for this first edition was commissioned for the choreography by Richard Siegal called Oval, performed by the Staatsballet Berlin in 2019.


“The process of creating HYbr:ID Vol. 1 was defined by the search for a form to bind astrophysics phenomena, fiction and performance movements. Its narrative is inspired by cinematic visual techniques and static images portraying scientific events which also inspired the titles of the nine compositions.”

The music alternates between floating spacey electronic soundscapes and pieces that are heavily rhythmic, always performed with an eye for microscopic details and with the seemingly scientific approach that is so characteristic of Alva Noto‘s sound.

“Deep sub-bass, gloomy sonics, spacious sound design, and inorganic ambiance that is gently coerced with artistic finesse.”

The graphic notations for each of the nine tracks are included in the release. The one below, for instance, is the notation for the track HYbr:ID Oval Collider:

HYbr:ID Oval Collider graphic notation

Alva Noto – HYbr:ID Oval Collider

Music for Psychedelic Therapy


The music of Alva Noto and Jon Hopkins may be quite incomparable, but they do share one thing: their relation to ‘science’. Alva Noto’s approach to sound is almost scientific, while Jon Hopkins dedicates his music to the scientific research of ‘psychedelic therapy‘: “a technique that involves the use of psychedelic substances to aid the therapeutic process”.

In 2019, he was involved in the launch of the Wavepaths project, an initiative of Mendel Kaelen “exploring the therapeutic use of music in psychedelic therapy and the development of music itself as a medicine”.

Regardless of if you’re in need of (psychedelic) therapy or not, the Wavepaths site is worth registering and logging on to: the listeners area offers one of the most beautiful generative ambient online environments imaginable. Just take your time listening to this and chances are you do not need any therapy at all! John Hopkins delivered the original generative soundscape for the Wavepaths website (although I couldn’t find the credit for that on the site anymore, but I assume the music is still his).

Hopkins further explores the subject matter with his new release Music For Psychedelic Therapy. Listening to this album, as expected, is a deeply immersive experience. Compared to the Wavepaths soundscape, the music is more dynamic, evolving from deep meditative states to climaxes of sound.

Remember: Wavepaths is a therapeutic setting that includes the guidance of trained therapists as ‘guides’. It does not advocate the uncontrolled use of psychedelic substances.
I have no experience of using psychedelic substances myself, but I can imagine that listening to music while ‘high’ can be an intense experience. Therefore, just enjoy the music as it is presented here. It is powerful enough on its own.

Apart from the closing track (and some humming on Arriving), Music For Psychedelic Therapy is an instrumental album including soundscapes mixed with environmental sounds. Sit Around the Fire ends the album with a spoken word which, if I’m honest, breaks the spell a bit for me because it takes the album into ‘new age’ territory, which the preceding music carefully avoided.

The vinyl 2LP release (which will be released in February 2022) has a different track sequence and includes an extra track called Singing Bowl. At the time of writing, the CD is sold out on Bandcamp but may be still found on some other outlets.

Jon Hopkins – Ascending, Dawn Sky

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