Ahead of the US election next week, Berlin-based experimental orchestral collective stargaze and Qasim Naqvi have shared a collaborative composition titled Inaugural Music: a haunting ambient piece written as a response to the disappointment and fear engendered by Donald Trump winning the election in late 2016.
Of the track, Qasim Naqvi says: "Inaugural Music was originally commissioned by stargaze for the Musica Nova Festival in Helsinki. I wrote it during the time between Donald Trump’s election victory and his inauguration - roughly from November 15th of 2016 to January of 2017. This was a deeply troubling moment in our country and the anxiety and sadness was palpable. Many people felt the ground opening under their feet. We were afraid of what was to follow, which most definitely surpassed our wildest expectations at the time. During this transitional period between presidents, writing this piece was a way to assuage a lot of life and death type fears and anxieties that were bubbling to the surface. It was like therapy for me - a coping mechanism.
"Another main pillar of this work is the electronics, which were made on a Moog Model D synthesizer. I was drawn to its subtractive properties- a type of synthesis that involves the removal of certain frequencies from a complex sound, through the use of filters. This, along with many other magical properties of the Model D, became the nucleus of the work and the subsequent material for stargaze was the outgrowth. It was a kind of intermingling between complex voltage-created vibrations and the analog of instruments- acoustic sounds generated through breath and string vibration.
"The premiere in Helsinki happened on February 5th of 2017 and the recording was made the following year at the Muziekcentrum van de Omroep in Hilversum, Holland. We had access to Studio 2, which is the oldest radio studio room in the Netherlands. I can’t thank stargaze enough for commissioning this piece. At the time it was my first opportunity writing for them, and since then we’ve developed a wonderful, long-standing friendship and creative partnership."
stargaze conductor André de Ridder adds: "We first noted Qasim’s music through a release of his chamber work Preamble, which we wanted to perform and managed to program quite a few times. We had met when stargaze and Qasim’s band Dawn of Midi both played the same Dutch festival, Cross-Linx, I think in 2016. We exchanged emails and then it’s one of those things where we can’t quite recollect how we became good friends via quite similar interests and mutual respect for each other’s work. I was curating a festival in Helsinki, the Musica Nova Festival, where I was able to invite Qasim as composer in residence - stargaze were due to perform a concert too. For this concert we commissioned Qasim to write a piece for stargaze specifically, with the brief to create a hybrid work of electronics and live instruments, and this became ‘Inaugural Music.’ We’re so happy to have recorded this in the studio, where we were able to explore the particular sonorities that this beautiful work evokes and requires, as a dialogue of the ensemble and the sounds of the Moog and pulses that we compliment or comment on, while often being enveloped by the ambient soundscapes, too."
stargaze is an orchestral collective of European contemporary musicians, an ever-evolving project marrying modern composition with alternative attitudes and sounds. Following their first two festivals at Volksbühne Berlin, stargaze was praised for its far-reaching and genre-defying commissions and performances in the world’s most prestigious concert halls and pop festivals alike. Driven by what is going on in contemporary pop, electronica and other uncategorisable genres, stargaze strive to bring musicians and audiences together that would not have otherwise met, or heard of the music or composers presented. The collective has worked with the likes of Owen Pallett, Villagers, Matthew Herbert, Terry Riley, Lisa Hannigan, Deerhoof, as well as Irish choreographer Michael Keegan-Dolan in the new collaborative dance-piece MÀM, and have performed material by Mica Levi, Bryce Dessner, Nicole Lizee, Qasim Naqvi and Boards Of Canada.
Qasim Naqvi is a drummer and founding member of the group Dawn of Midi. Outside of his role in D.O.M., Qasim works on a variety of projects from electronic music, to composing for orchestras, chamber groups, dance and film. He has been a featured composer at the Musica Nova Festival in Helsinki, the Spitalfields Festival in London, Southbank Centre and the Rest is Noise Festival in Holland. Qasim's soundtracks for film have appeared on HBO, NBC, The Sundance Channel, VICE Media and at The Tribeca, Sundance, Toronto, Rotterdam and London Film Festivals.