Influenced by NASA’s Voyager 2, the first man-made object to leave the atmosphere, The Voyager Symphony acts as a provocation that allows listeners to discover soundscapes that stretch beyond current perceptions of music and sound. Each of the symphony’s 10 movements began as complex walls of electronic sound, generated by algorithms, which were tirelessly whittled down to form distinct audio sculptures. It was during the process of carving each of the movements that layers, tremors and notches of sound & rhythm were discovered.
The result is a deeply unpredictable piece of work that counters mainstream perceptions of how music should behave.
Opening the album is Ideation which pulls the listener up into a dark and foreign sea of semitonal whirrs, bleeps, and warbles, setting an ominous and otherworldly tone for the symphony that continues throughout.
The unnerving atmosphere is driven throughout by movements packed with surprise and changing direction. From Scherzo’s distinctly sharp-noted piano keys and synths, to Golden Disc, which toys with short, sharp and abrupt electronic sounds, both of which help drive a volatile journey into the unknown.
The brilliance of Ray Incident’s skill as a sculptor, however, is their ability to balance the aforementioned atmosphere with moments of calm as each wall of sound is whittled down. Glimpses of melody, harmony and rhythm fleetingly appear, offering welcome relief during the symphony’s darkest moments.
Pop Motifs and Love Song inject sweet harmonies that gift the listener with a warm sense equilibrium; Eusociality conjures a climbing horn section, providing encouragement and confidence; elsewhere, Pesante opens with a blues-influenced piano and reassuringly warm woodwind instruments, securing a moment for the listener to breathe and reflect on the journey so far.
Ray Incident’s audio sculptures masterfully create a sound that is inherently unnatural and foreign. Yet, their masterful ability to balance light & shade and complexity & simplicity has created a journey that provokes rather than threatens the listener’s neurons. It is a journey of engrossing discovery and intrigue, one that is distinct to each listener.
The Voyager Symphony is a piece of work that demands an open state of mind; the time to let it unfold, surprise and shock, and a commitment to seeking to hear a piece of work in its entirety. The album evolves into a work of art that challenges our perceptions of what music is and how it makes us see, proving to be one of the most engaging and rewarding journeys a listener can go on.
We admit this music is not for everyone. If you like a lot of popular music, please don’t listen to this. But, if you hunger for something genuinely different, authentic and with compositional integrity, then Mr. Incident may stand a chance with you.
Ray states his belief that “all art has in common certain compositional forms that resonate not only in our genomes but in the mathematics of the universe.” If this resonates with you, perhaps you already are an incidentalist and merely needed this little suggestion to learn so.