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August 08/20/21, 2021
Jeffrey Ericson Allen is an Oregonian composer, cellist and electronic music recording artist with an extensive and eclectic background in classical, new acoustic and theatrical music production. Chronotope Project represents his most recent expression as a creator of contemporary progressive ambient music. “Chronotope” refers to the essential unity of space and time, a concept with numerous expressions in literature, physics and the arts. The music of Chronotope Project explores this time-space confluence and invites the listener on ambient journeys of deep texture infused with gentle pulsing rhythms and soulful melodies. His newest album is titled γνῶσις which translates to Gnosis.

The album debuts on Spotted Peccary Music, in physical, digital and streaming formats worldwide, have a listen: https://orcd.co/gnosis

A new video for the track “Entelechy, Emergent Order” premieres Friday, August 20, 2021 at 1:00 pm PST / 4:00 pm EST on Spotted Peccary's YouTube channel.

For inspiration, Allen reconnected with the ancient Greek philosophers who he was first enraptured with in his twenties. He found music in Plato’s inquiries; he saw in philosophical paradoxes the push-and-pull of musical counterpoint, the tension and release of dissonance and resolution. On GNOSIS (γνῶσις), Chronotope Project uses his signature jazz and classical-inflected progressive ambient sound to portray the greatest philosophical inquiry of all: a quest for knowledge.

Reflections on Plato permeate the work. The artist expands upon this vision, "I’m intrigued with his rich imagery and have found much music in it. The dialectical style of the dialogues has often reminded me of the conversational elements of music.” He continues, “It is not necessarily Plato’s philosophical answers, but his framing of the questions, and the passion with which they are posed that most inspire me. The antinomies present in Plato’s philosophical inquiry are akin both to the procedure of musical counterpoint and to the tension and release of harmonic dissonance and resolution which animate music and provide a sense of forward motion."

Allen continues, "Besides being essentially expressive, music is communication, a reaching out to our fellow sojourners on the planet, a desire to connect on a non-rational level. For me, music is fundamentally an expression of wonder, a way to touch mysteries within and beyond me, a way to bring unconscious impulses into the flow of the waking world, to dream aloud. No one expressed it better than Glenn Gould:

“I believe that the justification of art is the internal combustion it ignites in the hearts of men and not its shallow, externalized, public manifestations. The purpose of art is not the release of a momentary ejection of adrenaline but is, rather, the gradual, lifelong construction of a state of wonder and serenity.”

Sound is the subtlest and most transient of artistic media. We compose scores or create recordings, but only while the music plays, and someone listens, does it exist. A piece of music may have a beginning, middle and end, it may be tightly or only loosely structured, but its form is invisible and only perceptible as a function of change over time. So it has this unique way of existing in and outside of time.

Like storytelling, music is an attempt to create a narrative that structures our inner world, a way to bring coherence and meaning to the chaos of life.

Q: What is listening?

A: Listening is attention. It is the quieting of the mind to allow the surrounding vibrations to penetrate our awareness. Perceiving musical sounds require presence, but also memory and anticipation to become coherent; the meaning of a melody, harmonic progression or a rhythm requires us to take in a larger present-moment, one that can encompass a history of pitch, texture and accentuation. We hear not just a succession of pitches, but a musical phrase that reveals itself over time.

Listening, as an auditor, is surrendering oneself to what is being presented, allowing it to sink in a work on us.

Listening, as a performer, is the art of attending carefully to what fellow musicians are doing in creating and shaping sound. It is acknowledging that music is a form of conversation, requiring give and take and adaptation to the moment.

As a composer, listening is the art of attending to the possibilities of as-yet unheard sounds that populate the unconscious. Often, when I am layering tracks, I listen for intriguing parts of the texture that are suggested, but not explicit, then emphasize them. Listening is essential to improvisation, the playful response to existing sounds, followed by shaping and structuring.

Deep listening is humility; it is letting go of personal purposes and agendas to embrace the wonder of sound that is everywhere, to partake of what is not myself in order to better know myself. When the old Zen teachers asked students to listen for the sound of one hand clapping, they were trying to draw out this kind of humility. Deep listening is not identifying, judging or otherwise mentally commenting on sounds, but experiencing them as they come. I try to spend some time every day listening in this way. It's difficult, if not impossible, for me to do this with music, but just sitting quietly with whatever sounds are present in the environment is good practice.

Throughout my life as a musician, I have tried to cultivate my ear, along with my craft of making music. My aim is to keep the ear always slightly ahead of my technique. If the ear lags, I may become complacent or over-confident; if it stretches too far ahead of my craft, I may be setting myself up for crushing dissatisfaction. This part of listening is the part I identify with longing, the reach exceeding the grasp.

Q: What is your goal as a composer?

A: I want to connect intimately with the solitary listener. I treasure the communications I have received from listeners who have in some way deeply connected and really resonated with my music. I no longer have any particular interest in chasing or cultivating followers or fans as an aggregate, or in securing some position or credential in my genre. My goal is to reach the height of my craft, to create with all of the longing, loving care and attention to detail I can muster. With each new work I complete, I want to be able to say that I have transcended what came before it. I do not make anything with a view to what I think my audience will want or like; my aim is to try to satisfy myself that I have done my very best work, that I have grown in my art.

I also aim to continue to develop my own unique style, to offer a contribution to my art form that is original and coherent and expressive of who I am as a person and an artist. It is a high compliment to be told "I heard this piece, and I recognized it as yours." It has taken years of experimentation to develop a style, and of course that style must and will continue to evolve and change, but I see no point in making music that sounds like everyone else's. This is tied to my personal goal of what Maslow called individuation. It is the lifelong project of becoming oneself. Art is an excellent way to pursue this project, and while my life is very conventional in many respects, music offers me a way to discover and develop a unique identity. So for me, to work on music is to work on myself.

Q: What is your advice to artists who are starting their careers?

A: Be patient, and focus on developing your craft. Don't be too eager for recognition; I have made this mistake and regretted it. Don't try to please anyone else with your music: please yourself instead. T.S. Eliot once exchanged letters with an aspiring young poet who was concerned with reviews and reception. He counseled the poet with this wisdom: "It is enough to do your own work--the rest is none of your business."

Most musical recordings have a very short life in the public arena. In the first few months, your work may be played on the radio, reviewed and talked about and given whatever fleeting attention it may garner. And unless you've succeeded in producing a classic, in less than a year, radio producers move on. The public appears mostly interested in what is latest, what is new. Don't let this discourage you. Move on to the next work, and make it better. Maybe you will eventually create something less ephemeral, but remember: "the rest is none of your business."

Cultivate your musicianship. Train your ear, work on your playing chops, extend your knowledge of music theory. Stay hungry for the craft.

Develop good working habits and revisit your workflow every so often. Read your manuals, and learn your hardware--and software--inside out. Resist technolust. Don't get addicted to buying new gear. Most electronic musicians fail to take full advantage of what they already have, and think that some new gear will magically transform their music; it probably won't. What will transform your music is you.

This may be terrible advice, but I'll offer it anyway: Stay with the music itself, not the image you may be asked to project as a musician. The music industry emphasizes image far too much. Music has to be packaged and sold, and you may be asked to put forward some glamorous or grandiose posture. Personally, I think that even if it may sell more albums, it's not worth it. In the worst case scenario, you may come to believe in the personna projected and indulge in some form of artistic narcissism. That's very unhealthy for you as a human being. Yes, you will probably have to do photoshoots and interviews, but try to resist the projections of "the artist" that will be foisted on you. Maybe you and I will find ourselves on the vanguard of something new and refreshing: sincerity. Let's resist idolatry and give it a shot, shall we?

Q: Are you able to bring ideas back from your nocturnal dreams?

A: When I was in college, I once dreamed of wonderful music--a string quartet. When I awoke, I was excited, because I still remembered it in some detail. I skipped classes and hunkered down with a piano in a practice room at the school of music. I worked in a frenzy until late in the day, convinced that I had the makings of a masterpiece. Only when I got back to my dorm to finally take a shower did I realize the cosmic joke of it. The music was a masterpiece; it was the first movement of Ravel's magnificent F-major string quartet! Somehow, I had managed to believe that it was my own creation. I was still under the spell of the dream. While I had transcribed it in a different key, I went to the music library and checked out the score. I had actually written out a decent facsimile of part of the first movement. It's funny now, and slightly embarrassing, but here's what stuck with me: for a few brief hours, I believed myself to be in the grips of an astonishing, white-hot inspiration. It was exhilarating. I'm no Maurice Ravel and will never be, but since then, I have had other dionysian flashes of creative mania, in which I work without pause. Some of them have produced viable work. But mostly these days, my artistic process is rather work-a-day and not especially glamorous. Perhaps I have lost some of my youthful Romantic spirit, but I am content to simply show up and do the work now. When inspiration comes more volcanically, I can enjoy and embrace that, but it still has to be worked.

One dream image that I have retrieved and made use of is a personification of my Muse I have called "Erda." She is primal, my reflection of the Eternal Feminine, a dweller of subterranean spaces. For years, she appeared to me in dreams and served as a guide, often helping me to find my way out of caves and labyrinths, a bit like Ariadne. One morning, I awoke from an especially vivid dream of her, and I gave her a name and painted her portrait. She has never visited my dreams since then--perhaps she no longer needs to. She is a mistress of melancholy and mystery, elements which pervade much of my music. Just recently, my image of Erda has made its way into the artwork for the album Gnosis. I'm very glad she's there, accompanying a piece called "The Still Small Voice." So a strong dream can percolate into the waking world and be of some help, when attended to.

Truth be told, I rarely have meaningful dreams these days, but one thing I value even more about sleep is the way the brain processes problems and difficulties and often supplies answers on awakening. I like the Russian proverb, "Mornings are wiser than evenings," and when I reach an artistic or technical impasse, I often just sleep on it and trust my unconscious mind to process it while I sleep. I am often rewarded with successful solutions.

Q: What are your most cherished accomplishments?

A: I have been involved in some very rich artistic and satisfying collaborations. One was the stage drama, The Descent of Inanna, based on the ancient Sumerian myth of a goddess' descent into the underworld. It was offered in a local theatre and incorporated poetry, masks, dramatic staging, and a continuous score I composed. The poet, director, actors, mask-maker and I worked on it for over a year in a collaborative process that was very organic, and I think the result was stunning. I have also highly prized my various collaborations with modern dance choreographers, and fully enjoyed the work of making individual pieces and full-length performance works. I am also proud of my recorded music catalog. Since the early 90s, I've recorded eleven solo instrumental albums, and feel that the work has grown and matured with each. I also have some classical compositions that I'm very happy with, including a suite for solo cello, Eclipse, which was performed at the Oregon Bach Festival some years back.

Q: What have been your most important discoveries?

One important discovery, in my artistic journey, has been recognizing the importance of failure. I have a respectable body of completed works, but you should see my catalog of false starts, unrealized pieces and artistically untenable ideas! This used to frustrate me, but I have come to embrace my unworkable ideas--mental flotsam and jetsam--as part of the process of finding something worth developing. I made a piece of visual art that now hangs in the studio as a reminder. A few years ago, I found a box of music manuscripts that contained hundreds of my sketches that went nowhere. I decided to turn some of them into a collage of torn scraps, pasted over an image of the Buddha. Only one eye of the Budda, a bit of his head and a piece of his mouth poke through. Each musical fragment is outlined with a gold kintsugi border, reminding me that even what is broken, incomplete or faulty has its own purpose, and even a kind of beauty. The little bits of Buddha that show through remind me that there is "Buddha nature" even in what is rejected. I try to see my life in the same way, collaging my unhappy choices, failures and regrets on the canvas of memory, and forging them together with a golden seam. Our missteps and sufferings, as well as our successes, are part of the larger and richer human experience that add up to a complete life. As a composer, all feelings are to be honored and welcomed. Rumi says:

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

For deeper inspiration, Allen reconnected with the ancient Greek philosophers who he was first enraptured with in his twenties. He found music in Plato’s inquiries; he saw in philosophical paradoxes the push-and-pull of musical counterpoint, the tension and release of dissonance and resolution. On GNOSIS (γνῶσις), Chronotope Project uses his signature jazz and classical-inflected progressive ambient sound to portray the greatest philosophical inquiry of all: a quest for knowledge.

This quest is painted with a wide array of styles: deep drones and ambient textures, classical counterpoint and driving polyrhythms, atonal sound painting and unabashed romanticism. The diverse sounds here are anchored by the flute-like timbre of the Haken Continuum Fingerboard synthesizer, which appears throughout as the knowledge-seeking protagonist. These richly-layered soundscapes evoke the majesty of myth, from the cosmic arpeggios of “Higgs Field, Cauldron of Being” to the intimate pastoral of “The Still Small Voice.”

Allen’s skill as a sonic storyteller is on full display in every aspect of Gnosis. “Lethe, the River of Forgetfulness,” finds the seeker drifting down one of the five rivers of Hades. Souls drink from Lethe to let go of their mortal memories before continuing their journey. A cello bassline embodies Lethe’s current, pulling the seeker further and further; a subtle Rhodes piano entwines with the Haken Continuum as the seeker’s memories drift away into the water. Then, on “Eidos, Realm of the Forms,” the seeker arrives at the Eternal Forms, which possess the structure needed to understand the world’s true nature. The seeker’s questions spiral through the hypnotic rhythm of the Forms, built from warm textures and hand percussion. In the album closer, the eerie and harrowing “Myth of the Cave,” the seeker vanishes, overwhelmed by the truth of the absolute—before, knowledge achieved, a twirling harp ushers in an ascendant finale.

"Gnosis" is one of many Greek words for knowledge, referring to knowledge gained through experience. The breadth of this album reflects this: GNOSIS (γνῶσις) traverses the ominous and serene, the harmonic and the dissonant to render the accords and contradictions of philosophy in Chronotope Project’s signature cinematic sound.

Jeffrey Ericson Allen is credited with all compositions, performances, recording and mixing; the album was mastered by Howard Givens, and midwifed by Deborah Martin. GNOSIS (γνῶσις) is available for physical purchase in CD format and in 24-BIT AUDIOPHILE, CD QUALITY LOSSLESS, MP3 and streaming formats. The CD version of GNOSIS (γνῶσις) arrives in a gift-worthy factory sealed 6-panel gatefold package that includes vibrant artwork, liner notes, a 6-page booklet, and artful package design by Daniel Pipitone.

Media may request artist interviews, media review copies, and additional artwork from Beth Ann Hilton (beth@spottedpeccary.com) at Spotted Peccary Music.

Tracklist:
1 Higgs Field: Cauldron of Being
2 Lethe, the River of Forgetfulness
3 Eidos, Realm of the Forms
4 The Still Small Voice: The Muse Speaks
5 Entelechy, Emergent Order
6 Myth of the Cave

About Chronotope Project:
Jeffrey Ericson Allen is an Oregonian composer, cellist and electronic music recording artist with an extensive and eclectic background in classical, new acoustic and theatrical music production. Chronotope Project represents his most recent expression as a creator of contemporary progressive ambient music. “Chronotope” refers to the essential unity of space and time, a concept with numerous expressions in literature, physics and the arts. The music of Chronotope Project explores this time-space confluence and invites the listener on ambient journeys of deep texture infused with gentle pulsing rhythms and soulful melodies. https://chronotope-project.com/

About Spotted Peccary Music:
Portland-based Spotted Peccary Music is North America’s finest independent record label with a focus on deep, vast and introspective soundscapes. For over three decades, the artists of Spotted Peccary have been on a mission to develop, produce, publish and release ultra-high-quality, deep-listening experiences that engage the listener and exceed expectations. Every release is carefully prepared in a variety of high quality formats from MP3 to high-res studio masters. Explore more than 165 titles and 45 artists at www.SpottedPeccary.com and www.AmbientElectronic.com.

Links:
Smart link: https://orcd.co/gnosis
Album Overview and links: https://spottedpeccary.com/shop/gnosis/
Unboxing video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBUlACfDHYc
bandcamp: https://ambientelectronic.bandcamp.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/spottedpeccary/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/spottedpeccary
Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/1b5OZ08E4AAtPlYcGkFhf6?si=XT7S5fOiQjqzD1oUJ7TrHw&dl_branch=1