Dreams of Sleep and Wakes of Sound is the title of a three-way collaborative record with UK songwriter Merz, ambient pioneer Laraaji and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily. Together they created music what they’re calling ‘Industrial-Devotional’: a sound they say could co-exist in sanctified temples and in city urbanism adding spirituality to the material world. The new album is slated for release on 5th July 2019 via Dampfzentrale Bern
“I had this semi-serious genre title of ‘Industrial-Devotional’. A kind of devotional music for the post-industrial age,” says UK songwriter Merz of his latest album, a three-way collaborative record with ambient pioneer Laraaji and multi-instrumentalist Shahzad Ismaily. He continues: “ I was thinking of a type of music that could co-exist in sanctified temples and in city urbanism. To add some spirituality to the material life, getting in there like a Trojan horse.”
Merz and Ismaily had worked together previously and the sessions for those recordings led to some ideas that spilled over into this one. “We had a few recording sessions during which we both switched around various instruments including the Chinese guzheng, the Persian santoor, an old f-hole guitar, a tenor guitar. We recorded around twelve tracks in those sessions, three of which are on this album,” Merz says.
Laraaji was brought in when Merz decided to perform a concert in Monastic conditions, which Merz describes as: “Creating a temple-like space and requesting the discipline of silence from the audience right from entering the space to leaving the space. This project was part of my Associated Artist residency at the Dampfzentrale music and contemporary dance venue in Bern, Switzerland.” As an artist who radiates zen-like qualities in both his personality and work – as well as being a master of the zither – Laraaji was the first artist he thought of asking to be involved.
For Laraaji when he listens back to the finished record it sits neatly in line with Merz’s intentions for his newly created genre Industrial-Devotional. “Listening to this album takes me to visions of a modern dance theatre in rigorous performance. It brings up visually and emotionally the harsh ambient conditions of urban industrial factory worker life perhaps in Asia somewhere: a relentless hurried longing for relief from paralyzing life work and anxious longing for comfort and gentleness”.
Laraaji : Merz “Rent a New Place, Everything Could Change” from Jed Ochmanek Studio on Vimeo.