TuneDig is an in-depth and informed conversation between two lifelong friends about the power of music — one album at a time.

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Episode 47

Phaedra

Tangerine Dream

When you think of “electronic music,” what comes to mind may not be a genre you deeply love — hip-hop, house, new wave, or even dub reggae — but all of it owes some debt, scientifically or otherwise, to Tangerine Dream. Dig in with us as we study a prime example of the band’s brand of effortful innovation, where they patiently and persistently labored at the cutting edge of electronic technology to open a portal to new worlds in our minds.

Transcript

Note: our transcripts are mostly AI-generated for now. 

Cliff: You’re listening to TuneDig, a conversation between two lifelong friends about the power of music, one album at a time. I’m Cliff Seal.

Kyle: And I’m Kyle Stapleton. Each episode we talk about a single album in depth, unpacking it through conversation to understand what makes it worth appreciating and learning a little bit about life along the way.

Cliff: If you’re listening for the first time because we’re covering an artist or a record you love, we promise you’ll learn something new or gain a new perspective by the end of the episode.

Kyle: And if you’ve stuck with us for multiple episodes, you know by now that you’re bound to expand your horizons. As we share a clear entry points for artists you may never have tried to get into before.

Kyle: Today we’re talking about Phaedra by Tangerine Dream.

Cliff: So we recently surprised ourselves by doing an episode of this podcast dedicated to the yes, Olivia Rodrigo release SOUR. And we talked a lot about pop in its post-internet state, and it’s just kind of a pool of influences that can be picked up at random because of what technology has done to popular music and influences and all of that.

And sour was a chance to see the accumulation of all of that reality. Um, especially, yeah. Yes. Uh, and to throw in post COVID to throw in post a lot, just a whole lot of stuff, that we’ve been through and in how the meaning of what pop is and how. to, Uh, be surprised by it kind of takes a particular skillset at this point in that same sense that pop sort of means this whole ass different thing than it used to mean. uh, electronic music is another thing that sort of has lost its meaning, especially again, post-internet, um, internet changed the way that an entire, I mean, just the way that especially dance music took off.

Like literally there are studies about, um, EDM music being spread like a social contagion. Like it literally works differently in the way that people get excited about that music, the way that people get hooked onto it and all of that. So if sour was our chance to see what happens when John was like popping electronic, get the whole internet piled on top of it.

Uh, and we, accelerate 15 years down the road, what we get to do, yeah, we get to CS or at least some of the outcomes. Right? We see some of the probabilities and the, uh, all the waves collapse into whatever reality is actually happened. Tangerine dream on the other hand gives us kind of the whole inverse of the thing.

Phaedra is like a time machine that lets you go back to the origins of the universe that are electronic music. Because even pre-internet, I mean, electronic music has lived like a thousand lifetimes and to be honest, like, in, and to kind of call it out right here at the beginning, um, w w me and Kyle don’t necessarily love those thousand lifetimes for the most part, electronic music is sorta like, okay, in some sense, um,

Kyle: I’m learning to love it in our different pockets of it and continually surprising myself that it’s finding its way into my repertoire, but I’m not actively seeking it out as an idea.

Cliff: Yeah.

Kyle: So it’s the PO it’s the post-internet thing. That’s bringing it to me. Um, but yeah, you’re right. It’s not our, it’s not our natural mode for certain.

Cliff: No. And primarily because you let me know if you disagree, but I think, a one entire hallway that we have shut off, uh, and has like escape room, level doors closed on it is EDM.

Um, Which dude, if you love it and you love to be around people or whatever, go party. That’s cool. When I talk about like music and the way I experience music. We are literally talking about different things. that

Kyle: we’re 12, 10, 12 years on since like dubstep, not UK dubstep, but like Scrillex dubstep sort of became a radical phenomenon overnight tumbler. I don’t know, internet. Uh, and I remember having. I went to a hip hop show. I thought you were there with me, but we’ve talked about the show a number of times, and I don’t think you were, uh, it was a hip hop show, Def Jux hip hop show. So like Northeastern white rapper dudes, and the DJ between sets played a dubstep remix of my own summer by the Deftones. And I was like, culture has jumped. The shark was my feeling at the moment. I feel differently about it now, but I just remember being like, I’m not prepared for where the world is headed

Cliff: well. and just to share my own intimate experience with the Skrillex moment. Like I was going to from first to last shows, when the dude who would be Scrillex was sunny, the vocalist for a punk band who was actually really good.

And then, uh, I guess through what maybe you would call serendipity now, I don’t really know. It’s sad to me, but basically mess up his vocal chords. Couldn’t sing and tour as much, got really into this and became Scrillex. Uh, and then we started here in weld for the night and stuff like that, uh,

Kyle: I just always think of, uh, monsters and sprites, whatever the, I think that spring breakers trailer and like that movie became one of my favorites because I was so primed by was dubstep song that had these like attached to these weird neon dynamics, like hyper futurist.

Uh, and over that dubstep track, they zoom in on Gucci Mane’s face. And the audio of him saying y’all want to die tonight. And that was when dubstep started to turn the corner for me. Uh, but to your point, there are a thousand rooms and the electronic music music. And it takes a minute. Now that there’s so much, like so many things are electronic by definition to be like, that’s electronic music.

Did you know, do you like this? Please fill out the survey. Are you an electronic

Cliff: Yeah, like we’re down with hip hop. Hip hop definitely is a form of electronic music. Like

Kyle: a set.

Cliff: good. Yeah. That hallway is open, but but

Kyle: did not saddle up project pat to Tangerine dream in my brain until this moment right now. But that’s a great feeling.

It’s a real good feeling.

Cliff: I think everybody in that circle like smoking weed, Okay. So we’re good.

Kyle: but

Cliff: tracing it even further back. I mean, it said EDM in its corner and its own, like, there’s plenty of phenomenon there to learn about. And a lot of people who know a lot more about it, but you know, then going back through hip hop and everything that happened through the nineties and through everything we’ve talked about with.

like a tribe called quest and like learning how to sample things electronically and turning that into music. Um, even before that, right. There’s, there’s new wave where electronic music like smashes into punk rock and in punk getting its own maturity level into the eighties and coming up with I mean, what would basically become pop uh, for a good portion of that time.

Uh, and,

Kyle: and

Cliff: and then, and then dub, like we love dub. we talked about, uh, king Tubby and

Kyle: like,

Cliff: so there’s, there’s so many lifetimes and in branches and everything from electronic music, uh, that’s already happened that are all worth exploring them that are all worth seeing. But this is, this is one where it’s kinda like, all right, you need to go back to the light hall of presidents. Okay, great. Like go back in this ride in this tour museum or whatever, let’s go back to the first moment where like, they, figured out how to launch a rocket out of the atmosphere type stuff. Right? Like what were the, what were the origins of trying to get things off the ground? And Phaedra represents a really fascinating historical moment in what would like become electronic music.

I don’t even know

if

at that time, what was being produced and being called the music that was going on Phaedra would have even made sense to call it a form of music at that point. Like maybe, um, and people were super into it, obviously, and this was a really cool art project, but it was just as much a science experiment with equipment that effectively didn’t come with, uh, any manuals or you couldn’t go scour internet forums to find out how old people used sequencers. And like the whole story of Phaedra is basically showcasing a point in time where synthesizers not only were they not the $20 Casio keyboard that we could get, you know, 20 years later and do anything with like, synths were so impossibly difficult to use that they required technical experts. And on top of that, which is like, I think the clincher of why it’s worth like really honing in on this particular moment, basically scientists are making music with wild and very expensive equipment.

And this is before electronic music ever really met a beat in a consequential way. Most of the rhythm that we’re going to hear is not designed to be the rhythmic backing of what is overall conceived to be a song. Rhythm is an externality of what’s being created by synthesizers on. Whatever is being created into what gets called Phaedra Uh, like, we can call it music to be shorthand, but something like pretty specifically different is happening on this record.

Uh, and it’s worth talking about and considering I guess what we can learn from it. And, um, if you haven’t just uh, experienced some really specific ways of getting into this music, you should. Um,

Kyle: So I want you to talk about that. Cause you shared that with me in the lead up to this episode, and that was helpful if you’re someone like me who tends toward, uh, the Stooges end of things.

Last episode we talked, I compared Olivia Rodrigo’s songs a little bit, the first song anyway, to the Stooges. I’m, I’m more on the, in and out direct feeling. It, it, it, it, uh, and, and this is maybe that in its own different way, but it’s, uh, To put it lovingly a difficult record to just like sit down and pay attention to, um, so if it’s not your natural mode to do classical, to do jazz, gonna offer the same sort of like context warning that I do for people whose brains are wired like mine, uh, in, in similar situations.

this is a record where I would encourage you to, to think about other moments where music or sound has opened up a tiny portal to another world in your brain. You know, like Neil deGrasse, Tyson cosmos style, um,

Cliff: Rick and Morty portal. It’s a Rick and Morty portal now. Yeah. This

Kyle: way before portal, gun and technology was invented for absolute sure. So like, if you’re about our age and you grew up playing games like legend of Zelda or super Mario 64, and the music is integral to immersing you in the portion of that world or that map that you’re in, like when that really started to become a thing.

And now, now those songs get used on Tik TOK, which, but also for like sort of immersive associative moments or like if you’re a Zeppelin fan and there’s a long John Paul Jones Mellotron interlude, the organ is used in very similar ways on Fadra to the ways that JPJ uses it as a texturizer in zap music.

Uh, or, uh, we talk about the Mars Volta a lot. We invoke the Mars Volta a lot. If you see a band like of them, um, with a guitarist, who’s got a shit ton of pedals at his feet, and he turns a knob during sound check. And it does like one of one of those, but you know, what kind of musical experience you’re about to get, if the dude at the beginning of the set, make sure that he can turn the knob to full stone, uh, on his guitar array, all of those things crack open a different part of the multi-verse and you can like see yourself in a new physical landscape that is like so common now that it’s all it borders on insulting to try to like point out.

But to your point back, back then, so to speak, that was not necessarily as easy to do. I mean, it is sort of like a classical music approach to things, but handled in a new way with technology to, to evoke. And the thing I kept thinking about, uh, was that it was effortful innovation. Like it, it took a lot of work and persistence to like crack that portal open and, and hold it so to speak.

because of very real analog things that are easy to take for granted now, because the machinery is so streamlined to create a sequence or whatever. So, uh, there are a couple of books that I would have loved to have read for this, but like you, they are out of print. They’re not available as eBooks. You cannot find them.

The best you can do is finding reviews of them or. Uh, two thirds portion of one of them on Google books. Um, there’s a passage in, in one of them that said the synthesizers were very susceptible to shifting temperatures. Um, And, and like thinking about the bleeding edge that they’re on technologically, they paid $15,000 in early 1970s dollars of their advance to purchase the one piece of Moog equipment that would be the thing for this. Um, so like you’re paying a price to be on the cutting edge, right. To, to suffer a little bit. So the synths were susceptible to shifting temperatures could suddenly crash or drift out at key. So even after a soundcheck, the band would find themselves opening each show by retuning each piece of equipment individually until each synth was locked into the same precise frequency.

Ironically audiences mistook this level of concentration for indulgent aloofness, but three musicians had to be confident that their equipment was operating at peak performance before they were confident enough to begin the show and give the audience what they had come to hear, um, at your w w we’ll talk about the sort of main dude at the heart of a Tangerine dream at your froze.

His diary is made up this book and it says the diaries go into fascinating detail as the band experimented in the studio with each new advanced and electronic technology. And again, I felt a renewed respect for the patience and persistence of these musicians as they spent long hours trying to create new sounds and then find a way to merge them into music for the next album.

So artistically that’s a conscious choice and, and a risk that can go horribly wrong. So I think one interesting end road, other than the sounds themselves is to think about the labor of love that brought them into the world. And it’s very, it’s it’s because it’s ethereal, because it lacks the driving deliberate rhythm, it’s very easy to take for granted or dismiss or think of as ambient, or just be like, I can get the shit into bed bath and beyond. Uh, but like they worked hard to make a scientific innovation. And when you think about the scientific method, it’s boring. It’s not sexy. It’s not exciting. Or, you know, CSI forensics or all cosmic, uh, what’s iron man’s name in real life, not Robert Downey Jr.

Tony stark. It’s not like that. Most of the time it’s small and iterative and brutal. And the fact that they make it a choice over their career, like this is our thing, this is our angle. That’s okay. All right. Respect. So that was, that, that opened up a new sort of line of inquiry for me in thinking about this.

It’s like, uh, it’s real easy to make stuff that sounds like this now. It was not then. So let’s let, let’s see you. Let’s see you unearth a thing. Let’s see you conjure a thing through maximum effort. Okay. Now I’m intrigued.

Cliff: Let’s begin, but you got to catch yourself because there’s never been a better moment to say they’re just in there turning knobs. Whoa. in a sense. Yes. And Then also on the other hand, this is literally the least random music that’s ever occurred.

Okay. The whole concept of, I just went into a studio and cranked out what. that, that pallet does not fit on the story at all. Like that that sheet can not spread across this surface. It th They’re incompatible truths. Um, so, okay. So let, let’s talk about the labor of love then, because part of what makes this record interesting is in fact, all of the details of what you have pointed out for maximal effort needed to create basically anything. So. This entire album was recorded in less than six weeks, which I want to stop and say is not the way you think this is going to get summarized.

When you start hearing about what happened six weeks is kind of a miracle based on what happened but the whole album. Was recorded.

Kyle: contrast, the Olivia Rodrigo record took a little over a year, you know, and, and I don’t want to put them in direct comparison to each other too much, but we tend to think about these records in pairs.

We, we try to record closely in pairs and part of what makes this podcast interesting, I think is contextualizing music against music that we, or anyone else would not tend to. Right? Like that’s, that’s what keeps the spark alive is you, uh, you wear a different color sunglasses and everything on your commute looks a little different.

That’s what we’re trying to do.

Cliff: It’s like musical debate club. Uh, if debate was just about loving and appreciating music and not constantly taking stances where you get to grand stand in front of other people. but like

Kyle: We’re always looking for more and better, and it’s always an appreciative inquiry framework.

We’re always trying to find more of the good thing in everything.

Cliff: could I defend this thing if I wanted to. but also we’re not going to defend, any indefensible stuff

Kyle: we are always trying to take the affirmative

Cliff: Yeah.

Kyle: w unless it absolutely does not need an affirmative case. if you want to see this 30 seconds tomorrow,

Cliff: Listen, we did a Kanye episode, Okay.

We,

Kyle: as close to the line is all get,

Cliff: and we spent that whole episode.

being like, I’m pretty convinced. We need to draw a real hard

Kyle: Jesus. And that was like four years

ago

Cliff: I’m saying. Even then we were like, no, no, no, no, no. We know the way this is. going. Okay.

Kyle: It’s got its own legal ease, like buried in the audio track. Like we, we reserve the right to not be held responsible for anything, any current or future Kanye west Federation forever in perpetuity.

Thank you.

Oh yeah.

Cliff: So fader, I was recorded in less than six weeks with the first recording session taking place in November of 1973. Um, now some of the music, which I like to point out here, because then we can just kind of tell this part of the story, but some of the music was recorded with the help, of, Fruities wife, Monique.

Uh, and so just, just hold on to that for a second, because when we talk about the, the, almost the dichotomy of this being extremely random and very, not random, like music all at one time. Um, noting the inclusion of this, this guy’s wife is interesting because it it kind of came out of nowhere, but was also kind of necessary.

Kyle: So,

Cliff: uh, so Pharaoh was this album where, um, they talked about how everything had to be so structured to begin making the music because they’re using again a synthesizer well, before our current conception of what that means, where we can just like throw tiny chips into small computers everywhere. Right? So they were using, uh, a mug sequencer.

So driving bass notes and they were using this for the first time. And at least as the legend goes, although it was hard to find a little bit more detail about this, they bought it from Keith Richards is what I saw in a couple of places.

Kyle: No way. That’s true.

Cliff: know, But I saw it just like offhand, and this was like, uh, yeah.

Speaking of things being out of time, like, all right, this seems like a thing that will pop up in a Facebook group somewhere, but it doesn’t feel so weird when you find out that later when David Bowie came to Berlin, this guy helped him find his apartment while hanging out with Iggy pop.

And the three of them are just hanging out in Berlin, talking about music. So

Kyle: Well, I did not know that. And that endears me to this whole thing greatly. Uh,

Cliff: obviously this guy was uh, kind of cool. to hang

Kyle: He was pretty

juiced.

Cliff: be getting Bowie and Iggy. Yeah. Um,

Kyle: Is it, is it worth stepping back for just a second? Like contextualizing them in this scene just a little bit, like, okay.

We’re we’re American dudes, uh, That’s our lens on everything. This came out in 73 at the end of the, sort of like 67 to 71 psychedelic rock explosion. Um, so that whole thing is happening. We’ve moved past Woodstock into full on dead territory, but it’s very organic. It’s very LSD. At this point, we’ve gotten some, um, uh, some Zeplin, some Sabbath, a lot of blues based, crunchy organic stuff.

You move a little further east into Europe. And by 73, the, um, the, the electronic school that we talked about in the Cannes episode has proliferate at the Stockhausen school. Uh, so. Trying to contextualize that against sort of those two forces. I think, I don’t know how much we talked about that in the can episode, but just thinking of a, sort of like global consciousness context, uh, because it is very different from tan, but it’s also very different from Hawk, wind.

It’s very different than craft work and it’s very different from everything that’s happening west of there. So to speak from an international perspective,

Cliff: yeah. Tendering dream gets called Berlin school as a, as a phrase Berlin school as a sub genre of electronic music. And, in at least a couple of places was described as an offshoot of crock rock and all of that stuff.

So it’s like extremely similar to, but parallel to, can and to me, the easiest way to think about that, is Can, and you can listen to the episode or you can just literally listen to 30 seconds of can to get the idea, but the whole, can

Kyle: please, please listen to more than 30 seconds.

Cliff: Yeah. Yes. But like Cannes and Kraftwerk and all this is rhythm driving you into psychedelia, It’s the rhythm is pulling you. It’s holding you, it’s making the whole thing. Feel like a marathon it’s making you want to yell and run around and be on an Iowasca trip And like Just that constant, uh, like sweaty, uh, exerting effort and all of that stuff. Whereas this Berlin school stuff was more just the precursor of ambient music.

Like this is like the Brian, no music for airports type. Like no, no, setting aside the concept of a driving rhythm, then what happens if we just create space that doesn’t have a BPM. necessarily, Or if it does have a BPM it’s incidental and temporary, uh, it pops up, which is

Kyle: just call it.

Cliff: uh, vibe.

W We’ll get into that some about like good ways to listen to this. But like, that’s, that’s kind of one really interesting way to think about it because instead of in a traditional or a modern song structure, where beat is presented to you as a pretext for the song, it’s, a ch it’s your earliest hint at what it’s gonna feel like what’s contained within the song.

It’s sort of like the, biggest package of information you’ve got about it in this type of music with Tangerine dream, uh, and with ambient music, the, the whole point is that you don’t, you don’t get that info ahead of time. It’s just, whatever world is going to get built while you’re on the inside of it.

And then as the synth pops up, we’ll, you’ll hear rhythm associated with it, but that rhythm doesn’t carry on. It doesn’t necessarily associate it with the next time you hear a beat or anything rhythmic

Kyle: like,

Cliff: and so you have to have a different relationship to what beat means. And that’s both, I think difficult for us as American music listeners in our current moment in time.

And also just like a worthwhile challenge to us because innocence, and I think we’ll talk about how to do this more, but to me, you get, you get an exercise that similar to listening to drone or noise, when you really do appreciate those genres of music in the way that they can become meditative. Because the the whole thing about feeling meditative is loose. like the only thing you can hear now is your breathing, right?

Your breathing is now the rhythm, but you start to understand that as you pay attention to your breathing, that if you start to try to keep your breathing on rhythm, you’ve lost it. Right. And so that’s ambient music. That’s, that’s experiencing W w whether you end up liking it or not, whether you turn this on the next time you go to do focus work or not is sort of beside the point.

Like we want you to be able to not only know music history by hearing cool stuff like this, but secondly, be able to attune your person to the way that certain music needs to be experienced, to better hear it and experience it. And for lack of a better term critique it like to be able to say, here’s what I just experienced.

How can I connect it to the artists who came after them? How can I understand what was interesting about this? As opposed to just being a weird artifact of history? Like what parts of phage DRA are interesting music, as opposed to just being fascinating tidbits of. a story, Like, that’s a whole different way to approach music that you can really only do with this type of stuff with ambient music.

And it’s something that makes all of this worth exploring, especially in the context of all the other records we’ve talked about the season, most of which are extremely rhythmically

Kyle: involved, right? Yeah, that’s right. I, I think it helps for someone like me to contrast it to, uh, So, so a lot of what you’re getting at is what am I supposed to do with this?

Like, I, I listened to it and objectively, I’m just not sure what’s happening. Right. And it gives you that feeling like when you walk into an art museum and you’re looking at the pieces and you’re like, what is, what does this mean? What is this supposed to mean? Like there’s one objective sort of source of truth with it.

And that’s why I think music, like this can be alienating. It’s like, it’s not meant to do an objective thing. And what you’re getting at is exactly right. Is like, think about, if you think about anything objectively, think about how it connects to other things that you like, which is what I was getting at with the video game music portal thing.

Um, or, or think about like, try to express how it makes you feel, what images it evokes for you. Um, to, to try to like get it is, is to almost miss the point entirely. And I feel reassured or reinforced in that in knowing how this music was made and knowing that there wasn’t necessarily a

necessary

grand artistic intent, right.

And the, the sort of like austerity and artfulness and intellect of it being German, electronic school elevates that tendency to be like, there, there’s a thing. There’s a capital T thing that I need to get, but truly these dudes were like, we listened to a bunch of pink Floyd when we first got together. Loved to just listen to pink Floyd for long stretches of time and smoke weed together.

And it started as somebody pressed a button or turned a knob and got a sequence going on one of these machines and somebody was somebody else was like, that sounds cool. Keep doing that. And I’ll add my thing to that thing And that was just like with Phaedra you can do that same thing. It’s just, that is a cool sound.

Literally just start at the basest Possible level of music appreciation. Just be like, that’s a cool sound. I will wait for the next cool sound to come and be layered on top of it or interact with it. Like one of my favorite parts of Phaedra is when two parts, two layers are in phase with each other, they’re rhythmically locked in and then they start to phase out and they’re at different BPMs or whatever.

And you’re like, oh, it’s fucking up. It’s breaking right now. But it sounds really cool. And it, like, it pulls you back in when it gets really in sequence and harmonized, you can pull back away from it and just sort of vibe. But then there are moments where things like that happen where it’s the, it brings you back into focus on like a long, 10 hour YouTube, slow train, ride video where nothing’s happening.

And then you’re like, oh yeah, I still got that playing. And you look up and they’re like passing a sunset on the right or something.

Cliff: It’s just,

Kyle: It’s totally a meditative thing. And I think this is another one of those episodes where we’re like use music as a corollary for your larger life to raise your awareness, uh, and be a more present meditative person.

Cause that’s, that’s one of the best things that music has helped us do as human beings, like brought us more into awareness of the present moment. Um, and you have helped me a great deal w through showing me things like this, not specifically Tangerine dream, but other things like it, and this one’s a little different.

And, and I love this one specifically because of the cosmic implications, none of the other ambient, like I got this Pablo sign can, whatever, all very earthbound, maybe air, certainly not all the way out into outer space, but this is a space thing. This is fucking space rock,

Cliff: Yeah. Actually space music itself is a really interesting detour that we should, uh, go ahead in this episode and put a little col-de-sac on so that we can go all the way down this road, because down this road, down that road leads to Sun RA. Uh, and we could spend a whole lot of time there. Uh, because he was using the term space music back in the fifties to talk about the idea of being able to translate the experience of the void of space into a language that would allow people to both uh, understand it and enjoy that sensation of being in the void of space.

Uh, and to your point though, like this, Fadra is a very good exercise for that mindfulness practice of noting like you, there is, there is no template for prediction for what’s coming up in the song again, the same way that usually a combination of. the beat And the key of the song gives you when you were thinking about music, that, that none of that is real here.

Uh, this is a lot more like field recordings and stuff, but, well, yeah, here we are saying here’s how to take field recording seriously. Um, uh, yeah. um, spent too much time in the Brooklyn of my brain. And now we’re going to talk about how to enjoy sounds, but, but

Kyle: you got to bring your voice down like this today on this American life

Cliff: I cannot do like a David Attenborough impression. But, But there, there is, this music is not for every moment if it’s, it’s not for every person and it’s definitely not for every moment of every person. Uh, but, but being able to get in touch with that idea of shifting into, you,

Kyle: we’re not trying to be exclusive when we say that, by the way, if you’re not into it, that’s fine.

That’s great. But. If you’re interested,

Cliff: yeah. we’re going to teach you how to get into it if you could be into it. Yeah. yeah,

Kyle: If you would like to be maybe

Cliff: yeah, Cause it’s, it is a really good skill. And honestly, it’s a good skill that translates into, um, like to me, it feels similar to watching like movies that don’t have soundtracks.

I know it’s different in the sense of, you know, you can be carried away with a story and you don’t necessarily have to have that music to go along with it. But that the sensation of noticing that there’s emptiness in what you’re listening to and feeling how intensely you’re applying your attention to, not that many things to project it against, like that feeling is something you have to get familiar with and comfortable inside of Phaedra’s specifically, um, like one description of the title track for instance, Uh, from mark Pendegrass was at over 17 minutes. It conveyed the feelings of the cosmos of giant suns, exploding of huge ocean movements of mythological lands of eddies and drifts layer. Upon layer of futuristic sounds piled one on top of the other until the whole thing climaxes into some interstellar.

void.

Kyle: I got a, I got a similar one. The side long title track is a high water mark and electronic music, a tone poem for the postmodern age that could have come from the pages of fantastic journey. So equally intimate and alien and its effect. The piece begins as an amorphous cloud of energy, like a star in infancy before heartbeat like rhythms, draw the listener along a path, people by alien shapes that proceed from and receive it again into the blackness.

This is brilliant stuff. More than just music. You can synchronize your lava lamp to. I was like, damn, I need to get some lava lamps.

Cliff: Kyle has been reading sticks

Kyle: lyrics.

Cliff: for the last two minutes straight, man. So if you can stick with this idea long enough to go, all right. Yeah. I’m here for an audio explanation of the void of space. Uh let’s go. Cause actually it’s, it’s kinda tight. Uh, if, you know, how to do it, uh, I think we should talk about two things that contribute to that. So I know that we started to talk about, uh, the, the story of making the record.

but Let’s let’s come back to that and let’s keep pushing into this. Like how to experience it thing? And then in, in my own experience, after learning how to appreciate the like whale sounds equivalent of music, um,

Kyle: that’s the second time this season Tindering dream is like and then they both. What really, every episode is just going to be a call for you to go find a vinyl copy of songs of the humpback whale.

Cliff: If You liked the bird sounds at the beginning of free bird, but we’re wishing that none of the other music was behind it. This moment is for you

Kyle: and you take away the music part Skinner. It is just a field recording on, on the swamp lake in Jacksonville, Florida,

Cliff: but not, not only is it.

Kyle: it

Cliff: potentially difficult to get into, but even if you are open-minded enough in the right direction to feel ready to listen to fader or whatever, actually doing the thing of listening to it is hard.

And I think it’s, it’s hard for two reasons. One is that it’s. It’s one thing to sit and actively listen to like a jazz record, because here’s the thing. If someone knew what you were listening to you while you were sitting quietly in the corner and you’re listening to miles Davis. Well, Kyle was over in the corner quietly listening to miles Davis.

I mean, That’s a cool fucking sentence, right? If you’re doing that and somebody peels off your headphones and you’re listening to Phaedra, um, people are going to wonder what else is going on for you? Are you very sad? Are you very high? Uh, Are you very tired? Uh, like, are you doing that thing where you’re sleeping with your eyes

Kyle: are there edibles available near this Starbucks?

Cliff: Because it doesn’t feel like there’s enough to attach your full, active attention to, I think,

Kyle: are you working? Are you working on a screenplay? And if so, was it optioned by A24?

Cliff: Being John Malcovich the music. So on top of, I think like the meta-sensation of realizing how much you’re trying to pay attention to in that moment, secondly is just like life just doesn’t quite presents you with great opportunities to do that in a reasonable way, unless you know how to identify them.

And as a person who has spent a long time, specifically identifying opportunities in life to listen to really particular bits of music, I’ve got some ideas because like active listening can, can be really hard with rhythm less music. And especially when an unknown amount of us are experiencing ADHD, we will never go back to understanding how many of us are actually experiencing a diagnosable form of that, because TikTok has happened and we’re all just in this mush of like, oh God, we’re not interested in anything anymore, are we? And just everyone’s experiencing the inability to focus on. anything. So

Kyle: you can’t just go around the room and say, you have this diagnosis. I love lamp.

Cliff: So looking for specific moments where you’ve got something mindless to do, and you can swap this out for here’s the key. I want you to think about swap this out for any moment where you’d usually pull out your phone as last moment, avoidance of the boredom that you’re about to run full into.

Okay. So like moments where you can’t get anything going, you can’t be on the phone, really. Like you can’t be on a call, can’t be immersed in a thing, but you know, you’re bored. You got to wait something out. Right. This is the perfect moment for this. Okay. Like, save this record for that. Um, so like any time you’re commuting solo, I know that that has kind of changed for everybody, but like, if you’re even taking a long, like Uber Lyft ride or something like that, um, if you are riding on the train.

If you are, especially like, this is a really key and specific moment for me, but the time between, when you have to get in line to board an airplane, and then the time when you can like, get to all of your stuff after the plane has reached altitude or whatever is like a mishmash of awkwardness for everybody.

And you’re doing that thing where like, you have to sit down on the plane when everybody else walks past you, And like, if you do a bunch of stuff, everyone’s looking at what you’re doing. Here’s my Libra coming out all the way. I don’t look, don’t look at my screen. I want some privacy on this tube that we’re all packed into

Kyle: I have never thought about my airplane boarding experience. This extensively it’s normally like, how quickly can I get to my seat and just not do anything

Cliff: to my

Kyle: So this is perfect. Something like this is

Cliff: Yeah. it really is perfect for that because it gives you this moment to sit. And just like, if you want to just stare blankly into the abyss in front of you, actually, this is a great soundtrack, for that, right?

Because it, it gives you a real spatial feel because of the way that they are creating, textures.

Kyle: calling back to you.

Cliff: I feel my embrace. Yeah. So like this won’t work for instance, for like

Kyle: the

Cliff: don’t attempt to go driving and like rock Fadra. I mean, like you can do it, but like, it’s not going to eat. It’s not enough.

It doesn’t overlap in the right ways. It’s like, uh, you know, how we learned how to make little clay pots when we were kids. And we all had to learn how to score the sides of the clay that we needed to mash together because otherwise they would just slip back and forth, it’s sort of like you’ve got to find the right moments to attach to something like this.

And when you do it works, Um,

Kyle: remember that, um, the Josh hommie guitar moves when he’s like to show you the Hendricks move, I got to play around it to get to the thing. The equivalent that might work that has worked for me is to put the four tracks of Fadra, uh, in a playlist with other things around it. So take, take 30 minutes of whatever music you like.

That’ll just like make you tune out. Um, or even talking, put a podcast at 30 minutes of a podcast in front of it on a playlist and get yourself like not concentrating on it. That’s the, okay. I am in the car. I have reversed the car I am putting on Fadra and turning it up and I am driving and vibing out to Phaedra.

Now it’s like, no, you very much are not, uh,

Cliff: If you think to yourself, I am vibing out to fader. Whoa,

Kyle: no.

Cliff: make a turn,

Kyle: the tape. Uh, So whatever gets you into your state of relaxation a little bit, you, you kinda got a trickier brain and to getting there for, to maximize your enjoyment, you have to minimize your attention a little bit. So whatever gets you there, try that.

I mean, certainly you can try the running full steam into the cosmic brick wall, a Fadra approach first, but then if you’re like that, didn’t do it, but I’m still interested. Then you can try a little bit to get into the hot tub for 20 minutes before you attempt to relax your shoulders.

Cliff: Yeah. And Finding a place to integrate it.

Uh, when you don’t have to work so hard to be able to focus on it is a good way to just kind of intro yourself to this. So it becomes loosely familiar because I think we’ve talked about this, especially with like Sunn records and Meshuggah, like extremely droney type music where I know both of those examples are very different ways to introduce that drone, but that.

Like the way that you can start to experience, uh, an openness to the like the cadence of whatever you’re listening to and getting yourself like wrapped up

Kyle: in,

Cliff: um, it can be real hard to like slam into what fader asks you to do, because unlike son, for instance, um, even though that’s drone, at least this loud, at least like at least you crank it up.

And all of a sudden, like you’re feeling something. fader is going to require more lightness from you, because if you put too much intention into it, it’s not going to meet you with enough raw, like raw material. Um, whereas if you can get a little bit familiar with it so that not everything is like feeling like a surprise anime dolphin coming out of left field type thing.

Um, and you start to just know like the general tones and the, especially like the shape. of the, The EEQ, I don’t really know how to say this, but like it’s, it’s a brighter type of music than you usually expect from something ambient. So I think just one or two quick introductions to it, softens that experience a bit.

So you’re not as surprised then if you want to dig in straight up, I hate myself for talking about using technology like this, but if you’ve got air pods or anything else that can spatialize stereo, you have found the record that will help you understand why that is cool technology. Like, because generally speaking, I really don’t want technology trying to get in there and change a stereo mix from a professional.

Okay. I’m very serious about that. Uh, I want to hear it the way that the producer and the mastering folks wanted me to hear it generally with this first of all, there is no level of someone took the mastering super seriously, like that. and need you to hear it in a certain way. Um, in fact, I think there was even an accident with the mastering.

We might mention

Kyle: but

Cliff: what’s happening here. instead.

Kyle: we’re not going to come back to it. So it’s that we read that the second half of the record was mastered backwards, which I don’t know what that means. I don’t some do with do with that information while you will.

Cliff: It, And we don’t, we don’t bring things up often when we do this podcast.

And then we’re like, and we don’t know what that means. Cause we tried to figure out what it means and we, for real can’t figure out what it means, but we saw a bunch of people reference it. Um,

Kyle: but nobody explained it. So it’s just like a thing that we’re supposed to know. So a music, people, people who produce music, engineering music for a living, please DM us and just give us a sense of that.

Will she will share it in the tweet thread.

Cliff: But Whatever this spatialized stereo feature does for like AirPods in particular, I think with certain apple devices where it really does attempt to create a kind of like virtual forum of Dolby, Atmos type stuff, where they’re literally you know, creating more space in the sound, this works really well in headphones, but it creates a sensation of distance.

And, uh, it creates almost a tactile sense of this record in a way that I think helps you hear this record better because it gives, it gives this little bit of shape and texture to all of the different pieces that kind of like pop up as part of a sequence that you could really only see if you were one of these people who were literally sequencing.

It as like a series of kind of almost zeros and ones, or like on and off little dots on a matrix, which is the way that this music effectively got written that combined. with Experimentation on top of it. And so like, this is a really cool moment to actually use a little bit of technology to help you get inside of things.

And I will say I did literally spend time sitting doing nothing except controlling my breathing, listening to this with like spatialized stereo turned on. It’s really interesting. It’s really cool. Like it, and it helps, I think for me, um, it sort of takes the edge off of the intensity of meditation.

Um, but it’s bringing me just a little bit further out to where I’m not totally losing track with where I am, uh, but I’m able to really stop and just kind of go. like, Oh, that’s that sound was neat. Do that little thing on the inside. We were like, oh, that, was, that was fun. Well, it just happened?

Kyle: So it’s very easy to talk about the whole album in the abstract and that way.

And then you go to look for moments within it and you’re like, I don’t quite know what I’m reaching for here. Um, I also was not sitting still when I did that at that you were like, Ooh, spatialized sound like sent me the message. Uh, so I did that. I was like up and doing stuff around the house. Um, the moment for me, where I was like, oh, that’s cool.

Was, um, mysterious semblance of something nightmare.

Cliff: of nightmares.

Kyle: God. Good on y’all good. Nicely done with the title. Um, the last two or three minutes of that nine minute track. I’m I’m going to be very unscientific in the way that I described the sounds. There’s like a warble. Sequence up in the sort of top treble range.

Uh, and that starts to sort of like kaleidoscope out. And then the bass melody comes in and becomes the main thing and oscillates in the low frequencies. And then the warble comes back and then the whole thing dissolves into ambience. But, um, if you’ve ever seen, uh, a spiral graph, you know, the thing where you put your pin in one dot of the thing and it makes a circle pattern, uh it’s like, it does that, but think of it vertically around your body.

So it going from top to bottom in rotation and creating a colorful pattern around you, which is, it sounds insane to try to describe in words, but if you listen to miss serious semblance and you like dial in toward the end of that track, that’s a specific example where you can be like, whoa, that’s the lava lamp thing that we were getting at a little bit.

Cliff: Yeah, for me, the illustration would be, uh, it’s like if you’re in the movie inception, when they’re doing all the crazy bendy stuff, but what if you were sitting down on the street and it was

Kyle: fine,

Cliff: Here’s just like, whoa, bro. Check that out. And you’re just kind of sitting there, you know, with your, uh,

Kyle: it was

all far enough away that you weren’t worried about any of it folding in, on

Cliff: Yeah, exactly. Like your little square of, of road was stable. yeah.

And everything was bending around you and you didn’t need to know what level of dream you were in You could just snap out of any of them. You were Fine. Yeah. It it all feels that way. And it’s at the very least, even if you give everything an earnest effort, and you’re still like, listen, this is boring as shit. Okay, fine. You’ve still really developed a skill that’s helpful. being able to recognize these moments and go. okay, what do I usually rely on to bring me into this thought? So like with a song again, it’s usually a beat, a key, something that we’ve learned to attach to our concept of music or songs or whatever, and they just become short hands for us to engage with it quickly.

Like we don’t think of all of that as Western anymore. We don’t think of the scales in our music as having less notes than Eastern forms of music. They’re just the thing that we experience that we kind of applied to everything. And then we have trouble, you know, seeing other forms of music through that lens, you know, kind of like you brought up earlier, this is a good skillset to be able to have for pretty much anything where you know, that someone cares about the art that they’ve created uh, and the outcome that they’ve made, you can stop and go.

All right. Where’s the right level of like mental fidelity for me to engage. with this in failure, It gives you a chance to go all the way back when you don’t understand a thing at all, when something doesn’t make sense or an experience doesn’t make sense, or you need to just like, therapy’s not even helping at this point, you need to resend and find out what’s going on on the inside.

Like stepping back further until you don’t have that kind of rhythm and tone sitting on top of everything and letting yourself be open to it and just hearing what’s there. Like, I think that that’s a really great skill. And just like drive this point Yeah.

Kyle: home,

Cliff: I think it gives you the ability to appreciate when and how people care about the thing that you’re experiencing.

So that’s why, like, I want to come back to you how much work went into this, because like, if you can sit and appreciate it even a little bit, then you can connect with how, hard people worked to make those little sounds that you just sat and noted. So We talked about that. It was a small miracle that this thing was recorded in less than six weeks based on the story itself.

Um, and that one little tidbit to keep in mind, uh, is that frozen, his wife Monique ended up helping. So, so frozen starts, recalling recording fader and talked about how everything had to be structured because basically, because everything was so hard. So he said there, the reason that things had to be so structured while we were recording, this is that we were using the new mode synthesize or sequencer that we mentioned for the first time. Just tuning it took several hours a day because at the time there were no presets and no memory banks. So let’s call out how much has contained just in that sentence already. First of all, the concept of tuning, an electronic instrument sounds ridiculous. Right? This is make. okay. There’s not even a reason to go all the way into what that even means.

Other than think of these more as like scientific calibration instruments. before the calibration was finalized and then got baked into everything else, like people are like scanning radio frequencies for things here. And so think of it a little bit more like that, where people are having to discover how to make the sequence or make the thing that they want to make

Kyle: the same way that the early computer data storage was the like scan trons with the Morse code things on them.

And you just ran a bunch of those sheets of paper through it to generate and store and change data that was before they figured out how to actually store it on a board, which is like, yeah, it’s the longer you said in thinking about just that one thing. It’s a re a Herculean feat of human innovation.

Cliff: Yeah. And, and so using your example in that day, when computer programming is basically like a piece of paper, like a long sheet of paper, if someone had asked you, where is the program, you would have pointed to a pile of paper. Right. Whereas now that doesn’t make any sense, programs are containers that live inside of computers.

Right. So similarly, that’s how you can think about how rudimentary all the stuff was. Like the tuning of the synthesizer was not yet a container that could sit inside of a computer. It was a thing that had to be done from scratch every day, because it couldn’t be saved even once it was calibrated.

Kyle: Yeah.

I remember before you could do safe game and a video game, those were the days.

Cliff: Oh, that’s brutal. So he said we worked from, uh, 11 o’clock in the morning, every day to two o’clock at night. By the 11th day, we barely had six minutes of

Kyle: meeting.

Cliff: on tape. Okay. So that’s why hearing that the whole thing was recorded in less than six weeks is wild.

Yes. Okay. And then he says, this is a quote, I love this quote, technically everything that could go wrong did go wrong. Okay. So this is, this is not like a law of technology. This is someone literally describing their experience with the synthesizer. Um, and he said, so the tape machine broke down. There were repeated mixing console failures.

The speakers were damaged because of the unusually low frequencies of the base notes coming out of the sequencer. So he said after 12 days

Kyle: of paying a tax for innovation?

Cliff: Yeah, exactly. So, so they’re, they’re 11, 12 days deep into doing the same process every day to barely crank out at this So based on that math, they’re cranking out about 30 seconds of music a day.

Okay. And this is a ambient band, right? Who wants to make a long soundscape? So he said, after 12

Kyle: I mean, that’s like stop motion, Claymation level

Cliff: Yeah. Yeah, it is Oh man. Claymation is tight Can’t wait for Christmas bro. Anyway, he says, all right, here’s where we remember their German. After 12 days of this, we were completely knackered.

So I’m going to assume they were tired of doing things after 12 days. But so he said fortunately after a two day break in the countryside, uh, a new start brought a breakthrough. Uh, so the, the track mysterious semblance was recorded on December 4th. So that was, a little, what was that? A bout a week and a half, two weeks after they had

Kyle: started.

Cliff: So, uh, he was saying that that Pete and Chris, to the other folks in Tangerine dream were asleep after a long days of recording. And so he invited his wife Monique into the studio called in the studio engineer and recorded the track mysterious semblance in one. take On a double keyboarded Mellotron while Monique his wife quote, turned the knobs on a phasing device.

Uh, this piece on the record is exactly as it was recorded that day. Uh, and he says in this practice was to continue for the rest of the session. So whatever he’s describing there about how they were able to re approach the music either by, you know, I guess finding whoever was awake, calling in the engineer, using a Mellotron and combining it with a phasing device or whatever that meant for their process, that shifted the way that they could record the rest of the record, such that they were able to then go on to record everything else on fader in, in less than the remaining

Kyle: Exponential “measure twice, cut once.” Just so much measurement with the tuning and the, for like losing two weeks to just holding onto the ropes. Basically I, that mysterious symbol is anecdote fuels. I felt a lot, like to me evoked the feeling of like everybody having to hold on to the ropes and the thing on a ship to just like, get it over a big storm wave.

Uh, and then you’re exhausted and you’re like, oh, but there’s all these other waves to get to the next shore. Um, just again, that, that level of effort is unbelievable. Yeah.

Cliff: And it turns out, so. Okay. So, uh, flipping back then to the title, track of failure. Um, so this was originally based on an improvisation that was recorded in the studio, but, uh, exhibits basically one of the limitations of the equipment that was used at the time, um, to your analogy, Kyle here, of like people holding the ropes and trying to hold things back.

So, uh, we’ve already talked about, um, some super weird concepts that are weird to get across in podcasts, such as like what a container of a thing that fits inside of a computer. even means. So using the analogy then of like everyone kind of holding the ropes to bring in a ship or, you know, holding the Woody Woodpecker float in the Macy’s Day parade. So think about the, the imperfection of that. Okay. There’s yes. we are going to keep the ship from going away or the, the balloon from floating away. We’re going to keep it from going down the wrong street or running into the building, but you’re not keeping it in exact confined space. Right? The whole goal is to just basically survive.

Um, and so the title track showcases the way that that analogy maps to the actual tuning of the equipment that was being used because as the equipment warmed up, that was used to record Phaedra, some of the oscillators would begin to de-tune because they were temperature sensitive. And so this limitation was responsible for some of the changes in the music towards the end of the piece Effectively, because over the course of the, piece of music that is up. people had to manually in real time, try to keep the instruments from going out of tune. And it was so difficult to do that. It in fact, was impossible for these experts to achieve during one song. And so what you actually hear is not only the Herculean effort of trying to keep music Intune, but also the failure of experts to do so, and therefore its impact on how music sounds itself.

Kyle: I took

Cliff: Like we are deep in this shit,

Kyle: yeah. I took a guitar class in college and I’ve told you this story, took it with our buddy John Asante, um, who’s in the podcasting space and our professor, uh, played “Since I’ve Been Loving You” by Led Zeppelin and pointed out that Jimmy page played so hard and bent the string so hard that by the end of the song, the strings had come out of tune.

So that’s why it’s difficult to replicate the playing on. Since I’ve been loving you sort of in the same way, it’s difficult to sing a Frank Sinatra song like Frank Sinatra, because there are just weird physical vibrational limitations that happen. Uh, they like when people talk about accidents in the studio, this is as prime an example, as you’re ever going to get.

It’s just, you can’t plan to do that, but when it happens, it leads to something cool.

Cliff: Or even we talked about on the Meshuggah episode, that when they were recording catch 33, that they were trying to use eight string guitars that weren’t ready from the factory. So they had someone retrofit a seven string guitar to play with the caliber or the gauge of strings that they wanted on a string.

But because the neck, isn’t long enough, the guitars would detune themselves. during the song. So Misha had a combination of having to record, you know, small bits of it to keep the song from going out of tune. But the song itself would slowly on a minimal level, be constantly going out of tune, which again, fits Meshuggah, um, but ties into this, this larger sense of just like, this is why we think this is like a, a museum for lack of a better term, a planetarium of things to experience sonically made by musicians. Like this is loosely related to music in the sense that we’re going to call it, that it’s got a lot of differences, but.

such a fascinating moment to like click into, to see musicians using scientific equipment, to the best of their ability to produce what they think might be an outcome of listenable music without any rhythm at all. I mean that if you are a person who is, I think like us, it would be fair to say enamored by the magic of music with just like the language that seems to exist in our reality, without proper explanation.

Like this is an extreme microscope, uh, th this is just like sending you all the way into these little moments. of just like, look at all of the possibilities that come out of nowhere when you’re trying to keep things in tune, touching dials, inviting people to come just help you get a thing recorded. And then this thing that’s a live improvisation, which is basically, You know, four people in a German studio, just like holding a machine into submission becomes the foundation of the future of electronic music. Like the, the impact of this random set of sequences and knobs and dials has an untold amount of impact on everything that we listen to now, including EDM, including hip hop, including dub reggae, like new wave, all this kind of stuff.

And it’s, it’s such an interesting moment to be able to go back and kind of feel the moments in human history like this and feel related to it. And to me, that’s the sort of thing you can get into in the context you can shift into when you just let yourself sit down and breathe and sort of let this thing come to you and you can feel yourself being a little bit of like, okay, so.

like If I was feeling good and was in a studio and had access to $150,000 Moog, like here’s what I might do. I, yeah, I might also want that soundscape to appear there, you know, and it becomes like a playful thing. That’s really interesting to experience the

Kyle: place that I brought it back to. And we, we talked about this before we started recording is thinking about now. What’s the now equivalent of Tangerine Dream?

This podcast and in our lives, we’ve touched so many different genres like seeking out almost drug, like the next high of what’s a thing that I haven’t experienced yet with dub or Rihanna or sun house or Bjork or John Coltrane, all of these inputs from all these places, people trying daring things and new types of expression.

This was a truly unknown, unknown. And I, I texted you and I was like, this makes me wonder what genres there still are that don’t exist. Right. What, uh, what do we not know that purely by effortful brute force innovation are going to be a new and cool thing. And we joke about dubstep because it’s stumble, trying to stumble toward new things, but to the point that you just made of like, if you had the equipment and the time to go in and experiment and just make pure noise, I think one of the things that’s the most exciting about electronic music and all of the takeaways like spiritually creatively from Tangerine dream is the accessibility of it.

Yes, they were electronics experts and they had a PhD level scientific qualification to mess with this stuff. But also there’s a mini Mogue app for iPhone that you can download and start messing around with knobs and keys and tones and phasers and effects and plugins and whatever. And overcome a lot of those, you know, no, no presets, no saves, getting out of tune because the physical heat things …and it’s just there for anyone.

And so I hope there’s one 14 year old or 74 year old who stumbles across this podcast. And it’s like, I want to express something. I want to try. I want to take a painting class. I want to do a whatever. Hopefully one of the lessons of Tangerine dream I think is I’ll download the mini app and I’ll start uh, messing around with the sounds and saving them. And maybe I’ll upload one to SoundCloud and we’ll go from there. I hope that you can get from a place like I am a little bit invigorated even to go from a place of trying to experience it and being in the cosmic space and appreciating it as a listener, to being encouraged, to create sort of on my own volition. So I’m grateful for that.

Kyle: Go to tunedig.com for your chance to win a free vinyl copy of the album we just covered. And follow us on Instagram and Twitter for even more info about the album, including playlist links to interesting articles and videos and even some stories that didn’t make the episode. Most importantly, though, please support your favorite local record store, concert venue, or buy merch from a band you love. Thanks for listening.

Original "Bitches Brew" Art

To celebrate the endless creativity of Bitches Brew—and especially its famous album artwork—TuneDig partnered with two incredible Atlanta-based artists to create one-of-a-kind, handpainted gatefolds.

With the spirit of the original art in mind, each artist brought their own vision to life. These pieces will spark conversation for any jazz fan.

Each piece includes a new vinyl copy of Bitches Brew. 100% of the purchase price goes directly to the artist, so take this opportunity to support the arts in the raddest possible way.

Seriously. There’s literally only one of each. Make it yours. 😎

SEASON 6

Season 6—featuring our most eclectic selection of albums yet—kicks off Friday, March 11, with new episodes every other Friday through July.

TuneDig Episode 49: Alice Coltrane’s “Journey in Satchidananda”

The story of Alice Coltrane — an accomplished bebop pianist from Detroit who transcended into something far greater before walking away from public life altogether — is a glimpse into what it means to be truly free. Alice’s masterpiece "Journey in Satchidananda" is a cosmic dance that sparked creation from destruction. And in a time when we’re all desperately searching for a spark of meaning and hope, Journey abides abundantly.

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TuneDig Episode 48: Heart’s “Little Queen”

Take a moment to appreciate Ann and Nancy Wilson, who kicked down the doors of rock ‘n’ roll’s boys’ club with their peerless guitar work, soaring soul vocals, and tight songcraft. 1977’s Little Queen — an oft-overlooked gem in the classic rock canon — offers a snapshot of those elements at their most urgent and pure, powered by the Wilsons’ simple motivation (as described by their producer): “It was a war.”

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TuneDig Episode 47: Tangerine Dream’s “Phaedra”

When you think of “electronic music,” what comes to mind may not be a genre you deeply love — hip-hop, house, new wave, or even dub reggae — but all of it owes some debt, scientifically or otherwise, to Tangerine Dream. Dig in with us as we study a prime example of the band’s brand of effortful innovation, where they patiently and persistently labored at the cutting edge of electronic technology to open a portal to new worlds in our minds.

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TuneDig Episode 46: Olivia Rodrigo’s “SOUR”

Did you catch one of 2021’s biggest albums, or like us, did you almost overlook it? If you have any expectations of pop music, "SOUR" will likely subvert them. Teenage dream this is not; it’s an exquisitely universal portrait of a weird time to be alive.

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TuneDig Episode 45: Fela Kuti’s “Expensive Shit”

The story of Fela Kuti — one of the most famous people on an *entire continent* passionately struggling to liberate power to more people — is absolutely one worth deeply knowing, regardless of whether you find yourself drawn to Afrobeat or (cringe) “world music.” But once you know it, it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with Fela and Afrika 70 as their revolutionary grooves rewire your brain in magical and meaningful ways.

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TuneDig Episode 44: Meshuggah’s “ObZen”

Meshuggah’s ObZen—an artifact of human creativity pushing the limits of what’s possible—will quite literally make you hear music differently. If you’re looking for a new musical adventure, and especially if you don’t think you like “heavy” or “weird” music, consider this your sign to push past your comfort zone.

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TuneDig Episode 43: mewithoutYou’s “Catch For Us the Foxes”

A misunderstood wise man once said “Let him who seeks continue seeking until he finds.” In our most personal and vulnerable episode yet, we do some seeking through the lens of songs that fill us with the bravery and sincerity to love ourselves and others fully. Dig deep with us as we fish for words about our tiny place in the universe and dance with gratitude for our ability to do so.

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FRIDAY HEAVY

For lifelong headbangers and the musically curious alike, a new podcast from TuneDig is here to push your palette with aggressive, abrasive art. Each short, fast-paced episode offers (1) a new metal, punk, noise, or experimental release we recommend, (2) a related playlist we’ve curated, and (3) a heavy issue to consider and an organization doing something about it. Join us in the void.

SEASON 5

TuneDig Episode 41: Miles Davis’s “Bitches Brew”

Let’s be clear: "Bitches Brew" is a challenging record, even to some of the best musicians in the world — but all of them say it’s worth the investment. It’s the kind of trip that, even if we *could* draw a map, it wouldn’t take you there. Let go of the need for meaning and enjoy the ride with us. We can promise you’ll be pleasantly surprised where you end up.

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TuneDig Episode 40: Fiona Apple’s “Tidal”

On the heels of one of 2020's most acclaimed albums — Fiona Apple’s Fetch the Bolt Cutters — we revisited Apple’s debut Tidal and wound up working to extract ourselves from the mostly male gazes that made its reception … much different. We arrive at a question much like writer Jenn Pelly had: “People would constantly prod Fiona on how an 18-year-old could write songs as mature as these ... Why did they not ask instead how she became a genius?”

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TuneDig Episode 39: Death Grips’s “The Money Store”

The modern world is accelerating beyond our control, shaping our reality in ways we can’t yet perceive or understand. Enter Death Grips, an art project capturing the chaotic energy and illustrating the absurdity of our hubris in trying to harmonize the surreal and extremely real — never more perfectly than on 2012’s prescient "The Money Store".

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TuneDig Episode 38: Augustus Pablo’s “King Tubbys Meets Rockers Uptown”

Reggae music is easy to take for granted, but its impact is underappreciated and massive — in the case of dub in particular, everyone from Radiohead to Johnny Rotten to Run-DMC owes it a debt. Augustus Pablo and King Tubby together created what’s regarded as “one of the finest examples of dub ever recorded.” Join us as we dive into the culture, history, and unique engineering experiments that made it possible.

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TuneDig Episode 37: Rihanna’s “ANTI”

By every measure — sales, awards, chart-toppers, global name recognition — Rihanna is objectively as big as the Beatles ever were. In fact, ANTI is so big it’s still on the charts, a record five full years later. Take a closer look with us at “the record you make when you don’t need to sell records”, and get a taste of the true freedom that comes from focusing on your inner voice when faced with insurmountable expectations.

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TuneDig Episode 36: Son House’s “Father of Folk Blues”

All American music traces back to the blues, and deep at the root sits Son House. That the recordings on "Father of Folk Blues" even exist is something of a gray area that cuts to the heart of the great American myth, but wherever you land after hearing these stories, you’ll find that what matters most is what the great Muddy Waters once said of House: “That man was the king.”

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TuneDig Episode 35: Melvins’s “Stoner Witch”

The futility of describing the Melvins has stretched critics in the direction of absurd words like “Dadaist” for nearly 40 years now. They’ve belligerently flogged any attempt to pinpoint their essence simply by being themselves, but "Stoner Witch" remains a reliable mall directory for the Melvins’ vast and wild discography. Grab yourself some pretzel bites.

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TuneDig Episode 34: Dolly Parton’s “Jolene”

We should talk about Dolly the way we talk about Prince. Her extraordinary kindness and unique kitsch both make her universally loved, but what gets left out of the conversation is the very thing that made her famous: the music. Join in as we focus attention on the sonics and songwriting of the low-key masterpiece "Jolene".

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TUNEDIG RADIO

SEASON 4

SEASON 3

SEASON 2

SEASON 1

BONUS TRACK EPISODES

Kyle and Cliff

BONUS TRACK: How We Got Here

We got a bunch of interesting listener feedback in our off-season, and it encouraged us to shed some light on why we do things the way we do ‘em. Also, we reflect on our first writeup, which was ... interesting.

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WHO WE ARE

We're Cliff (right) and Kyle (left). We’re two dudes born and raised in ATL with day jobs in tech and sustainability, respectively.

We met in middle school, and in one way or another, music’s been the thing that’s kept us close for the two decades since — whether it’s sharing and talking about new music (like this podcast, except in our texts or over beers), going to shows, or working with our favorite record stores to help them survive and thrive.

We started TuneDig as a little art project that connects us more deeply ourselves and to the world through the infinite gift of music. We hope you’ll join us for the conversations, let us know what you think, and share discoveries of your own.

More About TuneDig

TuneDig began as a little something called MusicGrid.me, which we created after realizing there was no place online to directly exchange music recommendations with your friends. Our aim was simple: to make rating albums simple, useful, and social. We got some love from places like MashableWiredEvolver.fm, and Hypebot. We managed to foster conversation between music lovers, get thousands of reviews, and meet great people.

Along the way, we realized that record stores were an essential part of the music lovers’ community. After many a conversation about how we could helpfully connect them to the people who loved them, we began helping them leverage technology to create new revenue streams and embrace streaming services without giving up what’s unique to them: expertise and curation. (Long live the counter clerk who knows exactly which record will be the right introduction to jazz fusion!)

TuneDig is our vision to connect music lovers with the music they love, because no matter how much has changed in the way we discover and enjoy music, recommendations from people you trust and respect will always be the best way to find new music you’ll dig. With this podcast, we’re channeling the spirit of trusted curation pioneered by record stores, and bringing you something to take you deeper into music you can love.