Should Scorpios roll out its own record label?
The question is as olden as the rust that has been slowly burning the massive piece of crude iron at the gates of Scorpios, boasting the club’s signature carved deep into it. Not a sign of decay, but that of maturation – an aesthetic statement in awe and reverence to the forces of nature. That rough-textured slab of weathered metal assumes the attributes of a lifeform as it changes in response to the environment. So too, the idea of in-house music production has been fermenting in our heads for quite a while; like the body of good wine, breathing in contemplation of time to yield more substance and expression.
Now, at last, the day for this idea has come and with it the opportunity for us to leap into action, spurred by the desire to keep pressing forward, bringing something new and valuable into the world. The hour has struck for it and the time is right as the moment neatly coincides with the gradual awakening of energies following the months-long phase of reserved introspection afforded by the global circumstances with much of normal life on hold.
Convenient and beneficial as it may be, a standstill is never really an option for veritable explorers and pioneers who wilfully imagine no end to their journeys. Nor is it a paramount choice for Scorpios, the spiritual home for a coterie of dreamers, drifters and other restless souls whose sails are always up and angled for new discoveries – ever filled with the winds of adventure.
SC Music is Scorpios’ opus musicum, an ever-growing oeuvre of home-crystallized, cut and polished sonic gems spanning myriad genres that resonate with the entire gamut of genuine emotions, conjure various immersive ambiences and – inasmuch it is experimentally possible – stimulate perceptions across multiple sensory modalities.
A proverbial jug to be filled with goodness drop by drop, as it were, the authentic SC Music idiom directly corresponds to the cornerstone concept of Scorpios – a microcosm set up for personal and communal transformation through rituals, dances, conversations, and other forms of human interactivity. Its wonderfully eclectic output is both intended as a lush sonic atmosphere for your living rooms and as a live accompaniment to the social choreography at Scorpios. What sociologists mean by this metaphor is all the manners in which people enjoy themselves, manifest their identities, relate to others, espouse the unfamiliar and embrace the unknown, express things that are meaningful to them. In doing so, they weave the fabric of socialization and enculturation that is unique to a place.
Resonant with this sociological concept of choreography is Scorpios' foundational notion of transcendental dances. The dances of transcendence are not limited to the regularity and physicality of patterns. These dances are not about learning, rehearsing and performing routine moves: “One, and Two, and One, and Tap. And Turn, and One...” None of that. Scorpios’ choreography is emphatically intuitive and free-form.
Running the risk of sounding elitist, the notion of transcendental dances is at odds with the social choreography in the one-size-fits-all universe of mass culture; or what we call the dances of alienated leisure. At issue here is the kind of standardized entertainment that is largely not worth the time one spends on it.
Leisure is deemed alienated when one partakes in the activities which, from the very point of the participant, leave much to be personally desired. Yet, as if condemned to leisure, he or she indulges in these activities anyway – out of habit, convenience, or responding to “good deals” of the sort that fill the spam folder, or simply because these activities offer at least some context for spending his/her free time.
Spending is the key word here. It is synonymous with depleting, draining, or dispensing with one’s own freedom – by any means. Alienated leisure implies all the forms of pastime interpretable in terms of one’s lifetime expenditure instead of one's experiential gain or transference. Generic, easily accessible, instantly digestible and, by the same token, stultifying, it is the form of leisure associated with the lowest common denominator impulses. The industry of alienated leisure is a way of exploiting these impulses and keeping them perpetually unrefined and unsatisfied.
In this dance paradigm of leisure, music is deliberately simplified; produced in unwavering compliance with the market-tested protocols of hit-making, resulting in rigid compositional sameness, modulated with slight variations under the guise of novelty. It is produced – or, rather, manufactured – to appeal to the largest possible number of people, the mass consumer who is typically unreceptive to anything other than what sounds familiar, apprehensive of anything extraordinary – let alone otherworldly, the aesthetic realm that SC Music sets out to explore and expand.
Counterbalancing this trend of mass culture that gravitates towards stasis and homogeneity, SC Music insists on raising the standards of musical taste and appreciation. Whereas the dances of alienated leisure are more akin to playing tennis with the net down, the SC Music releases are meant to rise above the level of average sensibilities, establishing higher aesthetic barriers for one’s entry into music and its full enjoyment.
As we envision it, this new Scorpios project is a declaration of independence of sorts, deliberately distinct from any precedent and concurrent forms; it is a pledge of qualitative difference in anticipation of subsequent ones. It is a promise of a unique and more profound musical experience, of a greater pleasure and deeper satisfaction, of genuine emotional transformation and more lasting feeling of completeness.
The sources from which SC Music draws its inspiration are not limited to any particular style of music or production method. The new imprint derives its character, enthusiasm and energy from music as a unified whole, as one great interrelated process – from music as the universe. As such, it encompasses various modes of sonic expression stretching from grand symphonies through the myriad of popular genres and down to less intuitive forms, amorphous constructs filled with wavering ambiance, oscillating noise, and static silence. SC Music’s sources are as infinite as universal space. Or time – wherein, as they say, "every moment has its music."
If our experience of time and space can be figuratively construed as a musical experience, so must be our visual, olfactory, gustatory, tactile, vestibular and all other sensory experiences. Speaking of these sense-experiences in musical terms is not just an exercise in eloquence. Although rare, these experiences are quite real: the experiences of music that one can see, smell, taste, and/or touch. And vice versa.
The effect of auditory-visual congruency was the main focus for Wassily Kandinsky, the pioneer of abstract art, in his research and teaching at the Bauhaus school of design in the 1920s. Der Gelbe Klang (The Yellow Sound) was his earliest work that synthesized music, colors, movements, and speech into one gestalt totality. Multi-sensory, cross-modal perception has been a source of inspiration for many remarkable artists, composers, musicians, poets, writers, and all manner of creative geniuses: Arthur Rimbaud, Charles Baudelaire, Nikola Tesla, Duke Ellington, Jean Sibelius, to name a few.
There is a name for this union of the senses, for this kind of music, our music – an intricate, wonderfully complex aesthetic phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory domain of the brain fuels experiences in other cerebral domains. Scientists call these experiences synesthesia. The sensory data flow from one region of our nervous system to another via neural pathways which constitute a network, its areas overlapping, contracting, and expanding as some existing routes, unengaged, get atrophied, and, with an exercise of a new mental faculty, additional neural paths are created affording more complex sensory experiences.
This process of neural generation and degeneration, contraction and expansion of the circuits, depends on many factors, including what we do with ourselves and what we refrain from doing: reading books, listening to music, immersing visually in art, deep-meditating, smart-socializing... or wasting away our time, doing nothing.
Those who regularly engage their brains, by exercising all their sensory and cognitive faculties, are the ones whose neural networks are more developed as a result – in strength, depth, and breadth. This development provides for cross-modal interplay that sparks those complex multi-sensory experiences and super-cognitive eureka moments. Synesthetes are those who, like Kandinsky, sense things that others do not: hearing colors, tasting sounds, seeing the invisible, feeling the intangible, achieving the impossible...
Just as everything is music in one sense or another, everyone is a synesthete – to a larger or lesser extent. You do not need an advanced degree in psychology to figure it out: how music impacts your perception of food, for instance, how it influences your menu choices, how it modifies your mood and guides your thinking, how it induces or demotivates interactivity at the table.
It takes a bit of extra curiosity to realize how various auditory stimuli affect the quality of your gustatory experiences – the specific genre of music, volume, tempo, instrumentation, the balance of low and high frequencies, its lyrical component... Music is a sonic seasoning, they say: higher notes, flutes, and tinkling piano sweeten food, while deeper, more resonant notes make it taste more bitter than it actually is. Loud and upbeat music, groovy music, music with vocals, familiar pieces of music – the types of music that increase heart and blood pressure rates – suppresses the appetite. Too much excitement around the table makes food bland; an exquisite delicacy may taste like sand.
From the synesthetic point of view, it is not only music that defines your dining experience as an intricate interplay of the senses. In equal measure, it is about a visual impact (interior design, food presentation), tactile impressions (room temperature, the texture of food), vestibular sensations (physical comfort afforded by the furniture), and so on down to the color of napkins.
You can reverse the formula to get a sense of how your perception of music itself changes under the influence of various stimuli complementing the auditory ones – be that a full-sensory amalgam at the sunset ritual, during the full-moon mysterium, in the course of Inner Gardens immersion, or at some other ceremony at Scorpios.
It is this possibility of one pleasantly intense gestalt experience that informs and entices our musical idiom. Given the advances in neuro-engineering, SC Music may in the not so distant future rely on new technologies to realize this concept in full – non-invasive or direct cortical stimulation devices and neural modulation algorithms as upgrades to our state-of-the-art sound system. Time will tell.
But this prospect of music for the eyes, for the skin, for the tastebuds could also be just a matter of developing new human faculties. Re-awakening of our dormant senses may also lead us – through the pathways of our Inner Gardens – precisely in this direction. One may hear colors or see sounds by stirring the senses that have been neglected or suppressed by chronic stress and fatigue associated with our fast-pace urban living; compromised through our overdependence on modern amenities, and blunted by our exposure to so much of everything.
The overstimulation that defines contemporary existence makes us blind, deaf, and unfeeling in all other ways to the subtle odors, voices, colors, and other vibrations in nature. When the city lights go off, we begin to see the stars again shimmering in the infinity of space; when the smog dissipates, we can finally breathe the fresh fragrances of spring.
SC Music is an anticipation of the synesthetic future of music and a vindication of its potentiality as a transformative medium. It is a cross-modal expedition reaching into the depths and heights of sonic culture; searching the length and breadth of the field for the new. It is a journey through territories both mapped and uncharted – traversing the vast expanse of ingrained genres and roving through an ever-shifting terrain of experimental textures. SC Music is a mission that aims at capturing and conveying the essence of music; uncovering the obscure and nuanced relationships between its past, present, and future. A showcase that reveals the confluence of various cultural traditions and post-modern innovations; the crossing points of divergent currents, and the intricate interplay of the most distant, seemingly unrelated and incompatible forms. It is an explication of the connection between the spirit of music and its techne; an endeavor to realize the synesthetic potential of music to bridge the neural pathways of sound, sight, smell, taste, touch, and thought. Music as a ritual, as a form of being together in our dissociative times.
Above all, SC Music is a testimony to just how – in concrete experiential terms – music is the most vigorous, meaningful, and beautiful language in the world.