Barry James music

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in the studio the domes in the studio effects processor

dot! About the artist

- If anyone is poised to inject new life into the instrumental sound it is Barry James. His work in music is genre-spanning and continues to evolve as he seeks out new projects and creates new challenges for himself. James is heavily involved in exploring the push and pull between music and images. Among his recent projects is the score for the short film, The Human Condition, which debuted at independent film festivals in April 2008.  James is also responsible for the infectious theme and overall musical signature of the ironic and entertaining webisode comedy, Crewing Up.

James has been collaborating with other musicians since 1995, and is a veteran of many groups, including the dream pop band The Sunflower Conspiracy. Most recently, James was songwriter and lead guitarist for the Tucson-based alternative rock band Affirming the Consequent. At this point in his career, James’s goal as a musician was to create music that functions flawlessly as an integral part of a larger project, such as a film...or a dream.

dot! About the album 'Strange Slumber: Music for Wonderful Dreams'

- Challenged to write an ambient album that defied his own preconceptions about the genre, Barry James created a sound that reflects his aesthetic. The result is ambient music imbued with love and respect for ringing acoustic guitar and enthusiasm for the sheer variety of effects a computer processor can store. With Strange Slumber: Music for Wonderful Dreams, James mines this limitless galaxy of sound for the chord clusters and turns of phrase that will remain with you long after you fall asleep.

The skill James demonstrates in using crescendo and tempo to color his music is matched only by the ease with which he combines computer generated sounds and traditional instruments. The collection is an amalgam. Compositions such as the decidedly romantic “6 String Lullaby” and the outer spacey rock ballad “Fletcher’s Song” are the product of studio sessions with live percussion and guitar. “The Watchmaker” is the closest James comes to an electronic fantasy sound. This tune, along with the beautifully discordant “Curious Ghosts” showcases purely computer generated modes of musical communication. Computer sampling combines seamlessly with traditional instrumentation in “Let Sleeping Ghosts Lie,” a musical question mark that reverberates long after the final note sounds.

The bridge between the world of computer generated sounds and traditional instrumentation is the eBow, which James uses throughout Strange Slumber. This device creates a smooth plane of sound, that extends outward as far as your imagination is able to travel, and then dissolves away. James has gone back to the roots of ambient music and Strange Slumber: Music for Wonderful Dreams strips the genre of its sometime reputation for flavorless background music.

articles by Kirsten Voris, independent music critic