Commend HERE004 • full/new

Lightbath + Emily A. Sprague

first + second edition cassettes (sold out)

digital download + streaming

full/new is an expression of mutual planetary motion. Drawing a school of listeners to the floor of Commend’s relatively small interior on a late July Sunday afternoon in 2018, Emily A. Sprague and Lightbath (aka Bryan Noll) provided an hour of aqueous reflections that whispered with the trees outside on Forsyth street and tempered the activity of the surrounding island.

Frequent collaborators, Sprague and Noll have been traveling some years on the same light ship through music, friendship, darkness, and spiritual joy, sailing not only the same creative waters of improvised ambient music but also of deeper life events, providing support and connection. full/new represents the cosmic encounter of these two amongst friends, their complementary sets in healing ceremony, celebration and reunion.

To begin, Lightbath (in collaboration with a plant via the MIDI Sprout) daubs an arc of floaty melodics, chalky auras and affecting chimes into space. Nurtured by Noll’s composer-gardner spirit, “full” manifests a magnetic kineticism as person and machine travel together exchanging ideas in turn, flowing with the motion and change of the tides. An articulation of weightless abundance, “full” is balanced by the complementary piece “The Hermit”, a seven-minute piece recorded six days before the event using the same configuration of modules. Noll describes “The Hermit” as a meditation on one zone while its dynamic sibling, “full” is a stream of consciousness journey through multiple.

If “full” portrays voluptuous movement, “new” is its accompanying voice of possibility and renewal. Sprague pulls listeners into a thin cocoon of reverie, swayed gently by arpeggios in positive and negative acceleration. An interlude of rustling, trickling, bird calls and the occasional tapping signals the frolicking of polyphonic melodies over a swelling, sonorous bass. The final movement stills out into a sanguine solitude, leaving us with a single, extended note.

Mastered by Andrew Osterhoudt, full/new was originally presented as a limited run of cassettes in hand-numbered cases as part of the Commend Here series, which captures the magical moments of select Commend events and is now available in digital format via RVNG Intl.

Composer and improviser Bryan Noll explores the subtleties of emotion, memory, and time with his musical project, Lightbath. Taking inspiration from Brian Eno’s view of composers as gardeners, Noll plants musical seeds with his synthesizers and, through improvisation, guides their development and growth into pieces that unfold in the present moment. 

“Working with generative processes on the modular synthesizer feels like a collaboration,” he says, “as if the synthesizer is alive and interacting with me. It’s an active meditation where I set the initial framework and just listen while remaining agile enough to guide the musical conversation.”

Noll’s background as a music educator and yoga, meditation, dance, and theater collaborator speaks to the themes of growth, healing, and transformation now present in his work as Lightbath. “My aim is to make music that connects listeners to a state of presence that facilitates healing and transformation.”