In the Edwardian occult classic, Thought-Forms, authors Besant and Leadbeater outline a method for transcribing thoughts via color, shape, and line. As inspiration for their method, they turn to research into vibration and its effect on matter. Thoughts, they believe, like sound, send vibrations in all directions, creating a capturable residue:
"Every thought gives rise to a set of correlated vibrations in the matter of this body, accompanied with a marvellous play of colour, like that in the spray of a waterfall as the sunlight strikes it, raised to the nth degree of colour and vivid delicacy. The body under this impulse throws off a vibrating portion of itself, shaped by the nature of the vibrations—as figures are made by sand on a disk vibrating to a musical note—and this gathers from the surrounding atmosphere matter like itself in fineness from the elemental essence of the mental world." -Besant & Leadbeater
This is the nascent foundation for the music that Sam Scranton and Katherine Young make together as Beautifulish. Fusing improvisation with composed musical material, they utilize electronics and amplification to augment their primary instruments: Young plays bassoon; Scranton, percussion. The result is an integrated sound world that exists as its own beautifulish thing.
"Pink, brown, blue, red, white, inchworm, deep taupe, prune… Rainbows of noise smudge into tightly interwoven gestures, melodic fragments, and diapason."
On this, their self-titled debut as Beautifulish, track names are assigned either a color or hexcode, and the compositions themselves act as a sort of thought-transcription between two performers communicating via sonic abstraction. Colleagues who’d long respected each other’s work, Scranton and Young held weekly sessions to consistently improvise and explore their instrumental setups together. Working in a deeply collaborative way to allow the music to develop at whatever pace it needed, Scranton and Young focused on practice and process.
Consistently the music, and a just-defined-enough shared aesthetic, grew. Recursive improvisation, through and with notated score fragments, allowed Scranton and Young to gradually concretize replicable pieces and solidify their improvisational connection.
"Arcs, prisms, polychorons, and wedges… Haptic and breathy friction forge rhythmic pathways and timbral dimensions."
This recording, made in the Spring of 2019 with engineer Grayson Elliot Taylor, is a document of a music making practice that feels practically impossible amidst the pandemic haze of 2020. Yet, persisting to imagine a world they actually want to live in and grateful for music’s ability to connect, Scranton and Young give us something Beautifulish to exist within.
released December 4, 2020
Katherine Young Music (ASCAP)
Samuel Robert Scranton: Department of Ceremonial Atmospheres (ASCAP)
Recorded by Grayson Elliot Taylor.
Mastered by Matt Mehlan at The STUUDIO.
Been listening to this nonstop since it came out. Superb intro to the quartet, and also thrilled to discover Charmaine Lee. Loved your whole concept with the tarot cards, the art, the juxtapositions ... Really creative approach!