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The Cosmic Electronic Music of Galactic Anthems

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Galactic Anthems (aka Glenn Adams) is a newcomer to the genre of contemporary electronic music. But Adams is no novice to the music field. He is an alumnus of the Berkeley School of Music with a B.A. in music composition from California's State University in Los Angeles, and was once under contract to Columbia Records in the Seventies with a progrock band called Daddy Warbucks, who played some gigs, did a lot of recording, but never released any album before breaking up. Now, Adams has returned as a one-man electronics band which has a decidedly cosmic sentiment to its sonic output.

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Interview with Glenn Adams

Q: Coming from progrock roots as you do, how do you feel this has impacted on your contemporary electronics output?

GLENN ADAMS: My progrock roots featured a lot of aimless jamming, which was fun, but ultimately not that interesting. My compositional style was very different back then. Since I'm now a solo artist, I don't feel the pressure or need to come up with a different part for each member of the band. My approach today is much more intuitive. I love "unusual" sounds, both tonal and non-tonal. I look for sounds that, combined with more "normal" sounds like percussion, would make a challenging listening experience. Hopefully, my music communicates on some emotional level, even if the listener doesn't know or relate to the harmonic structures or ambient textures I'm using.

Q: Your music explores both ambience and more lively electronics, combining these modes to achieve a cross-platform sound. Which aspect do you find more rewarding on a personal level?

GLENN ADAMS: I have a significant amount of work in the category one would call 20th century orchestral music realized by electronic instruments. All very "lively" in nature. The influence of composers like Stravinsky, Bartok, Barber and Copeland have also contributed to my musical vocabulary. On the other hand, an artist like Steve Roach and his varied output is also a huge inspiration to me. So I guess you could say I'm taking the influence of 20th century "legit" music and combining it with ambient related drones and textures. Which aspect is more rewarding is a very tough call. I think the classical influence is rewarding intellectually, and the ambient influence helps keep my sense of wonder alive, which is very important. So I think the ambient style wins in this case. I just love the sound of electronics!

Q: What role (if any) do you believe that music will play in mankind's efforts to explore the galaxy?

GLENN ADAMS: A recurring fantasy of mine is to be in orbit above a planet (not necessarily Earth), blasting out my favorite electronic music albums while enjoying the view. I couldn't think of a better place to enjoy that kind of music. I sure hope the astronauts on the space station have an iPod or something similar to help pass the time. Aside from a leisure activity, I doubt music will have much else to do with exploring the galaxy. That being said I can just picture some bureaucrat in Washington formulating which music should be played to our new alien friends in "first contact" situations. God, what a mess that could be!

Q: What was the last scientific discovery that made you go "Wow!"?

GLENN ADAMS: I'm just loving the space pictures taken by the Hubble telescope. I'm so glad they got it working properly. I'm also glad the space station is finally operational. It's the first step in the colonization of space. I'd love to be around in a few hundred years to see the progress we've made.

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GALACTIC ANTHEMS: Galactic Anthems (CD on Galactic Anthems Music)

This 2002 release offers 48 minutes of unearthly soundscapes.

From this CD's initial moments, it is evident that this music offers more than just comfortable ambience, employing a sense of drama that immediately grips the listener with its stately harmonics and urgent temperament. Delicate percussives and sultry basslines accompany the dreamy electronics, producing lush yet unobtrusive tuneage that is tantalizing and vibrant.

While maintaining a sedate foundation, this music fuses a trace of funk with contemporary electronics, transcending ambience with subtle majesty and cosmological flair that goes far beyond simple hypnotic structure. Even when the pieces languish in an interstellar calm, there is a hint of liveliness that sneakily infects the listener with more than they bargained for. The astral voyage afforded by Galactic Anthems is an experience laced with rewarding surprises.

Adams' compositional acumen harnesses minimal sounds, bestowing greatness on the simplest chords. The music unfurls without haste, demonstrating assiduous attention to detail. This tendency results in soundscapes that deliver heavenly melodies laced with rarefied rhythms. The sonic flow is regal and appealing, exhibiting a refreshing creativity that is destined to go places.

There are even instances of unreserved power and zest, like when the track "Tortured Souls" explodes with ominous yet enticing vitality.

The only downside of this music lies in the all-too-brief duration of these tracks, any of which could stand on their own if elongated to delightfully momentous proportions.

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