“This collection of music exists to celebrate the Raga – that most ancient, most perfect set of instructions and specifications with regard to musical mood, movement, and pitch – and to fuse it with Western sounds, forms and vibes. […] The word Raga comes from the Sanskrit word for colour, “rang”, and we are often asked to imagine the Raga as being a sonic means to colour the imagination or mood, or both. Every Raga has its own shade, its own distinct hue, a proper time of day to best evoke it, and a family or two to whom it can be said to ‘relate’. Some are a serious call to action and devotion, and some ask you to relax, turn off your mind, and listen to the colour.” – from the liner notes of Listen To The Colour
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Is it ‘synaesthesia’, a Gesamtkunstwerk, or what?
lightsweetcrude is a multi-faceted project in the tradition of the collectives, and what curator/art historian Adam Lerner calls “hybrid forms” of the psychedelic era. This is a project that can take a number of forms: be it projection and sound installations, a live band, live projections, rogue remixing/reworking, and more. The project’s mandate to fuse North Indian ragas with Western forms has been recognized by musical communities in both the US and Canada for its bravery. This project has evolved to find the projection of “colour” – the definition of the Sanskrit root verb for “raga” – playing such a prominent role that it has taken the journey to a place where the visual realm is on an equal footing and synchronized with the musical. This gives fluidity to the project and enables it to manifest itself in a number of potent creative directions.
From the project’s early commitment to creating a colour installation at any performance with an array of overhead proejctors, an interest was sparked in this project’s subtle exploration of synthesthesia, and requests for projections at other Toronto area events began to come in. Since then, projection and audio installations have been created for a number of large scale cultural events under the lightsweetcrude “moniker”, collaborations various bands, including US act Woods and local ensemble The Junction Trio during their performances, exploring the relationship between kinetic colour and sound.
Spending a decade and a half in recording studios as an audio engineer and producer, project founder Jason Steidman (Canadian Brass, Sarah Slean, Brubeck + Braid) slowly became aware of his perception of sound being very ‘visual’. When placing instruments in a mix, adding reverb, delay or equalization, these elements or modifications would be perceived as spatial, and colour-based. After a lengthy period of studying Indian music, and finding himself in possession of an overhead projector, a series of late night experiments and epiphanies led him to embrace and explore this medium and its historical connection with music and sound.
This project’s mandate is to transform environments and alter moods, just as the “raga” is meant to ‘colour’ the mood of the listener.
lightsweetcrude […] just released its debut album, “Listen to the Colour” and it’s a solid calling card. Alternately visceral and meditative, the music here will appeal to fans of groups like Remember Shakti or the Mahavishnu Orchestra.”
– Errol Nazareth, Toronto Sun Oct 14th, 2011