20 Nov 2007

The first(?) example of molecular gastronomy in music

More music than science lately, but this one is inevitable:
Recently, the
improvisational electroacoustic jazz band Food released their fifth record named "molecular gastronomy"!

Furthermore, seeing the track list, I was baffled by the rather specific concepts taken directly from molecular gastronomy (MG), such as khymos (Martin Lersch's blog), spherification and texturas (ref. the Texturas series by Ferran Adrià at el Bulli) and heston (Blumenthal, at The Fat Duck).

At first, I wondered whether this was a joke, serious, or somewhere in between. Qualitywise, this is by no means a joke. Both from previous recordings and this one, Iain Ballamy (sax) and Thomas Strønen (drums/perc) prove that they are among the foremost in their field, no doubt. Other band constellations they are engaged in confirms this as well.

So, is it possible to hear the gastronomy in the music? (ref. previous posts on food and chemistry/food vs. music). That's a difficult question, and I'm not sure whether I should look for it either. My experience with using other senses than my ears as impulse to improvisation is that things become rather banal if one lets the impulses become too evident in the music. One example when we (Quest) played together with the Norwegian poet and author Lars Amund Vaage reading his poems about sheep farmers from the book "Det andre rommet". The one percussion instrument to be extremely careful about in that context, at least in my opinion, was the (cow) bell.

Anyway, I guess taste, aroma etc. are such unfamiliar impulses to use in music compared to visual (i.e. pictures) and text, that the effect of these may be difficult to discern (I'd really love to have a chat with the Food-guys about this).

I'll surely spend time listening to this, food/gastronomy references or not. Strønen is no doubt a favourite in terms of combining energy, cool-factor and elegance. Coupled with the long mellow saxophone lines of Ballamy and keyboards/effects, the result is simply great music.


Post-comment after more listening, 16. December 2007:
After running the album a few more times, the question of hearing the food in the music is still a long shot to me. What is pretty clear, however, is that the music is closely connected to many of the track names; it's easy to relate/associate the music to the words. Examples are the machine like percussion (especially the bells) in "apparatus", the less rythmic and soft lines of "texturas", and the last track "alchemy" which is a synthesis (or maybe a distillate) of several of the other tracks. So, the search for food/gastronomy in music goes on, or maybe it's already there, the fault being in my mind or expectations?

Track list:
red algae
nature's recipe
the larder chef

1 comment:

  1. Hello,

    My name is Ian and I'm currently working on my doctorate in music at UC San Diego.

    I'm equally obsessed with music as I am with food. I stumbled upon your blog today and have been thoroughly enjoying your blog posts.

    Currently, I am researching multisensroy integration and conceptual integration theories and how they can be applied to a music experience. My influences come from molecular gastronomy's manipulation and control of all (or some) of the sensory pathways to heighten the overall musical experience.

    I would love to swap, share, and discuss ideas about how this may work.

    my email is auspicfnk(at)hotmail(dot)com

    ian c


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