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Review: The Cosmic Dance of 'String Theory'


Review by Howard Davis

Fly My Pretties sixth album is quite possibly their best yet - a concept album in the best sense, with superb arrangements, funky grooves, and some great vocalizing, all organized around the lyrical leitmotif of string theory. The initial inspiration and creative input started to take shape in May 2015, triggering a creative ripple effect among the fourteen musicians and songwriters who assembled to explore this new territory. The early demos were presented in a group writing day at Wellington's Surgery Studio only a month before performing nine sold-out shows, recorded live at Auckland's Mercury and Wellington's Paramount Theatres.

'String Theory' expands on the traditional Fly My Pretties sound. While the folk and singer-songwriter elements remain, the underlying concept opened the door for a new range of sounds - spacey vocals, pulsating synths, and trippy rhythms - brought to life by a cast featuring a mix of longstanding members and some of the country’s brightest musical talent, lead by Barnaby Weir, including A Girl Named Mo, Bailey Wiley, Ills Winter, Miloux, Ria Hall, James Coyle, Jarney Murphy, Iraia Whakamoe, Laughton Kora, Mike Fabulous, Nigel Patterson, Ryan Prebble, and the irrepressible Tiki Taane.

Eighteen songs were refined and polished during four days of rehearsal at Auckland's Lot23, before presenting them to the public. Thirteen tracks made the final cut on the album (with A Girl Named Mo's 'Mud and Stardust' the real standout and only a thumping shout called 'Harry Potato' misfiring completely), but each show gave birth to a living, breathing organism, with a visual effect server brain-linked directly to each strain of music. The result was a unique and hypnotic multi-media experience. This strong visual element in the live shows and Jaime Robinson's artwork reflect Barnaby Weir's curiosity about finding meaning in our infinite universe, using wave patterns literally triggered by the musician's instruments as they were played.

Particle physicists have identified the cosmos as we perceive it in terms of rhythmic patterns of light and sound - oscillating waves that vibrate at certain frequencies in time and space - which Eastern mystics called the dance of Shiva. Everything is moving to its own beat, from the subatomic micro-orbits of electrons and protons to the macro-orbits of the planets, stars, and galaxies. Another term for this pulsating rhythm is 'periodicity' - meaning the activity of something that falls into cycles, from the continuous beating of the heart and the human breath to the generation of new life forms, as the cadence of life is intricately woven into the core of our existence.

Sound waves provide a particular example of periodicity. They are measured in cycles per second (hertz) and each cycle of a wave is in reality a single pulse of sound. The average range of hearing for the human ear is between 16-20,000 hz. We may not be able to hear extremely low or high frequencies, but we still perceive them as rhythmic, and studies have shown that the vibrations produced by rhythmic sounds have a profound effect on both human psychology and physiology.

Like sound waves, the brain has its own set of vibrations that it uses to communicate with itself and the rest of the body. Slower tempos from 48-70 BPMS decrease heart and respiratory rates, thereby altering predominant brainwave patterns. Beta waves (13-30 hz) are the fastest, most commonly found during waking states relating to outward awareness, engaged minds, arousal, and the active perception and evaluation of forms of data through the senses. They predominate whenever we are afraid, angry, worried, hungry, or surprised. Alpha waves (7-13 hz) are associated with more relaxed and tranquil states of consciousness, less engagement and arousal, pleasant inward awareness, body/mind integration, and are present during mediation and states of relaxation. Theta waves (3-7 hz) induce increased recall, creativity, imagery and visualization, free-flowing thought, future planing, inspiration, drowsiness, and are present during dreaming and REM states. Delta waves (1 -3 hz) create dreamless sleep, trance states, self-healing, the release of growth hormones from the pituitary, and are present during deep levels of non-REM sleep.

When the Earth's axis shifted one degree in 1991, the twenty-one year cusp period of the astrological Aquarian Age initiated a significant change in our planet's electromagnetic field. 2009 marked another level of vibratory increase in the base frequency emitted by humanity's collective DNA. This is all part of the 'quickening' - a response to the larger galactic energies that are moving the planet into a new dimensional future. The electromagnetic field of the earth, the atomic energy of the atom, and the molecules of our blood cells are all constantly changing, and this sweeping, far-reaching mutation is altering the fundamental fabric of every human being's personal perception of reality. Our 'personality' is composed by whatever we believe, feel, and think we know, but our personalities were assembled before or during this cusp period with components that are rapidly becoming obsolete.

Deep in the geometric center of the brain lies the pineal gland. The clockwise and anti-clockwise radiant rotation of this gland controls the vibratory dance of the ten trillion cells that make up the human body and its tempo is accelerating rapidly, demanding a constant effort to stay in sync with the increased velocity of etheric energy currently bombarding Planet Earth. The cusp period ended in December 2012. Four years later, many of us are still struggling to keep up with the disorienting pace of cultural and technological evolution that sometimes threatens to engulf us. 'String Theory' provides one means of navigating the increased velocity of these turbulent and tumultuous currents with increased acceptance and serenity, as we are propelled inexorably through the white-water rapids of our existence towards the ocean of tranquility.

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