BLISSOM & ASHEN spinning as part of the Mr. TRAN TRAVELS IN SOUND PARTY with TREVOR WALKER and ANDY CAPP at Surface (12 Brant), Friday (May 24). $10. www.spotrecords.net
Now that computers can make music, it's much easier for one person to make a recording on their own. But many have found the solitary musical process to be a bit unsatisfying.
Ottawa's Rise Ashen (aka Eric Vani) has had a long history playing in bands, so it was natural that he would want to incorporate some of that interaction into his electronic music.
"When you're all by yourself, you sometimes end up getting a bit sick of yourself," Vani explains from his Ottawa home.
"You forget that you have interesting things to say, because you're always saying them to yourself. That's a huge part of being a musician -- the social element, in the sense of how much you can learn from other people."
Last year's collaboration with fellow Ottawa-based DJ/producer Trevor Walker, Common Ground, caught some ears in the organic dance music world. Recently, Japanese producers UFO charted the album at number six in the new issue of influential UK music magazine Straight No Chaser.
Vani has now followed up that collaboration with an album with Toronto's Blissom called Mr. Tran Travels In Sound, a trip through two very open-minded musicians' imaginations.
Straddling genres, the project isn't easily described. There are moments when a nu-jazz influence is apparent, but then it starts sounding closer to experimental drum 'n' bass in spots, and in others deep house.
Vani's work as Rise Ashen does have some common musical threads throughout the recordings -- playful rhythms, relaxed melodies and a penchant for mixing up acoustic instruments with electronically generated sounds.
His love of roots music extends beyond token conga samples -- he has actually released two folk albums as Eric Vani, has been studying Indian music for the past few years, and grew up with a love of world music passed down to him from his mother.
"I think it's important to be as open to different musical ideas as possible, but also to research them and learn from them. I have a tabla teacher and the past few years of studying have been a complete revolution for me in terms of how I think of beats and arrangements.
"I learned how to read music when I was about seven or eight, but I've always felt that there is something not quite right about the way we notate music. The dialect of Indian music is much more suited to expressing the ideas I've always had.
"There's nothing in our system that can notate grooves and rhythms the way that Indian music can."BENJAMIN BOLES