The “sentient sound” of CORIN’s Lux Aeterna
July 17th 2023
- :: CORIN on The Playlist with Darren Lesaguis
Melbourne producer CORIN’s second album Lux Aeterna is made of musical lightbeams. Try to follow the path of any one sound and you’ll quickly become entangled, as each shimmers and glides before doubling over, looping back in on itself, and scattering to trail patterns of beautifully indiscernible self-reflexivity. Underneath this layer of breathless light shifts a restless, formless being, a “sentient sound” slowly floating like an amoeba through time. It’s really damn cool.
Lux Aeterna was made mostly in 2020 and 2021, and was finished by the beginning of 2022. It borrows its title, a latin phrase meaning ‘eternal light’, from a choral work written by Hungarian-Austrian modernist composer György Ligeti. Ligeti and his 20th century counterparts were a formative influence for CORIN, who was classically trained in piano at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.
“Over the past couple of years I’ve been practising music and sort of finding a way to merge all of those different interests and styles in a way that’s authentic to myself.”
The resultant “celestial space opera” is at once futuristic, bygone, and eternal, like a sci-fi novel from the 1800s, or 2001: A Space Odyssey. The 1968 film is an influence CORIN cited explicitly, and also implicitly in her record – Kubrick included several Ligeti pieces on the film’s soundtrack.
The tracks on Lux Aeterna retain the same feeling of detached humanism as A Space Odyssey. They do not raise conventional emotions of exuberance, melancholy or anger. Not even fear really. The beautiful, intense choral compositions touch on something deep and primordial, a quiet sensation that is neither good nor bad… one that I can’t really put into words, but I know lies within me.
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CORIN experimented with a technique called micropolyphony as part of her post-classical return. First developed by Ligeti, micropolyphony involves playing sustained, often dissonant chords that shift over time. The resulting music is so dense that individual parts become inaudible, with only the resulting intermingling harmonies effective as form.
“I was interested in playing around with tonalities that slide and bend and move around, and also in moving away from equal temperament, the Western system that we know of music tonality.”
This technique and its impact on the record’s sound is captured most clearly in the album art. The small, red typographic shapes hold a sense of classicalism that seems like a deliberate choice. Individual, remappable component-like pieces, they are indicative of CORIN’s broader approach to music making, as she delicately shapes and reshapes the minutiae to form potent wholes.
“I’ll make one track and then I take apart that track and turn it into something else and then take apart that track and turn it into something else. So I’m just constantly, like, remixing everything until it becomes something else. So I feel like in that respect, you know, a song is actually never really done.”
Together the cover typography forms a complete structure; a shifting, textured top layer. Beneath it sits a human-like distortion, a blurred face turning its gaze, a soul inside the machine… “sound as a sentient being.”
God, what I wouldn’t give to run this album through a 2006 Windows Media Player visualiser.
Listen back to the full interview with CORIN on The Playlist up top to hear her talk about her day to day life in the studio, her ethos for her live AV performances, her trip to the Philippines, and more. Buy/stream Lux Aeterna on Bandcamp below, and hear it on air all this week.