DAVID & STEVE GORDON
Chakra Balance
(Sequoia)

 

Making inroads into the world of New Age, ambient electronica and healing meditation music for three decades, David & Steve Gordon are renowned as visionary artists. David and Steve established Sequoia Records back in the 1980’s and they continue with a number of intriguing, instrumental CD releases. High on the list is a 2013 studio CD entitled Chakra Balance. Even if you discount the album’s positive, healing musical vibes, and know nothing about meditation music, Chakra Balance is still a fantastic and powerful listening experience in its own right. With Chakra Balance, the sound weaves its way into the realm of ambient electronica and will find crossover appeal among listeners of Brian Eno, Steve Roach and John Serrie. Another recent release on Sequoia Records is the 2013 CD, Deep Healing Elements: Music For Reiki & Meditation 4 by the artist known as Shajan. A Reiki master and composer, Shajan mixes ambient synths and natural sounds to great effect. Whether you’re seeking meditative music for health reasons or you’re looking to chill out with state of the art ambient / electronic World Music grooves, David & Steve Gordon and Sequoia Records have the sound down to a science.


mwe3.com presents an interview with
David & Steve Gordon
Recording Artists and Co-Founders
of Sequoia Records


mwe3: Some artists prefer not to be called New Age but David & Steve Gordon and Sequoia Records have embraced and helped define modern concepts of New Age music for three decades now. In what ways have you stayed true to your roots with your music and your label Sequoia Records?

STEVE GORDON: When we started back in 1982, the term “New Age Music” did not exist. There were only a few people making meditation music and it was only sold in small metaphysical bookstores. Brian Eno was exploring a concept he called “functional music“ which is called ambient music now. We had initially described our recordings as “environmental music,” but after a couple years, we stopped using that because it felt too limiting.

Since our original intention was to create music for meditation and a peaceful environment, we didn’t mind when people started calling it New Age. We lived in Los Angeles at the time, and our concept was that for people who lived in cities and were feeling stressed out our music could bring the serene atmosphere of nature into their lives, sort of a ”no-stress zone”.

In the over 30 years since we started, the music we created and the artists we released on our label have all fit within this idea. It doesn’t matter whether the style of the particular album is traditional ambient or meditation music, world fusion, drumming or downtempo electronica – we always make sure the end result is one that makes the listener feel good.

Also, we’ve long been inspired by Eastern philosophy, meditation and yoga, along with nature-based spirituality and Shamanism, and we continue on this path today. So the music we create and release from other artists has always expressed at its core an intention that reflects this perspective.

mwe3: The 2013 CD by David & Steve Gordon is called Chakra Balance. What is the concept behind the album and could you tell us who plays what instruments on the CD?

DAVID GORDON: Finding balance is central to healthy enlightened living. The chakras encompass all aspects of a person’s energy and consciousness, so when the chakras are in balance, that balance permeates the whole being. We set out to create an album of ambient music that could help attain that balance either though focused meditation or by enjoying a peaceful environment for any activity, including sleep and bodywork sessions. Since most people don’t meditate for a full hour at once, we divided the album into two half-hour musical meditations, each containing one composition for each of the seven chakras, so listeners can choose between either of the two shorter meditations for variety, or use them both in sequence for a deeper longer meditation.

On this album, we both play synthesizers, samplers and processed Native flutes. I also played some treated piano and Steve played some acoustic guitar textures and an instrument he calls “infinite electric guitar,” which is a combination of very long reverbs and delays with his volume pedal. Also, over the years we’ve developed an extensive library of unique recordings of sounds and performances that have not been previously released. For this album, we wanted to move away from the usual synth sounds that are often heard in meditation music, so we used our library of recordings as a sort of painter’s palette to create an impressionistic soundscape of textures, melodies and drones expressing the energy and attributes of each chakra.

As we composed the music for each chakra, we tried to evoke the attributes of that chakra in musical terms. It’s not that different that other kinds of tools people have always used for meditation, whether it’s a candle, incense, Indian drone instruments like the tamboura, or a tribal drum. Music like Chakra Balance is a sonic tool in this long tradition but it also has a specific purpose to heal and align the chakras. By focusing the mind on each chakra and listening to the corresponding tracks on the album, the combination of the listener’s mental focus and the music work together to align and balance the chakras. The music can also be used simply as mood-enhancing musical ambiance, with no effort at meditating required. And for those who use it in both ways, they will be reminded of their meditative insights as the music plays in the background during other activities.

mwe3: Could you talk a little about what chakras are and how music, such as the Chakra Balance CD helps balance chakras?

STEVE GORDON: The chakras are a system of seven energy centers of prana or life force in the body that dates back to very early tantric and yogic traditions of Hinduism and Buddhism. They are often visualized as radiant spheres, or spinning disks. To spin, the disks must be balanced, and for the whole person to grow and prosper, the chakras must be balanced with each other as well. Meditating on the chakras can bring this balance, and can release stress, center the mind, increase creativity and overall well being.

When we created the music on Chakra Balance, we used our own experiences in meditation and yoga, along with the descriptions of the various correspondences for each chakra found in the Vedic texts, to express the qualities of each chakra through music. But this is not a technical album of specific frequencies for each chakra – at its heart; it’s a musical exploration of the energies. You don't need an understanding of the chakras to enjoy the album for meditation or just as relaxing ambient music.

mwe3: Another 2013 CD release on Sequoia is Deep Healing Elements: Music For Reiki & Meditation 4. Can you provide some background on this CD and the artist Shajan?

DAVID GORDON: Shajan is one of our most popular artists. This is his fourth release on Sequoia and might be his best yet. His work as a Reiki practitioner gives him a unique perspective when he composes his music. There is a natural flow to his own style of ambient music that evokes the natural world. His use of nature sounds is also very different. The nature sounds drift in and out at the perfect points in a very subtle way.

When you listen to Shajan’s music you feel an almost instantaneous change in your body and mind. No matter how stressed out you are or how busy your mind might be, when you hear his music, relaxation becomes easy as the music permeates your being. His music is very ambient which makes it good for everything from meditation, yoga, Reiki sessions, massage, sleep or just as a soothing background.

We don’t release music from other artists unless we find that it has something very special. In the case of Shajan, we were right to believe in him since his audience continue to grow and he has fans all over the world.

mwe3: How has the New Age music market and scene changed since you started way back in the 1980s?

STEVE GORDON: There have been so many changes over the last 30 years it would be difficult to describe them all here. In some ways it has come full circle. At the start, most New Age music was ambient, very relaxing and soothing. Over time it expanded to include more upbeat world fusion and then electronica. Currently the trend is back towards more ambient music with the majority of albums being released in the less rhythmic more meditative direction.

Also there are now some styles such as electronic music that blend aspects of ambient music with more rhythmic genres such as downtempo electronica chill out music and even alternative rock such as Hammock, Mystical Sun, Marconi Union, Saxton Shore and The Album Leaf, or ambient dub such as Bill Laswell’s Divination project. People who enjoy Meditation Music and New Age music might not even be aware of these kinds of artists but the music has similar qualities and encourages explorations of consciousness. And the fans of these new hybrid Ambient Music groups would very likely enjoy music such as our new release Chakra Balance.

So there is a real expansion of what styles you can include in all of these different genres. Sometimes the only difference between what might be labeled New Age Music, or Space music, or Ambient Electronic Music is the type of album title or artwork. One of the positive things about people having so much access to music online now is that it allows them to discover new music they would not have otherwise.

mwe3: David and Steve Gordon have roots in the rock music world. In what ways did the rock sound and vision of YES as well as other bands like Genesis with Steve Hackett impact your music?

DAVID GORDON: One thing that all the great progressive rock bands of 1970’s had in common is that they created a big sound that enveloped you. The bass and drums were often heavy and deep with lush keyboards that created a universe of sound. It could be described as a deep and cosmic sonic landscape that evokes an almost spiritual feeling.

While our ambient meditation music such as Chakra Balance, Music for Meditation: Inner Stillness or Celestial Zen do not include drums, we have always used keyboards and other instruments to create drones and atmospheres that were influenced by these progressive rock styles. In some ways YES was one of the first New Age music artists with the introduction and middle section of “Close To The Edge” (“I get up I get down”) that features ambient music and even nature sounds...

When we created our world fusion albums such as Sacred Earth Drums and Drum Medicine, we used tribal drums differently than other world music albums. Instead of lots of upbeat fast drumming, we used the tribal drums to play slow, heavy hypnotic beats that combined with the low ambient drones to create a large cosmic sound and evoke the feeling of Shamanic awareness. Many of the tracks include electric guitar in the style of progressive rock guitarists such as Steve Hackett or Steve Howe.

There were some albums by YES that explored this kind of future tribal sound such as Tales From Topographic Oceans (“Ritual” / “Nous Sommes Du Soleil”). We were inspired by those sounds and and set out to explore in that direction, but adapted to our goals of creating peaceful environments for awareness expansion. Our combination of these elements pushed beyond the boundaries of New Age and became a sort of World Music / Progressive hybrid, while staying with the meditative entrainment aspect of the Shamanic drumming we used. It’s been rewarding to have received emails from fans who have noticed and appreciated these influences in our music.

mwe3: What other artists inspired you when you started playing and recording music? There is quite a lot of history of the early classical music but then Brian Eno came along in 1975 and turned the world on its ear with his early ambient music album Discreet Music.

STEVE GORDON: It’s important to mention Peter Gabriel. His visionary approach to music has been a huge influence on us. His music has a shamanic mood to it that we connect with. He also combines world music with progressive rock. His soundtrack to the movie The Last Temptation Of Christ uses world drums and percussion and drones to create hypnotic trance textures that are unlike anything anyone has done before. It’s an amazing album that we have returned to again and again for inspiration in creating our world drumming albums like Sacred Spirit Drums, and our Drum Cargo series.

Another big influence on our world fusion music is not a musician but a writer, Carlos Casteneda. His books along with our visits to Death Valley and other deserts of the Southwest combined to give us experiences that we expressed in Shaman’s Vision Journey and our other shamanic drumming albums.

Thanks to David & Steve Gordon @ www.SequoiaRecords.com / www.TheGordonBrothers.net

 

 
   
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