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coverpic flag England - Full Moon 248 - 11/14/16

Roger Goula
Overview Effect
Cognitive Shift / One Little Indian / Playground

When Roger Goula launched a single "Awe" (released by Cognitive Shift Recordings) back in April I was intrigued by its elegance and gracious build-up. Contemporary minimalism to the point. Goula is a London-based composer and multi-instrumentalist who is creating modern instrumental music inside the post-classical electronica genre. His debut album Overview Effect shows plenty of style and substance.

Goula's music is said to be inspired by the 'psychological shift in awareness reported by astronauts and cosmonauts while viewing the Earth from orbit, in transit between the Earth and the Moon, or from the lunar surface'. Goula has been fascinated by this, the 'astronaut/cosmonaut view or perspective, and he seeks to re-create the mood or state of mind these space travellers go through - an 'Overview Effect', affected by great silence and nothingness. Goula also uses some samples of 'space voices' from flights and/or projects as an effect. I recently watched the movie The Martian (starring Matt Damon), which was rather silly in many ways, but it also got me to imagine the feeling of total loneliness. Goula makes the piano, synths and guitars interplay with the warm sound of strings to create his majestic pieces of music. Goula's got a number of guests appear and contribute to this album, such as Peter Gregson (cello), Thomas Gould (violin), Lucy Railton (cello), Stephen Upshaw (viola) and Claudio Girard (voice).

Roger Goula is inspired by 'old school' renaissance and baroque music (such as Monteverdi, Bach, and Vivaldi), as well as by modern minimalism (such as Steve Reich, Philip Glass, and Arvo Pärt). He's also 'looking at the language of electronic music' (such as Aphex Twin and Autechre), which makes his music hold hints and glimpses of both the 'old' and the 'new'. He is coming from a contemporary classical background but Goula takes in free improvisation and experimental stuff into his composition. His musical mixture is (to quote his label) a 'blend of classical chamber and orchestral music with electronics.' It is hard to pick some favourite tracks among the eight tracks included. You should listen to Overview Effect in its entirety. "Awe" is of course awesome. "Something About Silence" is great, as is "Cognitive Shift". Not to forget the opening "If Nothingness Disappears". All in all, Overview Effect is an indeed fascinating listen, making us imagine the view from outer space. To quote the One Little Indian label: '[Goula's] compositions perform complexity through repetition of minimal elements and emotional transporting textures.'

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