ABSENTIA is a meditation through soothing noise and haunting lap steel guitar

Lend your ears to Mikael Tobias’s debut album, ABSENTIA, and you are drawn into a world where noise and meditation melt together. Covered in a soothing digital rain, the Canadian composer and sound artist’s album floats somewhere in the space between infinite ambient depths, quivering noise-scapes and haunting melody.

“It’s good.” – Dave Howell (Fat Cat Records)

ABSENTIA comes out on Friday October 20, 2017 on Copenhagen’s Unit Shifter Records. Limited edition vinyl and digital download available at www.unitshifterrecords.bandcamp.com and on all major streaming services.

Album launch concert: Tobias will perform live on Wednesday October 25, 2017 on a multi-channel surround sound system at Literaturhaus (Møllegade 7, Copenhagen) with special guests and live visuals by Sune Petersen.
Free admission. Event info here.

How to brush out people’s minds

ABSENTIA came together around the same time that Tobias started a collaboration with a friend on a series of ”noise meditation” events in an industrial garage space in his native Montréal. While these gatherings focus on using different kinds of noise as a catalyst for participants to access deep meditational states, ABSENTIA explores some of the same psychoacoustic principles while building a musical narrative. The album weaves layers of effected lap steel guitar, swells of filtered noise and acoustic and electronic percussion into a sonic tapestry of undulating texture and rhythm. Tobias explains: ”I often get a sense of cleansing the mental palette from ambient music and I like the idea of using noise and frequency resonances to brush out people’s minds.” 

Of mindfulness and dissociation

Tobias’s move from Montréal to Copenhagen in January 2017 began a new chapter in his life as a musician. Finding himself in new surroundings was a daily reminder of one of the main intentions behind the noise meditation events: a continual investment in the present moment. ABSENTIA is an attempt to capture some of the feelings distilled in the fleeting emotions we all attach to and detach from. It is an exploration of mindfulness and dissociation, where billowing chords and tectonic rhythms meet droning textures and swells of noise. It is crafted with both precision and stochasticity where sounds are given space to breathe and bloom, sometimes delicately introspective, sometimes on the verge of losing control.

Removing the ego

Tobias: ”This album reflects a deeply solitary and emotional time for me. I was preparing to uproot my whole life for a new beginning across the ocean and I was questioning what it means to really be here. Our sense of belonging is so tied up in other people and places, but if those memories and connections all fade away, are we anything other than what we’ve left behind? Making this record was in itself a form of meditation where I was focused on the process rather than a goal. I’m not particularly good at playing lap steel or drums for example, so by essentially removing my ego from the equation, I feel like I achieved a depth of spirit that really brings the music to life.”

Text and interview by Jonas Sølberg

Contact: mikaeltobias@gmail.com