Sebastian Reynolds was born to a mother who worked as a computer engineer for Research Machines. His childhood was immersed in the world of peculiar machines that played games from cassettes, cultivating his natural inclination towards electronic production even before he engaged with traditional instruments.
As he dove into band experiences, his music evolved to possess a vibrant vitality that has persisted throughout his extensive 25-year career. One of his releases even bears the enigmatic title “Nihilism Is Pointless…”
In the prior track “Cascade,” which manages to blend dance-worthy elements with the confronting realities of terrorism, there’s a distinct sense of claustrophobia. On the other hand, “Fetus,” which is out today, ventures into an expansive hallucinatory space, reminiscent of the work of film composers such as Hans Zimmer, Jóhann Jóhannsson, and experimental cellist Oliver Coates.
Reynolds elaborates, sharing, “I composed ‘Fetus’ as a tribute to Noah, our son who was born asleep on July 24th, 2020. This composition is a heartfelt offering, extending empathy and love to all those who have been touched by similar tragedies.”
The composition “Fetus” ingeniously blends haunting piano melodies, resonating Thai Gong Circle chimes, a deeply moving cello performance by Jonathan Ouin from Stornoway, and ethereal vocal samples courtesy of Cornish singer Sarah Tresidder.
While drawing inspiration from luminaries like Susumu Yokota, Luigi Nono, Olivier Messiaen, Stockhausen, and Thom Yorke, the soundscapes of the word head into profound subjects such as the heart-wrenching experience of a child’s stillbirth, the poignant departure of parents, survival after a harrowing bomb attack, as well as themes like the shattering of our shared awareness, the emergence of artificial intelligence, and the intricate concepts of consciousness in Pali Buddhism.
Throughout, Reynolds remains resolute in his pursuit of imbuing his amalgamation of programmed and organic sounds with a palpable sense of meaning.
His upcoming album, Canary, surpasses previous works, delving into profound contemplations on life, death, and the afterlife. The album’s inspiration emerged from the loss of his mother and the subsequent stillbirth of his son. Influenced by the auditory “dreamworld” fashioned by Susumu Yokota, alongside the evocative compositions of Luigi Nono, Olivier Messiaen, and Karlheinz Stockhausen, Reynolds excels in melding mechanical and organic sound sources.
Reynolds seamlessly merges programmed and performed sound sources, not as a thoughtless modern-day amalgamation, but rather as a means to convey meaning through electronic music. Growing up in Oxford during the ’90s, he witnessed Radiohead’s ability to preserve the humanity of their music amid their plunge into the digital unknown.
Similarly, Canary peers into the precipice of contemporary challenges—explosive disruptions, the disintegration of collective consciousness, the rise of artificial intelligence, the abrupt end of a young life, and the everyday reality of living without parents. Despite these daunting themes, Reynolds consistently infuses his electro-organic blend with a palpable heartbeat.
Collaborations have enriched Reynolds’ journey, including partnerships with Anne Müller from Erased Tapes and Alex Stolze from Bodi Bill, as well as work with Mike Bannard at The Aviary and others. Additionally, Reynolds remains engaged in commissioned projects for Neon Dance, with his endeavors enjoying exposure on platforms like the BBC and beyond.
Sebastian Reynolds’ “Fetus” is out now via all streaming platforms.