Spirits of the Age 2—Nostalgia

Program Notes
Spirits of the Age is an exploration/excavation of memories and nostalgia.

It is an attempt to come to terms with my own fondness for outdated electronic equipment (specifically, 35mm slide projectors), and an attempt to understand how these machines (and the images and sounds they produce) can have an emotional affect on me, even though I never lived during a time when these machines were commonly used.

It is an attempt to understand the constant mining of the past to fuel the present and the perpetual recycling of the old that is so characteristic of my generation’s “thrift shop culture.”

Spirits of the Age is electronic music that tries to capture the tactility of an era when “electronics” did not refer to the tame, polite digital cinema of laptops and iPhones, but rather the palpable movement of electrons through solenoids and motors, creating noisy multisensory experiences.

Spirits of the Age is shattered, fleeting, and distant.

"Spirits" was created for the opening of the installation of Cyclic Histories (for M.L.), an intermedia exploration of memory and nostalgia at Sensorium, Milwaukee, in January 2013.

“And since every age contains in itself the germ of all future ages as surely as the acorn contains the future forest, a knowledge of our own age is the fountain of prophecy–the only key to the history of posterity. It is only in the present that we can know the future; it is only through the present that it is in our power to influence that which is to come.”

- John Stuart Mill

Biographical Sketch
Lawton Hall makes music and art in the American Midwest. He tends to emphasize his geographical roots when asked about these things, even though he feels that place is an increasingly complicated concept. In his work, Lawton synthesizes disparate sources—historical and contemporary, high- and low-tech, intimately familiar and completely foreign—to create multisensory experiences that are both natural and otherworldly, existing in an unstable harmony with our consciousness and perception of the world.

Lawton’s music and intermedia art has been commissioned and performed across the United States and his writings have appeared in publications throughout North America. He has worked closely with composer and humanitarian Pauline Oliveros and his interest in musical consciousness has led to an in-depth study of the writings of James Tenney. Other significant mentors include Ben Johnston, Asha Srinivasan, I Dewa Ketut Alit Adyana, Julie Lindemann and John Shimon. Recently, he worked at the studios at STEIM, Amsterdam, which prompted his obsession with making musical instruments out of outdated electronic equipment.

Lawton holds the B. Music degree from Lawrence University. He is a founding member of 44°88°, a new collective of young artists and musicians in Northeastern Wisconsin.