Imagine that you grew up in a very constrained and controlled laboratory environment. Imagine that your expert science professors taught you everything that can be known about mathematics and physics of sound waves that travel by air pressure, or through other material; you know all about frequencies, their relationships, properties of various materials, and can easily derive new theorems from what you already know. Now, I know it will be very difficult, but try to imagine that you also never heard any music, any musical instrument at all. Imagine all you heard was human language conversation (no singing or humming at all), and natural sounds such as a knock on the door, or some truck engine making a noise, but nothing else. No music.
And now, imagine that for the first time in your life, you hear sounds coming from “Qualia” by Gökhan Goralı. Surely there will be some radical changes in your brain, in your neural circuitry. But will you have gained “new knowledge”? Didn’t you already know all about the math and physics of sound, the relationship between frequencies, how some of them are called ‘musical notes’? The musical album at hand is a digital one, so it would be straightforward to describe all mathematical and physical aspects of bits in those MP3 files, frequencies and their durations, etc. When you hear music for the first time, when you year “Qualia” for the first time, what is that you learn for the first time? What does it mean to say that the extra experience you have is ‘qualia‘?
What is that elusive state of mind? Do two people who listen to the same “Qualia” have the same state of neural configuration? Is it comparable, or is ‘qualia’ simply what is beyond comparison? There are no easy answers, there are only difficult questions.
In other words, there is only one long journey, the biggest experiment of all, going for millions of years. And this brand new album is an experiment within the grand experiment. With its recursive loops, Pure Data patches, soundscapes, guitars, bass lines and drums… with the dedication of countless hours by spirits in pursuit of the unknown, Qualia leads to many states of mind. Originating from one of the most ancient cities in the world, it might remind you of a historical future in which you might start to remember things you never knew. It deserves listening and re-listening, going deeper in every iteration, and maybe coming up with a different experience each time.
It is difficult to do justice to “Qualia” in a few primitive sentences, after all, the title itself hints at the phenomenon of going beyond a reductionist approach. If you believe there’s something special to being a human, then you owe yourself to listen to this great album.
Another nice thing, external to this album, is the fact that whatever you pay for it will go to the World Bicycle Relief & Eşpedal, so that this great artistic experience will change not only your state of mind, but also the life of a person, and in a very positive way.
If you are curious about the background to this album, you can read an interview here in Turkish (or an automatic English translation), and maybe watch Ex Machina. Do you think a robot, an Artificial General Intelligence, would experience this album the same way a human would do? Think about this as you listen to the ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ tunes of “Qualia”.