On Saturday (March 20), Duran Duran cofounder and keyboardist Nick Rhodes will release the first music from a collaborative project with British artist and singer/violinist Wendy Bevan.
While in lockdown over the past year, Rhodes (in London) and Bevan (in Los Angeles) collaborated on a monumental series of 52 cinematic instrumentals inspired by the Universe. The recordings will be presented as the Astronomia project across four 13-track, individually named albums. All of the pieces were composed and performed by Rhodes and Bevan.
The first release is scheduled for Saturday, March 20, 2021, followed by three further releases, on the equinoxes and solstices for the remainder of the year.
Rhodes said of the project: “As we have all been living somewhat blinkered lives over the past year, Wendy and I found ourselves searching for a way forward, and were magnetically drawn towards the idea of creating something widescreen, to broaden our perspective in that moment. The universe became an infinite source of inspiration, taking us on a journey through this sadness to a future filled with awe and hope, exploring the endless beauty of the unknown.
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“Merging the drama and moods of classical music with the textures and atmospheres of analogue synthesizers created the rich palette of sounds that we used to make the Astronomia albums. Each track is like a sonic painting, where different styles, colours and composition form singular pieces that belong in the same exhibition.
“Both Wendy and I tend to think visually whenever we write music, so all the tracks were conceived with cinematic vision, even though we have yet to make all the films…
“When you let emotions flow into music, that is usually when you get the best results. As we have had so little personal connection with other people in recent times, many of us have found solace in music. When Wendy and I started to write, everything we were feeling just poured out into these instrumental pieces – there was no need for words, it was there in black and white, the notes said it all for us.
“The Fall of Saturn is a musical allegory for these times. A moment to reflect upon our fragility, the way we treat each other and our planet. A symphony of hope and dreams for our future.
“In today’s world, we are besieged by information that is often manipulated or untrue, computer enhanced with the intention to draw us in and convince us about an alternate reality on offer… This has only served to make me want the real thing more than ever. Working with Wendy, together we have been able to circumvent the system of predictable and generic sounds. We have created our own unique solar system outside of convention and it feels natural, it has a pulse and a temperature. It will survive independently, each album orbiting out there on its own for anyone who is curious enough to tune in.”
For her part, Bevan said: “Once we decided the universe was our subject matter, the sonic world we conceived became a space for dreams. We suddenly found ourselves free of boundaries; the concept opened a portal between the reality we were facing in our everyday lives and something other-worldly that we couldn’t quantify, gazing into the endless possibilities of the future.
“Inspired by the lustre of stars, we had the perfect setting to create a musical language. All fifty two pieces we wrote for the Astronomia project have become a memoir locked into a time capsule; musical notation to be released into the mysterious abyss.
“Nick and I were on a quest to pursue the ineffable, and Astronomia became a landscape for the cinematic vision we share. We found ourselves making an ethereal soundtrack to accompany the process of change we were all experiencing on a global level during that time.
“The sensuality of the synths and humanity of the violins created a unique combination that allowed us to explore different soundscapes and develop a new musical narrative.
“Created by layering violins, synths, vocals and orchestral arrangements, each track unlocks another door in the world of Astronomia, instantly transporting you to another dimension.
“We wanted to establish an atmosphere that allows people to dream.”