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SYFY WIRE Bad Astronomy

Avoid Black Friday: Get “21812” and “Hearts to Symphony” Instead

By Phil Plait

[Oh, you gluttonous Americans! Thanksgiving is over, and you can barely move around your own overzealously fed digestive tract. The very thought of hitting a mall on Black Friday fills you with dread⦠as well it should. So why bother? Iâve been thinking of sciencey/geeky/skeptical gifts you can order online (using your fing-longer while still lying supine, no doubt) and writing about them. Previous entries have included âThe Hockey Stick and The Climate Warsâ, âAn Astronautâs Guide to Living on Earthâ, and a joke book I wrote with Zach Weinersmith called â27 Nerd Disses: A Significant Quantity of Disrespectâ. This time: music!]

Last year, on February 18, 2012, my friend and musician George (âGeoâ) Hrab threw a concert in his hometown of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. If you listen to his Geologic Podcast you know his music is funky, smart, science-laden, and highly skeptical. I was really happy to hear he would be doing a concert, and then thrilled when invited me to come. I wound up introducing the whole schmeer, as well as performing on stage for âDeath from the Skiesâ (based on my book), and a couple of other pieces. The concert was a blast â but you donât have to take my word for itâ¦

⦠you can see for yourself! The â21812: A Gneiss Night Outâ is now out on DVD. It has the whole concert as well as lots of fun extras, including interviews with some of the folks involved, tons of photos, a cool typography video, and a âMaking Ofâ documentary. If youâre a fan of Geo â and you should be â this is a must have.

Hereâs a sample, âChildren on Airplanesâ, an amazing drum trio that opened the second half of the concert.

Next up: more music. Unlike Geoâs stuff, I have a hard time finding a simple category for the music of Carly Paradis. Itâs not really classical, itâs not really rock, or folk, or any easily-defined theme. Itâs mostly instrumental, though she does use some voice⦠itâs atmospheric, but not new agey.

She just came out with an album called âHearts to Symphonyâ (available on iTunes and Amazon), and whatever kind of music you want to call it, I really like it. She has some samples on Soundcloud which will give you a taste, and thereâs a short review with some choice words about it. The iTunes link above also has samples.

Iâve never met Carly, but weâve been Facebook friends for a couple of years, and weâve chatted back and forth a few times. Sheâs a science fan, and in fact one of her songs, â7.83 Hzâ, is named after the fundamental frequency of the Schumann resonance, an electromagnetic standing wave in the Earthâs ionosphere. I mean, câmon.

I listen to this album quite often at home while Iâm writing (Iâm actually listening to it now as I write this article, if you like your reviews meta), and I find it mesmerizing. She plays with harmonies, building simple themes and adding complexity to them. Much of the music on the album is symphonic, broad, sweeping⦠sheâs done music for movies (like âMoonâ) and has worked with soundtrack composer Clint Mansell, so she has the chops.

I wish I could put my finger on this music, but I canât. So Iâll just say give it a listen and then buy it if you like it. I like supporting talented, independent artists, and I hope Carly has a long and productive career ahead of her.

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