“New music” may not be the most accurate term for QVALIA’s debut album. In fact, “album” is not exactly the right word for what this project, started by producer Michael Hazani, has released. This Is the Color of My Dreams is a creation by QVALIA which defies conventions in almost every way possible. The album is meant to be listened to along with interactive videos inspired by the first high-resolution video games of the 90s. When listeners put together the music and the interactive world, Hazani calls the experience “songcapes.” The name of the project, QVALIA, implies that the way each person views the world is subjective, and thus the new music and visual pairing can be experienced in a myriad of ways.
Hazani has been producing new music for some years, attempting to create popular songs which are also original and heartfelt, but he found the concepts of “pop music” and “original expression” to be two ideas which seemed diametrically opposed to each other. He then teamed up with Pierluigi Salami and Shawn Crowder, with whom he attended Berklee College of Music in Boston, and the newly formed band set out to create something new in pop music. They named the project QVALIA after the term “qualia,” which is defined as the quality of subjectivity which can be found in the way each person sees the world. Though humans generally regard the shared reality in daily life as concrete and objective, qualia suggests that each person may see a color or experience a feeling differently than the next. This is why QVALIA has designed This Is the Color of My Dreams to be listened to, seen, and experienced in many different ways and on many different levels.
The new music in the album itself is intricately composed and arranged with many different layers, unique, computer-driven melodies and swelling orchestral crescendos characterize songs like Sound the Alarm and Stardust. Hazani’s vocals bring a bit of a pop feel, however, they are also bold and emotive. The lyrics are themes anyone can appreciate, such as love and individuality. Scratch the surface a little, however, and listeners will find themes inspired by T.S. Eliot and John Keats, questioning the human condition and existence itself. With all these different layers to the music, listeners can choose to analyze and dig deep into the complex nature of each composition, or simply experience the beauty of This Is the Color of My Dreams and the emotions it creates.
Similarly, the interactive visual experiences, the first of which is has already been posted on QVALIA’s website, can be paired with the songs and experienced in a number of ways. Hazani is quick to point out, however, that though many of the “songscapes” have a goal or destination, they are not video games. Once again, the user can choose how he or she wants to experience the visuals. With the use of keyboard prompts and mouse, the user can move throughout the world haphazardly, try to get to the “destination” by the end of the song, move around in tandem with the music or just stand still and gaze at the vistas on the screen. By pairing the new music with the visual interaction, each listener can create a different experience each time they listen along with the visual piece. In this way the band is true to its theme of qualia in both name and deed.
There is obviously a lot going on within the new music in QVALIA’s debut album, but it seems Hazani’s point is not to make his work overly complicated or cerebral. Listeners may take from it what they will. They may choose to only listen to the album or to use the interactive experience without the music. They may choose to listen to and analyze the highly complex structure of each piece from a music theory or technical standpoint, or they may decide to simply put on headphones, navigate the virtual world and enjoy what they see and hear. This Is the Color of My Dreams asks the user to choose his or her experience, to make it their own, as indeed each person does with his or her perception of every aspect of reality. If the listener chooses to ignore all of that and just enjoy, however, QVALIA is happy with that, too.
The new music in This Is the Color of My Dreams can be streamed and downloaded on QVALIA’s Bandcamp page, and listeners should check back with the band’s website for more “songscapes” as they will post the new interactive visuals at regular intervals. QVALIA will also be touring during the fall and winter, and the “songscapes” will be part of each show on a larger scale. This Is the Color of My Dreams is among the best new music for fall, and with the added unique element of the interactive visual experience making QVALIA one of the most exciting projects of the past few years.
Review by Layla Klamt
Interview with Michael Hazani (Provided by Independent Music Promotion)