at the 1967 high school homecoming dance when the dudes from Electric Light Visuals projected vermillion and ocher oil blobs on the gym wall and gooshed them around while the Sonics trudged out the caveman chromatic riff to The Witch and we werent even on drugs yet. Now that the future is here, such psychedelic light shows come pre-installed on your iTunes and Windows Media Players; as such theyve become a secret, private trip you can take anytime like porn or a box of chocolates.
The new music-visualization program G-Force perfects the concept: Its so richly programmed, they say it would take thousands of hours for one of its hallucinatory images to repeat, and Im starting right now. Hour one: no repeats. Hour five: no repeats. Hour 6,101: no repeats. Verified.
This is all Im gonna do from now on. Music moves and so do these pictures, interactively with the sounds, and contourable by me. Based on mathematical algorithms built by Gary Gluck and Key Compton, G-Forces Sliding Sticks and Melt O Rama, and a dogpile of other visualizations, can cycle indefinitely, out-trancing all the previous mesmerograms thatve been available for a few years including my previous favorite, Alchemy. Herbie Hancock and Seal project G-Force in concert, yknow. It should not be used with drugs.
By phone, Compton guides me around the G-Force control panel, telling me how to reparticlize images and modify their flow and save them to my desktop and print them and build my life if not my income around them. He genially hypes the feature called the V-Bar, which allows four windows of psychedelia to crawl along the side of the screen at all times, whatever youre working on. I suggest this might be distracting, but he says people tell him that, counterintuitively, it helps them concentrate.
So I call in my 13-year-old daughter, Lily, who opens iTunes to play the Shakira and A Tribe Called Quest her teachers flog her with in exercise class. A freeform Persian carpet wiggles; a nebula explodes in a black void. Switching to Bright Eyes, shes rewarded with subtle fireworks. There are waves and auroras, fountains and fragmentations, all vividly abstract. (Album art, too, if you wanna be that pedestrian.) How can cold algorithms keep responding to music in ways that seem so appropriate? I dunno Glucks a math genius; I aint.
Oooh, cool, Lily enthuses at the main show. Good. So what does she think of the V-Bar dancing in the screens margin?
Whoa. Thats really hot. Itll make you feel like youre being really bad while youre doing miserable work. And its a little cheering up, there.
You wouldnt do drugs while watching this, would you, honey?
Music is not essential with G-Force; neither are family, friends or food. It just goes and goes, endlessly wonderful. Experiencing it on drugs would be wrong.
G-Force is a $15 or $30 download from www.soundspectrum.com.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.