Spooky, wonderful music CD in Neal Stephenson's new novel

Al got an advance review copy of neal Stephenson's new book Anathem — which looks really good! — and discovered that it came wiht a CD of music inspired by the story. Incredibly weird, wonderful music.

I've just listened to several of the songs on this CD and, frankly, this is some weird shit. I say this without reservation. The musical styles are all over the map except that they all only use human voices (and occasionally hands). Some of it is similar to Western, Christian, styles of chanting. Other tracks are more Classical vocal arrangements with singing. The rest of the tracks seem to be heavily influenced by Eastern, Buddhist, styles of chanting, especially Tibetan Buddhism with its use of harmonics and overlaying voices. It varies quite a bit from song to song. Additionally, when there are recognizable words, they are not in English (nor in any language that I recognize). "Celluar Automata" is the weirdest track of this sort with multiple voices weaving in and out, along with some clapping and exclamations in an unknown language. "Thousander Chant" would be at home on some of the collections of Tibetan chanting that I have and whoever is performing it is obviously trained in the throat chanting used by Tibetans and others in Asia.

As it happens, I actually know the guy who made this — it's David Stutz, the former free software maven for Microsoft whose resignation letter was a brilliant work of analysis explaining just what Microsoft should be doing to co-exist with free/open source software. He was also a key developer for the NeXT, Visual Basic and a lot of other widely used technologies. These days, he has a winery and makes incredibly strange, beautiful traditional music.


(Thanks, Al!)

See also: Ask Neal Stephenson questions about Anathem