"There's no place like Om"

Artist Bio

Bach taught me that.”

This comment came from Gary Takesian as he pointed out to me a musical component of his new album Aqua Afternoon. After studying four hundred years worth of music, and making music for four decades, 2005 seemed like a good year to put out a debut album.

A classically trained musician, Gary studied organ, composition, and electronic music at the University of Southern California. His senior organ recital included works by Bach, Messiaen, Franck, and one of his own compositions for organ and electronically prepared tape.

He also played in a rock and roll band and could handle any of the keyboard parts for any Doors song.

After college came the period of working with computers during the day and synthesizers and sequencers at night. The early Moog modular synthesizers fascinated Gary. These were the days of analog synthesis, dominated by knobs, dials, and patch cords. He spent time at Sound Arts in Los Angeles, an electronic music studio founded by synthesizer pioneer, Paul Beaver. At that time Paul had assembled the largest known Moog modular synthesizer consisting of 12 of the classic black Moog boxes.

At Sound Arts Gary studied electronic music with composer Dan Wyman who did synthesizer work for, among others, Stevie Wonder. Gary went on to perform with Dan and the Los Angeles Electronic Music Quintet, which also included Len Sasso, David Johnson and Darell Sauser. The LAEMQ performed cutting edge electronic music at colleges and other venues throughout Southern California.

All the while that Gary was performing he continued to compose his own music. His creative spirit has led him across many musical areas. As an intellectual exercise in whimsy, he wrote an organ fugue in the style of Bach based on the old Alka Seltzer “Plop-plop-fizz-fizz” TV commercial. He titled it, Fugue on a Theme by Al K. Seltzer.

On a more serious note he has scored two plays staged by director, Elaine Vaan Hogue, of Boston University. Angels in America: Part 1 debuted in February of 1997. Four years later, again with Vaan Hogue, he did the music for Infinity’s House, a production at Boston’s Majestic Theatre in association with Emerson College.

Beginning in the early 1990’s, Gary started to work with MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) which brought together the worlds of his computer day job and his passion for music. Finally the computer and synthesizer had joined together as a compositional and performance duo.

In his “tinkering” with MIDI Gary hit on a compositional form that was unlike any he had encountered before. It was something like a fugue and something like a round but very different from either. He has dubbed the new form, the Wordless Mantra because of its use of repeating musical phrases. The melodic lines are juxtaposed against each other at different pitch levels and instrumentations to form a constantly evolving sonic texture. It is truly a case of the whole being greater than merely a sum of its parts.

The first complete work in this style became Morning Meditation. Originally created as background music for a guided meditation, Gary developed Morning into its present form to use as his own personal meditation music. He discovered that the Wordless Mantra form held enough interest for him to be able to listen over and over without it becoming stale. Encouraged by this, Eurasia and Orbiting soon followed. Then in November 1999, while gazing out at the surfers in Waikiki, Gary penned the initial sketches for Aqua Afternoon. Perhaps it was the majestic view from the 25th floor balcony, or simply the joy of being on vacation that lead to the rich, jubilant feel of Aqua Afternoon.

Over the next several years, Gary shared the Wordless Mantras with family and close friends, with no real intention of formally releasing them to the world at large. It wasn’t to be until December of 2004 when his close friend, and soon-to-be producer/engineer John Yeamans (that would be me), insisted that these pieces needed to be introduced to a larger audience. Gary then agreed to produce a commercial release of Aqua Afternoon as his debut album.

John Yeamans