In Conversation – Brian Barth
An experimental musician, inspired by the ocean expanse, Brian Barth composed a sound track to Cyan Nori. We were thrilled to talk to them and invigorated by their music which brings scent and sound ceremoniously together.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m an experimental musician working in Amsterdam. I grew up by the coast in the northeast of the US and have called Europe my home since 2015.
Tell us about your connection to Abel.
I’d originally found Abel because I lived down the street from their Amsterdam location, and would often see their sign while grabbing a coffee or flowers down the street.
I was inspired by their outspoken dedication to creating environmentally sustainable products, and also making innovative scents accessible to anyone. I’m a non-binary person, and I’d never felt comfortable with the hyper-gendered tropes of the perfume industry.
What drew you to Cyan Nori as the inspiration for your new piece?
First, it was the scent – it is just so original and engaging. It immediately reminded me of one of my favourite smell memories: the invigorating scent of salt water on my skin, reminding me of a life lived outside.
The inspiration behind it also resonated with me. Much of my work is related to the ocean, there’s something that feels inevitable about it, and it’s an entire landscape of its own that is constantly changing.
What is your creative process when writing a new song?
When composing ambient music, I find it helpful to start with some fundamental movement or transition to give shape and direction to the work. For ‘cyan nori’ the transition is from above the surface of the water to below the surface. I then took the two fundamental parts of the scent and paired them with each side of this transition.
The bright opening tones of ‘cyan’ capture the juicy notes of tangerine and white peach that lead the scent. Field recordings from the pacific coast and shining bell tones reflect the sunlight as it sparks across the tops of the bright blue waves.
‘Nori’ takes us underwater to capture the darker salt-sweet of the underlying nori base. Hydrophone recordings among fields of kelp combine with sustained, overlapping tones, to capture how the light streams down in long beams from the surface.
Sound and scent both have a powerful ability to impact our mood. What other synergy do you see and did you thread that into your creative process?
There’s an idea I’d heard from the artist Julianne Swartz that sound is touch at a distance. With sound, we create pressure waves through the air that radiate out and touch others, connecting us to one another.
Scent is very similar; it’s a shared, localized experience that is also ephemeral. Historically scent was used in sacred spaces to separate those places from the malodours of the human world and provide a sense of cleansing serenity when you enter them.
That’s why I made the ritual edits of the tracks. These two shorter versions are easier to incorporate into your daily rituals to mark different moments in your day and bring a sense of serenity to any moment.
What are your daily rituals and how do they help you?
I use rituals to guide my attention, and my most important ritual is running in the mornings. It’s a meditative practice, uninterrupted by distraction, to get lost in the flow of time and clear my head. I’ll often run without music to allow this space to be an open canvas for creative thought as well, and many musical ideas come and go while I’m out running.
Andarctica crafts flowing, persistent pieces that combine orchestral and electronic sounds with field recordings and manipulated tape textures.
Listen for yourself here.