This article was originally posted on an earlier version of this site on May 19th, 2015. It has been edited for clarity and is being posted here for archival purposes.
Sebastian Moya is an electronic artist from Austin, Texas.
There is perhaps not a soul more nourished by the advent of widely available audio workstation software than the budding composer. Digital synthesis allows for modifications of timbre, dynamic, instrumentation, and space that composers of centuries past could have only dreamed of. Did Rachmaninoff long to express the depths of feeling made tangible by a 4-pole filter? Would Mozart sidechain his bass? These are questions we cannot answer.
We can, however, gain some insight into the choices they may have made by noting the ways in which modern artists take the freedom granted them by cheap computing technology, and wedding them with the vast sweeps of compositional knowledge Western society has inherited from the greats. Sebastian Moya does just this in his newest EP, “Dust.”
Aside from tinkering with softsynths and crafting digital dreamscape material from the bottom of the frequency spectrum to the top, Moya lends his opus a welcome organic feel with the warm, reverberant tones of his single cello. While for most of the record the sound of strings is subdued, when present, songs like “NoFill” and “Unipolar” emphasize the essential imprecision of acoustic instruments, juxtaposing them against the clinical, almost surgically precise kick drums and sugar-floss synth arpeggios. “Vapor,” on the other hand, creates a heady, loose atmosphere, with melodic lines and instrumental sweeps falling in and out of the mix like dim lights just over the horizon on a darkened, foggy sea.
Notable, then, is the way the record flows in and out of itself between tracks; each song has its own identifiable flavor, but the album is undoubtedly a carefully crafted Gestalt. It is, in fact, crafted like an old-form sonata: exposition, exploration and development, then an ultimate culmination and recapitulation to emphasize the broad themes tying the whole work together. My earlier statement that analyzing the new might give us insights into the past, then, is not quite as absurd as it may have seemed.