Quintessence is a multimedia experience of the five elements: water, air, earth, fire and ether. This was a collaboration with FLO4T for NRJ Spa Nordique.
In November 2018 FLO4T approached us to create the music for a multimedia experience at NRJ Spa Nordique on Lac Sartigan in Quebec.
Antoine Saint Maur, the Creative Producer and Multimedia Director joined us for an initial brainstorming recording session putting together ideas and exploring sounds. His vision for the musical direction and sonic ideas was focused, precise, and we had a lot of fun trying out different combinations of instruments and effects when he began vocalising sounds to reproduce what he had in mind. Given that communication was easy we quickly settled into an enjoyable production rhythm.
We are big fans of spa experiences and were excited to be able to create our very own ‘take’ on what that sort of experience would sound like when combined with the fantastic visuals of FLO4T. Our overall goal was to create memorable, pleasant yet deeply compelling music that would serve to further bring people into deep relaxed and meditative states of minds.
We chose our in-house composer Racheal Cogan to spearhead this project given her extensive experience in creating ethereal modal music combined with unusual and sometimes unlikely sources of sounds. We also got a chance to use some of our finest custom-crafted instruments such as a rare giant oversized contrabass recorder designed by legendary maker Geri Bollinger that creates the basis of many of the pads and bass pedals for the experience.
The Spa experience is in five spaces that are each symbolized by an element: air, water, earth, fire, and ether. Each of the five elements has its own unique visual and sound signature that was carefully curated using our vast collection of instruments.
Air is characterized by instruments generated with the breath – futujara (overtone flute), low recorders, low whistle, voices, didgeridoo and conches.
Water features rainsticks, the movement of water in a large bowl, a large C-Bass recorder, a small set of tubular bells, and the ethereal sound of a marimbaphone both bowed and struck for a patterned rhythmic basis to the soundscape.
Fire is earthy and tribal with voices chanting, floating triple flutes and gemshorn, Tibetan horn, a gong, stones, hang drum, and the visceral timbres of shakers, nuts and frame drum.
Female voices embody the feminine spirit of the earth supported by the Chinese guzheng, piano and kalimba. A backward bowed marimbaphone triggers laser lights.
Finally, Ether blends all the sounds together to emulate the space through which everything exists.
Racheal began exploring each element with conceptual pieces as the foundational groundwork, creating an extensive repertoire of soundscapes that allowed for quick and fluid iteration with the FLO4T team with the rich sonic choices that were readily available from our instrument collection.
Once our soundscapes were tested on site, we further focused our approach and mix of instrumentation and sonic elements. The ‘less is more’ rule became our mantra, and by keeping to essential and iconic sounds, we found that it worked even better than we had imagined.
We were also asked to create an overall soundscape that would play during the interludes for each individual area of the spa. So we came up with the idea to create an integrated sonic experience by giving each area a unique sonic signature track that was then blended and timed precisely with the echoes and after effects of the other spaces simultaneously. Thus each area has a unique sonic stamp that is subtly integrated and playing in sync, yet breathes and reacts as if its natural environmental sound.
The project was completed in three weeks, and the show opened on Christmas day 2018 to rave reviews. It was also a delight to be able to work and collaborate with the talented folks of FLO4T, and we are all looking forward to getting some R&R time next time we are in the spa’s hood.