Eclectic music for the mind and body

The expansive instrumental music Gravité created for their self-titled debut dives into a vast emotional and spiritual realm. The duo—Matthew Riley and Aaron Diko—produced the sounds on the record with a collection of vintage analogue synthesizers. The songs have a warm, intimate feeling, as suited to sitting and spacing out as they are to free-form dancing.

Gravité, the album, opens with the mini-suite of “Running To/Diving/The Other Side.” Swirling, melodic pulsations move from side to side across the soundscape, pulling you down and taking you through a rippling doorway that leads to calm pastoral chords that suggest the feelings one might have walking through a meadow at sunset. There’s a somnambulant aura to “Window Pane,” a chiming melody that suggests tranquil birds floating across a lake, and to “Lucid Realization,” a dark piece with a relentless palpitation leavened by high-pitched fills that swoop across the sonic terrain like icy flurries of snowflakes. The album concludes with “Fog,” an introspective piece that pairs the comforting heartbeat of an almost subliminal drum loop with the ebb and flow of organ-like sounds that suggest gray afternoon mist creeping across the San Francisco Bay on little cat feet.

“‘Fog’ was the last song we recorded for the album,” Diko said. “As we were playing, it seemed like we were reaching that higher state of being we always aim for. It was completely improvised and done in one take. It was a good way to wrap the record up. We had a sequence in mind when we started, but we let the music take us where it wanted to go.

“When I met him, Matt had a lot of analogue synthesizers from the ’70s. Many people say the old synths sound better. I like the grittiness of the older synths. Most of my instruments are newer, but they’re mainly analogue. Today they make digital synthesizers that are programmable, with endless capabilities and settings. With analogue synthesizers, you have a set number of knobs and what you have is what you use. Having limits can free you up, in an unusual way.”

“Why would you go to a gluttonous buffet, when you can have a nicely served, home-cooked meal?” Riley asked. “We’re both fans of ’70s and ’80s synth-based krautrock bands like Kraftwerk, Can and Tangerine Dream. Their music has a sound and quality to it that I like. That’s what drew me to the equipment I use. I do have some digital synths, but there’s something about the warmth of the analogue—you can feel the vibrations in your chest. You can get some good effects with digital, but the people we loved and emulated all used analogue equipment. It goes back to the adage: ‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.'”

“Unless you’re a real nerd, you may not be able to tell the difference,” Diko said. “We like to have a seamless flow when we’re playing live, transitioning between songs for a continuous stream of sound. It’s easier to achieve that combination of composed songs and improvisations with analogue equipment.”

“When we’re jamming, it’s almost a meditation,” Riley said. “You’re not aware of what’s going on. My mouth may be wide open, or my eyes closed. I have no thought about what to play next. I’m a physician and studied neural anatomy, psychology and philosophy throughout my training. I’ve always been fascinated by the way philosophy and psychology can help you understand human nature and history. We’re not always thinking about the immediate level of life. That’s why the band is called Gravité. In French, la gravité means gravity, but gravité alone can be translated as heaviness. I think of it as representing the deepness of life. When I’m making electronic music, I get lost in thought.”

“Gravity is always present,” Diko said. “The word suits our sound. Our music is atmospheric and can be heavy or light, like the actual gravitational force. Gravity lets you fly and brings you down to earth. It’s something we have no control of, like the improvisations in the music, but we can manifest it in a way that others can hear.”

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