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John Flomer

O N E

 

Prelude To Rising Land

 

In his first PRIMAL CINEMA release titled ONE, award-winning audio/video
artist JOHN FLOMER, gives us a melodically captivating and rhythmically
alive electro-acoustic music experience. This visually-charged music is aggressive
in it's percussive and synthesizer orchestrations, and whimsical in its clever use
of plucked instruments and bells. Never reverting to repetition, the compositions
offer a colorful, dynamic panorama of depth and drama - from ethereal lightness
to majestic intensity. Flomer's rich and inspiring melodic themes are often challenged
and deepened by invading passages of shadow and mystique.
ONE is a visually-charged excursion into traditional new age/progressive rock fusion.
An adventure for those who celebrate life by dream or by dare.

John Flomer composes with the hand of a visual artist whose best work achieves
that delicate balance between the powers of definition and suggestion. While he
may embellish his work with a moment of crystalline brilliance or haunting
tribal resonance, Flomer is an artist who understands that richness can be found in
a light touch as well as in a primal punch.
While he considers himself first and foremost a composer and musician, Flomer's
talents have found expression in other mediums, some of which have assisted his
distinctly cinematic approach to music composition. After several years as guitarist
and songwriter for the Minneapolis techno-band "Archangel," John enrolled at the
Minneapolis College of Art & Design where he received a media arts degree in film,
video, and photography.
John is an award-winning video artist, recently completing work on a grant
funded project - 10 EPISODES FOR SONIC DISCIPLINE - an urban Zen event
which integrates the mediums of video, photography and live music performance in
a way that re-defines the term "music video"
John's work for artistic and corporate clients have taken his music 'global', to such
faraway places as Istanbul, Turkey; Osaka, Japan; and Beijing, China. As a former
composer for the State of Minnesota, his scores have been part of a dozen award-winning
documentaries, industrials and promotional video tapes and films.

Artist Notes

These compositions are a visualization of how anyone should have experienced
their childhood. It is therapy in a sense because while raising my son and
simultaneously writing this music I came to discover the thoughts, feelings,
and responses that children are supposed to experience when they aren't living
with fear, confusion, contradictions and brainwashing. It is mindboggling to
watch the primal, uninhibited responses of children - finding deep magic in
the wonderfully simple things adults have learned to distort, or ignore.

I had been developing my music for years with the goal of one day getting
it out on disc (vinyl at the time). But I was better at wishing for it than
doing it. I also found myself spread very thin; especially in pounding the
media art circuit, working full time on a video crew, jingle writing,
teaching video production, raising a son. One day I asked myself, "what
do you love?" What emerged was music and my son. He provided the
motivation for me to finally buckle down and get the album done. I wanted
to give him something beautiful, a magic charm created from thin air,
expressing to him a part of me that I couldn't express in any other way
except through music. As important, was the hope that this music would
be the seed from which his own magic might one day emerge.

I wanted to get personal with this project, because I knew I may never
do another. ONE was so titled because I created and performed this project
without any creative or performance help from other musicians. For years
I depended on others to perform my music. Later, I depended on invisible
people in Hollywood to discover what I was doing in a quiet corner in
Minneapolis and offer me a recording contract. The reality was that no one
was going to hand me anything. I had no label, no marketing department, no
advertising department, no money, no housing. I was on my own - living
in my brother's basement. Needless to say, there's a lot more to this story.

Reviews

"Roll the credits and rewind. I want to hear this mind movie again . . .
what a delight." - Carol Wright, Napra Trade Journal

"John Flomer's compositions have all the elements of successful new
age music - spirit, passion, intriguing rhythms, and direction. The
melodies are uplifting and he easily blends both power and delicacy."
-Jane Fredericksen, Music director, KTCZ / Minneapolis

"John Flomer's palette of colorful textures, enlivening rhythms, and
engaging melodies create a heart and mindscape for the listener that
goes beyond future, past, time, and physical space while remaining
in the here and now."
- Suzanne Doucet, Only New Age Music/LA

"This is the kind of electronic music release that New Age listeners
welcome with open arms . . . A HIT IN THE MAKING "
-PJ Birosik, New Age Retailer & LA Resources, author of the New Age Music Guide

reviewed by Bill Binkelman / March 2000
JOHN FLOMER'S PRIMAL CINEMA
ONE
self-released (1991)

Fans of John Flomer's first release on Spotted Peccary, Mysterious Motions of
Memory, should be ecstatic at what I have uncovered. Before signing with the
Peccaries, John Flomer recorded a debut album (as John Flomer's Primal Cinema).
The album is titled "ONE" and it is simply killer music! If you liked the more
dynamic electronic keyboard work on Mysterious Motions..., you're gonna love
this! Once again, John showcases his completely unique use of abrupt time
signature changes, evolving melodic structure, and interpolation of the quiet
and gentle with the thunderous and dramatic!
"ONE" (the CD) features three songs that eventually made it onto Mysterious
Motions..., but it's fascinating to hear the difference between these earlier
versions and what the songs became under the gaze of Spotted Peccary. The songs
are "Prelude to Rising Land" (which here has an added depth and an even greater
sense of playfulness, plus the keyboards are more in an EM vein than on the
later album), "A Whisper in Waiting" (this follows the Peccary version closely,
but the various keyboard sounds once again emphasize the EM aspect and
underplays the neo-romantic side of the song; it's also more dramatic in the
crescendos), and "Voices of the Dragon" (the song is recognizable but this one
went through some serious changes as it migrated to the SP album; here it
sparkles more and the "mythical" side of the song is brought more to the fore;
also, the drama inherent in the song is much more evident).
The new songs include some tremendous pieces of work. I love "Mountain Motion"
which has a rapid-fire sequencer opening counterpointed by synth strings of
various keys (violas and violins, perhaps). The fast tempo of the song is nicely
balanced by the soaring keyboard work which takes this song in a decidedly
non-Germanic direction. Those signature time/tempo shifts are here in abundance.
The next song, "Muon Maru," again starts with rapid fire notes, but this time
there is an element of mystery to the song. A second keyboard melody enters and
the synths twinkle like a thousand cyber-fireflies. There is an underlying bass
rhythm in the song that eventually builds into a thundering crescendo
midsection.
"Reasons for Beings" may remind Peccary fans of songs by either Greg Klamt or
Jon Jenkins (from Continuum). A strong neo-classic element runs through the song
and the sound is full and very dramatic, even as the song ebbs and flows in
intensity. This cut is unlike a lot of John's other music. It's more cinematic
and sweeping in a grandeur-style at times. Also, it has some sad or melancholic
textures woven into the fiber of the song. "Tribal Anthem" is a drum-happy
lively number that brings together assorted synth percussion, synth vibes and
high flying keyboards. This is vintage Flomer, for sure.
Rounding out the album is "Machines in the Canyon" which might be the soundtrack
for a chase scene in a science fiction movie, with its high speed rhythms,
synths zipping in and out of the frame, and rising and falling melody lines. As
with every song here, one of the things that stands out are the excellent synth
drums. Whether ferocious snares, pounding bass, thundering tom-toms, or cymbals
of every possible ilk, these drums really got into my bloodstream. It's hard to
explain how drums that are synth-sounding can also sound so good, but they sure
as hell do.
If you liked John's first Peccary release, "ONE" is a sure bet, as it's very
similar in feel (most of the time). But the music is also highly original (as
always is the case with John). This recording is a high octane blast of EM that
showcases a non-Berlin school approach to rapid fire synth music. One thing can
always be said about John Flomer. His music is never pedestrian. What can be
added to that comment, in the case of this CD, is that his music is also a lot
of fun to listen to. If "ONE" doesn't bring a smile to your face, you're no lover
of EM.

A hit in the making as industry heavy Roger Lifeset is targeting radio
promotion to 250 mainstream stations beginning in January; the release
is already getting heavy air play on Echoes (127 APR stations). The music
itself is what starving New Age ears have been hankering for: electro-
acoustic instrumentals for hearts and minds in motion. Lush with bell-like
overtones at times, them dramatically stark and centering, the colorful
textures and engaging rhythms subtly propel one deeper into the listening
experience. Flomer also has a VHS video release, two audio releases that
use tones rather than music to enhance stress reductions, and an artist-
signed poster! One is also on the Music Access Project system until
April 1992, so listeners can preview segments and obtain purchasing info.
TRADITIONAL NEW AGE.

Dive, swim, run, twirl, and float into the atmospheric adventures
of Flomer's world. The mysterious "With Child's Eyes" could be the
theme song for all those inner brats you've known. The giddy major/
minor key spirals reminded me of the swirling gyroscope on the cover -
hang on to your teddy bear little girl! Gongs to the left of you, gongs to
the right of you. On "Muon Maru" they initiate you through a threshold
to a path of challenges only your subconscious can imagine. Have you ever
walked the razor's edge and leapt through the all-consuming fire at the
end? Do it and you will be rewarded with the heavenly "Reasons For
Beings." Jesus rays, choirs of angels, eternal truth, sweet nectar,
sentimental reunions. Roll the credits and rewind, I want to hear
this mind movie again! Oh, but we're only half way through? Well,
you'll have to be surprised with the rest, but I just have to tell you of
swimming with the dragon. What a delight!

Reviewed by Amy Raven, '91.
John Flomer creates dynamic sound pictures with light jazz, touches of rock and
cinematic pop. His bright music combines the repetitious quality of space music with
variations of rhythm, tempo and instruments, to draw the listener into a lively, active
world. A favorite is With Child's Eyes, which begins with the distant sound of
children playing, fading as the synthesizer brings in the melody with bass notes.
Lighter sounds add a counterpoint and a child's laughter lends a surrealistic quality.
Muon Maru has a definite oriental flavor, beginning lightly with sounds like wind
and raindrops, then deepening, and then the feeling after a storm when the sun breaks
through the clouds. There is an angelic quality about this piece, with complexity and
strength added toward the end. A Whisper In Waiting utilizes sounds of water and
rolling thunder, with a harp and faint vocal sounds. Mountain Motion has a rock
beat. Repetition grows as new sounds are added, bell-like tones combining with deeper
ones, building and increasing. There is a paradoxical quality to this piece: it is both heavy
like a mountain, and rolling with motion. Tribal Anthem has a steady drumbeat
for emphasis, with a minor and eerie tune, a somber and almost ominous undercurrent.
Voices of the Dragon soars through vast open skies. Machines in the Canyon
is a good dance number with a fast, strong beat. Great for movement, driving and
energetic background. Highly recommended.

Interview

by D. Alexander Strong

Mysterious Motions of Memory is the name of a new, visually impressive
CD by Minneapolis- based, new age composer John Flomer. This talented musician
is part of a brave new breed of artists who are mapping cinematic worlds of sound
with computer- based instruments.

I met and spoke with Flomer at a local high-tech studio where he works as a "non-
linear, audio- visual editor." I asked Flomer about the inspiration behind his debut
release on the Spotted Peccary label. Here are some excerpts from our conversation.

John Flomer: I like to go out at night and walk. Sometimes there can be a certain smell, say lilacs, and all of a sudden you connect with something from your childhood when lilacs were blooming. The wind has a strong impression on me, its a trigger. When the wind hits you, its just like antiquity is hitting you. Things that happened thousands and hundreds of thousands of years ago are just brushing past you all of the time. Some nights I go out and there'll be nothing. Other nights I'll go out and it will be really electric - those are the nights I call going out for magic. That's how the concept for my CD, Mysterious Motions of Memory developed.

The EDGE: How would you categorize your music for an uninitiated listener?

Flomer: I've never minded the term "new age" or modern, progressive, classical. Andrea White, a DJ in New York who turned me on to the Spotted Peccary label, sees new age music as the classical music of this time.

The EDGE: What musical artists have influenced you the most?

Flomer: As far as contemporary, I've never been the same after hearing Vangelis' "Heaven and Hell." This was back in 1976. Classically - Debussy, Saint-Saens, Alan Hovhaness, Ralph Vaughn Williams, Prokofiev and Tchaikovsky.

The EDGE: Are you classically trained?

Flomer: I'm illiterate. I came out of rock. My earliest influences were 50's rock and roll and movie soundtracks. I played with a local rock band called Archangel for 10 years. We initially started out doing this very high energy, violent type of machine music that was 15 years ahead of its time. It was heavy, scary stuff. After that I made a complete turnaround and got into mellow, pretty stuff with real positive themes. We never had keyboards....but we were writing orchestral-type music, doing it with guitars. The whole R & R thing, the main influence it had on me was to get out of rock.

The EDGE: Is there anything of this "scary stuff" in your current music?

Flomer: It has its moments. I think that music should tell the complete story. Every song has its own little life - and life is not always good from one end to the other. It might only be a momentary thing where there is a heavy orchestral dissonance, like "Voices of the Dragon." It gets a little dark.

The EDGE: On "Spinner of Dreams," what were you thinking?

Flomer: I came up with this little oboe melody.....there was a 50's movie called "The Egyptian" with Victor Mature. In the end, the character Sinuhe, who was exiled to the desert, was writing about his life, and as he finishes the last chapter he falls over and dies. To me that was very mystical. I thought about it and my life and what I'd be doing about it - would I be writing my charms and casting them into the wind as I'm about to die? I've been ridiculed and rejected for doing the things that I do, but it's kept me doing it. Sometimes I'll be beaten and bleeding but still I carry on, spinning my charms into the wind. I want to leave a legacy for my son. That's the feeling I was getting when I was doing this piece.

Album Credits

Composed arranged and produced by John Flomer.
"Reasons For Beings" was composed by Robert & John Flomer.
Engineered, mixed and co-produced by Coke Johnson & Jim Johnson
at Westwood Sound Studio in Minneapolis, Minnesota 1990/1991.
Reproduced by "Just Like The MASTER" Broomfield, Colorado.
Design by Tjody Overson. Photo by Marc Norberg.
Very special thanks to the following people: Byrd Atkinson, John
Frederick & Mary Ann Flomer, Robert & Randine Flomer, Suzanne
Doucet, Tjody Overson. Without their friendship, trust and support, this
project would still be a silent wish in the dark.
ONE is dedicated with love to Little Johnny, my darkness,
and Ian McGinn-Flomer, my light.

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