Elliot Cole: The World Is Nothing
music preview January 31, 2024
full video release February 29, 2024

Composer Elliot Cole continues his pursuit of “music of endless discovery” (A Closer Listen) with his new audiovisual diptych The World Is Nothing.

This World is more like a black hole: over a thousand samples compressed into a concise 11-minute statement, a multiverse of moods and textures, synthetic and organic. Elliot describes his process:

I wrote a piece of software called the Flood. With it I connect to the Freesound.org API – basically a wikipedia of sound from around the world – and download a stream of (Creative Commons-licensed) sounds continuously.

You set the rate you want to flood you with sound – say 50 new sounds a minute – and give it some search constraints. For example:
  • bells
  • sounds whose mean pitch is middle C
  • sounds that are close to 50% noise
  • random sounds that are similar to each other
  • sounds that are exactly 0.2 seconds long
  • sounds from above the Arctic Circle.

These sounds flood in and just keep coming, spinning in cycles and rhythms, and sometimes a wild strand of something like music emerges.

Creating The World Is Nothing was a process of exploring, collecting, and weaving these strands together.

Cole also created an animated, audioreactive film for the music. Prisms, meshes, and geometries develop the music’s themes of multiplicity, flood, and void into an icon for contemplation or psychedelic mesmerism.

Curiosity and eagerness for new challenges tie together Cole’s diverse output. He is best known for his widely performed and taught Postludes, which explores the possibilities of playing an old instrument (the vibraphone) in a new way (four people, eight cello bows). His debut album Nightflower featured virtuosic classical musicians playing music he composed in computer code. He turned to pencil and paper for his neo-Romantic albums Five Easy Pieces and Journals. Medieval and Baroque instruments provided the storytelling challenge that became Tam Lin.

Increasingly prolific in the last few years, Long Echo Records is planning 6 more releases of Cole’s music in 2024 alone. Upcoming albums each grew from his dances with different new challenges, tools, techniques:

  • The Fall In (Ableton production, drum-and-bass adjacent music)
  • The Future Is Bright (percussion music for metals and flowerpot game scores)
  • Hashflowers (improvised algorithmic keyboard music)
  • Left Hand Path (analog and modular synths)
  • Hanuman’s Leap (epic storytelling for voices and drums)

Each release represents Elliot’s imagination encountering a new medium, with new tools, new aesthetics. In each his musicality shines through, guided by his ear for the beguiling and sublime.

Elliot Cole is a composer and "charismatic contemporary bard" (NY Times). He has written for and performed with Grammy Winners Roomful of Teeth, Grammy Nominees A Far Cry and Metropolis Ensemble, and many other ensembles. His percussion music evokes "sparkling icicles of sound" (Rolling Stone) and has been performed by over 250 groups all over the world. He teaches at The New School, Juilliard, and NYU (ITP). Passionate about music education in prisons, he co-founded Musicambia, runs a music school at Sing Sing Correctional Facility, and has led workshops at facilities around the country. He has a PhD in Music Composition from Princeton University. In addition to work in modern, early, electronic, and computer music, he studies Hindustani singing with Ustad Mashkoor Ali Khan.

Created by Elliot Cole
mastered by Christopher Botta
art by Stepan Popov
video by Elliot Cole

Long Echo Records