The experimental composer internationally known as Josh Stewart has released his new, epic LP album, “Proemial.” The record contains eight original tracks plus seven bonus commentary entries for an approximate total listening time of one hour. Sweeping, soaring, multifaceted and as complex as the listener’s imagination allows it to be, “Proemial” is a record for hardcore aficionados and ambient music fans alike.
Josh Stewart cites as main artistic influences composers of soundtracks and soundscapes such as Olafur Arnalds, Nils Frahm, Hans Zimmer, and Thomas Newman, but also forward-thinking pop groups like Bon Iver.
His “Proemial” album differs from the rest of his repertoire, as well as from nearly everything else the music world has to offer, in having been written from the percussion upward, rather than the other way around. This puts the drums in a directorial role controlling the mode and tone of the music instead of relegating them to mere timekeepers.
“It’s really this conversation piece between a drum kit and music around it,” writes Stewart. “The concept began with this idea: what happens when a drummer sits down behind a drum kit, and plays with no set tempo and no set grooves, no direction, just a blank canvas for him to say whatever he feels?”
Stewart then composed the rest of the piece around – not to say on top of – the drums, allowing them to keep a primary and prominent place in each of the eight selections.
“So it was this experiment of beginning a series of compositional pieces with a drum performance, and then seeing how that would inspire music that would later be written around it.”
The drummer in question is Atlanta, GA’s rhythm machine, TJ Rodriguez. At 20 years old, Rodriguez has already made a career for himself after studying percussion at the Atlanta Institute of Music. A full-time drummer for various artists around the city, playing drums is his principle business. Stewart and Rodriguez have been friends for a little over two years. TJ Rodriguez delivers his own line of commentary about “Proemial” on Track 11, “The Heart of the Drummer.”
Josh Stewart’s music career began from a bard’s perspective – that music originates in the telling of tales. Asked to describe his start as a composer, he answers, “Out of my own curiosity of storytelling. I didn’t grow up playing or writing music. But when I began college, that was when music and writing began to become an interest and byproduct of loving to tell stories and of having stories told to me.”
But Stewart is also known for making music from the perspective of the listener. “Proemial” (from the Greek for ‘introductory’) serves as a self-examination for him, but also of the music fan.
“[Making the album] was a process of deconstructing how I write music. Hopefully, this gives listeners a fresh way of listening to a song. But even deeper, how a drum kit can talk to music, and command it. It was less about genre or song structure but focused more on color and conversation within music. It was an organic experience in seeing what music can come from. It was a true representation of what the drummer was feeling and thinking while playing. The music personifies his feeling and emotions.”
“Proemial” by Josh Stewart is available online worldwide beginning late 20 January 2016 and may be sampled at the official Josh Stewart website now (link provided below). Get in early, fans of ambient and experimental music. Very early.
Lead Press Release Writer
“Proemial” by Josh Stewart –