Musicians of Dune

James Holcroft

After successfully petitioning interplanetary authorities, Soma Labs Music was able to obtain a temporary work permit for multi-instrumentalist/vocalist James Holcroft to create what’s probably the hottest album to be recorded on Arrakis in centuries: Musicians of Dune.

Following long exploratory travels as a classical violinist, rock guitarist/guitar synthesist, folk musician and electronic eccentric, the sunkissed dunes of the desert planet finally inspired James Holcroft to compose his latest magnum opus.
A switch to many altered tunings on acoustic guitar led to a more instinctive approach to composition and to a breakaway from any standardized approach to stringed instruments. The abandoning of repertoire and licks led to a gateway to all the other stringed instruments, including mandolins and sitars, and the micro-tonal aspects of the violin opened up the world of fretless bass and finally the oud, in this case a Godin Multi-oud and Glissentar.

Quarter-tones and micro-tones are particularly important in Middle Eastern Earth music, and are widely used here: passing notes that would be totally out of tune in chromatic western Earth styles, but live quite naturally in the deserts of Arrakis.

Release date: 25.08.2023

Label: SOMA Labs Music

Artwork: Kiyán

Press release: Thomas Lundberg

«Hopefully the work inspires others as I really just want other people to hear it and enjoy it as a relic of a bygone era when one set aside some quiet time in which to listen to a newly purchased album, headphones ready, jacket notes in hand, to experience the music, to enjoy it in real time, no interruptions, a designated task to look forward to and savor. With today's music just being the background noise to people's lives, well, something has been lost. If there is a purpose in this than that it is, to bring back music as an experience rather than just listening while doing something else. I believe that is what Soma is all about, music is an experience. To me music is the heart and soul of existence.»

James Holcroft

The Baliset of Dune.
The main instruments are the oud/glissentar, violin and a Hakem Continuumini for playing the wind instruments, all microtonal, highly inflective instruments. The world in which they live is where SOMA Labs comes in, the SOMA Lyra 8 and a SOMA Pipe purchased with this project in mind, with the idea of it being a "Peter Gabriel in a Box", with my vocal help of course. Oud music is perfectly suited for drones and exotic instrumentation.
The SOMA Pipe ended up playing a lead role in that using it was so immersive and inspiring, there was a lot of unexpected spontaneity which is a hallmark of SOMA gear and why I gravitated to so many of the company's products. It even influenced the other synths as there is an inherent vocal quality to all the backing, Lyra 8 through vocoder and formant filters, Bastle 1.5 through choral reverbs and just the general choice of timbres.
About the songs:
01. Lisan Al Gaib
Desert soundscape featuring Baliset (oud) and SOMA The PIPE (vocal effects) and the Middle Eastern Wind capable Haken continuumini.
Lisan al Gaib — (Arabic: لسان الغيب) The Fremen term for an off-world prophet or messiah. It is "The Voice from the Outer World" and is outlined in Fremen messianic legends heavily influenced by the Bene Gesserit's Missionaria Protectiva. It is also translated as the "Giver of Water".
Lisan al-gaib ~"The Voice from the Outer World". Originally the Fremen term for an off-world prophet or Mahdi outlined in Fremen messianic legends later heavily influenced by the Bene Gesserit's Missionaria Protectiva.
02. The Mushtamal
A Baliset duet (duel Godin Multiouds)
Mushtamal ~ a small garden annex to a Fremen djedida, the term was imported from Ishkal. Mushtamal: A small garden annex to a Fremen djedida, the term was imported from Ishkal. مشتمل - A small garden annex or garden courtyard. The Arabic terms means complex or compound.

- mushtamal (Dune) ©

03. Hulusikali Wala
Big soundscape, also featuring droning Korg Volca Modular.
Hulasikali Wala ~ fremen name for the Coriolis storm.
04. The Hills Of Sihaya
Baliset/violin Duet with SOMA Pipe vocals. Sihaya ~ A landscape of Sand-dunes on Arrakis
05. Bazaars Of Arrakeen
More rhythmic featuring Moog semi-modulars, Mellotron and PULSAR-23.
Arrakeen ~ the first settlement on Arrakis; long-time seat of planetary government.
06. Pits Of Niazi
A SOMA The PIPE fest, even going through Boss Slicer.

Niazi ~ a place of salt mines on Arrakis.

07. Haiiiii Yah!
Another Baliset/Violin Duet, also featuring some Korg Wavedrum
Haiiiii-Yah! ~ command to action; worm-steersman's call.
08. Sunset At Tabur
The beautiful inflections the Haken Continuumini is capable of are put to the test to give extreme duduk-ness to the clarinet preset.

Tabur ~ A village on Arrakis built on earlier Sietch Tabr.

09. Memories Of Chusuk
A big Baliset set: featuring The PIPE, lots of synths and the Lord's prayer from a metal disk used in a Thomas Edison talking doll: you'll know it when you hear it as it was in fact the first commercial voice recording. The woman had to practically yell to get her voice to imprint on the metal disk used as the sound format in the doll. A commercial failure as kids were terrified of the sound. In the Dune context it is used in reference to the Orange Catholic Bible. OCB
Chusuk ~ the "Music planet".
10. Qadis A - Salaf
The big closer for the soundtrack. I taught myself to play the Godin Multioud and thought a whole album of desert stuff would be cool. Then I thought, what would Peter Gabriel do with the whole Dune thing? and took inspiration from his "Last Temptation" Passion soundtrack using my oud compositions as a vehicle. It grew from there into "Musician's of Dune".

Qadis as-Salaf ~ the holy fathers of Fremen mythology.