Some people are terrified of it. I’ve always thrived in either rapidly time-compressed or highly complex environments. My brain has a way of paring down complex ideas into a series of smaller, simpler concepts. I think that’s why I ended up studying biochemistry in university. It’s, at its core, reductionist to the sub-cellular level. I even read about non-linear mathematics in my spare time to understand the intricacies of environmental motions in the universe.
My musical tastes were no different. While people were listening to New Wave in the 80s, I was finding Yngwie Malmsteen, Marty Friedman and Jason Becker. All of them were known as “neo-classical metal” musicians. By which, it meant they were influenced by classical musicians like Pagnini, Bach, Beethoven and other classic symphonic music.
Through the years that complexity lingered even as others embraced boy bands or grunge in the 90s, I found Dream Theater. Dream Theater spawned the work of Kevin Moore after his departure from that band. First forming Chroma Key, then OSI.
Once the 2000s hit, waves of Scandinavian bands, and bands influenced by them, took the symphonic idea and added soaring soprano vocals. The likes of Nightwish, Xandria, Amaranth and LEAH, all contribute their own flavours to this symphonic subgenre.
This week also was St Stephen’s Day in Hungary. I was named after this first King of Hungary, my father’s homeland. I found a classical connection to this king. Centuries after his death, The Austro-Hungarian empire commissioned Beethoven to compose an opus in honour of King Stephen. This rarely performed piece has sweeping, brooding moments characteristic of other works by Beethoven with soaring choral passages of both male, female and combined choruses befitting a king. And, in a way, a precursor to what would develop into the most modern symphonic metal.
All of these musical pieces, in one way or another, helped nurture my love of complexity. Even on days that can be overwhelming, I think of the superior achievements of all of these musicians and get inspired. Whether it’s culinary creations, poetic pieces or capturing photographic moments in time, I’m inspired by complexity and bring it down to the simplest places. Enjoyed in a single breath.
And amidst complex situations that frustrate you, you need a song or two that either act as catharsis (Sevendust’s “T.O.A.B”, or “Tits On A Boar,” a song about people who makes no sense but end up succeeding even in their ineptitude….”A motherf**ker without a life always getting something…”) or something punchy and a little silly (Devin Townsend’s cover of Sinatra’s “New York, New York”…..”Infinite overlord of all space and time”….)