* Indie International Winner *
2nd place worldwide in the instrumental category
Listen/Buy "Relax Your Ears," the new album from Joel Styzens & CSO cellist Katinka Kleijn at Relax Your Ears dot com:
One year after completing his degree in percussion and moving to Chicago, Joel Styzens had established a strong presence as a drummer in the local jazz and rock scenes and landed a teaching position at Chicago's renowned Old Town School of Folk Music.
In late January 2006, he woke up with the pitch of A-sharp ringing in his ears. Ordinary sounds such as conversations, cars driving past, and clattering dishes registered as painful and startling. Tinnitus and hyperacusis--ringing of the ears and extreme sound sensitivity--threatened to take away his lifes work and passion.
Styzens gave up his drumming career, but he refused to give up music. He sought several experimental treatments and therapies and began composing for acoustic guitar. This April, on his label A-Sharp Records, Styzens released his first album, Relax Your Ears, which recently earned "Editor's Pick" and a 5/5 star review from CD Baby.
The compositions on Relax Your Ears employ varied and unusual tunings. "I hear all these full, resonant sounds and chords that I just can't find in standard tuning, or typical alternate tunings. I had to find a way to make them," says Styzens. "I tune and place my fingers on the fretboard until the right sounds appear."
His intuitive experimentation led to a collaborative partnership with Chicago Symphony Orchestra cellist Katinka Kleijn, who is prominently featured on the album and whose soaring melodies add a level of depth and emotional intensity. Guitar and cello carries throughout, but saxophone gives a jazz flavor to songs like "Take Anything." Cajon adds a world music flair to songs like "7 8 6," which shows off Styzens' percussionist sensibilities through shifting time signatures. Despite a diversity of instrumentation and textures, the resulting album is unified like movements of a symphony or moments of a film score, combining soothing aspects of New Age music with the compelling energy of Classical Crossover.
Styzens continues to cope with the effects of the tinnitus and hyperacusis, but they have improved gradually with therapy, including a new treatment called Neuromonics, which employs customized white noise and music that interacts with the auditory system. Such experimental therapies have inspired Styzens to compose experimental music as a form of personal therapy. His latest compositions employ painful trigger sounds as instruments. For example, washing dishes hurts, so one of his musical sketches utilizes metal and glass objects such as household plates, glasses, pots, and pans. Using ear-plugs when he plays, Styzens draws on his background as a percussionist to reclaim sounds that have had negative associations for him, turning them into positive and intriguing tunes.
Styzens intends to use A-Sharp Records as a forum where musicians with hearing ailments can connect, collaborate on recordings, and give each other support, using the labels website to raise awareness about hearing conservation. According to the American Tinnitus Association, over 50 million Americans suffer from tinnitus. Supportive networks, as well as widespread public education on the condition and its prevention, are increasingly necessary in a high-volume world.
Three years after his hearing conditions changed his life, Styzens has no intention of focusing on the negative. Tinnitus and hyperacusis have allowed him to uncover new musical passions, composing and playing acoustic guitar. Composing my own music is more fulfilling than anything I've ever doneit comes from a very deep place."
I really like this alot :) I love the ebb and flow of the tension in this song. And frankly I just love a blend of beautiful and creepy more then just about anything else :) I really think you should win this catagory. Honestly this was one of the few songs that I thought had any real novelty to it. Iv heard way too many cheesy piano songs and the like on here.... Okay, I wish you (honestly) good luck and hope you can prove that it takes more than some overused piano progressions to make something beautiful. :D
review written by: Justin Gerritsen
wow,want to hear more
review written by: matt