Multi-Flutist/Composer/Producer NTHNL: Ontogenesis (Independent / 12 July 2024)

NTHNL: Ontogenesis
(Independent / 12 July 2024)

Classically trained composer and pianist Jacob "NTHNL" Rudin is known today as a multi-flutist, producer and sound-healing practitioner.

NTHNL: Ontogenesis album cover

His debut album, Cosmic Flute, garnered enough interest for a follow-up, Cosmic Flute Rides Again. Over the last five years or so, he's built on that recording catalogue, with Ontogenesis as his latest release. In it, he hopes to offer both a musical and scientific approach.

Ontogenesis is the third in a series of albums called the Tranquility Studies. The idea was born in 2020 around the beginning of the pandemic as a way to formalize my explorations into making music to affect feelings of peace and introspection in listeners. This music combines electronic binaural frequencies with performances on a variety of instruments to create soundscapes that are at once calming, poetic and musical. The music uses a technique called brainwave entrainment, which uses certain frequencies to sympathetically vibrate the mind.

NTHNL is a meditation practitioner and "lover of expansion and healing", and the newest album was originally to be titled "Music of the Body"

"Music of the Body" (the original title) was conceived as a meditation on and through the body. Over the course of the next year, as I spent more and more time with the material I realized that the album's progression should exist in time as much as in space.

What to make of the title?

I came upon the word 'Ontogenesis' in Erwin Schrodinger's 'What is life?' A book written before the discovery of DNA which attempts to find the physical basis for life existing and reproducing itself and coming upon many deep and beautiful ideas. Ontogenesis means the progression of an organism from conception through death. As we move up the body, we move through a life: from before the beginning to after the end, reflecting and accepting at every stage. 

The artist known as NTHNL

The Music

The track titles give you an idea of what to expect:

1. Welcome procession 2. Straightening, dispersing 3. Nourishing, holding 4. Reaching, striving, praying 5. Processing, detoxifying 6. Assurance, rising 7. Heart 8. Aerating, billowing 9. Transmitting, unraveling, communion 10. Synthesis, memory 11. Return to the cloud, thank you

However, while may think you know what you're getting, the composer and musician offers a new approach with each track. His compositions are layered, and build on movement in waves. In some, like nourishing, holding, he uses natural sound of watery waves to add to the effect he creates. While nourishing... washes over you in undulations of sound, in heart, the piano takes over the emotional narrative.

The album, I think, is probably best experienced from start to finish, where the shifting moods provide a constant movement that reassures and calms. Even reaching, striving, praying, which builds and builds, does so without creating tension or dissonance.

In return to the cloud, thank you, a moody melody opens, leading to shimmering bubbles of sound, children laughing in the distance, and a kind of sonic awakening. He has a nice sense of how to interweave the various elements of each track in and out of each other.

It's an effective approach.

Musician Names/Instruments: NTHNL: flutes, piano, synthesizers, vocals, clarinet, accordion, guitar, percussion. Leslie Graves: backup vocals