EDM duo KOAN Sound in country setting

Masters of ambient electronic music KOAN Sound are ready to wow Colorado music fans with an incredible audiovisual experience. They will cap off a busy festival season (including upcoming stops at Sacred Acre, Lost Lands and Wakaan) with an intimate show at the Ogden Theatre on November 18th. Attendees will be immersed in a unique live set highlighting KOAN Sound’s forthcoming release, Led By Ancient Light.

The record will take you on a magical journey into the realm created by the duo. Set to release next month, the album promises an experience more like a soundtrack to a sci-fi movie than a collection of dance songs. The story-like essence is no coincidence: a graphic novella and a documentary from the artists will accompany the record. The group expressed on social media their excitement to bring the music to life in Denver.

Evolving the Neuro Sound

KOAN Sound formed in 2008 and began their career in a more traditional dubstep format. The Bristol, UK duo of Will Weeks and Jim Bastow released several EPs on Skrillex’s OWSLA label from 2010-2013. Sanctuary, a collaboration with Asa, was released in 2013 and was followed by their final OWSLA release, Dynasty, in 2014. That set of EPs introduced listeners to more sweeping, orchestral sounds as Weeks and Bastow transitioned away from dubstep. Turning a production page in 2015, the duo released their EP Forgotten Myths on the record label they founded, Shoshin. That departure marked a complete immersion into the spatially-textured, layered “neurofunk” sounds their fans have come to love.

Flyer for KOAN Sound at the Ogden, orange with two silhouettes

Exploring the Concept

Led By Ancient Light, just the second full-length album by KOAN Sound, is scheduled for an upcoming September 8th release. Bastow and Weeks dropped their first LP in 2018. Polychrome, released via Shoshin, was an 11-track work of audio artfulness. With it, they showcased the downtempo, intricate beats that have been the pair’s signature over the past decade. With Polychrome, the duo gave listeners a first glimpse into the storytelling notion that defines the upcoming record. The works possess a nostalgic, holistic vibe, best absorbed as a complete experience.

Creating a New Universe

The rich, layered textures and compositions of Polychrome took listeners on a journey through a futuristic atmosphere. Five years on, that mission continues and evolves with Led By Ancient Light. KOAN Sound has teased that this album will feature a more intentional approach, telling the story of a civilization known as the Ardor. They come from a line of ancient beings who inhabit a distant desert world. The Ardor possess vast wisdom obtained throughout eras of mindfulness. This mindset exemplifies the simplistic living style embraced by Bastow and Weeks as they conceptualized the project.

Putting the Pieces Together

The unique production elements that paved the way for this masterpiece aren’t what you’d expect from a typical electronica album. Bastow and Weeks spoke about the recording process in an interview with FuxWithIt. They revealed they partnered again with Jim Barr, former bassist for Portishead, to bring an organic feel to the record. They used his J & J studio for some tracks, incorporating cello and double-bass elements into the songs. The duo also recorded at the famed Studio Bell in Canada, providing access to the upright piano featured on the album. The cello and piano represent the two main characters in the story, Jak and Ryker. Their instrumental interactions are intended to help listeners tune into the dynamics of the pair’s adventures.

Illustration for KOAN Sound album Led By Ancient Light. Black & white outline style of a futuristic skyline.
Illustration for KOAN Sound album Led By Ancient Light

3, 2, 1, Blast Off! 

To provide audiences with glimpses into the Led By Ancient Light immersive universe, the group released three singles from the upcoming album. “Ascension,” “Liquid Levity” and “Temple of Fervor” are each incredibly unique works. “Ascension” is a faster-moving piece, evoking mental imagery of a harrowing escape and the ensuing emotional release. “Liquid Levity” is a shorter track with acoustic piano and cello mixed with drums & bass. It could have come straight off an Explosions in the Sky record. “Temple of Fervor” is more reserved, coming on like a frolicking firefly and building slowly to a jazzy breakdown.

Meditate, Don’t Wait!

KOAN Sound takes its name from a Zen meditation term. A Koan is a story, dialogue or question used in Zen practices to provoke what’s known as “the great doubt.” A frequent example of a Koan is asking oneself to envision the sound of one hand clapping — AKA the sound of silence. KOAN Sound will have you questioning your terrestrial existence with Ancient Light. The Ogden show will include new stage production featuring a live band experience and opener edIT (of The Glitch Mob). Assure you hear more than silence, and secure your tickets today!

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