“My interest in ambient music grew after struggling with insomnia for several years. It helped keep my brain occupied on the nights when I couldn’t sleep. Only certain ambient music worked, though. I wanted to see if I could make more of that music.”
I’m not sure if he did, but Ryan Summers did create something very unique, at the very least. Having worked in various genres, through various collaborations, for nearly two decades, Summers decided to go it alone, and release some of his personal, ambient electronica. Working to recreate music that saved him through bouts of insomnia, Summers has called his solo album F51.01 – a medical code in United States, for insomnia.
Indeed, Summers does capture a great deal of what it is to be on the knife edge between sleep and wake. From the ticking of the clock, to the dripping of the tap, and all the white noise in between, Ryan Summers really captures something of what it is to lay in waking torment…but also what it is to finally find that peace that allows one to drift off into peaceful sleep.
Throwing in what seems to be some vocoder work, Summers manages some rather robotic, but eerily drifting vocals that could be perceived as creepy (and would hopefully not envelope anyone would-be listeners into a terrifying sleep paralysis). This, melded together with the whispering waves of sound, the powerful pads, and the relentless repetition, really could put one at peace. It would sound awful simply to say that this ambient music could put someone to sleep, but given that that’s exactly what it was originally made to do…it absolutely could work, fairly effectively one might add.
A mixture of synthetic instruments, bent out of tune and time really give a surreal sort of serenity that one might not be all too sure about, but let’s face it: sleep is a strange thing anyway, so why not accept some of that strange in those waking moments, staring at the ceiling, waiting for reality to be altered into surreality?
Through a fun process called re-amping, Summers played only software synth (as opposed to the fun of analogue), but recorded not directly into the computer. Playing each piece through amps, and recording the vaulted sound that ensued (recording in a former church), Summers got some incredibly ethereal sounds that add to the sleepy quality, with just that extra bit of delay, and room noise (and adding some synthetic church keys to the mix…why not?) A brilliant idea.
If for no other reason than to listen to my personal favourite track ‘Music Box‘, make sure to check out this eerie, but enticing album right HERE. For meditation, making those sheep fuck off so you can get some sleep, or just passing the hours in some ambient dreamland, check out Ryan Summers’ F51.01.