ID Music: 2022 Anniversary Special
Commemorating 12 years of North America's Gnarliest with a newsletter-exclusive mix
Inter-Dimensional Music airs weekly on Marfa Public Radio, LOOKOUT FM Los Angeles, and WQRT Indianapolis. Scroll down for archived shows, setlists, and broadcast times.
Twelve years is a long time if we're thinking about time on a human scale, as opposed to geologic time, creosote time, or giant tortoise time. It's 25% of the time I've been alive so far, and something like 15% of the cumulative time I might remain alive based on a quick and unsettling survey of life expectancy statistics for Type-1 diabetics. It seems like an even longer time if we're talking about producing an understandably unpopular yet surprisingly widely-distributed FM radio art project like Inter-Dimensional Music. Twelve years of making a thing includes lots of time to ask questions about why or why not to continue making the thing.
I don't usually commemorate the show's anniversary because I usually forget about it. The pitch to Marfa Public Radio originated in 2009 or 10 with a New Age collector friend in Marfa, and debuted in late May or early June 2010. On the original two-hour weekly iteration of ID Music, they opened with the classics while I provided a complementary hour of ambient, drone, and the contemporary New Age music that was described by someone1 I can't remember as "cassette tape Earth psych."
As a recent arrival in the Chihuahuan Desert, I was very much under the spell of Trans-Pecos outlaw mythology, and eager to contribute a soundtrack suited to such an overwhelming metaphysical geography. As evidenced by this early description of what we were trying to do …
There’s a good reason that Inter-Dimensional Music is the number one New Age radio broadcast on the West Coast of Texas: Since we first started transmitting on Marfa Public Radio in the spring of 2010, each song we’ve played has been selected with the goal of offering all the souls passing through the Chihuahuan Desert a soundtrack worthy of the region’s luminescent high country vistas.
So whether you’re waiting in line at the Sierra Blanca Border Patrol checkpoint; watching the lights of Boquillas from the South Rim of the Chisos; channeling the spirit of curandera Jewel Babb deep in the Quitman Mountains; decoding starlight vibrations at the McDonald Observatory; vibing on the sky island rhythms of the Davis Mountains Preserve; documenting rock art sites off Casa Piedra Road; or if you’re just another lonely backpacker waiting for your man down by the Rio Grande, we’re here to score your time under the radiant heavens of the Trans-Pecos with a soundtrack of expansive ambience and transcendent psychedelic drone.
My co-host departed a few years later. Hosting the show solo, I grew bored with the 100% mellow setlists, and started to incorporate heavier sounds, with Pauline Oliveros leading to Sunn O))) which opened the path to whatever I decided to file under the "cosmic metal" label.
After I left Texas in 2016, I moved into the Indianapolis Zen Center and started training as a yin yoga teacher. The Buddhist and Taoist principles that I was immersed in as a member of a spiritual commune meshed perfectly with the somewhat jarring mix of ambient, metal, spiritual jazz, raga, and drone that I was recording late at night in my upstairs bedroom. Presenting the weekly hour as a non-traditional, borderline apostate meditation practice brought the show back to its vaguely spiritual but assuredly non-denominational New Age roots. As it is written in the Tao Te Ching …
Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.
Marfa Public Radio continues to share the broadcast, and they've since expanded their coverage with stations that repeat the signal from the northernmost reaches of the Mexican state of Chihuahua to the oilfield capitals of Midland and Odessa. In 2017 we began transmitting to Indianapolis on WQRT 99.1 FM. Soon after, my old friends at dublab added this strange hour of music to the even more esoteric roster of their LOOKOUT FM network of terrestrial low-power stations across Los Angeles.
Unlike almost any other form of broadcast media, non-corporate FM radio is free and unmonitored. It's floating in the air for anyone to intercept, with few paywalls or analytics. That also means I don't know if anyone's listening at all. It can be a lonely experience, literally sending my voice out as a one-way transmission into the wilderness. But this is an experiment that was born in Far West Texas, one of the most achingly beautiful and lonely places I'll ever know. The show is obviously online now too, but I think it was probably better for my mental health when I had no way of knowing whether or not I was doing any numbers at all.
Beyond the constantly-updated real-time scoring of social media, my understanding of who is receiving the signal comes from correspondence. While I have my own distinct memories of unexpected encounters on the FM band, I have rarely – if ever – followed up. Maybe I tried to find the station, or identify the music, but I never tracked down a DJ stranger to thank them for what they're doing. But people have done this with Inter-Dimensional Music, and it always blows me away.
Twelve years of making a thing includes lots of time to ask questions about why or why not to continue making the thing. Each short message from someone who enjoyed the broadcast is another reason2 for me to keep making the thing. It's especially validating and inspiring because so often these messages show me that people I've never met understand what I'm trying to do with this weird show. This is all the more extraordinary because it's FM radio, and these are not people who plugged a URL or series of keywords into their computer or phone looking for me. There are few greater rewards than hearing from a new person out of nowhere that something I've produced made the universe a more tolerable place for them, even if it was just for a few minutes sitting in the driveway after coming home from the grocery store.
Whenever I get caught up in social media traps, worrying about follower counts and retweets, it helps to remember the advice Zen Master Dōgen's teacher gave him 700 years ago when he was preparing to return to Japan after studying in China:
Twelve years is a long time to do a thing in terms of Cosmic Chambo time. While neither Marfa nor my current base of operations in Muncie are located in deep mountains or quiet valleys, they’re both small, slow-paced, out of the way, and have few associations with emperors or ministers. I'm grateful after making hundreds of hours of radio that – while I haven’t collected an especially large following3 – I have found so many true persons of the way with whom I have become friends.
Thanks again for being here.
P.S. We would also love to meet your nice friends, and find great validation in the idea that you might pass this along to other people who might find something useful here.
INTER-DIMENSIONAL MUSIC 20220610
North America's Gnarliest Mix Commemorating 12 Years of Heavy Mellow, Kosmische Slop, and Void Contemplation Tactics with Cosmic Chambo at the Controls
For this week's session, we're celebrating the ID Music Silken Jubilee with a flæschbæch to the early days of our program when we kept things slow and low with a mix of classic New Age, cassette-tape Earth psych, and other forms of cosmic ambience. This 72-minute newsletter-exclusive mix includes extended introductory and exit vibes.
It's a mostly wordless flow, with Joko Beck making a brief appearance to remind us that "there's nothing to get." We'll also hear variations of desert trance music from Texas, New Mexico, Utah, and Tunisia, along with ambient jazz and non-denominational devotional music for “jumping from the edge of your known world into other spaces and other places.”
Our program begins and ends with excerpts from Sandpaintings by Stag Hare, the recording/performance/art project of Willow Skye Biggs. Her work has been a consistent inspiration to me since discovering it in 2008. Our occasional correspondence led to this gorgeous commission in 2015, one of many entry points into a discography that includes some of the most transcendent ambient music of the last 20 years.
artist - work
Stag Hare - Holy Person
Miles Davis - Recollections
SunPath - Jasmine
JD Emmanuel - Live at Tonalism Marfa 20120310
Terry Riley & Don Cherry - Descending Moonshine Dervishes
Healing Music of Rana - Vol IV - Empty Sky
Julianna Barwick - Prizewinning (Prince Rama remix)
Azu Tiwaline - Eyes of the Wind
Stag Hare - Holy Wind
☸️ Joko Beck
You can support Inter-Dimensional Music and Void Contemplation Tactics by sharing this post, subscribing, streaming past episodes from the archive, and/or purchasing music from the artists we play on our airwaves. Tell them where you heard their sounds if you want to go the extra mile! Breathe deep in the Bandcamp library.
Maybe one of the classic audioblogs like Weed Temple or Microphones in the Trees?
Not to be weird but I keep a desktop folder of screenshots of messages and words of encouragement and it’s been super helpful.
As my partner likes to remind me, “you’re producing a community radio experiment in ambient grindcore meditation because you’re hoping to be popular?”