Sunday, May 4, 2014

Black Angels -- "I Hear Colors (Chromesthesia)" (2013)

I hear colors
Running through my mind

Synesthesia is a neurological phenomenon in which stimulation of one sensory or cognitive modality produces an experience in a second sensory or cognitive modality.

One relatively common form of synesthesia is grapheme-color synesthesia, which the perception of individual letters or numbers as having a characteristic color.  (For example, a number of synesthetes perceive the letter A as being red.)

Another fairly common form of synesthesia is chromesthesia (or chromeaesthesia, if you prefer), which is the association of sounds with colors.

A visual representation
of chromesthesia
Sound-color synesthesia (where hearing a particular sound produces the sensation of seeing a certain color) is more common than color-sound synthesis (where seeing a particular color causes one to hear a particular sound).

Musicians are more likely than non-musicians to be chromesthetes (which doesn't surprise me).  There seems to be a genetic predisposition to chromesthesia, which tends to run in families.  On the other hand, there have been cases where only one of a pair of identical twins exhibits chromesthesia.

I almost saw the Black Angels when they came to Washington, DC, earlier this year to open for Roky Erickson, one of the founders of the 13th Floor Elevators, a seminal psychedelic group from Texas that is a long-time favorite of mine.  

The Black Angels
My oldest son told me at Christmas that instead of giving me a more traditional gift, he would take me to the 2014 concert of my choice.  I was tempted to use that gift to go see Erickson and the Black Angels (whose newest album, Indigo Meadow, had been described by a Washington Post reviewer as "a pristine snapshot of '70s psychedelia").  

But the Black Angels were performing in Washington on February 14, and my newlywed son didn't think he could get away with leaving his bride home alone on Valentine's Day.  (BABY WANT A BOTTLE???)

"I Hear Colors (Chromaesthesia)" is from the Indigo Meadow album, which was released in 2013.  I don't think any of the members of the Black Angels are chromesthetes, but I can't swear to it.

Stephanie Bailey
The Black Angels' only female member is drummer Stephanie Bailey.  I can't think of another group whose sole female is the drummer.  (Just sayin'.)  

The Black Angels, who formed ten years ago, hail from Austin, Texas.  The group took its name from a Velvet Underground song, "The Black Angel's Death Song":

Here's "I Hear Colors (Chromesthesia)":

Click below to buy the song from Amazon:

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