On his fourth album, Ethereum, world-flute master and keyboardist Joseph L Young brings together global musical traditions that mix primal earthiness with modern synthesized sounds to move the listener’s soul to a more relaxed and positive state.
By The Creative Service Company * thecreativeservicecompany.com
His primary instruments are a wide variety of ethnic flutes from around the world (Native American wood flutes from the Plains Indians, the Pueblo/Anasazi flute, Irish pennywhistle, Chinese xiao, the modern mathematical Phi flute, South and Central American clay drone flute and others). He supplements the flutes with traditional instruments from many countries including hammered dulcimer, udu drum, tin whistle, Chinese erhu, Celtic harp and various ethnic percussion, but also modern instrumentation such as saxophone, synthesizer and the metal Moyo drum.
Young’s exquisite melodies are brought forth with interweaving interplay between instruments and a sense of deep passion and feeling. Ethereum is truly world-fusion music, grounded in the past, created for today’s listeners and reflecting a heart-touching spirituality. The music is often soft and gentle, with light rhythm, perfect for relaxation, healing, slow exercise or touch therapies. But the melodies and arrangements are also designed for active listening and contain developments that reward, engage and entertain upon close study.
Young’s music is available at his website (JosephLYoung.com) and as CDs and digital downloads from many different online sales sites including CDbaby, Amazon, iTunes, eMusic and many others. In addition to Ethereum, he has three previous recordings — Pathways, Face The Wind and Life Spring.
Young is not only a proficient musician and recording artist, but also an exciting on-stage performer (known for his improvisational abilities), in-demand instructor, recording engineer, composer, producer and arranger. For example, Young annually performs and teaches at the Pacific Northwest Native American Flute Gathering on Vashon Island, Washington; the Summer Solstice Flute Festival and School in Utah; and the Zion Canyon Native Flute School near Zion National Park, Utah. He is constantly adding more world flutes to his repertoire, but in addition to his acclaim as a world flutist, Young is a highly-accomplished saxophonist (his first instrument). He always plays saxophone on at least one tune each album, and he also performs on the instrument in several bands on a regular basis.
Young says, “I titled the recording Ethereum as a take-off on ‘ethereal’ because some of the music has a bit more of an ambient sound than some of my previous work. I created the album cover to show that water and flora may exist in other places in the cosmos.”
Ethereum inspired by nature
Young has lived most of his life in Idaho, and much of Ethereum was inspired by nature. “‘Crystal Sunrise’ is about getting up early in the morning when the air is crisp and fresh, and enjoying a perfect sunrise over the mountains and a crystal blue lake, the start of a new day with positive expectations. On ‘Flirting With Fireflies’ I tried to capture the lightness and fun of chasing after a firefly in the early dusk and watching one glow in your hand. ‘Sapphire Moon’ is an homage to a rare and special moon of extraordinary beauty. ‘Boundless’ has two meanings. It reminds me of hiking to the top of a mountain where you can see the valley you left behind, but also vast vistas of where you can still go. In addition, one of my goals is to make ‘music without boundaries’ and this song, together with all of the music on this album, is my offering of a universal sound that everyone can enjoy.”
Ethereum also was influenced by metaphysical contemplation. “Illumination,” featuring the Chinese xiao flute, is about “self discovery, realizing a truth, or, like with Eastern philosophy, when an idea becomes clear.” Young composed “Free” about “when you are on a journey and you realize your past does not define you, that you can let go and be healed, be free.” The tune features a Central American clay flute, the Chinese erhu (a one-string violin) and hammered dulcimer. Young explains that “Past Lives” can be about reincarnation, but also the fact that “we start out at one place in our lives, go through many changes, and end up a different person in another place.” “Entangled” musically captures physical and mental intimacy exemplified by a flute and saxophone duet. In “Shimmer” Young intertwines low whistle and tin whistle flutes with a Celtic harp. For this piece he envisioned the glistening sunlight dancing on the ripples of a lake and through the mountain tree leaves. Other tunes — “Wavelength,” “Ethereum” and “Drift” — contain music with meditative, ethereal elements.
Joseph L Young has spent his entire life intimately involved with music and music technology. As a child Joe remembers seeing “The Captain and Tennille” show on television and being mesmerized by the Captain surrounded by numerous keyboards. “When I was 12 I got a Commodore 128, and learned to program the music chip. I hooked a keyboard up to the computer and that got me started recording music. I got heavily into keyboards and synthesizers and layering music.” He began playing saxophone in the sixth grade, and all the way through high school and into college he played in the school jazz bands, symphonic bands, pep bands and marching bands (drum major for two years). After school hours he often played in rock bands.
From contemporary jazz to New Age music
In school he had teachers who introduced him to mainstream jazz standards, contemporary jazz (Dave Koz, Spyro Gyra, David Sanborn), and the new age music of Mannheim Steamroller. “I immediately liked what Chip Davis did with Mannheim, and other acts like Kitaro, who combined synthesizers and real instruments. I also enjoyed movie music by Henry Mancini, John Williams and Michael Kamen, and new age artists such as Tangerine Dream, Brian Eno and Vangelis. I remember hearing a progressive Martin Denny album where he combined interesting sounds like a moog-theremin keyboard with nature sounds.”
During Young’s first two years at Boise State University he majored in music and took courses in music recording, radio, video recording and editing, television, concert performance sound and lights, film soundtracks and communications. He also worked as a stagehand at the college auditorium for concerts (Alan Parsons, Weird Al Yankovic, Tori Amos) and plays (Les Miserables, Cats). Young then transferred to the Art Institute in Seattle, Washington, and earned his degree in Music and Video Business.
After college he moved back to Boise, Idaho, and became a sound engineer for a large church and for music festivals held at the college. He studied computer editing when that technology was in its infancy, and was hired to edit performances for radio broadcasts. He co-founded and played sax in a smooth jazz group (Mobius Trip) while also playing flutes and percussion in the Celtic band Beltane. Currently, in addition to his own performances, he plays with the Celtic-fusion group Thee Corvids (flutes, sax, percussion and vocals), the Latin-rock Restless Souls Band (sax and flutes) and the R&B band Smooth Avenue (sax).
Debuted in 2004
Young began recording and releasing his own albums in 2004 (the first three included several guest musicians). The album Life Spring grew out of a collaboration with the Idaho Dance Theater, a professional dance company that commissioned Young to write music about the many aspects of water for a themed show. As demand for his flute-based music grew, Young began appearing at major flute festivals throughout the United States which also led to teaching, both group instruction and private lessons. Young continues learning to play additional ethnic flutes from many cultures and countries.
“I have been exploring music for a long time that is good for meditation and relaxation,” says Young. “One of my goals is to help people work through their emotions, releasing the negative as they grow and change. I hope my music can serve as a catalyst to help with their transformation. It can be challenging to compose meditative music that is also interesting as a deep listening experience.”
Sample and buy the album on CD Baby.