Csound and sanity


This is a clip from an old Sega Master System Game called Fantasy Zone. While you might not be familiar with this particular game, there’s likely to be some sort of computer game that upon hearing, takes you right back to your childhood, back to the days when you had nothing better to do with your time. Whether it’s Super Mario, Zelda, Final Fantasy or Donkey Kong, computer game music has a way of entering our subconscious without us even knowing. A small group of guys were responsible for the majority of the tunes we came to love. Tokuhiko ‘Bo’ Uwabo composed the music to many of Sega’s big hits including Fantasy Zone, Alex Kidd and Sonic the Hedgehog, Koji Kondo was responsible for Super Mario and The Legend of Zelda and then Hirokazu ‘Hip’ Tanaka wrote the unforgettable Tetris tune and various Mario and Donkey Kong spin offs.

A little while ago a musician called Luke Kuzava got in touch to share his story about his music and how it evolved. Upon hearing A Thousand Endless Africas for the first time, my thoughts ran to computer game music and those little tunes played out in a single melodic line in some Csound tone. Like many of us, computer games were a big part of Luke’s youth and his favourite game music came from Final Fantasy, composed by Nobou Uomatsu. For Luke, computer game music exists in a haze of memories from long ago that feel dream-like and so it was with this thought that he wrote his debut album – ‘if your dreams were a computer game, what would they sound like?’


Luke works as a counselor at a residential group home for schizophrenic patients. The album title comes from one of his patients, who one morning began talking about how maps and globes are a conspiracy, because the true nature of reality is that there are actually a thousand endless Africas, among many other endless things. The phrase struck Luke as a fitting way to describe the way that words and language – much like maps and globes – don’t accurately express the endless thoughts, feelings and experiences that make up life. Working with the mentally ill gave rise to many unusual situations and experiences, and for Luke it got harder and harder to talk about it at all. He found he just couldn’t in the end, and so he turned to music as way of dealing with the indescribable character of his feelings. Luke started making instrumental pop music inspired by what it’s like to communicate with people who experience a fundamentally different version of reality from most of us.

Intrigued? So was I. Check out Luke’s music here, soundcloud.com/luke-kuzava/sets/a-thousand-endless-africas/

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