The Hadron Big Bangers: When Physics and Music Collide

Considered an engineering milestone, the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) is the world’s largest particle accelerator. The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) built the Hadron Collider from 1998 to 2008, to test physics theories. According to news accounts, the Hadron Collider has been credited with recreating the Big Bang.

Musicians Rob Rabinowitz (Robert Are) and Martin Earley (Martin Ear) have borrowed the physics theme for music. Their duo, The Hadron Big Bangers, has produced its first CD, Strange Beauty Decays, another term borrowed from particle physics.

A strong fascination with the scientific world inspired the CD and band name.

 “What could possibly be more interesting than the reality behind everything? Not made up stories, not myths, but the actual facts: the truth of creation?” asked Mr Rabinowitz.

“As far as the name of the CD Strange Beauty Decays, it is a scientific term for particles comprised of a ‘beauty’ anti-quark and a ‘strange’ quark and how fast they decay. This goes back to when the universe was less than a minute old. We believe that while some might consider our music to be ‘strange,’ at times, it can also have a ‘beautiful decay’

“The [band] name comes from The Large Hadron Collider which, somewhat immodestly for our use, is considered one of the great engineering milestones of mankind. At the time the collider was being built there were your usual end of the world predictions that once it was turned on the conditions of the initial big bang would be recreated causing the destruction of the earth and the creation of a new universe,” he continued. “As Big Bangers, we consider ourselves scientists, using old and new technologies to experiment and create new, and re-create old musics. We make a big bang but we’re about creation, not destruction.”

The duo’s mission statement continues these thoughts. As stated at Hadron.weebly.com: “Delivering positive sonic statements into this negatively charged environment.” Their website explains them as: “The Hadron Big Bangers have heard it all before … played it all before … enjoyed it all before … Does that mean we should rehash older musics, or take what we’ve lived through and apply it to the creation of new sounds? Or the destruction of old sounds? We have chosen both!”


Their Sound

Mr Rabinowitz and Mr Earley, both also members of the jazz band Boplicity, took a few minutes recently to describe their creative process. “There is a bit of everything,” Mr Robinowitz said.

They referred to their music as “ambient soundscapes,” “experimental,” “progressive.” The Hadron Big Bangers sets itself apart from today’s “proliferation of jam bands,” Mr Earley said. Their live performances are “improvs, we could go from one song into another,” Mr Rabinowitz said.

Their music “is not medley, but creation,” said Mr Earley. Their songs have “a place to start and a place to end — the middle is different every time,” said Mr Rabinowitz.

Although not a jam band, they do jam, he said, indicating that the last track on the debut CD, “Revocation,” is “complete improve.”

The musicians also talked about their song, “426 or 25,” a title reminiscent of a Chicago tune, “25 Or 6 To 4.”

“We did it backwards, pretty much impossible,” Mr Earley said. Mr Rabinowitz said it was a “nice experiment, you might think it’s cool, but you’ll never want to hear it again.” Their song is based on the backwards concept, he said.

“It started that way — with us playing it backwards note for note; singing it backwards word for word. It was an interesting experiment and quite challenging but ultimately not musically satisfying. Once we learned to play it backwards we started changing it, altering it, mixing it up in the lab with other ingredients, so while what you hear on the CD initially started out that way it ultimately went through many stages of radioactive decay culminating in a completely new piece, though one where you can still discern remnants of its big bang,” said Mr Rabinowitz.

Another song, “a thought,” is a “stream of coinsciousness ramble [that includes variations of] thinking about thinking made me think,” he said. Why the lowercase name? “To make you think”

The duo rehearses, but they are not practicing the same thing “over and over again,” said Mr Earley. “We listen and play off of each other. We are not trying to impress anybody but each other.”

The musicians got together a few years ago when Mr Rabinowitz put an ad in the paper “trying to scare people away,” with the hope that anyone who did respond “would be on the same page” as he was, he said. Mr Earley, who had been playing in bands since the 1980s, found him turning his interests to soundscapes in roughly 2000, and then he “ran into improv bands.” Looking at Mr Rabinowitz, he said, “And here we are.”

 “The two of us had musician profiles on the same site and many of the same interests in forming a group, not the least of which is an admiration for artists like King Crimson, Wire, Eno, Stravinsky, Dali, Zappa, etc,” said Mr Rabinowitz. “Our first meeting clinched it.”

Can the duo compare their sound to other bands? “Yes and no,” said Mr Rabinowotz. “We think what we’re doing is quite unique so I don’t think you can say ‘Oh they sound just like…’ If you forced us to throw a few names out we might say that if you like any of the following bands then you’ll probably like us — King Crimson, The Legendary Pink Dots, Radiohead, Stereolab, Primus,  Bill Nelson, Family, Hendrix, Miles, Pink Floyd, Sun Ra, Gong, Dali...”

“Just remember,” Mr Rabinowitz said, “Out here on the perimeter there are no stars, only The Hadron Big Bangers.”

Is their sound mainstream? Mr Rabinowitz said he hopes not, “but some [songs] are pretty catchy. There are people who are interested in experimental music.” Adding a bit of music trivia, he noted that in the 1960s and 70s, “many of our best musicians couldn’t make a living in the US.” Many had moved to Europe. But with the World Wide Web in place, Mr Rabinowitz said, “You can find your audience, unlike years ago.”

While the Internet, which puts music easily within reach for anyone who cares to look, “is a two way street,” he said, “you can market yourself to the world without a record company, but we’re competing with others like us.”

Also getting The Hadron Big Bangers in front of its audience is college radio. Between the radio and online access, he said, “There are billions of people in the world and I guarantee if we reach our audience, many would like it.”

The music is also other musicians will appreciate, Mr Rabinowitz said. “Musicians will dig it just for the gear, which is constantly changing There’s lots of ‘nudge nudge,’ ‘wink wink,’ in the music, lots of in jokes.  Even more out jokes. And hopefully a few ‘wow, how did they play that’ moments.

The Hadron Big Bangers have an extensive set up with many instruments. Between the two band members, Mr Rabinowitz said, “We play them all.” Their performances are “flow diagrams from one song into another.”

Both men are “multi-instrumentalists, and play several different guitars and basses including a few custom made one-of-a-kind instruments, flute, saxophones, electronic drums, Kaossilator Pro, WavDrum,  Loopers, spoons,  many different synthesizers including a yamaha wind synthesizer and a Roland V-Synth, and at least 50 different effect pedals,” Mr Rabinowitz said. “We try to keep the lab well equipped!”

Find The Hadron Big Bangers on Facebook, or visit their site at Hadron.weebly.com. Strange Beauty Decays is available at CDbaby.com or Amazon.com.

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