American in Spain

Zoí« Keating Is Awesome

December 3, 2009

thumbFor several months now, my favorite podcast has been Are We Alone?, put out by SETI. At first one might think that a podcast from an organization that has listened to the heavens for years without hearing so much as a peep from the aliens might not have much to talk about, but it turns out that they do: astronomy, anthropology, biology, psychology, etc. It's more about understanding how humans became what we are and extrapolating that to speculate about alien life. At some point in the past month, I subscribed to the podcast from WNYC called Radio Lab. I immediately fell in love with Radio Lab and have been devouring their back catalog of podcasts for a couple weeks now. Radio Lab is somewhere between Are We Alone?, which is very heavily scientific, and This American Life, which is all about good storytelling. They do some really impressive work with sound mixing that makes their podcast come alive.

In a recent episode, Radio Lab introduced me an artist named Zoí« Keating. She's a classically trained cellist and complete computer geek who uses her cello, her MacBook Pro, some pedals, and some Applescripts to make the most gorgeous ambient cello music all by herself. It's one thing for a single person to record a dozen tracks in a studio to compose a song, but it's a completely different thing to do it all live in realtime. I must admit that she warmed my heart by describing her song composition process in terms of writing a computer program.

It's been years since I've paid for music, but I bought both Zoí«'s albums off iTunes the other day and have been enjoying them immensely. It's good music for concentration on work. I guess that's why they call the genre "ambient".

Check out these two videos and see if she doesn't impress you, too. The first is an interview with her, and the second is a performance.

Oh, and she's pretty entertaining to follow on Twitter, too.