NOUS is an endlessly experimental ensemble created and curated by composer and producer Christopher BonoNOUS aims to build communal musical relationships that collectively work to find new ways of creating art. Each installment centers around a different focal concept, and the project features a fluctuating group of artists. As Mr. Bono explains, “Nous aspires to bypass the lower level thought patterns of the egotistical mind and encourages the connection of those involved to reach a higher level of consciousness, providing a creative space where intuitive, unexpected, and unexplained results can occur.”

The name Nous was chosen for its double meaning. Nous means “we” or “us” in French; however, within the philosophical tradition it is sometimes equated to intellect or intelligence, and is used to describe the faculty of the human mind which is described in classical philosophy as necessary for understanding what is true or real, similar to intuition. In the Eastern tradition, the sanskrit equivalent is Buddhi, which denotes an aspect of mind that is higher than the rational mind and that is attracted to Brahman (“Truth” or “Reality”).

The impulse for the Nous project came after composer Christopher Bono finished his full-length orchestral work Bardo. After spending two years working on the score and the studio recording of Bardo, Bono was driven to experience and investigate completely different approaches to musical creation.

2014 Nous I: A Musical Rite Sessions

About the Nous Dreamland Recording Studio Sessions and Approach:

While in the calm, wintry, forest solitude of Dreamland Recording Studio (nestled in Upstate NY) and in line with the intention of Nous, the artists began each day applying meditative techniques to bring them further away from the habitual mind states of everyday life in order to create the space for natural intuition to unfold. For seven days of three to four studio sessions per day, the approach cycled between indeterminate and free improvisation, guided conceptual visualizations derived from esoteric graphics, meditations from different philosophical or esoteric traditions, mantric, chant, poetry and language experiments, and concepts derived solely from general musical or movement related guidelines. Many of the specifically musical ideas were guided by certain tonal areas, interval restrictions, modular rhythmic, melodic fragments, and simplified lead sheets.

Though some of the artists knew each other, the group had never played together and came from very different background, so the style of music was difficult to predict. However, from the beginning the influences for the project were drawn from elements of Post-Rock, Minimalism, Indeterminacy, World, Kraut-Rock, Psychedelic/Experimental Rock, Neo-Shamanism, Noise, Ambient, Drone, Folk Chant, and Free Jazz. Within the widely varied careers of the various musicians, there is at least one connection to each of these genres. 

About the Musicians:

Nous I band members:

Christopher Bono: keyboards, electronics, percussion, vocals Caleb Burhans: violin, viola
Greg Fox: drums, percussion, electronics
Thor Harris: drums, percussion, custom built instruments Imago: cello
Shahzad Ismaily: electronics, guitar, bass
Grey Mcmurray: guitar, percussion

Special guests:

Clarice Jensen: cello
Cecilie Hafstad: vocals, percussion
Jen Kutler: assistant engineer, percussion, vocals
Laura Lutzke: violin
Kevin McMahon: producer, engineering, mixing
HariPrakaash: gong
~Laraaji & Arji (Zither, Ambient Sounds)
Anthony Molina: synths, percussion
Alex Sopp: flute
~Akil Davis and Loud Sol Productions