While we're not suggesting that Native American flautist Robert "Tree" Cody ever ate, sniffed, or smoked anything funny, what he's doing with his music is as trippy as a Pink Floyd laser light show. With the help of Arizona composer/keyboardist Rob Wallace and a new-age MIDI device called the WaveRider, Tree composes traditional cedar wood flute pieces that surf along on his own biological waves .
Much like it's predecessor, the mood ring, the WaveRider translates the user's current state of mind into a new format--this time an electronic one, rather than wispy swirls of color. These bio-signals can then be manipulated by an engineer to control what instrument sounds accompany the musician and what octave and key they play in. In order to eavesdrop on these bio-signals, electrodes are gooped up with adhesive gel and glued to the head, chest, and skin of the musician.
According to press material, the WaveRider makes "your brainwaves sound like a pentatonic flute, your muscles like a bluesy baseline, or your heart like an exploding galaxy." While this all sounds suspiciously like California-speak for "drop two tabs and see yourself in the morning," the machine makes the impossible feat of playing several instruments at once entirely reasonable.
As for Cody's music, it's as mellow and relaxing as a Calgon bath. (You can watch a QuickTime clip of his playing by clicking here.*) Seeing the Native American blow his traditional flute with electrodes dangling from his noggin gives you the eerie sense that maybe Wired writers haven't just been staring at their screen savers too long: Their "Age of Aquarius" predictions of the impending virtual world might actually be realized.
Cody's new album, entitled White Buffalo, is in production and will be released soon on Canyon Records.