Fractal Sextet

A fractal is a complex geometric shape, but it’s difficult to find a precise definition. One well-known example is the ‘snowflake’ curve, invented by Niels Fabian Helge von Koch in 1904. Start with an equilateral triangle, then add an equilateral triangle one third the size to each of its edges to generate a new, more complex shape. Repeat this process for each line segment in the new shape. The Koch snowflake is what you get after an infinite number of iterations.

Fractals are so complex that they can only be approximated in the real world. The Koch snowflake, for example, has such fine structure that no computer screen could ever represent it exactly, no matter how small the pixels. The same is true for the Mandelbrot set and all the other fractals in popular literature.

One of the features of fractals is that they look more or less the same no matter how much you zoom in. A more curious property is that the size of a fractal depends on the size of your measuring stick. If you try to measure the length of the snowflake curve, for example, you get a bigger number the smaller the ruler you use. This is because, no matter how small it is, your straight ruler will always miss the still smaller kinks in the curve. A smaller ruler is better, but it always underestimates the true length of the curve.

Fractals have a beauty all of their own. They appear in nature – in frost patterns and broccoli plants, for example – where they hold a strange fascination. And they have been exploited in creative works by artists such as M.C. Escher, whose Circle Limit III seems to capture the impossibly infinite within the limited space of a circular canvas.

The Fractal Sextet

Stephan Thelen’s compositions in the Fractal Sextet project have much in common with fractals:

Exploring infinite variations on never ending patterns, Fractal Sextet displays a beguiling and inviting hypnotic landscape, which reveals multiple layers and ever more intricate unfolding connections throughout.

Fractal Sextet press release

Zooming in, we see that the six points of this star-studded band are:

  • Fabio Anile: Piano, Electric Piano, Synth & Sampled Instruments
  • Jon Durant: Fretted, Fretless & Cloud Guitars
  • Colin Edwin: Bass Guitar
  • Yogev Gabay: Drums
  • Andi Pupato: Percussion
  • Stephan Thelen: Guitars, E-Bow, Fractal Delays & Programming

Durant, Edwin and Thelen himself have all peeped out from these pages before, albeit a little shyly. Together, they shimmer and sparkle like snowflakes caught in the morning sun. Here’s the Fractal Sextet album on Bandcamp:

This is minimal groove music at its very best. It floats in the air, drifting with the wind through the folds of the imagination. Carrying the fascination of the fractal. Always similar, never the same.

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