Guitarist Borghi Brings Ambient Music to East Lansing Public Library

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Thursday, October 25, 2018, 7:19 am
By: 
Christopher A. Wardell

Pioneering ambient musician Brian Eno once said of the genre, “ambient music is a music that can be listened to as easily as it can be ignored.”

While it’s difficult to disagree with a legend, it is hard to ignore the East Lansing-based ambient, improvisational guitarist Matt Borghi.

Borghi will bring his guitar and his own blend of chill-ambient music to the East Lansing Public Library Saturday, October 27 for a Concert in the Café from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. The performance is free.

The guitarist found early inspiration in the “do it yourself” punk and hardcore bands of the early 80’s and 90’s. But it wasn’t until Borghi discovered the music of Pink Floyd and Phish that his musical tastes started to take a different path. That path led him to the music he performs today -- a style he refers to as “an ambient sound bath.”

“An ambient sound bath is a way to approach listening to ambient music as an immersive experience where listening in a contemplative or meditative state of mind leads to a state of peaceful thinking and being,” Borghi said.

With well over 600 performances and numerous recordings under his belt, Borghi has forged his own name in the genre. To date, Borghi has recorded music for the Ann Arbor electronic music label, Ghostly International, and has been featured on NPR and the syndicated public radio show, Hearts of Space.

“I've been lucky to cultivate relationships with many folks who've believed in my work, all over the world, Ghostly and Hearts of Space are just a couple,” Borghi said. “If I had to say, probably my biggest advocates are the individuals who share my music and turn each other on to my work. I'm super grateful for them.”

One of those advocates is fellow East Lansing musician and collaborator Jj Kidder. Kidder points out that while Borghi’s music may be wallpaper music or something that’s playing on the surface, the sound begs for a deeper dive.

“Matt is a skilled listener and an innovative player,” Kidder said. “His compositions are soothing but also bear active listening. Borghi's albums are well-worth seeking out. Particularly his ambient releases with saxophonist Michael Teager.”

In addition to being a solo performer, Borghi occasionally records and performs with saxophonist Michael Teager, who is now based in Buffalo, New York, but who once served on the jazz faculties at MSU and Spring Arbor University.

“Mike and I are kindred spirits when it comes to improvised music, and our music is wholly improvised about 95% of the time,” Borghi said. “We start from a musical quote, an idea, a joke, even, but our agreement is that we always start with a blank slate, no preconceived notions of what a live set will contain.”

While he occasionally plays at larger-scale events, Borghi relishes the chance to perform smaller, more intimate shows. He often performs at art galleries and yoga studios -- places where you can not only hear the music, but feel it and find healing in it.

“I think that ambient music for a mass audience would be an interesting experiment, but I don't think that the music, fundamentally, is suited for large audiences,” Borghi said. “I love doing performances for yoga studios, book stores and libraries. I've done large, performance-focused, events, like when you see a band. They're good, but my performances aren't about a visual component, it's about hearing and listening deeply.”

Borghi hosts his own podcast, Ambient Soundbath, where you can hear not only his music but also other musicians who are dedicated to ambient music. His latest album, Ambient Guitar for Christmas, has just been released in time for the holidays.

At the center of the album is a 12-minute take on “Silent Night,” which might be the most meditative and chilled out version of the holiday classic you’ll ever hear.

For his show at the East Lansing Public Library, he’s looking forward to sharing his music with anyone who may or may not be listening.

“It's going to be a nice mid-Michigan autumn day to sit and enjoy the afternoon listening to music in a comfortable environment with like minds,” Borghi said. “The music will be relaxing and restful. It could be the best thing that you do for your peace of mind all week. Worst case, if you don't enjoy the music, you supported the public library in your community. I'm grateful to have the opportunity.”

 

 

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