In 1971, in my senior year of high school when I was taking (and flunking) a music theory class, the teacher recommended The Free Design to the students. I was amazed that there was someone else in the world who understood, and expressed in music, the kind of intuitive sensitivity I had known all my life. I'm not saying sensitivity is spirituality--although at one time I thought it was. In 1971 I was an atheist and felt quite lost in the world, and was not to find my spiritual path until three years later. At that time, the Free Design's music impressed me deeply and became part of my life. I lost track of them--as it happened, they pursued their own spiritual development, and the leader, Chris Dedrick, went on to become a successful composer for film and television, as well as arranging for famous musicians like the Canadian Brass. When I began work on "In Another Life," I wanted Mr. Dedrick to compose the score. He was amenable, offering me a break on the price, but not enough funding was forthcoming and I ended up using the Music-2-Hues royalty-free music library. I did send him a draft of the documentary, and so was able to give back something by way of a "thank you."
I'm amused and a little frustrated by the comments even their supporters make about their music. Nobody seems to hear and feel what I feel in this music. It is as though they remember being in heaven--not the heaven of bored cherubs and gold streets, but the relatively higher realms in the state between lives, where one feels a thousand times more keenly, and understands so much more deeply--and they are able to bring a little of that down in music.* When I listen, I feel I remember it, too, vaguely... So when their music is called "soft pop," I don't know whether to sigh or smile. Once in high school I played a little of it for a friend of mine, and he remarked that it "sounded like a commercial." It wasn't his fault, he was really deaf to it. Anyway, nevermind the attempts to categorize them. How can you categorize something called the "Free Design," anyway? As I define genius, this is genius-level work. In terms of energy, vibes, call it what you will, these people are working with the language of energy as much as they are working with the language of music and of words. Some of what I tried to do with "In Another Life" in this regard--which most people also seem to completely miss--is due to the Free Design's influence. Some viewers have picked up on it, as you can see in the first review on the Purchase page: "You have brought a special light and energy to educating the public about the topics of reincarnation and karma..." This isn't mere poetry, the writer is perceiving my intentional effort to work intuitively with these inner realities.
Just a hunch about a past incarnation of Chris Dedrick's...what do you think? I've felt this intuitively for a year or two, but hadn't looked for an image of Gabrielli until just now before posting these. I was secretly hoping it would look similar, but gee whiz! My guess from his music is that this soul spent quite a bit of time in the astral, and this could be his next life back--hence, perhaps, the very similar visage. (I do love to speculate--again, this is not proof and it's not science, just a little intuition and educated guesswork and some fun.)
Here's a sample clip from the title cut of an album entitled "One by One." This is exactly where I would imagine someone like Gabrielli would be taking his music in the 20th century, and to me the intuitive "energy signature" is a strong match. Beyond that I can't say. Genius is genius. You feel it or you ride with the herd and believe what society tells you is great work; or you wait a few hundred years until it all sorts out. Here's a sample of Gabrielli's work--my personal favorite, and it was this ending that made me first think of Chris Dedrick's work, because he also apparently likes to create endings that take you out on a high vibe. If this was Gabrielli in a past life, you can see that he developed this idea further, presumably studying music in the higher levels of the astral plane, and you can see the direction he took it. The recording of Gabrielli (Canzon XIV) was played by the Canadian Brass, who Dedrick has arranged for, but per the jacket cover he didn't arrange on this album. (The recording of this ending I first heard was even "juicier," but that was back when I used to record off the radio onto cassette tapes, and I no longer have that recording or know who performed it.)
The real reason the group didn't succeed commercially as much as they theoretically should have is the same reason guitarist Eric Johnson (discussed elsewhere in this website) hasn't; and not to be grandiose, but it's the same reason "In Another Life" is ignored while "What the Bleep" got national theatre distribution. It's because this music has a high spiritual energy that repels people who aren't prepared for it. Consciously they don't feel anything or see anything particular in it. But, presumably, they do feel something unconsciously that they actually feel an aversion to. In any case, society will catch up to it someday. I'm told the Free Design has caught on in Japan, which doesn't entirely surprise me because it's a more refined culture.
Incidentally, the record company allowed various artists a "go" at updating the Free Design's sound. It would be very politically incorrect to say what I really think of it. It was a sweet gesture, I suppose, but an ill-conceived one. The only cut on that album that retains their spiritual energy is the remake of "I Found Love," sung by Sarah Shannon, which is very nice indeed. Sigh...it occurs to me that writing about something hardly anyone can sense is like writing a private journal entry...
*As we are all members of Adam,
We have heard these melodies in Paradise;
Though earth and water have cast their veil upon us,
We retain faint reminiscences of those heavenly songs.
But while we are thus shrouded by gross earthly veils,
How can the tones of the dancing spheres reach us?
I guess I should make clear, for the sake of objectivity and at the risk of embarrassing myself, that I am not a student of classical music. I learned of Gabrielli because, having been on a limited income most of my adult life I have always had to improvise, and so not being able to afford to buy very many albums, I used to make custom "albums" by recording music off the radio onto cassette tapes. If I didn't like the song I recorded over it--if I liked it, it stayed and I recorded the next song. (I'm also habitually ahead of my time--as a kid I remember thinking that rubber bumpers on cars instead of chrome would be a good idea--so this was before the common practice of downloading and creating albums...actually, this was before the internet.) So, if I was lucky, the radio announcer would mention the title and composer of the song I'd recorded, and that might get caught on tape at the end of the recording--and in this case, with the Gabrielli tune, it was. So I knew that was Gabrielli, and that was the only Gabrielli song I knew. I didn't know the actual title until I purchased the Canadian Brass CD just recently, finding that song on the CD as I'd hoped. I had listened to the Free Design's music, as said, since high school, and I listened to that tape I created with the Gabrielli tune on it off-and-on for several years, and intuitively, that connection began to suggest itself to me, gradually becoming more articulate. Because I've never heard any other music that takes me to exactly that same "space." When I use this nebulous, new-age sounding term, "intuitive energy signature," it's because I don't know what else to call it, but it's not nebulous to me, it's as tangible as anything I could pick up and touch. So when I wrote the addendum to this comment page on the Free Design, I had the whim to actually Google Gabrielli using the "Image" function, as said, secretly hoping the image might look similar. I swear on a stack of my master, Meher Baba's "Discourses," that this is the correct chronology. I doubt I have ever seen an image of Gabrielli before, and so far as I know I'd never read anything of his personal history (and still haven't). All I know is that basically a portrait of Chris Dedrick was staring back at me on that website (which is, what, Italian?). Even his hair falls the same way. Pretty interesting. Proof? Not really. Unless Dedrick has records of having put down a number of very personal, very specific memories of being Gabrielli, which could not have reasonably been found by him in a normal layman's search of the historical records, and he could prove that he set down those records before seeing them in the historical records.