Lara Rix-Martin aka Meemo Comma has released her new album Comma Neon Genesis: Soul into Matter². The 14-track record is a soundtrack to an imaginary anime driven by concepts and themes surrounding Judaism, manga and sci-fi, all of which Rix-Martin often intertwines. “Sci-fi is the genre most equipped to explore the immensity and challenges of human experience. Something that Judaism has also been attempting for over three thousand years,” she explains.
The LP takes Kabbalistic text and Jewish prayer and weaves them in a very modern way with sparkling synths, piano, breakbeats, industrial noise and choir. This all comes together in an album that is at times in your face and danceable, and at times subtle and beautiful like with “Nefesh” or the closer “End Credits,” but it is always thought provoking and engaging.
At 14-tracks in total, some songs are only about two minutes, helping to steer the record from one theme to the next as it evolves like sci-fi story in the year 5781. To get a better sense of the ideas behind this sonically and creatively rich record, we asked Meemo Comma to go into greater detail about the record for a new Director’s Cut feature.
1. Upload To Unit Kadmon
This track features Aramaic chanting overlaid with pitch-shifted synthetic babbling as an opening scene to an imaginary film where the infinite is contracted and made into something almost understandable to what would become humans. I liked the idea of having this modern industrial artificial intelligence process juxtaposed with a language that is several thousands of years old.
2. Neon Genesis: Title Sequence
As the title suggests, this is the “title sequence” of my imaginary film. I was inspired by Yoko Kanno, mostly. I adore her clean use of drums, which feel so clinical in comparison to the drum & bass or jungle that was happening in the UK in the nineties. I intentionally used a low bitrate mp3 sample for the break, I was planning on changing it for a WAV but then realized this added a late 90’s feel to the track that felt more genuine for my own sound.
3. Tikkun Olam
“Tikkun Olam” is a concept in Jewish belief that by doing good we repair the world to its original state. In terms of what was happening in my imaginary film, I wrote it for the characters that were learning about what needed to be done to repair the world. It was influenced by “Floating Museum” by Kenji Kawai in the way the sounds float along, but I didn’t want to sound like I was trying to be Kuedo(!) either.
4. Ein Sof
This roughly translates as “infinite one” within the context of G-d’s un-being as a self manifested force - the paradox that man is too small to comprehend. This is essentially a “flashback” to this life force creating the first being that is other than itself.
Tzimtzum is the process of contraction, which the Ein Sof has to do to create. I was thinking of the earliest moments in the universe, where subatomic particles were being made then flung into the endless void.
“Gevurah” relates to the Sefirot - after this great contraction the Sefirot was formed. Ten attributes of Ein Sof reveal themselves. This is the blueprint for our modern day characters in the film to rebuild Adam Kadmon (the first being). Gevurah is G-d’s judgment, I wanted this to sound like a cult of angels chanting and dancing around as the angelic order of this sphere is the terrifying Seraphim. The glitching breaks in the voices representing the burning flames for which Seraphim are so well known.
7. Genesis 8.22 - Annihilation
This is a reading of the Zohar (1:38a and 1:45b) in Aramaic and roughly translates to "When the spirit lives long, the spirit is gradually turned into matter." It also talks about how G-d is residing in human flesh but has to leave and go back the the infinite (Genesis 6:3). It follows with “the art of annihilation: Spears and swords." Finally Noah appeared and rearranged the world for them, preparing and cultivating the soil - "so long as the earth endures [sowing and harvest shall not cease]" (Genesis 8.22)
8) Tohu & Tikun
They are characters in this film but the meaning is “chaos” and “reunification.” And there is order out of chaos. I loved this paradox that is seemingly so based in modern science but was written about hundreds of years before quantum theory was a concept. I liked the idea of having a track that was sort of an incidental background track. I love it when they are featured on soundtracks as it's about capturing the atmosphere and experience of watching the film or series.
“Beauty” - is a rough translation for the sixth of ten attributes of the Sefirot. I wanted to feature the beautiful Shema prayer that Jews perform twice daily, so a small mitzvah (good deed), but it is a statement of the people. I wanted the feeling of that rave divinity, the feeling of reaching a high emotional and physical state, so I wanted to bring back the nineties influences and some grand drones in the background to have a floating, yet archaic feel. It was fun to actually learn how to process samples on Logic - I spent some time looking YouTube for tutorials that just gave the quickest heads up on how to do this (I have no patience for being told what to do).
10. Unit Chai
This is the test singularity-lifeform being programmed and made. Chai (חי) means life/alive. As discussed previously, I think incidental noises or movie quotes in an album make the album just as poetic in its storytelling. I remember my parents always listening to soundtracks when I was a kid and I could never hear the tracks featured on their own without these sorts of intros because I got so used to them being a part of it.
This means “world of formation.” The tech is in place for the upload of spirits. All that needs to happen is for the world to unify. The beginning and ending of infinity. I was trying to recreate the fantastic Japanese vocals that feature on so many of Yoko Kanno’s works, but of course without an actual vocalist. I found a great sample based synth and just manipulated the hell out of it.
This is the divine light vehicle that is essentially a UFO that can travel space and time. It’s a chariot that is driven by four angels each with a different face: an ox, a lion, a man and an eagle. It is the play of fear and salvation of spinning wheels within wheels. At this point Adam Kadmon is being lifted and the world is falling around them.
I wanted to capture the feeling both Kanno and Kawai are so good at - running down the side of a building. The controlled free-fall descent. And their music behind those scenes are iconic. Even the remake of Ghost in the Shell had to open their preview with this scene. “Nefesh” in this context means soul. This is the final point of souls coming together, much like the scene in Evangelion, but this isn’t filled with the emotions of a 14-year-old boy who has abandonment issues - these are prophecies and endings.
14. End Credits
All iconic anime end on a great piano score. I wanted to put my own style on that of course. I had to do a few different sections so it would sound more natural and actually scored. In reality it was just a lot of playing around with chords and seeing what suited.