Electro-acoustic composer Kenneth Newby has released a number of "deep listening" recordings on the Hearts of Space, Extreme, Fathom, and City of Tribes labels, both solo and as a member of Trance Mission and Lights in a Fat City. A student of Western and non-Western musical traditions alike, Newby has studied Balinese and Javanese music and dance firsthand and is a noted scholar of computer music (many of his pieces involve algorithm-based compositional techniques). Like Jon Hassell, Steve Roach, and Pauline Oliveros, among others, Newby's music is a studied integration of ancient and traditional acoustic elements with meticulous and controlled electronic sound generation and manipulation devices, bringing together such influences as Western classical, ambient, and gamelan with sophisticated technology and a contemporary feel.
Born in the U.K., Newby moved from his second home, Canada, to the San Francisco Bay Area in the late '80s, where, among other things, he worked with pre-Wired newtech mag Mondo 2000 as a writer and editor. He began working with local artists such as Stephen Kent and Beth Custer (with whom he would eventually form Trance Mission), and hooked up with the then-San Francisco-based Hearts of Space label, which released his solo debut, Ecology of Souls, in 1992. His longest group projects to date are Lights in a Fat City and Trance Mission, both of which involve more pronounced rhythmic and harmonic elements than his solo work (Newby plays a range of string and percussion instruments). His collaboration with Stephen Kent and Steve Roach, Halcyon Days, was released in 1996, and is probably his most well-known release. City of Tribes released his second solo album, Sirens, in 1997; an expansive landscape of dreamy tribal ambient, it's among his finest work to date.