David Teie’s Music for Cats (reviewed by an Advo-cat)

More often than not, the hustle and bustle around me is white noise. Throughout the day I hear a cacophonous array of sounds from outside: cars, dogs, the wind, the mailman, humans in general, and even other cats. I stare out the window for most hours of the day, my curiosity nearly killing me at times.

But recently, I found something sweet to the ears — an inspirational body of work that revitalized and changed my opinion on humans and their music. David Teie’s Music For Cats is a five-song album designed for cats (if you couldn’t tell). Teie is a cello soloist for the National Symphony Orchestra who has spent the past couple of years fundraising and working on his thesis: music that cats are attracted to.

Teie’s idea is that the sounds one enjoys and finds relaxing are the sounds heard in developmental stages of life, and that a sense of beat comes from the heartbeat the baby hears while in the womb. So, the beat in each of these songs is slow. It mimics a relaxed cat’s heartbeat, and the instrumentation is made of sounds that we cats are naturally attracted to — like purring, birds chirping, and cellos manipulated to sound like meows.

A human might find this album too ambient and calming, and its delicate nature may put some listeners to sleep. At times the music borders on experimental, utilizing purring sounds or synth-like cello. At times the album sounds like it could have been composed as a side project by members of, say, experimental pop band Animal Collective.

Working with specialists and a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $200,000, Teie was able to piece together his first album in 2016. According to the website, musicforcats.com, Teie is going to expand his research and create music for horses and dogs.

But does the music actual appeal to cats?

I found Music for Cats to be an intriguing yet calming experience. The album opens with “Lolo’s Air,” a cello-heavy track that consists of ambient tapping and snoring sounds. A sweeping and slow cello turns the room into an ambient sound bath. At first I wasn’t very interested in this track. It’s almost too quiet and, despite a twitch or two of the ear, my human could see that I was not really showing any hint of enjoyment.

But eventually, the cello work pulled me in. I could not help but move towards the stereo as the beautiful instrumentation began to flood my mind. I had never heard anything like it. My eyes closed, and I purred in peace. This music was far better than the house human’s favorite “artist,” Johnny Cash.

“Katey Moss Catwalk” was the next track. It rattled me at first. The high pitched tones stood out when paired with the soft and soothing backing instrumentation. My eyes widened — there must have been another cat around! There wasn’t. This music had me feeling things I could not control or understand. I was in love yet scared at the same time.

Track three was the pièce de résistance. “Tigerlili and Mimi’s Mewsical” blew any Mozart composition out of the water. The cello mimicked long meows, with a soft purring in the background. I could neither sleep nor move — I was moon-faced with enchantment. A light ringing would turn into a consistent purring, which was accented with a precariously spaced and delicate piano melody, a light tapping that kept the song light and more energetic than earlier tracks.

The last two tracks were not so different from the first three. In fact, the album began to get quite repetitive. By the halfway mark of the fourth track, I couldn’t help but become interested in the dangling string from the window that had been taunting me. The album loses its magic and fluidity when it blends together. All in all, the first three tracks were striking but weighed down by the weaker closing tracks. I would give this album a 3-out-of-5.

I would like to note that my companion, Thai, had absolutely no interest in Teie’s composition. In fact, she haughtily stood up and walked to the door within the first 30 seconds of the opening track, scratching at the door knob until she was let free. I am unsure why, but I think that she had left because Siamese cats are much less intuitive than Russian Blues, I don’t think they can pick up the subtlety and importance of this New Age-y album.

I would recommend everyone get this album for their cats. I found it to be relaxing. It drew me in like it had a gravitational pull. I think for my next listen I will pick up a fat sack of catnip to help me vibe out.

Azrael Viles is a Russian Blue feline freelancer based in Gardner. Contact Azrael via his human, Chance Viles, at cviles@umass.edu.

Author: Azrael Viles

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