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A Soft Lunacy

by Vera Weber & Vicki Ray



composition & album artwork : Vera Weber

Prepared-piano, Vicki Ray
Prepared-piano, Vera Weber


Spontaneously selected from a short story about expansive, ghostly landscapes – the words “a soft lunacy” became the seed to a gentle and nonlinear unfolding of my first multi-media work. After morphing patiently over the course of a few years, this work has culminated into a music album, photo collection, and experimental film, including collaborators near and dear to me: Vicki Ray & Shanthal Caba Mojica.

Someone once asked me in regard to the title, “A soft lunacy.... as opposed to a hard sanity?”

“Precisely,” I replied with a wry smile.

There’s a method of creating where you dictate and force something upon an art work, contorting it into your strict vision or specific function. Make it work for the story, make it strategic for your career, make it sellable, etc... I have become fluent in this type of creating because of my job as a film music composer. Though I thoroughly enjoy writing for film and often find artistic fulfillment in it, I also need to balance these hard sanities with different types of art-making that, up until now, I never shared publicly.

“a soft lunacy” was created with an art for art’s sake mindset – where there is beauty in the fact that there is no purpose to fulfill. Where the art came from is something mysterious and difficult to explain, and it’s pure curiosity driving the project forward. Even if the result is a glimmer of beauty made for no one but yourself... a soft lunacy can feel more sane than any hard sanity.

With not much of a plan besides honoring its title, this work gave me space to become more free in both my performance & composition practice in a way that’s opened the doors for several of my upcoming projects. This is an offering that I hope inspires creativity in others, in whatever genre, shape or form is authentic to you.

Thank you to Orenda Records for supporting the creative ecosystem in Los Angeles, and to everyone who helped bring this concept to fruition.


Inspired by Messiaen’s Catalogue d'oiseaux ("Catalogue of birds”) – in which the composer transcribed bird calls to create a piano piece – I was generally curious about trying out this transcription-to-composition method with another form of nature.

I was also reading a book called Women Who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés, where I learned that wolf mothers are one of the only species that will kill their own babies if it is suffering to the point of unavoidable death. Though regarded as monsters by many, Estés argued on behalf of the emotional intelligence of female wolves – that in the act of murdering to end suffering sooner, they are actually doing so from a place of compassion and remarkable wisdom.

Reflecting on this phenomenon, I stumbled upon a random, public domain field recording online of two wolves calling to each other (from freesound.com.) Mesmerized by the melodies, I transcribed them, and recorded my own voice singing along. Using Melodyne, I was able to pitch my voice precisely to the microtones of the wolves, and created a digital choir of myself + the wolves, which I then time-stretched using a free software called Paulstretch. This is the first playback piece you hear in “a soft lunacy”.

Following suit, I time-stretched pre-existing and unused string compositions of mine to create the other playback pieces. Feeling eager to make this a live show somehow, I wrote loosely structured improvisations for Vicki Ray and myself to perform on prepared-pianos to accompany the playback piece.

Our first performance of this composition was documented and created into an experimental film by Shanthal Caba Mojica, where she incorporates her own unique footage juxtaposed with our performance: : vimeo.com/539945154. This film premiered at REDCAT in 2021 as well as 2220 Arts + Archives, and has won several awards at film festivals.

That same year, I shot nature photos on my grandfather’s old film camera at Yellowstone National Park, hoping to make an album cover for “a soft lunacy.” I ended up liking the photos so much that I decided to present a photo collection with the album as an exhibit / sound installation at Artshare LA in December 2023.

In lieu of CDs or vinyls, prints are for sale on this bandcamp page (digital album included). They are also available to be made to order (album not included).


Proceeds from this album & prints will go to the Wind River Foundation. Most of these photos were taken at what is now called Yellowstone National Park, which is sacred Native land stolen from numerous Indigenous tribes in 1867 by the US government. The tribes were displaced and relocated to what is now Wind River Reservation.


Check out the artists featured on the album:

Vicki Ray (grammy-nominated pianist & composer) :

Shanthal Caba Mojica (filmmaker & sound designer) : shanthalcabamojica.com

Vera Marie Weber:



released March 1, 2024

recording engineers : Caleb Veazey & Clinton Patterson
mixing/ mastering engineer : Clay Burton

Recorded at The Sharon Disney Lund Dance Theater at California Institute of the Arts.


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Orenda Records Los Angeles, California

"Boundary-pushing music." –DownBeat Magazine

Orenda Records has been presenting visionary creative music by over 60 artists from Los Angeles and beyond across more than 100 releases since 2014.

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