There are many ways to relax, and it doesn’t have to include lighting candles, cutting fresh lavender and thyme for an aromatherapy bouquet garni, and warm bubble baths.
Bloom doesn’t claim to be a relaxation aid, but the ambient music it conjures is beautifully simple and aesthetically pleasing enough to settle you comfortably and meditatively in the moment. Bloom’s sounds are created by Brian Eno, generally regarded as the father of ambient music, and fellow musician and software engineer Peter Chilvers, and the two of them created an infinitely complicated sound generator of tinkling triangles, digital organs and the echoing drama of synthesized pianos.
The iPhone app displays a multicolored screen resplendent in pastels of pink, blue, green, yellow and hued combinations thereof, the background showcasing a color gently fading into another, with likewise pastel dots alighting onscreen wherever you tap a finger. To create your own ambient music, tap different spots on the screen to play different notes, with lower bass notes covering the bottom, higher treble notes at the top. The notes are arranged in modal intervals so playing a wrong note is avoided. The low notes aren’t very clear through the iPhone’s built-in speakers, so use headphones or plug it into a stereo.
Once you’ve built a pattern, they repeat at an interval, which you can control with the “delay” slider, accessed by tapping the arrow button at the bottom right of the screen. It’s polyphonic, so you can add additional notes each time you go through the sequence. If you take your hands off the screen entirely, Bloom will improvise on what you’ve created, adding to the ingenuity and majesty of the music. Shake the iPhone to clear the screen back to a blank slate of musical possibility, and, if you want, choose among several different moods with aromatherapy names like Neroli, Ylang, Bergamot, Vetiver, and Ambrette, each of which has different color schemes (note that the default setting on Bloom is “shuffle” to rotate among the different moods). Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers were quite crafty in taking full advantage of the iPhone’s most salient feature, the beautiful, bright touch screen.
Though it may lose its novelty within a few minutes of tinkering, spend some time with the app and nurture it. It’s different from other music apps we’ve seen. You may just find it’s the perfect app to have in the background when working, or, as is my case, when writing. There’s something about ambient music that simply sets a mood of quietude and drama, a vivid character many of us could add to the monotony of silence with the odd car engine droning by.