Over six years passed between an evening in late January 1997, when Colin Bradley slow-burned the air during a Manchester, England, concert performance, and early 2003, when he made recordings from that show available on CD for the first time. It’s a lovely EP, even before you pop it in your CD player — a modest 3″ CD, slipped into a full-size, bleach-white, corrugated-cardboard CD sleeve, looped by a glossy-paper band displaying Bradley’s prolific moniker, Dual; the set’s title, Pace (CEE); and the terse titles of its three tracks, “auxpin,” “chpstk” and “pyrrhic.” (All three were performed with the assistance of Sean Reynard, and the third is co-credited to Julian Coope.) Pace is three tracks of industrial ambience for which the guitar serves as the primary sound source, that being Dual’s code of honor, its modus operandi. On other recordings, more recent ones, Dual has milked the guitar for its soft curves, for the way both the guitar strings and the instrument’s feedback have an inherently natural sound to them — the cycles of the sine waves, the hazy edges and ambiguous shapes that evade all but the most patient and craft-minded of digital synthesists. Bradley finds so many sounds in his guitar, the tender pizzicato as “pyrrhic” fades out, the scratches that irritate the opening track’s dub-like zone. Pace is three tracks in name only. Track one, “auxpin,” doesn’t fade into “chpstk” so much as bleed into it, its thought-level buzz continuing on as a somewhat lifelike beep and a distant, coastal hum become prominent. And “chpstk” doesn’t fade into track three so much as it sounds, at the end of track two, as if the performers were cleaning up after themselves in preparation for their “pyrrhic” close. There’s a smattering of loose noises, of objects moved around, of small occurrences that cannot all have been pre-planned. Fans of Han Bennink’s brand of “European free improvisation” will hear resemblances to his favor for wild chance clutter, the everyday percussion of dropped objects and nervous activity. Fans of typical electronic ambient music may be confused by the theatricality of these recordings, especially the way “chpstk” sounds like footsteps, like tentative movement. If so, “pyrrhic” offers some respite in its gently layered long tones, its high-pitched gossamer. But the three tracks should be heard together, because their various elements complement each other. Pace is reportedly the first in a series of three, and the next two are eagerly awaited.
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• October 13, 2016: This day marks the start of the 250th weekly Disquiet Junto project.
• November 16, 2016: I'll be sharing the mic at Adobe Books in San Francisco with my fellow 33 1/3 author Evie Nagy for an evening hosted, from 7pm to 10pm, by Marc Kate (facebook.com).
• December 1, 2016: A likely speaking engagement. Details to come.
• December 13, 2016: This day marks the 20th anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 5, 2017: This day marks the 5th anniversary of the Disquiet Junto.
• Ongoing: The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.
• My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury, is now in its second printing. It can be purchased at amazon.com, among other places.
disquiet juntoThe Disquiet Junto is an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making space in which restraints are used as a springboard for creativity. Subscribe to the announcement list at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto. There is an FAQ. ... These are the 5 most recent weekly projects: • 0264 / Time Travel / Record a piece of music that plays with the perception of time. • 0263 / Overture Edit / Produce an overture to an existing album. • 0262 / Ice Code / Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it. • 0261 / Audio Journal 2016 / Create a sonic diary of the past year with a dozen five-second segments. • 0260 / Tone Fade / An exercise in when a sound ends.
... And there is a complete list of projects at disquiet.com/junto.
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