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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Guitronic Trio MP3

Still more guitronica this week, broad and fairly meaningless as the term may be. The trio named Mire is an improvising group with atmospheric intent, based in the San Francisco Bay area. Its members, Elise Baldwin, William Fowler Collins and Joel Pickard, have between them background in such varied realms as academic composition, sound design, field recording, commercial work-for-hire, classical guitar and theater, and all three are graduates of or students at the music program at Mills College in Oakland, whose current faculty includes such luminaries as Chris Brown, Alvin Curran, Fred Frith and Pauline Oliveros. Given Frith’s prominence as a bleeding-edge guitarist, it’s probably too easy to infer his influence on Mire, especially since two thirds of the group doubles on guitar (Collins on electric, Pickard on pedal steel — all three are credited with electronics and/or laptop), but the association certainly wouldn’t set unfair expectations on the listener’s part. Collins has posted on his website, wfowlercollins.ath.cx, a nearly 12-minute-long piece from a Mire performance recorded back in early August at the Black Box Theatre in Oakland. And the guitar is the core of the work, even if its ranges widely, from rural finger picking with the feel of the Boxhead Ensemble or Bill Frisell at his most blissfully absentminded, to industrial noise amid the squeal of machinery, to the sort of untraditionally plucked (or, perhaps, bowed) segments that bring to mind prepared piano as well as, of course, Frith’s own six-string experiments in that area. This live track, highly recommended, is less a song than it is an excursion across territories. True to the group’s name, Mire has little interest in getting anywhere in particular; the threesome is happily caught up in the view. (Pickard, by the way, composed the catchy genre snippets that accompany advertisements for the Showtime TV series Dead Like Me and those clips, along with a batch audiostreams, are on his site, hatfarm.com.)

PS: Update: Only Pickard is playing guitar on that Mire recording. Collins is manipulating some of his own recordings on his laptop, using SuperCollider2. And the link to Collins’ site was broken, but now it works.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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