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

New Niblock Drone MP3

Let’s close out the week with a new (yes, new) track in the Other Minds catalog at the voluminous Internet Archive, at archive.org. Up as of this evening are seven live entries from this year’s Other Minds festival in San Francisco (the series’ 11th), among them a 20-minute piece by septuagenarian legend Phill Niblock, “Sethwork,” in which he performs on vaguely termed “electronics” along with guitarist Seth Josel, who employs an e-bow to extend his tones to the horizon (yes, the e-bow is the same tool that long ago distinguished the Celtic rock of the band Big Country). “Sethwork” was performed on February 24, 2005, at the city’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. The piece is an absolutely beautiful drone, a slowly cycling hum that enacts its epiphanies not as singular peaks but as an extended experience of intense tonality. You could argue that epiphanies are to ambient music what redemption is to literary fiction: a crutch, if not an outright cliche. But work like Niblock’s also suggests that the epiphany is a defining, inherent characteristic of ambient music. Either way, “Sethwork” is deeply imbued with it. (The file is only downloadable via FTP, but the site provides clear instructions; just search for “niblock.” The search also brings up an older entry, a continuous, 45-minute live recording of a record-release party held in 1980 at the New York City venue the Kitchen for Laurie Anderson’s “O Superman,” in which Other Minds guru Charles Amirkhanian interviews Anderson, Niblock and other scenesters. The entry’s archive.org listing advertises, “No splices!”) Oh, and more on the the e-bow at ebow.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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