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

A Growing Buzz Meets Telecom Nullspace (MP3)

It starts as a light hum, a buzz saw made of feathers, God’s own electric toothbrush as muffled by a locked bathroom door and a running shower. And then the buzz grows. Not in the imagination, like the neighbor’s water heater that seems to be going through a growth spurt but is really just draining your emotional reserves at 3:27am; this buzz really grows, getting more chaotic, even if its volume remains relatively set. It gets denser and wilder, but being a buzz, the wildness is also a kind of softness: more bristly sonic fibers per second. It goes on in this way for more 13 minutes, courtesy of musician Brendan Murray (MP3).

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And then, about five minutes before it comes to a close, the sound shifts drastically. What happens at that juncture is like nothing so much as a phone call that’s been cut short. Of course, dial tones don’t exist like they used to. Phone calls, generally speaking, go dead, not into a drone of telecom nullspace. And so with that illusion dispelled, the dialtone drone shifts, slows, into a wave form.

It’s here that Murray really gets going. Up until that juncture, the track has earned its Zen credentials. Now patterns emerge from and alongside that wave form, layers of sonic cumulus, hovering, creating moires, delicate counterpoint, pointilist minimalism. The compositional/improvisational pursuit is a pleasure to witness as it unfolds.

Rare Frequency posted the set, which was recorded a few days ago, on April 21, with minimal explanatory notes (“He’s shifted from a sampler-based set-up to using a variety of synthesizers”), so I tweeted Murray, who is at twitter.com/buttonpushing, and got responses to my requests for information about “what you were after musically or using technologically?”

Track originally posted at rarefrequency.com. More on Massachusetts-based Murray at buttonpushing.wordpress.com and, of course, twitter.com/buttonpushing.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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