February 13, 2014, is the official release date for my 33 1/3 book on Aphex Twin's 1994 album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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tag: classical

What Is Julia Mazawa Reworking?

Glitch chamber music from Oakland, California

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Glitch isn’t inherently entropic. Glitch may sound like things falling apart, but in capable hands it can also sound like things coming together. In more neutral terms, glitch may be considered a means of taking stock of something by considering as its underlying structure not the work itself but the reciprocal connection between the work and the medium on which it was recorded and reproduced. “Mere Anarchy” is the title of Julia Mazawa’s gracefully broken bit of chamber music, a piece heard as embedded in vinyl and then looped in small fragments thanks to digital technology. In Mazawa’s piece, the sounds heard being reworked are not unlike a memory playing over and over in one’s head, slowly reassembling after some extended period of disregard. Tiny flecks of strings are looped, at first a few seconds of alternating moments, then a more extended excerpt, then just after the eight-minute mark a separate violin, pitched higher and more foregrounded. The format of the memory is vinyl, evident in the scratchy surface noise that, with each repetition, takes on the semblance of a percussive element. Mawawa performs a kind of ecstatic exploratory surgery on the original, never quite revealing it, but laying the parts bare and reveling in their inherent qualities. I had it in mind to send Mazawa an email asking her to help identify the source material, but decided to first see if anyone reading this might recognize it.

Track originally posted for streaming at soundcloud.com/juliamazawa. Mazawa, who is based in Oakland, California, opened the final night of the recent San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, and has a piece in the “Sonic Frame” installation that I developed for the 45th-anniversary exhibit Momentum: an experiment in the unexpected, which opened October 2, 2014, and runs at the San Jose Museum of Art through February 22, 2015.

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Morton Feldman, Crate Dug

A beat built from the composer's "Triadic Memories"

An instrumental hip-hop beat crafted from a snatch of “Triadic Memories” by the late composer Morton Feldman, who is beloved for his extended and extravagantly silent music? Why yes, thank you. This is “Memory” by Bstep. It’s barely a minute in length and takes a single, five-note segment — a splinter, really — of Feldman’s celebrated solo piano work, and then lays it above a spare metric pulse. The added beat is so spare, so old-school, it might have been something that Feldman, who died in 1987, heard during a visit to Manhattan for a concert premiere in his later years. What makes “Memory” work is how it teases out of that final note of the five-note figure a thin wisp of sound that then lingers over the beat like a fog.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/benstepner. More from Bstep, aka Ben Stepner, at twitter.com/bstepbeatz.

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Vocal Confection

A new track from Brooklyn-based Lanx

Layers of vocal elements combine to form “As We Fall,” some of them hazy and textural, while others feature a restrained but formidable coloratura one might listen for in opera. The track, just over five minutes in length, moves through several phases, in a suite-like fashion, each punctuated with occasional pneumatic beats, chimes, and other percussive elements.

The track is by Lanx, who is based in Brooklyn, and who I believe is Christine Papania of the ensemble Pantree Owl.

Bonus: There’s video of a vocal track-in-progress on vine.co:

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/lanx-music. More from Lanx at twitter.com/__Lanx. More from Pantree Owl at pantreeowl.bandcamp.com.

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Chamber Ensemble Stasis

New music from Christina Vantzou

Like the earlier Christina Vantzou piece covered here (“Going Backwards to Recover That Which Was Left Behind,” back in January), her “Brain Fog” is a work of chamber music whose density masks its complexity, the full context of its internal machinations willfully lost in the near stasis of the undertaking. The sheer drone-like, slow-motion grace of the piece is so consuming you can lose track of all the timbral activity, the constant shifting that makes the drone so difficult to fully focus on in the first place. Like the earlier track, “Brain Fog” is from her highly recommended new album, No. 2, which the record label Kranky released on February 24.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/kranky. More from Vantzou at christinavantzou.com.

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A Winged Victory for …

A live Arvo Pärt cover by A Winged Victory for the Sullen

A Winged Victory for the Sullen is the name employed by Adam Wiltzie (of Stars of the Lid) and composer Dustin O’Halloran when working in tandem. They have, together, committed wonderfully drone-informed explorations of what might be called contemporary classical, except to the extent that so many of its participants welcome the word “classical” with the same enthusiasm that might meet an invitation to a high-school reunion. In this live recording, performed with the ACME Contemporary Music Ensemble (here listed as ACME String Ensemble) live in Seattle (date and place left unspecified), they present the most subdued portion of “Fratres,” a famed and oft-revisited work by Arvo Pärt, the Estonian composer known for his bracing mix of spiritual and minimalist intensity.

Minus the piece’s frenzied violin solo, it is a swell of sound that comes and goes like a playground swing kept aloft by the wind. The haphazard live-recording acoustics just add to its dusty figurations. O’Halloran and Wiltzie in effect proclaimed their modus operandi with the title of the first track of their self-titled album from 2011; the track: “We Played Some Open Chords.” A later track on the same album might also suffice: “Steep Hills of Vicodin Tears.” Along with the likes of Nils Frahm and Rachel’s, anong others, A Winged Victory for the Sullen are openly nostalgic and emotive in a way that brings to mind the heart-on-the-sleeve emotional awareness of much indie-rock. Pärt’s “Frartes” makes a natural choice for its role as retroactively adopted precedent to what A Winged Victory for the Sullen is currently up to. The association is as natural as Billy Bragg covering Pete Seeger or Alexandre Desplat giving the nod to John Williams.

Here’s the complete A Winged Victory for the Sullen, released by Kranky in 2011:

The Arvo Pärt track was originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/alliedee. More from the duo at awvfts.com. More from O’Halloran at dustinohalloran.com. More from Wiltzie’s Stars of the Lid at brainwashed.com/sotl.

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