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tag: live-performance

The Franz Liszt of Drone Guitar

"Queen of Swords," straight outta Gateshead

Though it’s a noisy, brash, swollen, meditative guitar solo, “Queen of Swords” brings to mind Franz Liszt. Not for its romanticism, though its vision of someone alone in a deeply sonorous room long past midnight has more than its share. No, because much as Liszt transcribed all of Beethoven’s symphonies for solo piano, “Queen of Swords” sounds like one of Glenn Branca’s massive, tentacled guitar orchestras siphoned down to one single instrument — well, one single instrument and a fair amount of guitar pedals and an amp that is being pushed to its limit.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/radiofreeul-quoma. Radio Free Ul-quoma is Andrew Gladstone-Heighton of Gateshead, England.

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Layering a Sonic Environment onto a Pre-exisiting Environment

Free download: Thierry Charollais live at the Bern Botanical Garden

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The Touch Radio series’ 120th free download (MP3) is a quarter-hour live performance by Thierry Charollais. It moves through deep, murky spaces. Hovering tones barely begin to mask just how far down other sonic impulses flow. It’s exploratory music, not simply in the sense of being apart from any ingrained tradition of melodic development, but also because it sounds like — reads like — the semi-improvised score to some restless endeavor, a dark-night journey into an unmapped cavern.

The piece was, in fact, recorded last summer in broad daylight on August 29, 2015, at the Botanical Garden in Bern Switzerland. A short statement explains: “The purpose was to give to the audience a sonic environment which contrasts with the quietness of Bern’s Botanic Garden.” That purpose was achieved, and then some.

Track originally posted for free download at touchradio.org.uk. More from Charollais, who is based in Geneva, Switzerand, at soundcloud.com/thierrycharollais and twitter.com/tcharollais. There are some photos of the Bern concert, part of the festival Les Digitales, but they have all rights reserved, so click over to Pascal Greuter’s Flickr account for a view. The above photo, by Cécilia Kapitz, accompanied the track’s post at touchradio.org.uk.

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When the Violin Provides the Saw Wave

A live noise performance by Liz Meredith of Baltimore, Maryland

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Liz Meredith’s violin is so deeply buried in the glorious noise of this live recording, from July of last year, that the instrument is barely if ever recognizable. What is recognizable is an urge to take static and interference and loop them until they push at and against the ear’s penchant for pattern. There’s a sawing early on that could be the violin, or it could just as likely be a saw wave. For just over 10 minutes, she rages in slow motion, at one moment suggesting a fourth-world raga, at another a sonar beacon. The performance was taped at the Windup Space in Baltimore, Maryland, where Meredith lives.

On the gentler, if still at times nervous-making, end of the continuum, also recommended is this 2013 collaboration between Meredith and John Somers, The Disposition of Vibrant Forms, a collection of wonderful longform drones, ranging in length from nearly 12 to over 20 minutes:

Live track originally posted at soundcloud.com/liz-meredith. Disposition album at thedispositionofvibrantforms.bandcamp. More from Meredith at lizmeredith.com, where the above photo originated.

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Finding the Tension in the Ambience

In a New Year piece by Benoît Pioulard

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First day of the new year, many are all quiet on the social media front, while others are already getting going on the next 12 months’ productivity and creativity. Those two, of course, are not mutually exclusive. Benoît Pioulard has posted “Madrigal” for the new year. It’s a piece he recorded just yesterday, December 31, 2015. Judging by the time stamp, this went up shortly after the ball dropped. It’s a piece for “guitar and tape,” per the brief liner note. “Madrigal” is a soaring series of wafting swells, one after another after another.

The momentum is colorfully at odds with the placidity. Likewise, while it has the pace of clouds, the texture is closer to that of rough sandpaper, the tones like the static shaved off of a shoegazer performance, the sampling stretched within a micron of its source material. Those tensions are what elevate this ambient music well beyond clouds-for-clouds’-sake haze.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/pioulard. More from Benoît Pioulard, aka Thomas Meluch, who’s based in Seattle, at pioulard.bandcamp.com and pioulard.com. Photo from an interview at fracturedair.com. (Track found via a repost from Tim Dwyer [soundcloud.com/offland-1].)

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Gabie Strong’s Rituals of Noise

A live performance from MOCA Los Angeles

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The sheer noise of Gabie Strong’s live solo guitar performance is exhilarating. She played at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, back on October 25, 2015, and the set was captured in a nearly 17-minute audio recording, titled “Sacred Datura.” It starts with the sound of an amp being turned on, of a guitar cord making its electric connection, and never veers particularly far from that. It’s all wild static and drenching noise, noise that comes in deep swells, hanging for extended stretches, and then dipping into near silence. It’s rapturous stuff. The last minute is especially rich, when a final screech is burnished by the sound of wind against a microphone.

Strong writes in an accompanying note:

The title refers to the native California datura species that populated the hillsides of what is now downtown Los Angeles, and was used by indigenous peoples of the Southwest during puberty rituals. Otherwise known as Jimson Weed, sacred datura is a common female-flowering plant that when cooked and ingested causes out-of-body sensory effects and hallucinations. In poet Dale Pendell’s excellent book Pharmako Gnosis, he classifies datura as Daimonica, and writes that “Datura and her sisters … they can sneak up on you and steal your mind and you don’t even know.”

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/gabiestrong. More from Gabie Strong at gabiestrong.com and twitter.com/Dreammmama. The audio was recorded by Jorge Martin. The accompanying photo is by Chrystanthe Oltmann.

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