My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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

tag: live-performance

Ambient Footwork

A live performance for pedals (and guitar)

This live performance is something of a complement to a live video I posted last week. Both are ambient works that employ pedals to eke atmospheres from electric guitars. In the previous video, a cover of the Boards of Canada miniature “Over the Horizon Radar,” all you see is the guitar. In this one, almost all you see is the pedals. The guitar edges in from the bottom of the screen, but it’s seen from the guitarist’s perspective, so you view little more than the depth of its wooden body and fretboard, with occasional glimpses of the strings. You’re not here to just to watch the hands. You’re here to watch the feet as well, which do double duty on the various pedals. It’s a live improvisation that employs multiple filters and delays, and a single looper, to create layers of tones with just a hint of melodic momentum. Brief sequences of notes draw the listener in, but the piece is far more a triumph of texture than of song form — and that’s very much to its credit.

It’s the latest piece I’ve added to my ongoing YouTube playlist of fine “Ambient Performances.”

Video originally posted to Anangel Argonaut’s YouTube channel.

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Kelli Cain and Brian Crabtree of Monome (Live Video)

Recorded in San Francisco earlier this year.

It’s not common to post the same audio here twice, but I’m making an exception for the half-hour concert by Kelli Cain and Brian Crabtree, developers of the Monome grid music interface. Back in March I linked to the SoundCloud file of the live performance (“What the Creators of the Monome Sound Like as Live Performers”), and updated that page in April when a higher grade recording went up. But now there’s full, affectionately edited video of the set. It’s at vimeo.com. I attended the concert, which was held at a small shop, Better, out on Balboa Street in San Francisco’s Richmond District, and in the review I mention in particular this social component of Crabtree’s employment of handheld shakers: “He’d shake one for awhile, and then pass it to someone in the audience to continue the pattern. Each person became an extension of what Crabtree had started, but then altered it a little, whether through the conscious decision to contribute a musical idea, or simply because their sense of rhythm differed from his.” That occurs about two minutes into this footage.

The video was shot by the Mill Valley, California–based duo Fabián Aguirre and Maya Pisciotto, who go by theunderstory.co. More on Better at betterforliving.co. More on the Monome, Cain, and Crabtree at monome.org.

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Feedback Loops from a Cork, Ireland, Print Shop

Performance documentation from Claire Guerin

Claire Guerin of Cork, Ireland, participated in an eight-hour sound performance called Feedback Loops last month. She’s posted a short (five-minute) snapshot of the proceedings. It’s a brooding, percussion-and-drone segment that is, toward the close, intruded upon by dastardly vocalizing, the dark foreboding utterances of a demonic presence. The event took place on April 17 at the Cork Community Print Shop. There’s additional video and documentation at the event’s Facebook page.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/claire-guerin. More from Guerin at claireguerin.wordpress.com. More on the Guesthouse (“a visual artist-led initiative whose objective is to create a place for production, meeting and cross-practice peer exchange that includes various forms of public discourse and encounter” that she helped found) at theguesthouse.ie. Guerin is part of Queef with Laney Mannion.

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An Ambient Employment of a Granular App

Dave Stafford's video "Formation of the Universe"

Dave Stafford’s video “Formation of the Universe” is a solid introduction to an amorphous, fluid music application. The application is Borderlands Granular. It allows the user (né musician) to locate tiny segments of pre-existing music and build from them glistening, refracting cues that cycle in a random, often curiously delightful state. Stafford mixes vocal samples with less identifiable source material. In addition to posting the video, he wrote a lengthy appraisal of the app, which is one of his favorites. Stafford goes into detail on how it functions. The music makes good background listening as you read up on how it was recorded.

It’s the latest piece I’ve added to my ongoing YouTube playlist of fine “Ambient Performances.” Video originally posted to Stafford’s YouTube channel. More from Stafford at pureambient.com and pureambient.wordpress.com

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Boards of Canada Guitar (Pedal) Cover

"Over the Horizon Radar" by SineRider

While he skips the backward-masky quality of the original, SineRider’s electric-guitar cover of the Boards of Canada miniature “Over the Horizon Radar,” not even a minute and a half in length, is true to the source material’s pacing and mood. The video was recorded live, and the gap between what is seen and what is heard is worth reflecting on. The notes are plucked, but the sound really owes its quality to the (unspecified) guitar pedals that are, like the musician’s head, offscreen. A given pluck happens noticeable split seconds — we need another term for “split seconds,” as it suggests speed when what is in fact meant is a discernible gap — before the full impact of the playing is felt.

It’s the latest piece I’ve added to my ongoing YouTube playlist of fine “Ambient Performances.”

For reference, here’s the original:

And here’s the work of someone who listens like I do. This takes the original and loops it to play for five minutes:

Video originally posted at youtube.com. SineRider is the name under which Devin Powers records ambient/electronic music. He’s based in Norwood, Massachusetts. More from SineRider/Powers at soundcloud.com/sinerider, twitter.com/sinerider, and sinerider.bandcamp.com.

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