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tag: video

How Erik Satie Foresaw Brendan Landis’ Excavation of His “Gymnopedie No. 1”

And how Sean Dack intervened in between, back in 2011

There are influences, and there are precedents. Influences are generally things that one senses as having helped shaped one’s world view. Precedents are often recognized afterward as having foretold, to some small or great degree, efforts that came later. Precedents can serve as akin to influences when their scope is such that even if the influenced isn’t ever directly aware of the original work, that work resulted in a cascade such that a chain of influence is essentially undoubtable, even if it’s only evident in retrospect. There’s plenty of illustrated work, for example, that resembles Rube Goldberg’s complex drawings of unnecessarily complicated inventions designed to achieve a specific end result, yet was done by artists who might only have ever witnessed Goldberg’s specific kind of genius thirdhand. In a way, discussion of influence and precedent is its own Rube Goldberg apparatus: a complicated means by which to say, simply, “This has happened before.”

Satie is often credited as a strong precursor — a precedent — of ambient music due to his exploration of stasis and repetition. This is to say that Brendan Landis’ “Every Recording of Gymnopedie 1,” which has experienced a flurry of attention this past week, can trace its existence back to early Satie works. This parallel distinguishes Landis’ effort — which overlays reportedly 60 different takes of “Gymnopedie 1” end to end — from many other supercut-style pop-culture reworkings. In other words, we might learn something about the form of every Star Wars film played simultaneously or every episode of the TV series MAS*H played simultaneously, but it’s a stretch to suggest that the mashup treatment is intrinsic to those two subjects’ original aesthetic.

Landis, to the contrary, can point to the ambient legacy of “Gymnopedie 1,” to the egoless quality of Satie’s famous “Musique d’Ameublement” (music intended to merge with, to disappear into, the expected sounds of a dinner party), and especially to the composer’s “Vexations,” in which a single musical phrase is repeated 840 times. Landis’ technologically enabled reworking of Satie might take “Vexations” as its strongest precedent: Satie played one thing many times to hear the differences; Landis played many versions of one thing at the same time to hear the differences.

Here, for reference, is a complete performance, almost 10 hours in length, of Nicolas Horvath performing “Vexations” live at the Conservatoire de Musique in Lagny-sur-Marne, France, on June 26, 2011:

Here is Landis’ versions(s) of “Gymnopedie 1.” It had about 2,000 or so listens when I first wrote about it, on January 15. As of this writing it has just shy of 30,000 listens:

Just a day before the Horvath “Vexations” performance, a show closed by coincidence halfway across the world at the Fitzroy Gallery in Manhattan. The exhibit, 21st Century Dub Dub, which was up for almost two months, showcased the artist Sean Dack, who is based in New York. There was only one piece in 21st Century Dub Dub, but as Walt Whitman wrote, it contained multitudes. Titled “Version/Variation,” the piece took 26 different takes on the same Satie piece as Landis, “Gymnopedie 1,” and played them simultaneously. One key difference is that Dack opted to play them not at their original speed but slowed down significantly, so each was just over 70 minutes long — “the total length of a commercially available compact disc,” as described in a program note at the gallery’s website, fitzroygallery.com. In a nod to Janet Cardiff’s monumental “The Forty-Part Motet,” in which each vocal line is played on its own freestanding speaker, the Dack Satie piece has each individual recording playing on a different speaker, thus allowing the listener to walk around and amid the piece, to experience it as frozen music, an architecture of sound.

Here, for reference, is footage of a Cardiff/Motet installation:

The Dack video (shown up at the top of this post) has been online for over a year, since September 10, 2014, but as of today still has fewer than 50 views. It deserves to be more widely heard, though it goes without saying that its strongest effect would be in person, in full multi-speaker surround sound. I want to thank a commenter to my previous piece on Landis (who records and performs under the name Hey Exit), “Every* Recording of Erik Satie’s ‘Gymnopedie 1’ Played at the Same Time,” for having brought the earlier Dack Satie piece to my attention.

The video of “Version/Variation” originally posted at youtube.com. More from Sean Dack at seandack.net. This May 17 will mark the 150th anniversary of Erik Satie’s birth. Perhaps an exhibit this year will show both the Landis and the Dack, and other work inspired by Satie.

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Music for Fracking

A work by Ohio-based composer Brian Harnetty

Among recent recipients of Creative Capital awards, announced today, is composer and sound artist Brian Harnetty, whose Shawnee, Ohio, heard here in an excerpt, uses field recording and composed segments to explore the influence of fracking on communities and the environment. This piece is brief, under a minute, but the mix of elegant, slow-paced musical elements and snippets of spoken reminiscences is striking.

A brief note explains his project:

Performed with sampled archives, field recordings and live musicians, Shawnee, Ohio critically engages ecology, energy, place and personal history to ask: What are the sounds of mining? Of fracking? Of a town fighting to survive after a century of economic decline and environmental degradation? These sounds are recorded as compositional material reflecting layers of history and memory in Appalachian Ohio. Shawnee’s history includes coal, gas and clay extraction, and the formation of early labor unions. The town’s downturn and partial restoration act as an ethos of the struggles and hopes of the larger region, now immersed in a controversial fracking boom. Shawnee, Ohio considers these histories, evokes place through sound, and listens to the present alongside traces of the past.

Video originally posted at creative-capital.org. More from Harnetty, who lives in Ohio, at brianharnetty.com.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0192: Psycatdelic Loop

Record a 10-second loop to accompany an insane cat GIF.

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Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at disquiet.com/junto, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, September 3, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, September 7, 2015.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0192: Psycatdelic Loop
Record a 10-second loop to accompany an insane cat GIF.

This project was initiated at the suggestion of Brian Biggs (aka Dance Robot Dance).

Step 1: You are going to compose 10 seconds of music. First, view the insane animated GIF at this page:

http://disquiet.com/2015/09/03/disquiet0192-psycatdelicloop/

Step 2: Now record 10 seconds that sync to that animation. (Alternately, record an extended piece of music that is intended, every 10 seconds, to sync with the animation.)

Step 3: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud. (Bonus points if you manage to sync the audio and animation and upload to a video service.)

Step 4: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, September 3, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, September 7, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work will likely be 10 seconds, but could be longer depending on the choice you make in Step 2 above.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this assignment, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0192-psycatdelicloop” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track, please be sure to include this information, and link to (and identify) the two SoundCloud pages for the source audio you selected:

More on this 192nd Disquiet Junto project (“Record a 10-second loop to accompany an insane cat GIF”) at:

http://disquiet.com/2015/09/03/disquiet0192-psycatdelicloop/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

Source of the animated image associated with this project uncertain, but used at the suggestion of Brian Biggs.

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Luong Hue Trinh’s Percussive Ambience

Plus live video from Hanoi, Vietnam

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“Musick to Play in the Dark” is a mini-suite of shifting elements, from Vietnamese singing to antic percussion. It is by Luong Hue Trinh, a Vietnamese national who studied in Japan and has traveled widely. Opening with high-tension strings before the singing kicks in, it slowly becomes a majestic, maximalist work, heavy on hypnotically rhythmic percussion. The beat, heard as if from inside an old alarm clock, has a back and forth sway that creates intricate patterning, especially as it is set against distant pounding and sonic effects.

There’s also video of her performing an excerpt of the piece at the Onion Cellar in Hanoi, making it clear she’s working largely on a laptop from prerecorded field recordings and sampled music:

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/huetrinhluong. Trinh is one of the nearly four dozen women represented on the Synthesis Vol. 1 compilation of international women doing work in sound, released in 2014 by the Urban Arts Berlin. She posts occasionally on her Facebook page. Follow the Onion Cellar at theonioncellar.tumblr.com and facebook.com/theonioncellar.

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Sly + Robbie + Molvaer + Aarset + Vladislav

Five men in a dub

The video is titled “Sly & Robbie meet Nils Petter Molvaer.” Over at Michael Ross’ excellent Guitar Moderne site, where I first learned of the extensive footage, he expands the billing to “Sly & Robbie meet Nils Petter Molvaer & Eivind Aarset,” since Aarset is the guitarist on stage and guitars are Ross’ focus, but that still isn’t the full picture. This hour and a half concert also includes Vladislav Delay, on a variety of trenchantly echoing technology. It’s a formative crew, the sort of dream team that Bill Laswell might have conjured. In one corner you have a Jamaican rhythm duo, drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare, that is renowned for its boundary-pushing dub and reggae. In the opposing corner you have Norwegian ambient-jazz figures Nils Petter Molvaer, he of the deeply muted trumpet, and Eivind Aarset, whose elegant guitar atmospheres have gained him prominence beyond his extensive work as part of Molvaer’s band. And then there’s the prolific and musically gregarious Vladislav Delay, who here goes back and forth between hammering springs and playing live samples. Together they create expansive, delectably slow-paced, and enticingly elemental percussive spaces. It never gets as chaotic or anarchic or pleasurably lost as do Laswell’s own pan-genre meet-up mashups, but it often comes close, and every player has fine moments throughout, even if you also have to make due with a brief, placid Pink Floyd cover toward the end.

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