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: video

Maria Chavez’s Turntables in Houson

At the Contemporary Arts Museum

The talented avant-turntablist Maria Chavez performed recently at the Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, which has uploaded a nearly seven-minute video of her playing. She has a one-turntable setup, in which she samples the records — 7″s and 12″s, one of the latter beautifully transparent — in realtime and layers and mixes the material as she proceeds, with an emphasis on broken beats and surface noise. Video posted at the museum’s youtube.com channel. It was recorded on March 17, 2016. Chavez is from Houston originally, having been born in Lima, Peru, and now lives in New York City. More from her at soundcloud.com/maria-chavez, mariachavez.org, twitter.com/chavezsayz, and instagram.com/chavezsayz.

Also tagged , , / / Leave a comment ]

DJ Krush at Dawn

A live performance at the Zōjō-ji​ Temple in his native Tokyo, Japan

This short performance video captures DJ Krush doing a solo turntable-and-laptop set at the site of the Zōjō-ji​ Temple in his native Tokyo, Japan. The footage captures not just the turntablism itself, but Krush walking to the temple and setting up his equipment. As the sun slowly rises, the seeming black and white of the setting lets in hints of blue and Krush’s music gains depth and complexity. Fittingly his raw audio includes wooden flutes, finding a commonality with the ancient traditions of the venue. Simple beats are layered amid echoing effects. As a sonic artifact, the video documents not just the sound of his performance but the sound of his preparation: cables being snapped into place, equipment being arranged. The multi-camera shoot moves easily back and forth between framing Krush’s stage setup and providing extended glimpses of his fingers in action. Later, in the open-air setting, bird calls provide an uncanny parallel to Krush’s own vinyl manipulation.

Video originally posted at youtube.com. More on the set at thump.vice.com. The video was directed by Toshihiko Morosawa. More from Krush at sus81.jp/djkrush.

Also tagged , / / Leave a comment ]

Julianna Barwick’s Machine-Woman Interface

A track from her forthcoming album, Will

Part of the pleasure of the first track to be (pre)released from Julianna Barwick’s forthcoming album, Will, is how her voice merges with the synthesized sounds that accompany it. The piece opens with this slow mix of drone and scale. The drone pulses and the scale, tracing the shape of the pulse by moving up and down on repeat, puts soft pads against something even softer still. (According to NPR it’s a Moog synthesizer, the Mother-32.) And then comes her voice — her voices, really. Barwick’s breathy intonations come and go in looping layers, a folktronic canon. These echoes proceed for the length of the piece, which is titled “Nebula,” tracing the vast contours of an imagined cavern. It’s one of nine tracks on Will, and while “Nebula” is solo, the album features a range of guests: singer Thomas Arsenault (aka Mas Ysa), cellist Maarten Vos, and percussionist from Jamie Ingalls (Chairlift, Tanlines, Beverly). There’s also a video for “Nebula,” directed by Derrick Belcham and shot at Philip Johnson’s historic Glass House:

The album has a pre-release page at juliannabarwick.bandcamp.com. More from Barwick, who is based in Brooklyn, at juliannabarwick.com.

Also tagged , , / / Leave a comment ]

Tastes of the Sync 01 and Moog Concerts

Work by Suzanne Cianni, Neybuu, and Bana Haffar

This weekend was a pretty tremendous one in San Francisco for modular synthesis. There were not one but two expos. A series of workshops capped by a concert was sponsored by Moog as part of its Dial-tones regional spinoff of Moogfest, and a dozen manufacturers plus four performers gathered under the aegis of Sync 01, an event plotted by Chris Randall of Audio Damage. I posted a few photos from the evening, and interviewed both Ciani and Randall in advance for 48hills.org. If you missed the shows, here’s a taste:

I caught the Sync 01 performances as well as the Dial-tones headliner, Suzanne Ciani (the elder statesperson of the crew), who did a concert-length piece on Buchla. This video shows her working with Moog equipment and unlike her Dial-tones event it isn’t in quadraphonic, but it gets at her rhythms-as-texture mastery:

The Sync 01 performers included Neybuu, who mixed her tabla through a pair of Elektron tools, the Octatrack and Rytm. Neybuu, who lives in Portland, spent a decade in India learning to play tabla. She produced the Total Tabla sample set for Elektron (elektron.se). More from her in an interview at elektronauts.com. Here’s a video that’s close to (arguably an improvement on, as there were feedback issues last night) what she sounded like at Sync 01:

The highlight of all the weekend’s performances was arguably Bana Haffar. (I’ve written about her once previously, back in January.) Part of this has to do with her set being the most difficult to describe. There were echoes of Tangerine Dream and mellow Underworld in some of the other performances, and classic modular quadrophonic rhythms in Ciani’s, while Reybuu quite clearly was porting an old tradition through a new one — all of which led to interesting results. But Haffar’s was something apart, a through-performed work that mixed drones and pulsing and low-level hints of vocals into a fully formed work. This recent live set of hers, nearly 18 minutes in length and recorded in late February, feels more subdued than last night’s performance, but it gets at the sinuous, exploratory nature of her work:

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/banahaffarmusic. Haffar, who plays bass professionally, lives in Los Angeles.

Also tagged , / / Leave a comment ]

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.

Also tagged , , / / Leave a comment ]