Time-Limited MP3s

Today’s MP3 listing is something of a Disquiet.com exclusive. Saul Stokes, a San Francisco Bay area electronic musician, made available earlier this week a five-file batch of MP3s that document his solo ambient-electronic performance from just a month ago, on September 19, at the San Francisco Musicians Union Hall (Local No. 6), south of Market Street. He initially distributed the link (here) via his email list, but has subsequently agreed to let Disquiet.com share the URL with its readers. The page isn’t even linked to from Stokes’ homepage (saulstokes.com). Note: this link is only assured to work through Saturday, October 25. After Saturday, you may get lucky, or the link for these files (again, here) may simply have been wiped clean. Why? Because the tracks will be given a commercial release as an album, titled Radiate, by dataObscura, a CDR sub-label of the Holland/Canada transatlantic label Databloem Records (databloem.com).

The concert, which I attended, started with a strong laptop set by Foundry Records head Michael Bentley (aka eM). Stokes followed with a set on his homemade equipment, enhanced with a running video by Scott Pagano. Pagano develops computerized systems that create generative images, visuals that fluidly meld multiple sources and often have the look of a dreamy, abstract ride through a desolate metropolis, or perhaps a time-lapse sequence of fantastic urban transformations. Stokes’ restrained, shadow-toned performance, which involved several devices of his own invention, including a wand-like trigger apparatus, ran continuously for close to an hour. He has subsequently edited it into a five-track suite, and the divisions highlight the unique properties of each segment — my favorite is its closing, and most emphatic, entry, “Hard Landing” (file). One trademark of Stokes’ music is the sequences of loosely repeated figures, somewhere between a melody and a percussive motif; despite their loop-like presence, these were in fact performed live by hand. By the way, Stokes’ video artist, Pagano, has his own website (neither-field.com), so if you have enough processing power on your computer, you can listen to the Stokes files, watch the Pagano video clips, and recreate the September 19 Musicians Union show at the privacy of your own desk.

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