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Construction Set MP3s

The Highpoint Lowlife record company and musician Chris Coode, a master of micro-minimal techno, have transformed Coode’s excellent 2004 White Label, released under his Recon moniker, into something of a franchise. First came the record itself, a dozen tracks of drawn out, rusty beats. As much as those real-world sounds were a nice surprise, following the equally superb microsonic work he’d done under the name Motion, what truly distanced Recon’s work from Motion’s were White Label‘s jittery sampled voices of muffled divas. White Label, though, was just the beginning, for it begat White Label Deconstruction, a free EP download from Highpoint, derived from Coode/Recon’s live set. Deconstruction came in not one but two versions, as eight individual tracks and as one 18-minute continuous mix (both here).

Well, not satisfied with one mix, Coode has determined to generate countless subsequent mixes. How? Like a DNA technician in a digital lab, he has reduced White Label to 23 of its constituent parts. He’s culled snippets of atmosphere, beats and, yes, those sensually stuttered vocals, each chunk ranging in length from 10 seconds to 41, and he’s put them all up online as an open-source mixing challenge. A handful of the elements are listenable unto themselves, though the pacing and structure of the individual snippets (and that’s what they are, just snippets, waiting to be grafted into something pleasingly whole) generally leads to strangely jerking sound montages. The first entry pivots back and forth between a bliss of raging static and a bracing jolt of silence. Others offer tantalizing bits of percussion, individual shocks of sound that take on meaning only once they’ve been looped. And as for those vocals, several are included here, in a voice enticing enough that you wouldn’t mind listening to it read a physics textbook (which is pretty much what’s on offer, since one track consists of a woman saying “The transmutation of matter” through a slice’n’dice filter).

And what’s down the road for Recon’s White Label? Well, a fourth generation is already in the works: the best remixes based on these newly posted samples will be collected online by Highpoint. Call it White Label Reconstructed. The samples are available as a Zip file (here), and be sure to visit the Highpoint Lowlife label at highpointlowlife.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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