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

Post-Loop MP3

The act allthatfall‘s six-song EP on the luv sound netlabel (title: hopecrash) is so endlessly listenable that you end up playing it in the background while writing about other (other, more easily summarized) records. There’s just so much to praise on hopecrash, like the catchy birdsong on “We Live Outside,” chirping above a funky organ cascade, with the occasional flute line, some snappy drum breaks, and the odd vocal refrain; individual elements suggest acid jazz, given the genre’s emphasis on loungified period instrumentation and chanteuse charm, but those elements here are stacked one on top of the next, combining to be so much more. “Fall Break” veers close to electro, with video-game burts of overclocked riffs, but a background track of children playing, along with a quaint little melody, keeps it from ever sounding particularly retro. And then there’s the tasty horn’n’guitar salvo on “For Amanda,” which sounds like an outtake from the recent Abdullah Ibrahim remix record: elements of earthy jazz salvaged for digital pursuits.

What distinguishes allthatfall’s pieces is that even though they’re essentially sequences of individual sonic packets, they have a structure that moves from one musical space to another, with well-timed transition points along the way; this is loop-based music that at each juncture makes a concerted effort to break free from looping. Take the opening of the fantastic “For Amanda” (MP3), just as one example. It starts with this guitar line that bounces back and forth between speakers, and then introduces the horn, eventually laying two distinct horn parts atop each other (one a trill, the other a held note), as a drum-machine beat kicks in; after a brief diversion, the song returns, but the horn is replaced by a synthesizer. The effect is ripe with promise, and the piece hasn’t even reached the half-way point. More than anything, you’re left thinking that this Amanda person must really be something. (Check it out at luvsound.org.)

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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