One-Bit MP3s

Tristan Perich is a prolific musician who isn’t afraid to think small. His project One Bit Music will soon turn the CD on its head. The album (allowing for a broad definition of “album”) will remove the familiar disc and replace it with a set of circuitry that plays glitchy minimal electronic music, 11 tracks in all. A limited edition of 100 is available at $100 a pop, and a “general” release is expected in January 2006 from Cantaloupe Music, the label associated with the Bang on a Can organzation. Think of One Bit Music as the jewel case at the intersection of sound art, dance music and those cheesy, battery-operated glossy-magazine and greeting-card inserts that play “Jingle Bells.” The innovative device is somewhat similar to the Buddha Machine, a hard-wired, multi-loop player produced this year by the Chinese-American duo FM3 (see yesterday’s Disquiet Downstream entry for more info).

For an advance listen to One Bit Music, three tracks are available for free download, each making the most of the limited range of sounds. “Certain Movement” (MP3) is a briny Morse Code funk, six minutes of brittle little freeze-dried notes playing at counterpoint. “Just Let Go,” a cover of a Fischerspooner song, receives a fun if uneventful arrangement (MP3), a Moebius loop of pop cultural references: a 1970s video game rendition of a contemporary band trying to sound like it’s 1983 all over again; even in Perich’s version, you can’t help but mistake Fischerspooner for Berlin. “Gilgamesh” (MP3), another original, finds a common ground between those two; it’s as poppy as the Fischerspooner cover, but has moments that approach the arid simplicity of “Certain Movement.” Of the three, “Certain Movement” is the keeper.

Perich posts a lot of music on several sites, also including and The latter features a highly recommended track, “From Above” (MP3), a fairly jaunty quarter hour of occasionally ebullient minimalism. It manages to layer an increasing number of what sound like keyboard parts without ever gumming up the works.

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