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

Live Sawako/Chartier/Yamaguchi MP3

The latest release on the netlabel called term, a subsidiary of Taylor Deupree’s 12k label, is a live performance recorded back in November of last year, featuring three eminent electronicists: Sawako (computer and voice), Richard Chartier (computer), and Shinjiro Yamaguchi (mixing board, feedback loops, sampling). The concert was part of the festival Atlantic Waves, held at the ICA in London. What opens as a very low-volume-level mix of white noise and disparate, distant voices evolves quickly, and then it does again, and again. The recording is less a single piece than it is a series of very different sound environments that the trio coaxes the listener through. Not that much coaxing is required, given how inviting and rich those environments are; they include heavenly swirls of sound, deep and mysterious rumbling, synthetic aviaries, and lulling bell tones (MP3).

At each new stage, the sound is fairly uniform and concentrated — to the extent that a listener to the MP3 might infer that an individual, rather than a trio, is playing. The transitions between stages occur quite quickly and efficiently. One warning: when the piece is over, the enthusiastic response from the audience kicks in fast and loud. After the applause dies down, you can hear a man say, “I don’t know what it was.”

Missing from this MP3 experience is João Silva’s video improvisation, which accompanied the sound work and for which he received co-billing; Silva also engineered the recording of the performance. The quartet (trio plus video) performed on an evening, November 9, billed as “Grain of Sound Night,” which featured two other ensembles: Terre Thaemlitz, Manuel Mota, Jonas Olsen, and Stilb, as well as Tim Hecker, Safe & Sound, and Morph3u.

More on Sawako at troncolon.com, Chartier at 3particles.com, and Yamaguchi at two-lines.org/asamoya. More on the release at 12k.com/term. And more on the festival at atlanticwaves.org.uk.

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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