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

MP3s of Inventive Beats from Anton Holota

Thanks to the sort of dark, nearly sub-aural thuds that make speaker cabinets rumble with pulmonary might, the dozen tracks on Products of Passed Days by .at/on (born Anton Holota) contribute to a realignment of the category “headphone listening.” Holota’s emphasis on subtle aural effects, such as the highlights on “Roadside Picnic” that resemble flickering fluorescent bulbs (MP3), not to mention the church-organ-like wavering that opens “Sad to Leave” (MP3), entices the listener’s ears deep into the mix. But the presence of heavy bass patterns — less beats than structural undulations — reminds you that a true musical experience is often a full-body affair, as likely to resonate in the chest cavity as in the noggin.

The contrast between Holota’s delicate sounds and his deeper ones isn’t likely to cause anyone any ear damage; there’s no bait and switch at work, no come-hither quietude followed by a brass-knuckle roar. The kitchen-sink field recordings that are laced through “Western City (Remote View)” don’t suddenly give way to broken-dish cacophony, just to a slowly reverberating drone that is more complex, more organic, than an initial listen might suggest (MP3).

The pace of Products of Passed Days is sedentary, a far cry from the ebullient rhythms of hip-hop. But there is some suggestion of hip-hop’s influence, especially in how percussion is employed. As with many of the best beats emanating from rap-friendly car stereos, the ones heard here are difficult to reconcile with foot-tapping. They are placed far apart and they intrude at odd, often counterintuitive intervals. They’re too insistent to serve as decoration, yet too disperse to ever be considered a proper downbeat. For succinct examples of how Holota plays with percussion, listen to the tripled pattern that runs through “How to Turn Urban Noise into Music (Part 2)” (MP3), to the dappled pads that surface in “Morning from Childhood” (MP3), and to the extended shudders that ripple continuously in “Undreamedof” (MP3).

Get the full set, including front and back cover images, at the releasing netlabel, Complementary Distribution (bitlabrecords.com/cod). More info on .at/on at myspace.com/antonholota.

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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