Live Cello-Tronic MP3

The same evening that Kranky Records solo laptop artist Chris Herbert opened for the duo Stars of the Lid in Birmingham, England, Ted Laderas was doing his electronified solo cello stuff in Portland Oregon, playing with the duo Unrecognizable Now. And 24 hours later, as with Herbert (see the Memorial Day entry from earlier this week), the Laderas set was available for free download.

From David Darling to Hank Roberts to Zoe Keating, the cello has suggested itself as a focus of electronic manipulation, no doubt due to its rich, deep sonorousness. Laderas uses electronics not simply to enhance the cello’s sound, but to obscure it. (He has christened this technique he’s developed as the Oo-ray.) If you dive midway into the May 21 performance, recorded at the space Holocene, you may take it to be one of those multi-guitar Glenn Brance symphonies. There is a searing noise, as if the bow’s edge were serrated. It’s hard to tell when the texture of that bow ends and the saw waves of whatever electronic processing is involved kick in (MP3). The performance is not just about generating cacophony, though; it veers from layered plucking of strings to orchestral might, from sour melodic activity to gently bowed divination. In a post on his site, Laderas describes his mode succinctly: “As always, this set is pretty much completely improvised on the fly. No prerendered loops, no nothing. Just me and my looper.”

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