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

Monome-Made Beats’N’Haze Album (MP3s)

Sometimes, the best thing to do with beats and atmospheres is to keep them at a proper distance. That’s the mode on Nowcast, a six-track album by the economically named 2% (his government name is Trenton McElhinney). The album is a collection of ethereal hazes and downtempo rhythms, a bit like DJ Krush covering Tangerine Dream — or perhaps the other way around. McElhinney reportedly recorded the entire thing on a Monome, the illuminated grid of touch-sensitive controllers that is often conflated or confused with the Tenori-On. There’s a video up on vimeo.com (screen shot below) of McElhinney performing one of the tracks off Nowcast, “Leeward” (MP3), on the Monome; it opens with a Buddha Machine”“like loop — which is to say, a soft haze that slowly reveals itself to have a taut, specific seam, which in turn becomes a sort of beat, which McElhinney then reinforces with a studio-hewn beat of his own construction, all machine-made high-hats.

The one real exception to this beats/haze combination is the last track, the elegant “Neaps,” which drops the metrics almost entirely in favor of a lightly cycling soundscape (MP3). It’s a testament to McElhinney’s background sounds that when the beats are removed, the ambience can hold its own.

[audio:http://www.archaichorizon.com/releases/ah035/music/04_Leeward.mp3|titles=”Leeward”|artists=2%] [audio:http://www.archaichorizon.com/releases/ah035/music/06_Neaps.mp3|titles=”Neaps”|artists=2%]

More on 2% at myspace.com/2pourcent. Get the full release at archaichorizon.com.

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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