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

String-Based Drone-in-Progress (MP3)

Drones may strike at the heart of music as we traditionally know it: threatening the notoriety of melody, putting unheard of weight on our expectations for harmony, creating a sense of rhythm that is somehow entirely devoid of a percussive impulse. And yet traditional instrumentation is often one of the most rewarding places to experience a drone. Cellos in particular have made headway, thanks to digital processing. The ebow long ago gave the guitar access to a kind of perpetual emanation. Numerous recent experiments in slowed sound have explored the angelic hidden in everyday pop. Monolyth and Cobalt, on its recent La température du feuillage entre deux saisons, has a track that uses the string quartet as a starting point (MP3).

[audio:http://www.archive.org/download/fbl011MonolythAndCobalt-LaTempratureDuFeuillageEntreDeuxSaisons/04StringsQuartet.mp3|titles=”Strings Quartet”|artists=Monolyth and Cobalt]

The track, titled “Strings Quartet,” is less a drone than a drone-in-progress, a drone-in-the-making. It’s all carefully defined string parts, enticing in their simplicity, slowly overlapping, slowing ceasing to be individual, slowly creating a singular drone, but also, in time, being either supplanted by or digitally transformed into a far more artificial tone. But what makes it special is how the classical sense of form is never dispensed with, only enacted with increasingly unfamiliar sounds, either hyperreal, in the form of these exceedingly minimalist strings, or synthetic, in the form of unidentifiable source material (either computer-generated, or modified by effects).

More on the work at feedbacklooplabel.blogspot.com. More on Monolyth and Cobalt (which is, despite the apparent plural, one person: French musician Mathias Van Eecloo) at monolyth-cobalt.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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