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They’ll Always Have Prague (MP3)

There are countless forms of musical collaboration, and one of the most intimate would be the situation when one musician processes, live, the sounds of another. Such activities date back at least as early as Brian Eno’s role during live performances by Roxy Music, and today flower in the realms of microsound and the electronic fringes of free improvisation. To take one musician’s sonic emissions and, as they occur, reshape them is something akin to being a live-action dramaturge: interpreting in real time. Back in November of last year, British musician Simon Whetham, who has a specialization in field recordings, was preparing a performance at the adventurous Prague gallery Å kolská 28. Scheduling and shared interests put him in touch, thanks to the gallery’s director, MiloÅ¡ VojtÄ›chovský, with Michael Delia, a U.S. musician who resides at times in the city. Their performance, which was recorded and later made available for free download as an MP3 file, involves Delia on various unspecified instruments and Wethem on field recordings and the processing of Delia’s efforts.

[audio:http://download.cronicaelectronica.org/cronicast073.mp3|titles=”Live at Å kolská 28 (November 2010)”|artists=Michael Delia & Simon Whetham]

The performance is both earthly and spectral, the sounds modest and rudimentary, but their effect often ghostly and otherworldly, little tinkling utterances turned into suggestions of visitation. Whetham’s processing provides the fulcrum of these two extremes, as he takes Delia’s small sounds and abstracts from them fluttering, echoing extrapolations, which for all their inspired interpretation are still appropriately modest in scope. At the best moments, it’s as if Whetham is finishing Delia’s sentences.

More on the performance, which took place November 20, 2010, at cronicaelectronica.org. Performance announcement at skolska28.cz. More on Delia, though the site seems out of date, at mad.lemurie.cz. More on Whetham at simonwhetham.co.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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