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Monthly Archives: August 2011

The Beauty of the Unintended Rhythm (MP3)

The latest release from the Absence of Wax netlabel is a lengthy rumble by Albert Ortega. Based in Los Angeles, Ortega reportedly mixes field recordings and electronic processing to achieve his unique, partially “real,” partially “artificial” ends. Little of the real world is necessarily evident in one such final result, “Internal Weather,” but the track’s title and sonic properties hint at what is going on.

To begin with, the latter: while mechanical in its immediate appearance, the uptempo rattle that is at the heart of “Internal Weather” is closer to that of an unintended rhythm, like a car or a refrigerator, than that of an intended rhythm, like a song with a proper beat. There’s a beauty to such an unintended rhythm because despite its appearance of having an inhuman motor, it is in fact fluid and impossible to pin down metrically. This aligns it, aesthetically, with generative art.

As for that title, “Internal Weather” touches on the way a systems-based compositional approach such as Ortega’s can come to constitute its own small-scale ecosystem.

Proceed to devinsarno.com/absenceofwax for free streaming and download. Caveat: the download is enormous, almost half a gigabyte.

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Purloined Voices (MP3)

Michel Banabila‘s “In Other Words” could just as well be called “In Others’ Words.” It’s an eight-minute stretch of light, nearly melodic sound, above which transpires a sequence of brief recordings of individuals speaking. These individuals’ languages, voices, ages, and other semi-discernible traits vary widely as the work proceeds.

Were those spoken elements more deliberately edited, were their presentation more emphatic, were the delineation between ethnicities, languages, and genders more cautiously balanced, then this might come across like the backing score to a TV advertisement for a global communications company. The impact of the work, though, comes precisely from its imprecision, how the little bits of dialog change in length and tone, how they come across more as purloined than art-directed.

In a brief liner note, Banabila explains: “The voices were recorded from radio, I chose most of them based on their sound, emotion, timbre, regardless of any literal meaning of the words. New words and phrases were formed with the rearranging of tiny samples.” The result is an art song constructed from the voices of others.


Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/michel-banabila. More on the composer, who is based in Rotterdam, at banabila.com.

Update (2011.08.26): I heard from Banabila after this post went live. He wrote via email and said thanks, and he added some information about his process, explaining that he never used more than 1.5 seconds from any of the source samples: “So one sentence itself was constructed of many many voices.” He also pointed to the three-track EP from which “In Other Words” takes its name, and on which it appears. The EP is available for free download at banabila.bandcamp.com. A second track, “Read My Lips,” has a similar approach. The EP’s third and closing track, “Boat,” employs Banabila’s own voice.

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Doom Metal Is Anything but Doomed (MP3)

Fans of the intersection of metal and ambient can trace the overlap at least as far back as the solos of late Metallica bassist Cliff Burton. He performed these languorous swells that seemed designed to test the stuctural integrity of whatever venue the band might be playing in. The thick drones made an interesting counterpoint to the occasional classical-guitar flourishes of band member Kirk Hammett. Employed by a lesser musician, they could be considered an ambient backdrop to Hammett’s foregrounded virtuosity. But Burton had his own brand of expertise, akin to fellow metal-oriented bassist Bill Laswell’s chest-pummeling exercises in aggressive stasis. Burton died 25 years ago this coming September 27, and it’s hard to imagine he wouldn’t be pleased with the rise of sonorous doom metal by the likes of Earth, Sun O))), and Boris. Add to that list Alura Une, whose “Dybbuk,” recently appearing on the waveguideaudio.com netlabel, is a splendid instance of full-throttle molasses-paced introverted bass extravagance.

Not only does the piece make the most of its eight minutes, lingering on chords with the merest consideration of metronomic necessity, it adds a dreamy quality by employing brief occurrences of chime-like sounds that bring to mind a children’s toy. That element of fantasy links the music to the fable from which it takes its name, the legendary character from Jewish folklore that inspired the story of Frankenstein.

Get the Alura Une track at waveguideaudio.com. Wave Guide Audio is a new netlabel, run from Portland, Oregon, by Ted Laderas, who is best known for his shoe-gazing, digitally enhanced cello work under the name OO-Ray. “Dybbuk” is the label’s third release.

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10 Seconds of Pleasure (MP3)

Shortly before the recent mid-August Disquiet.com break, Daniel Kolb wrote in to express pleasant surprise at the work of sound artist Harold Shellinx. The latter’s “10 Seconds a Day” project had been featured here back in early July of this year. It’s an ongoing series in which Shellinx records and concatenates brief segments of daily field recordings. Turns out that Kolb has been up to the same thing, a habit he has tracked at tensecondsrule.com. Kolb agreed to post for free download the first five minutes of his 2010 compilation at soundcloud.com:

Like Shellinx’s, Kolb’s is a mix of familiar sounds that take on a narrative-like flow during the course of their unfolding: tea kettle, conversation, silence and near-silence, static, alarms, surface noise. They are, as his “rule” (pictured above) suggests, a kind of diary. Not the reflective diary, in which one ponders recent events and thoughts — more the diary as catalog of sonic incidents, ones that might spark memory, or that might surprise with the sort of details that are only noticed after the fact.

More on Kolb, who is based in Buffalo, New York, at tensecondsrule.com, which includes a page specifically related to the influence of John Cage on Kolb’s practice.

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Past Week at Twitter.com/Disquiet

  • Briefly breaking mid-August Twitter-silence: Anything sound-y (gallery,concert) going on in Las Vegas between tonite (8/17) & Monday (8/22)? #
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