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

Police-Siren Violins, White-Noise Beats, Static-Laden Dub

Raz Mesinai is Ghost Producer

20151018-ghostmesinai

Raz Mesinai has been busily filling out his ghostproducer.bandcamp.com account. On the 11th of the month he posted Freakatone Beats Vol. 1, a collection of broken white noise disguised as funk, 15 tracks that come with their own unique “parameters,” a mix of practical and theoretical constraints. This is Freakatone‘s “Nervous System”:

And these are the freakatone parameters — a beatcraft Oulipo, a downtempo Dogme 95, a drone Fluxus:

  1. The rhythm’s tempo is irrelevant, and can change without warning.

  2. The rhythm is constructed by a simple pattern, chosen for its importance in urban music for centuries, in festivals, ceremonies.

  3. There is no “drop”, however alluding to one is fine.

  4. No overdubs are allowed when producing Freakatone as the key to its power is spontaneity, improvisation and mastering the sound system as an instrument.

  5. Freakatone is often Produced with noise and dissonance in mind. Dissonance is important, and frequencies used are primarily rejected from Main Stream Sound Systems, such as streaming.

  6. Freakatone cannot be performed without a dancing audience.

  7. Noise must be generated within the very sound system used to produce Freakatone, either by feeding back into itself, adding other effect processors to the output of said instrument. Once the noise is revealed, the Producer must not end, but continue on and freak the tone.

The day prior to Freakatone Beats Vol. 1 came Sweet Dreams, Soundboy, a beatless collection of 16 industrial-ambient swaths, some harrowing, others lilting, all serrated. Here is the fourth in the otherwise title-less sequence, one of the set’s relatively lighter pieces, which to say the fear is at the far end of the dark corridor, rather than right in your face:

Especially welcome is the four-part String Quartet for Four Turntables, a Lincoln Center Festival commission in which the “quartet” was in fact four separate parts (two violins, one viola, one cello — the classic quartet format) recorded to vinyl and manipulated by two DJs. Here is part two — check it out around 5:50 when the scraping violin is made to imitate a passing police siren. The collection was posted on October 16:

A brief liner note explains the turntable audio’s provenance:

It was first performed by Dj Olive and Dj Toshio Kajiwara at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City in 2000 but was never recorded or released until now. Mesinai insisted on letting the vinyl sit, uncovered, for 15 years, so that the crackles and pops would be more present.

It dates from 2000, when it was performed alongside work by the X-Ecutioners, as well as a quartet consisting of DJ A. Vee, DJ Frankie, Kuttin’ Kandi, and Christian Marclay playing versions of John Cage’s “Imaginary Landscape No. 5.” I mentioned it here back in 2009. And I interviewed Mesinai back in 2006.

And then there’s the far more expansive and varied Time Is Just an Update, also from October 11, 13 tracks that include attenuated drones, hauntingly sublimated orchestrations, and extremely slow chamber music. This is a track, “Tag Hash,” seemingly made almost entirely from vinyl crackles, repeated and echoed into a dubby matrix:

The music is streaming for free, and available for purchase: $9.99 for Sweet Dreams, SoundBoy (there’s also a $35 “endless cassette” version), $4 for the String Quartet (there’s also a limited-edition $200 vinyl edition), $7 for Time Is Just an Update, and $5 for Freaktone.

Mesinai, a prolific experimental turntablist based in New York City, is at ghostproducer.bandcamp.com and twitter.com/razmesinai.

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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