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

Delay in Multiple Directions

An effort of layered sameness

Echo, reverb, delay — common elements in ambient music, as they take sound and expand the space in which the sound resounds, the space the sound suggests, the impression the effects in turn give of a large hall, a deep cistern, a lengthy corridor. By expanding that space, they make space the prevalent concept of the music, the organizing principle. Music that makes you think about its spaciousness makes you stop thinking about it merely as a forward progression. To think spatially is to think in multiple directions at once, and to think of them as having relatively equal value. Even if the spacious music isn’t expressly static, like a drone, it is still distinct from music that moves firmly from beginning to end.

All of this came to mind while listening to an overlay video by Bassling, aka Jason Richardson of Australia. He posted a piece in which multiple test runs of a Junto project — the current one, which involves providing a mini-tutorial for a favorite skill — are played atop one another. The impression is of echo, of a single motif repeating off into the distance. But the effect, the reality, is quite different. Certainly for each note there are others than follow, but it isn’t consistent in which of the layers the note is first heard. Likewise, the notes fade in near unison, rather than in sequence. Thus the echo effect is complicated significantly — made both flatter and more chaotic. The layering itself was inspired by a previous Junto project, one proposed by Brian Crabtree (a developer of the Monome grid instrument), called “layered sameness.”

More from Richardson on the piece at bassling.blogspot.com. Video originally posted at YouTube..

It’s the latest piece I’ve added to my ongoing YouTube playlist of fine “Ambient Performances.”

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • 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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