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

Stephen Vitiello’s Bifurcated Sunday

A guitar piece turned inside out.

Stephen Vitiello’s “L- guitar (Sundaybounce2)” is indeed, per the title, guitar-based and buoyant, and it does have the comfortable feel of something recorded on a day off. Of course, Vitiello is no armchair composer. Sound is his work, as an in-demand musician and artist, which means that his day off is perhaps more about experimentation, about work apart from work, about trying something out without the overarching impetus of one pressing project or another.

Much of the nearly 6 minutes of “L- guitar (Sundaybounce2)” is a plucked bit of electric six-string merging with and playing against a harmonic backdrop, the strings closely mic’d, often sounding like they’re being repeated, looped, treated, even as the melodic quality retains a charming surface that belies all the intricacy just below.

Halfway through is when the piece really takes off, when the chord gives way to a sound at most a quarter the density of what proceeded it. What follows is elements of that opening half broken and frayed, separated from each other. We’re left hearing a single note here, a torn phrase there, a bit of what could be a melodica left on its own. Often what remains is barely a note, more like the effects put upon the note, an inventory of all those intricacies. The second half is elegant and considered, purposefully apart from the charm of the opening half, and all the more imagination-teasing for the absence.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/stephenvitiello. More from Vitiello at stephenvitiello.com. He’s based in Virginia, where he’s a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University.

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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