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Cinchel Plays His Audience

A live ambient participatory performance

When the musician who goes by Cinchel steps away from his instruments three minutes into this live video of a recent Chicago concert, it isn’t much of a surprise. Electronic instruments often perform, in essence, by themselves. Often they are more nudged that played. They are tools set in motion, coaxed and cajoled rather than strummed or plucked or bowed. But when Cinchel makes his move elsewhere in the room, it isn’t simply because his equipment can manage without him. It’s because there are more instruments to be attended to. Already a rich tonal drone has filled the room, and now he’s using a mallet to eke out notes on what might very well be a child’s metal xylophone. Soon after he’s elsewhere in the space, ringing a bell. Each time he returns to the central equipment, adjusting the encompassing ringing sound that is the main component of the piece. Then he’s back off, with a spring instrument, more bells, and that xylophone again. And, naturally, the audience eventually joins in, taking the cue that these various tools can be employed by others when Cinchel is too busy. In just 15 minutes, he goes from playing to the audience to playing with the audience. By the time they join in, they’re under his spell. They have been, themselves, coaxed and cajoled.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at youtube.com. The video is a section of a longer performance titled “Walking into an Unfamiliar Place You Already Know.” More from Cinchel at twitter.com/cinchel and cinchel.com.

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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