It’s almost redundant for a self-producing musician to employ the word “improvising” when posting a short performance video on Instagram. The Instagram shorts are invariably bedroom setups, or portable-rig excursions, or trial runs of new tools and new techniques. They’re almost all improvisations to one degree or another. These videos feel intimate not just because they’re shot in a personal setting. These videos feel intimate because the musician involved has opened up their world a bit, done something they’ve maybe not done before or that they know full well to be a work in progress. The idea of work in progress excites them, and they’ve invited the listener to check it out — not just the listener, but the viewer, who witnesses the cables and equipment, the hesitation of an extended finger, the imperfection of the framing, the minimal editing and virtual absence of post-production.
In this brief recent Instagram video from the musician k’in sventa, who is based in San Francisco, you hear the clackety keys of the sampler almost as clearly as you do the old piece of vinyl spinning nearby. That sound of the keys is almost — not quite but almost — part of the piece as a whole. In it, a short segment of the vinyl recording is fed into the sampler, and we hear it at the same time as the sampler hears it. Then, with a few key presses, the sample plays back, at first stuttered, then layered, then flourishing into a vibrant array of half-familiar elements, some glitches and others held tones, all as the turntable needle is returned to a resting position. Eventually a proper beat kicks in. If you look closely, the left hand is momentarily doubled as the video splices to later footage with the drums employed. The production of the video is as much an improvisation as the performance itself. That’s part of the pleasure.