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When Music Is Balletic

A track from Ian Joyce

Graciously arranged music can often find itself described as “balletic” — as having an aspect not unlike that of ballet. It’s a useful comparison, except for the fact that there are many types of ballet, some far more fierce than the elegant, epitome-of-grace quality that the term “balletic” is generally employed to suggest.

The track “Undercurrents (On an Optimistic Note)” by Ian Joyce is the lead one off a new four-track album. It’s a slowly growing ambient drone that has within it a host of intertwined elements. There is an underlying pad of soft spaciousness, and a small number of sinusoidal tones, and a sequence of brief moments in which the machine-like quality gives way to something that feels “played,” like there is a person at a keyboard making something happen. That the played element never veers too far from the organic-yet-automated quality is a testament to the composure of which Joyce is capable.

What makes this track balletic, then, is how those varied elements are choreographed. At times it is like watching numerous bodies float in space, and at other times it is like the finely honed sinew evident during exertion by one especially well-contoured limb.

Track originally posted to soundcloud.com/ikjoyce. Get the full album at ikjoyce.bandcamp.com. More from Joyce at youtube.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tag: / Comment: 1 ]

One Comment

  1. Ian Joyce
    [ Posted March 8, 2018, at 9:56 am ]

    Thank you Marc for such a lovely and thoughtful review!

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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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