Current Listens: Cello + EMS Synthi 100 + Devs

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

Current Listens is a listening diary of sorts. It’s an answer to the frequent question: “What have you been listening to lately?” This is what’s on heavy rotation at home and … well, of late, pretty much just at home. It’s annotated, albeit lightly, because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context.

And in the interest of conversation, if there’s something you’re enjoying lately, mention it in the comments below. Just please don’t use the comments to promote your own work. This isn’t the right venue. Likewise if you’re a publicist or work at a record label (if you are, just use email). Thanks.

▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰
NEW: Recent(ish) arrivals and pre-releases

Svetlana Maraš’ superb, rhythmically motivated Steps is exactly the sort of record I listen to so much that I never get around to writing about it. Except I am promising myself I will get around to doing so. It’s all performed on a single instrument, the EMS Synthi 100, which dates from the early 1970s. The one she’s playing is at Radio Belgrade’s Electronic Studio. As for those numerical track titles, Maraš explains: “Tracks are named by the number of sequencer steps used in that piece.”

Robert Fripp, the King Crimson founder and guitarist, now has his own YouTube channel: “We will be releasing an ambient instrumental soundscape online every week for 50 weeks. Something to nourish us, and help us through these Uncertain Times.” The first track is up. I tweeted about this on Friday and yet, per my comment directly above, entirely neglected to mention it here until now.

The Devs score is finally out, as of late last week. This is the music composed for Alec Garland’s excellent science fiction TV series, which recently ran on Hulu for eight episodes. The music from Geoff Barrow, Ben Salisbury, and the Insects (the duo of Tim Norfolk and Bob Locke) is generally haunting, but brace yourself for when tracks like “Stealing the Code” and “Suffocation” bring the tension to the fore. Lacking from the release are the show’s prominently employed pre-existing cues, like tracks from the Hilliard Ensemble and Steve Reich.

Club aesthetics glitched and filtered, vocals on stutter, tone on stun: Loraine James has this subdued-ish track (120 BPM) on the Awesome Aid compilation (“100% of earnings will go to the artists”), out a couple weeks ago. (And thanks, rbxbx, for the alert.)

A gorgeous live performance by Marcus Fischer and Ted Laderas (both of who worked on the music for the film Youth, which I did music supervision for). This is their brand new release, February 29th, which came out two days ago. It’s a single track, just under 25 minutes, recorded on the date that gives the piece its title. All profits from sales go to a women’s shelter in Portland, Oregon. The wonderful ingredients are cello, vibraphone, electronic processing, and the sonic spaciousness of the venue at which it was performed.

Polygoss’ Coronal is all quiet noises, ruffled textures, and primordial synthesis. The mix of birdsong and fractured wave forms on “Melismas” is a favorite. It came out on May 1.


▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰
REPEAT: Favorites mentioned previously

Muffled voices push at the surface music of “Forever Listening,” the surveillance-themed lead track of Jasmine Guffond’s recent album, Microphone Permission. It was released in early March on Editions Mego.

This rapturous quartet (piano, flute, bass clarinet, violin), “Intangible Landscapes” by composer Yaz Lancaster, moves from stately restraint to operatic dramatics over the course of its meticulously plotted 12-plus minutes.


▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰
ARCHIVAL: Old(er(ish)) records top mind

Even with all the death of late, the world skipped a beat this week when the great drummer Tony Allen passed away at the age of 79. This is a favorite, dubby track from 1984. The title stands for “Never Expect Power Always.” Ain’t that the truth.

Word got out a few days ago that Jon Hassell, the innovator behind the retro-future music known as Fourth World, is in failing health. His first album, dating from 1977, the great Vernal Equinox, was just reissued in March.

2 thoughts on “Current Listens: Cello + EMS Synthi 100 + Devs

  1. Thanks for posting the news about Jon Hassell. I hadn’t heard about his failing health, and wouldn’t have found out about the funding campaign. It’s also prompted me to listen to some of his 1980s albums again, and recognize how influential his aesthetic has been on me.

    P.S. I am enjoying your Buddha Machine Variations, too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *