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tag: live performance

Ambient Jam

By Perry Frank

Music is built on tools, and tools are built on music. Music is made with available tools. Tools are made to produce sounds in a more immediate or more nuanced manner than previous tools might have allowed for. Which is why a small synthesizer and a smaller reverb pedal can, together, sound like an ancient pipe organ performed in an old church where the roof has been torn off and the sounds are straining as they reach for the naked heavens. This is Perry Frank’s ambient jam.

This is the latest video I’ve added year to my ongoing YouTube playlist of fine live ambient performances. Video originally posted at youtube.com. Perry Frank is based in Italy.

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Reviewed Carl Stone for The Wire

A livestream from last month

Barely a month ago, on April 2, Carl Stone performed a livestream concert with an interesting organization called MSCTY “a global agency for music + architecture,” per its website). The set consisted of upcycled field recordings of Tokyo, and I reviewed it for the latest issue of The Wire magazine. Below is the opening section of my article. The full piece is in issue #460, the one with Japanese musician Phew on the cover.

And here’s the full concert:

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RIP, Ron Miles (b. 1963)

Veteran trumpeter

Trumpeter Ron Miles died yesterday at age 58. He played with a lot of my favorite musicians, including drummer Ginger Baker and clarinetist Ben Goldberg, and released at least a dozen albums of his own. I first experienced Miles when he was a member of the quartet of another favorite of mine, guitarist Bill Frisell. (Like Frisell, Miles was raised in Denver, Colorado.)

Frisell’s mid-1990s group, which also featured Eyvind Kang (violin) and Curtis Fowlkes (trombone), debuted with the 1996 album Quartet. The record is rich with arch instrumentals that explore noir atmospherics and hint at the electronically mediated Americana of Frisell’s work to come. It consists primarily of music composed for film and TV, including a Gary Larson Far Side special.

Miles’ trumpet, his voice, could achieve a tonal peacefulness, a poise and composure, that was all his own. He could also engage in a playful, communal, musical banter in whatever band he was part of. The above video is a live performance, apparently in Ljubljana, Slovenia, from the year after the release of Quartet. Just last September, Miles headlined at the Village Vanguard in Manhattan when it reopened after the pandemic lockdown. And now he is dead, due to a rare blood disorder. He will be missed.

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When Tonality Is the Excursion

A live set by Eivind Aarset and his band

Norwegian musician Eivind Aarset opens this piece for his quartet (featuring bassist Auden Erlien and two credited drummers, Wetle Holte and Erland Dahlen, though one of them, Holte, only spends some of the time drumming) with syrupy held notes, Aarset’s electric guitar’s tone extended beyond the instrument’s inherent, unmediated possibilities. Delays that slowly fade keep notes in play, clock-like pings becoming whisps, strums becoming halos. There seems to be a precognition of this early on: right at the start, it’s as if another performance is layered under this one, if you listen closely — perhaps bleed from a nearby room, perhaps an intended substrate, perhaps a bit of something caught in the digital buffer of one of those tools arrayed in front of Aarset. A drummer’s soft-ended sticks provide muted thumps amid brush strokes. The bassist plots the contours. Though credited in the video with drums, Holte is clearly up to something else, playing what appears to be a lap steel or pedal steel guitar. It’s a stately performance: jazz more concerned with tonality than with melodic excursion; pop more interested in sonic potential of phrases than in the rigor of repeated verse and chorus. Which is to say, it is Eivind Aarset through and through.

Video originally posted at youtube.com.

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“First Two Thirds”

Experiments in parallel processing

This is an early-on trial run of a new mixer pedal I got. The pedal, the large green one in the center, provides for parallel processing of a single inbound signal. There is a send and return for each of the three channels. Each channel also has an EQ control, which allows for you to further refine which subset of the original signal is sent. I don’t employ the EQ here. Here I’m just using two of the mixer’s three channels, both going to loopers. Before one of the two loopers gets the signal, it first goes through an effects pedal. That’s the set-up.

The signal is just an electric guitar, being played with an EBow. The effects loop, the one on the left, has two layers of a random pitch feature, which makes it sound like a sample and hold patch from a synthesizer. The looper on the right is receiving the signal straight from the EBow-played guitar. I used the volume knob on the guitar to fade in and out of the swell.

All the loops were recorded and running before I recorded the video, which is why the EBow is laying there on the ground. The audio is coming from a small amplifier just to the right of the pedals. I wanted to try a more complicated set-up, but it’s been a long week and I didn’t want to get ahead of myself. More to the point, I did try a far more complicated set-up, with two additional effects pedals and a third looper, but it got to be too much. I’ll build up to it.

And that about covers what is heard and seen here. The mixer is the Electro-Harmonix Tri Parallel Mixer. The two loopers are Dittos from TC Electronic. The effects pedal is the Tensor from Red Panda. Video recorded on my phone, an iPhone 13 Pro, which clearly I’m simply holding in my hands.

Originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet.

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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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    • December 13, 2022: This day marks the 26th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
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    • There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
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  • My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).

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