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tag: live-performance

SineRider, Off-Screen and On

A live ambient performance

There are several key factors in the ongoing playlist I maintain on YouTube of fine live performances of ambient music. There are three, in fact, and the very first is: “I’m only including recordings I’d listen to without video.” As something like test evidence, I came upon this piece, “Peat Moss” by Sine Rider, today on SoundCloud, and it turns out it’s the audio from one of his performance videos. It’s a warbly drone, like someone left the melody out to dry over night and hadn’t considered the damage that the morning dew might do. Except it didn’t do damage. It rendered the melody ever more fragile, and ever more beautiful for that fragility. And here’s the original video:

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/sinerider. More from SineRider, aka Devin Powers of Norwood, Massachusetts, at sinerider.bandcamp.com and youtube.com/sinerider.

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Make the Best of What’s Still Around

A live tape-loop performance by Amulets

Tread lightly. Today’s self-aware hi-jinks are tomorrow’s tragedies. Still, as musicians, like most everyone else in the world, do their best to settle into far more residential life than they may be accustomed to, they make the best of what’s still around. In the case of Amulets, that involves using a toilet paper roll as a means to extend the length of a tape loop, as heard in this video posted today.

Amulets is the Portland, Oregon, musician Randall Taylor, who does marvelous things with, among other second-hand tools, old audio tape cassettes — same tape he’s had for years. Here the rotting texture of the loop, exaggerated by a delay pedal, takes sequences from his portable synth and renders from them subsistence ambient, just loud enough to make an impression, but not so much as to squander available resources.

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. More from Amulets at amuletsmusic.com.

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After Live: Grzegorz Bojanek from Poland

A free hour-long video performance

Early on in this hour-long performance video, the Poland-based musician Grzegorz Bojanek holds up a piece of paper to the camera. On the paper is written a terse note in Polish and English imploring people to stay at home. There is no self-interest. He’d most certainly rather not be at home himself. But while he is, like many of us, stuck at home, he wants to help out.

His live video — along with those from numerous musicians around the world seeking to connect during a time virtually devoid of live in-person concert performances — seeks to entertain and, perhaps, even to console. And certainly to commiserate. For an hour he sits on the couch and plays. The work moves from dense ambient to a gently pulsing figment and back again. The music is welcome, but even more so is the presence that Bojanek projects. He is modelling behavior, not just by staying home, not just by keeping busy, not just by sharing, but by remaining visibly focused, even calm. We couldn’t ask more of ourselves.

There are countless more performances like this being broadcast, recorded, and archived around the world, all accessible within your browser. Seek them out, support the musicians who produce them, and share the ones you recommend.

Track originally posted to Bojanek’s YouTube channel. More from Bojanek at bojanek.bandcamp.com.

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Yaz Lancaster’s “Intangible Landscapes”

Live with Apply Triangle

This rapturous quartet, “Intangible Landscapes” by composer Yaz Lancaster, moves from stately restraint to operatic dramatics over the course of its meticulously plotted 12-plus minutes. At the composition’s opening, it might appear to be a latter-day Morton Feldman piece, a slow piano pulse (courtesy of Jixue Yang) under-girding crosshatched woodwinds (flute, Joshua A. Weinberg; bass clarinet, Tyler Neidermeyer) and Lancaster’s own violin.

But as it goes, it grows. The clarinet and piano gather steam, and collude to emphasize the emboldened pacing. The ensemble itself seems to double in size as the volume increases and the parts cease leaving generous space for each other. Particularly potent is the feedback-like noise emanating from one of the woodwinds around the 10-minute mark.

The three musicians joining composer Lancaster go by the name Apply Triangle, according to whose Facebook page “is an electroacoustic trio consisting of flutes, clarinets, piano, and electronics, performing works for any combination of these instruments that utilize pre-recorded sound, live processing, or electronic instruments.”

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/yazjanelle. More from Lancaseter, who is based in Brooklyn, New York, at yaz-lancaster.com. More from Apply Triangle at instagram.com/applytriangle.

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Concerts in the Time of COVID-19

The cultural and financial ramifications of social distance

City governments and health departments are calling for the postponement of “non-essential” public gatherings. Festivals are being cancelled left and right. Even if the current COVID-19 health alerts come to an end along one of the less dire projected timelines, the toll has already begun to hit numerous musicians. And not just musicians, but those who work in their proximity — promoters, publicists, roadies, techs, vendors, venue employees, and on and on. To discuss the arts isn’t to look askance at the death, grief, and discomfort of those directly affected by this year’s coronavirus. It’s simply to consider and brace for broader consequences.

Buying an album here and there will be a nice gesture, but even if you spend the equivalent of a festival pass on Bandcamp or Bleep, you won’t — short of some unprecedented groundswell of mass communal action — begin to have the same economic impact you’d have had were the cancelled events to occur. Festivals and concerts are scaled in a way that digital media, online merchandise, and, of course, streaming can’t begin to compare with financially. This is a calamity a decade or more in the making; as the perceived monetary value of recorded music has dropped, the importance of live performances has become all the more central not just to musicians’ income but to their promotional efforts. There is, it’s worth noting, a particular irony here for electronic music, which was born of the idea of the studio as a musical instrument — for as deep and rewarding as that may be as an artistic pursuit, you generally have to leave the studio these days to afford it in the first place.

All of which is to say, this is a good time to pay attention to the musicians whose work you admire and want to support. Check out the Patreon and equivalent of the ones who have such accounts, and keep an eye out for what others do to try to fill the void left by diminishing concert performance opportunities. I’m hopeful that the moment’s necessity will mother innovative alternatives. A suite of pay-per-view variants feels more than a little dystopian, so if you do come across creative means by which musicians reach across enforced “social distance,” please do let me know.

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