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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

tag: video

Real-Time Ambient

A performance by Alex Roldan

Edging between background ambience and melodic progression, this short, live performance by Alex Roldan is exactly the sort of video that led me to start my ongoing YouTube playlist of live performances of ambient music. In it, in full view, we watch as Roldan plays a collection of instruments: a controller in the form of that grid, and a trio of sound sources and manipulators. The correlations between audio and physical actions are self-evident, taking a bit of the mystery out of the music, and the processes and tools that enabled its real-time production.

Video originally posted at Roldan’s YouTube channel. More from Roldan, who is based in Washington, D.C., at alexroldan.bandcamp.com and instagram.com/alexroldan.

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Basinksi in Blue Light

Recorded at the Empty Bottle in Chicago

Close the work week out with a short segment of William Basinksi performing live at the Empty Bottle, the Chicago venue. Presumably this is from January 3 of this still very new year. Washed in bright blue light that manages to nonetheless get consumed by the club’s natural darkness (a metaphor not inappropriate for Basinski’s brand of quietly foreboding ambient soundscapes), he nudges his tools just out of view. The sound is all arching tones and rumbling crosscurrents and whistle-like flourishes that travel in slow motion, so intimate in combination that the set seems to reshape the whole concept of a concert venue.

Video originally posted at the YouTube channel of Seijin Lee.

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Julia Kent Reveals an Unreleased Track

It's 2011 all over again, in a good way.

Been awhile since the cellist Julia Kent had a mention here, and thankfully there’s a new release, providing good reason. “Salt Point” isn’t truly new. It’s one of two previously unreleased tracks that will appear on the forthcoming expanded, vinyl edition of Kent’s 2011 album, Green and Grey, alongside the four tracks off Last Day in July, which came out the year prior to Green and Grey.

“Salt Pond” is a lush slice of what has come to be called neoclassical. That’s an interesting term in how it has transitioned over time. It used to mean sort of the opposite of what it now means. It once meant contemporary work that had obvious roots in the past, work that strove for a semblance to antiquity. Now it tends to mean work that explores the instrumentation and timbres of classical music, but in a distinctly modern manner. In other words, the “neo” has become something of a modifier; what once refuted modernity now embraces it. Often neoclassical means melodic minimalism, which is interesting since minimalism can be understood to stand in contrast with neoclassical.

Anyhow, the terms aside, “Salt Point” is a generous mix of pulsing drones and pointillist strings (Kent is foremost a cellist) that bring to mind the use of delays in dance music, albeit slowed to a lounge’s speed. At its climax, “Salt Point” almost loses itself, beautifully so, in a rapture of echoes. There’s also an official video for the track up on Kent’s YouTube channel, full of images from nature, overlapping and sometimes manipulated, not unlike her cello. It was made by Jola Kudela:

More from Kent at juliakent.com. The album is part of the November 29, 2019, Record Store Day. Details at recordstoreday.com.

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Pop Ambient from Aldo

Three devices and a YouTube channel

Simple music made with simple tools. The idea might seem obvious, but on YouTube — where many musicians, experienced and new, known and not, share works-in-progress in the form of demos and tutorials — simplicity often isn’t the order of the day. Comprehensiveness is. Here, refreshingly, a single sound source and a single tool for looping combine to let Aldo, a French musician living in London, accumulate and manipulate material. Aside from a thick delay pedal at the end of the chain to lend spaciousness, that is it. The result is a glitching, droning, undulating collection of material prepared in advance and then improvised upon in a live setting. The result is vibrant pop ambient.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at Aldo’s YouTube channel. More from Aldo at instagram.com/aldo.is.taken.

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Duet with Washing Machine

A Junto video from Jason Richardson

We live with our machines. These machines are small and large, ranging from light switches to refrigerators, from doorbells to dishwashers, from laptops to digital assistants. We know these machines. We know them even if we don’t pay attention to them. We know them through lived experience, which is the deepest form of learning. And among other things, we know their sonic natures, that which constitutes their unique characteristics, how they participate in, contribute to, the ever-shifting suite of noises that is the domestic soundscape, and how their contributions change as a result of the hour, the season, the humidity, the context. This week in the Disquiet Junto, the weekly music community based on shared compositional prompts, musicians are using such sounds, such noises, by exploring them for their rhythmic potential (disquiet.com/0401). In many cases, no doubt, these will not be happenstance sounds but familiar ones. The Junto projects are brief, barely four days between when the prompt is emailed out and the final deadline occurs. Given the creative constraints, participants will generally call upon familiar resources. Take Jason Richarson, the prolific and longtime Junto participant, who elected to use his washing machine as his backing track. He plays against it like he has its rhythms in his blood. He can anticipate its rough tumble, and meets it as an equal partner.

Track originally posted at Jason Richardson’s YouTube channel. He has some additional notes about the recording on his website, bassling.blogspot.com. Ironically, it was raining the day he wanted to do the project, so he had to use a recording of the machine he made several years ago.

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