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tag: video

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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I Keep the Subtitles On at Night

A rare moment of dual diegetic ambience cues from Mindhunter

I keep the subtitles on at night. I do this to keep the house quiet, and I do this because, often as not, I’m watching some British show in which everything sounds to my American ears like an erudite mumble. In the case of Mindhunter, the Netflix serial-killer show now enjoying a second season, it’s the former. Everything stated in these East Coast accented voices is distinct and clear to my (natively) East Coast hearing — and the Southern voices, too, perhaps because the Southern accents are being spoken generally by people who want their utterances to be heard (whether they are beleaguered law enforcement, concerned bystanders, or vain convicts).

Late at night, the captions keep the living room’s televised noises from traveling too far around the house, and as a result I get glimpses at the way the hearing-impaired captioning is framing the on-screen action, the encapsulation of the sonic mise-en-scène.

This particular shot (from midway through season 2, episode 6) is a rare instance of dual caption cues. It’s far more the norm for a single sound — “footsteps,” “eerie music,” “fan rattling” — to be selected set the tone for a given moment, but here two distinct elements (“dogs barking in the distance,” “indistinct radio chatter”) combine to achieve the desired effect, the desired summary of effects, the desired way to read the scene. On TV, it’s generally the case that more than one sound is at work at a given time: score plus multiple bits of diegetic ambience, as well as dialog. (Jason Hill’s score to Mindhunter is the show’s main nod to contemporary aesthetics: all warped slivers of sound, synthesized haze, and other such meticulously designed treats.) In the moments when dialog is absent, such as here, the background sounds edge toward the foreground.

As watchers of mysteries, we, the audience, are the dogs in this picture, sniffing out (or, in this case, keeping an eye out for) clues. When two sonic cues appear, our eyes and ears are alerted simultaneously to the seriousness of the moment.

This is of course a David Fincher production, which is to say a hyper-detailed one in which the most mundane physical objects — a period vehicle, an abandoned warehouse, a small forest — is likely to be the result of hours of CGI transformation. At a moment like this, it’s not hard to imagine Fincher himself, the model of a Hollywood perfectionist, having made the call: “No, neither the dogs nor the radio alone is sufficient. We need both.”

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Dave Seidel’s “Black Star Study”

Bleak intensity, plus sewing machine

“Black Star Study” is a dense, lengthy, tumultuous drone, one occasionally fleshed out with jittery synthesizer fluctuations and the stuttered grunts of something more akin to an unloved catalytic converter. Which is to say, in drone/noise terms, it is fantastic. Dave Seidel perpetrates the live performance in full view, his synthesizers narrowing into the distance on his desk, the bleak intensity of the music only slightly undermined by the sewing machine seen toward the rear of the room. As you listen, pay attention to the layers of grit, the mesh of crunchy distortions that makes your speakers vibrate and your imagination soar.

Video originally posted at Seidel’s YouTube channel. More from Seidel, who is based in New Hampshire, at mysterybear.net and mysterybear.bandcamp.com.

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