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tag: video

Eivind Aarset and His Layers

A live solo performance from Istanbul, Turkey.

No music journalist covers the expanded guitar quite like Michael Ross, who writes regularly at his guitarmoderne.com website about performers currently pushing the six-string (and twelve- and eight- …) beyond its traditional territories. A mutual favorite of Ross’ and mine is the Norwegian guitarist Eivind Aarset, who is perhaps best known for his work alongside trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer, though Aarset is long into his own deserved recognition for work as a leader, collaborator, and soloist.

About a month ago, Ross singled out video of a trio date Aarset had played in Prague, which led me, as usual, down a rabbit hole orchestrated by the guitarist’s penchant for highly reverberant spaciousness.

One highlight was a trio of live solo performances recorded in Istanbul, Turkey, back in February of 2015. Part one includes some discussion of his techniques, and part two is a song-like treat, packed with sharp contrasts, and rich with held tones reminiscent of Robert Fripp’s soloing. The highlight is part three (embedded up above), in which Aarset slowly layers a rhythm, and noise of his scraped and plucked strings, before venturing into deep explorations of various modes, his lush chords lingering like smoke.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at YouTube. More from Aarset at eivindaarset.com.

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New Pedal at Dusk

A live ambient performance by half of the Japan-based duo Lullatone

This elegant, beautiful video tracks from various angles a test drive by one member of the act Lullatone on a newly acquired reverb pedal. As the sun sets, the pedal is put through its initial paces, segments played on a keyboard and then through the reverb, all set to layer as loops. Those individual layers are barely distinguishable from each other, so peacefully do they accrue as a singular, solitary spaciousness. At times the high notes bring to mind Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois’ production for U2. Throughout, both the video and the performance it documents are marvels of simplicity.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at YouTube channel. More from Lullatone, the duo of Shawn James Seymour and Yoshimi Tomida, who are based in Japan, at lullatone.com and lullatone.bandcamp.com.

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Truly Experimental Music

In a live performance video from Scanner

It’s called experimental music, so of course when the musician is truly just experimenting, some of their best sounds might come out — truly experimenting, in that they are fiddling about with newly acquired equipment: pairing devices, exploring signal flows, turning knobs and touching buttons to see what they might hear. That’s the case with Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud, who today uploaded to his YouTube channel a case study of two gadgets employed in tandem. What those little things, each barely the size of a human hand, emit in concert with each other is dense clouds of atmospheric intensity.

The main device is a Tetrax from Ciat-Lonbarde, created by the ingenious instrument designer Peter Blasser. It’s being heard through an effects pedal called the Eventide H9. In the comments accompanying the video, Scanner engages with his listeners and talks about coming up to speed on the Tetrax, and mentions that he’s working on a soundtrack.

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 Scanner, who is based in London, at scannerdot.com.

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444 (Yes, 444) New Autechre Videos (Updated)

The British electronic duo caps a busy year with a synesthesia-inducing, 13-hour haul on YouTube

The British electronic duo Autechre appears to have uploaded some 444 videos to YouTube over the course of 2018, beginning in January. As such a sentence is often followed up: evidence surfaced to this effect on the Autechre board at Reddit in the past day. The full playing time is in excess of 13 hours. There are also discussions going on at watmm.com, a forum focusing in large part on artists from the Warp record label, home to both Autechre and Aphex Twin, among others.

The Autechre videos are linked to from the period at the end of the sentence “THIS STORE IS OPERATED BY BLEEP STORES ON BEHALF OF AUTECHRE.” on the About page at autechre.bleepstores.com. While the earliest of the videos date back to the start of the year, it is not clear when the link embedded in that period went live. (And, yes, there is a unique pleasure to typing the sentence “it is not clear when the link embedded in that period went live.”)

Each video displays an array of colors going through some sort of transformation, accompanied by a rush of fomenting drones. There appears to be a strong correlation between sound and image, suggesting there is a direct connection, perhaps the images and sounds sharing a single source, or one being the impetus for the other.

All the images seem to be reflectively bisected at the horizontal midpoint. The result brings to mind a neural network’s combination of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s horizon-view ocean photography and Brian Eno’s colorful light installations. As is the case with many an internet Easter Egg hunt, the communal scrambling to make sense of the ambiguous material is reminiscent of the mysterious Russian video footage at the heart of William Gibson’s 2003 novel, Pattern Recognition.

A substantial number of the 444 Autechre videos are brief, under a minute, though some are quite longer. Of the first ten, all but two are under a minute. However, continue deeper into the playlist mix and number 24, the longest in the set, is 7:10. One of the Reddit members posted a “Handy Dandy Sortable” Google spreadsheet, which among other things helps identify that of the 444 videos, 278 have a running time of a minute or longer.

The expansive playlist caps a busy year for Autechre, which consists of Rob Brown and Sean Booth. They released a massive box set, NTS Sessions 1-4, collecting an online residency they produced in April, and earlier this week shared production files of their own making for various pieces of widely used musical technology from the companies Elektron, Nord, and Akai (see: factmag.com).

Major thanks to Matt Nish-Lapidus for having drawn my attention to it. View the playlist at the hidden YouTube channel. Interestingly, if you back up from the playlist to the account, attributed not to Autechre but to XH HX, none of the material, neither the videos nor the playlist, are viewable.

Updates: (1) Additional thread at watmm.com, focusing on the visuals in the context of other “ae_store eastre egg” (ae being a common shorthand for Autechre). (2) A website, 444.frm.space/scans, of scans from the 444 videos.

Updates: (3) I am reminded that “444” was the title of the final track off Incunabula, the Autechre album released in November 1993, or 25 years ago this month.

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The Webcam as Instrument

A performance by Sideband on Jeff Snyder's audio-video toolkit

“Ghost Line” is a thoroughly compelling audio-video performance by Sideband (Lainie Fefferman, Jascha Narveson, Seth Cluett, and Mika Godbole) of music by Jeff Snyder, from Snyder’s forthcoming album, Concerning the Nature of Things. The album is due on November 9th on the Carrier Records label, with one preview track, the title cut, already up on Snyder’s Bandcamp page. But the real way to experience “Ghost Line” arguably isn’t the audio on its own; it’s the audio as a component of the video (on vimeo.com). In most music videos, the video part of the equation is either a complement (whether a narrative or just associative imagery) or a document (of the performance, whether simulated or live). In the case of “Ghost Line,” the 12-minute video is, quite literally, both performance and score. And while the images may tend toward abstraction, those abstractions directly inform the music we hear.

In Snyder’s creation, each of the members of Sideband creates sound by adjusting aspects of one of four parallel frames. Each individual is seen within their frame, sometimes rendered as through x-ray specs, sometimes as if colored in during one of Andy Warhol’s more flamboyant phases (say, circa his album covers for Billy Squier and the Rolling Stones). At times the figures disappear entirely, replaced by raster concoctions straight out of a Ryoji Ikeda installation. Throughout, the music is heard to draw directly from the consequences of those images: alternately strident and subtle, buzzy and tonal.

A brief liner note clarifies the goings-on:

Ghost Line … uses webcams as instruments, with the pixel data from the cameras interpreted as audio waveforms. The performers alter the sound by moving within the frame, or by processing the video stream (altering the x and y resolution, adjusting the focus, or changing the speed or direction of the image scan). Resonant just-tuned sonorities devolve into aggressive clusters of noise, producing a masterful mix of patient harmonic changes and dense, frenetic timbral shifts.

Snyder’s previous album was to Sunspots, performed by him on vintage Buchla synthesizers equipment. Concerning the Nature of Things is concert music, performed by a variety of ensembles. It’s available at jeffsnyder.bandcamp.com. Snyder is based in Princeton, New Jersey.

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