Our 15-year anniversary came and went this last Sunday.
When I started Avant Music News, the major concerns included finding enough news to publish and keeping the software running. These days the software more or less runs itself, and the news finds us. So there’s that.
But the challenges (and these are very much first-world problems) are to filter through the embarrassment of riches that comes our way every day. And from these, find a handful of articles and items to write about. Since 2011, we have published close to 1000 reviews of albums and live performances. Not to mention over 27,000 articles in general.
Needless to say, on April 29, 2003, I did not expect the site to blossom in the humble way that it has.
Thanks go out to all of you – readers, contributors, and most importantly the musicians carving out their visions on recording mediums old and new. I have endless appreciation for all of you who work tirelessly for modest material rewards, all in the name of art.
I don’t know how long Avant Music News will continue, but 15 years is already beyond my most grandiose expectations. In the mean time, I hope this little site has turned a few ears and opened a few minds. Certainly, my ears have been turned and my mind has been opened more times than I can count.
Happy Fall from Chicago.
Lately, we have been receiving an uncounted number of albums being submitted for review. (They are uncounted because I haven’t bothered to count them but we’re talking 10-15 per day.) Clearly, we cannot review every one, and we often don’t have time to respond. Sorry but that’s just the facts.
So, if you have or are thinking of submitting a recording for review, please hop on over to our updated page, How to Get Reviewed for the scoop on our present situation, and a few pointers on how you can increase your chances of having one of us write about your music.
Composer/performer Mari Kimura is a violinist that has earned international acclaim in both standard and contemporary repertoire. She is one of contemporary musics finest interactive computer music specialists and has premiered many new interactive works from composers such as Jean Claude Risset and Robert Rowe. Her latest effort “Voyage Apollonian” is a compilation of her recent work featuring six original compositions and arrangements of pieces by Brazilian composers Egberto Gismonti, Joao Bosco and Hermeto Pascoal.
Kimura’s current work makes use of her many years of research and collaboration with leading institutions such as IRCAM, into the use of new technology for interactive computer music and technological extension or augmentation of the violin. Working with IRCAM and Liubo Borissov, Kimura has developed a glove that uses various motion sensors to transmit the motion of the bow into the computer via WiFi. The motion sensing technology is able to detect gestures such as pizzicato and various types of bowing. This motion or gestural control is then used to interact with custom software. Kimura uses this ability to communicate to the computer her expressive intentions in real time. This allows her to control the real time signal processing of her violin as well as the ability to use gestures as cues or triggers that interact with the computers software.
The title track “Voyage Apollonian” has kind of an impressionistic or spectral feel to it as it alternates between various pizzicato and bowed phrases in a kind of call and response. This alternation develops as a kind of interplay between phrases and their articulations. By using the gestural control of the glove/bow, Kimura is able to choose in real time which software signal processing techniques – doubling, reverb, echo, harmonization, etc. she wishes to apply to the phrase she is playing as she is playing it. But this gestural interaction is not just limited to signal processing. On her arrangement of Hermeto Pascoal’s “Bebe” Kimura uses the sensor technology to cue the virtual pianist as it plays a vamp for her to solo on. This allows her to dynamically control the length of the accompaniment for her improvised solo.
In addition to her inventive use of technology, Kimura’s compositions also bring her own unique twists to familiar forms. For example in “Bruer Vivant” Kimura paints a passacaglia with bits of “Romanticism” mixed with dazzling contemporary electronics. “Canon Elastique” is a two voice canon where the glove/bow gestural control is used to modify material she has played after it has been delayed by software forming a second canonic voice. However the result is not a simple echo or a minimalist texture. The technology allows Kimura to change her musical past in real time by the way in which she articulates the first voice.
Mari Kimura’s sonic explorations are not just limited to using technology with the violin but extends to discovering and perfecting new acoustic techniques. She has developed an innovative extended bowing technique that is able to produce subharmonic pitches that sound up to an octave below the violins lowest string without re-tuning the instrument. While she uses this technique throughout the works on this disc it is prominently featured on the only unaccompanied acoustic piece on this CD “JanMaricana”.
“Voyage Apollonian” covers a great deal of territory; from Brazilian sambas and jazz to unaccompanied violin with subharmonics to new musical interfaces with interactive computer technology. Despite the use of cutting edge technology and new innovative acoustic techniques the music on this disc does not sound very “technical”. The use of technology is at the service of the performer and has been carefully designed to be flexible and expressive. In Kimura’s hands the results are a highly expressive music that is warm and organic, rich in color and nuance. Highly recommended.
Once again, I have to step back and consider how much this site has grown since I launched it on this day in 2003. We have published over 675 album and concert reviews and 45 interviews, not to mention nearly 25,000 total articles. I estimate that we’ve recommended 2,000 or so albums in our AMN Picks of the Week series.
Of course, what keeps us coming back is our audience, which has continued to increase each year. Thanks to all of you for your attention in a world that is overrun with media, and thanks for your appreciation of avant / creative / weird music.
On April 29, 2003, I posted the first article on Avant Music News. My goal was to establish a single place on the net where one could go to find information on all sorts of interesting, off-beat music, with no specific genre constraints. Today, we have a few thousand regular readers and followers. Despite the worldwide audience for this sort of music not being huge, I feel as if we’ve accomplished a modest goal by getting this many people together, and providing updates virtually every day for the last 13 years.
Today, there are many other places that you can go to find news, but our niche is that we put it all in one place, directing your attention to what we believe to be the most relevant and interesting articles and information. And we do provide our own reviews and interviews from time to time as well.
My thanks go out to our readers and contributors for making Avant Music News what it is in 2016, and allowing it to continue to grow.
Happy February. January 2016 was our most successful month yet, if you measure success in terms of web site traffic, social media coverage, and general interest. One of the side-effects of such “success” is that we have many, many more submissions for review coming in.
So, if you have or are thinking of submitting a recording for review, please hop on over to our new page, How to Get Reviewed for the scoop on our present situation, and a few pointers on how you can increase your chances of having one of us write about your music.
I just noticed that we passed 3000 likes on Facebook. We have a commensurate number of followers on Twitter (~2830 as of today).
While I’m not saying that this means much of anything other than 3000 people clicking on a button, it is a pretty cool milestone. About 5 years ago we had only 300 likes on Facebook, and I mentioned to a friend that this was probably as much as we could expect to get. After all, who in their right mind is interested in all of this weird music enough to actually want to receive information about it in their news feed?
I was only off by an order of magnitude, and the upwards trend has continued steadily.
So…please keep proving me wrong. I don’t mind at all.