One of the more significant subgenres of contemporary electronic music comprises music created by generative processes. Generative music is just part of a larger systems aesthetics in which a work is produced by a system; in this case the system consists in the regular interactions of given sound-encoding inputs and the combinatorial rules or operations that process them into an output. The output is the work as we hear it. Such is the kind of music created by Milanese sound artist Giorgio Sancristoforo, whose new release is titled Milanese Nwas (“nwas” being a phonetic rendering of the French pronunciation of “noise”).
Sancristoforo, who releases music under the name OOME, is a sound designer and software programmer whose sonic works and installations have appeared in Italy, France, the UK and China. He’s created several widely-used music programs including Gleetchlab 1/2/3 and Gleetchplugs, and has written and directed a video series on electronic music. In addition to his solo work—which has included Audioscan MILANO, a sound-map of the city of Milan—he directs the Reihe Laptop Ensemble. A lot of technology, yes, but to judge from the experience of listening to Milanese Nwas, it’s technology as a means to artistry.
The tracks on Milanese Nwas are process pieces generated autonomously through Sancristoforo’s own custom-designed software, but what’s most striking about them isn’t their manner of composition, as interesting as that may be, but rather their sensory beauty. The surfaces are lush and made up of multiple, polytimbral voices that shimmer in unpredictable, quasi-chaotic patterns—the sonic analogue of the play of sunlight on water in motion. Harmonies fall in irregular but consonant cascades, complemented by asymmetrical, intricately-interlocked rhythms. As with some Baroque music the drama doesn’t lie in strong, single-line melody so much as in the interaction of complex, actively intersecting lines. These sonic worlds may have been machine-generated, but they reflect a very human delight in ornament and sensual stimulation.