AMN Reviews: David Dunn – Verdant (2021; Neuma 129)

David Dunn’s works reflect his interests and research in acoustic ecology, bioacoustics, interspecies communication and scientific sonification.  These interests has enabled him to truly be an interdisciplinary artist. Dunn has produced a very unique body of work that blurs the line between art and science.

David Dunn’s latest piece is “Verdant” which he describes as a kind of pastoral motivated by his desire to speak to a more optimistic future. The material of “Verdant” is an intersection of ambient music, new tonality, minimalism, algorithmic composition, software synthesis, field recording, sound art, and drone music. It is a binaural piece in a single movement of about eighty minutes in length. “Verdant” was composed and recorded during the pandemic. The quietness caused by the pandemic allowed Dunn who is an expert wildlife recordist to capture some of the extremely low volume sounds of the desert. This microscopic desert audio soundscape is intertwined with slowly changing drones of sinewaves that float along with the ambient sounds of windchimes, sustained violin sounds, backyard birds and distant traffic to create a deep and wide imaginary soundscape.

 

“Verdant” is a wonderful active ambient pastoral. Since it is a binaural recording, it is best experienced with headphones or ear buds. My first listen was at a very moderate volume level and while I found the piece really interesting on the next several passes, I listened to it at a soft to very soft volume and then found it to be really captivating. So, I would highly recommend listening to this at a softer volume and really give it a deep listen. I think most if not all regular AMN readers will find this a very engaging and relaxing listen.

For those who want to explore more of Dunn’s work I would recommend starting with an excellent article by Madison Heying and David Kant from the Sound American issue dedicated to Dunn’s work. Dunn’s website also provides a detailed retrospective of the last thirty years of his work with a collection of his scores, writings, sounds and images.

Highly recommended!

Chris De Chiara

AMN Reviews: Fred Frith, Sudhu Tewari, Cenk Ergün – Lock Me Up, Lock Me Down (CARRIER054)

LMULMD_digital_cover

Fred Frith is a pioneer of the extended electric guitar. Take a glance at his discography of over four hundred titles and it becomes clear that Frith has successfully inserted himself into an incredibly diverse number of contemporary sound worlds. From bands like Henry Cow, Skeleton Crew and Massacre to improvising with the likes of John Zorn, Anthony Braxton, and Evan Parker to his compositions for electric guitar quartet, the Ensemble Modern, the Arditti Quartet and so much more! 

One of Frith’s many collaborations has been with Sudhu Tewari in the duo Normal. Tewari is a sound artist focused on audio electronics, interactive installations, invented musical instruments and sound sculptures that utilize whatever materials are on hand. They recently presented and discussed a number of their invented instruments at the Center for New Music in San Francisco.

“Lock Me Up, Lock Me Down” is a new release from Fred Frith, Sudhu Tewari and Cenk Ergün. The material for this album was recorded about ten years ago as an improvisation with Frith on guitar, Tewari playing recuperated junk and electronics and Ergün on electronics.  However, this is not an album of a group improvisation. “Lock Me Up, Lock Me Down” is a long form work that uses the original improvised studio material as building blocks for an entirely new piece.

Cenk Ergün is a Turkish American composer/improviser currently based in Berlin. Ergün has written a wide range of acoustic and electronic works. A wonderful album of two of Ergün’s compositions for string quartet performed by the JACK Quartet was released earlier this year. During the lock down Ergün revisited the ten year old session and then went to work. He created a sound library of various samples from the original trio session. The samples range from a second to several minutes. Samples from the library may be heard in their raw form or heavily processed. Ergün used this library to very carefully assemble “Lock Me Up, Lock Me Down”, which combines elements of rock, noise, improvisation, electronic processing and digital studio composition.

Street Piano_photo by Carly McLane

While “Lock Me Up, Lock Me Down” has been divided into seven tracks it really is a continuous forty-four-minute piece. I think it is best to listen to it as a single listening experience. The piece has a mesmerizing almost dream like quality to it.  It’s sounds move from the chaotic and noisy to the lyrical and harmonic, often drifting between multiple textures. There are sections that focus on developing very specific elements from the original session.  For example, the title track is all Frith reassembled by Ergün layering different moments from the original studio session. “Stay Tuned“ features Tewari’s mallet work on his “street piano” accompanied by birds and the occasional passing car interrupted by bursts from the studio session.  The piece ends with “Dem” which focus’s on the final sounds Frith made in the original session. The gentle de-tuned arpeggios from Frith’s guitar unfold at a glacial pace into long sustained chords that slowly transform back into their original form.

“Lock Me Up, Lock Me Down” is a wonderful listen! It successfully combines so many different sonic elements that it is likely to appeal to a very broad range of creative music listeners. Treat your ears and give it a listen.

Highly Recommended!

Chris De Chiara

Other Minds Festival 23

0f290695-a2d4-42be-abc1-2d7c86dfe445Sound Poetry: The Wages of Syntax
Other Minds presents it’s 23rd Festival of new music. Sound poets from around the globe gather in San Francisco for the 23rd edition of the Other Minds Festival. This year, we’ll have an all-star cast of composers and writers whose purview is that hippodrome of hilarity where literature and speech intersect music and performance.

The event takes place April 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, and 14, 2018, at the ODC Theater, 3153 17th Street at Shotwell, in San Francisco.

Featured artists include an all-star cast, including Anne Waldman, Clark Coolidge & Alvin Curran, Michael McClure, Aram Saroyan, Enzo Minarelli, Jaap Blonk, Pamela Z, Amy X Neuburg, Charles Amirkhanian & Carol Law, Beth Anderson, and more. We’ll also bring you historical glimpses into the past of sound poetry by Marinetti, Depero, Hugo Ball, Stein, Toch, Heidsieck, Kurt Schwitters and many more.

For more information visit: other minds

AMN Reviews: Todd Dockstader – From the Archives [ Starkland ST226 ]

Dockstader_Booklet_ Printer Spreads.inddThe world was reintroduced to outsider electronic music composer Todd Dockstader in the 1990’s when Starkland reissued most of his work from the early 1960’s on two CD’s. The Starkland discs were met with widespread critical acclaim. Stunned by this newfound interest and acclaim for his work Dockstader returned to composing. In 2002 Recommended Records reissued additional work from the 1960’s on CD. Dockstader then teamed up with David Lee Meyers (AKA Arcane Device and Pulsewidth) releasing two CD’s on Recommended Records in 2004 and 2005. During 2005 -2006 Sub Rosa released a three CD set from Dockstader entitled “Aerial”. Many believed that this was to be his final work. Todd Dockstader passed away peacefully on February 27, 2015 surrounded by his friends and family while listening to his own music.

“From the Archives” is a posthumous release of new work by electronic music composer Todd Dockstader. When Dockstader passed away in 2015 he left behind a computer full of new work totaling more than one hundred fifty hours. Daughter Tina Dockstader Kinard enlisted enthusiast Justin Brierly to go through the material and select fifty pieces to send to Thomas Steenland at Starkland. Steenland selected fifteen pieces for this outstanding new release.

The compositions on “From the Archive” were composed during 2005 – 2008. They demonstrate Dockstaders growing comfort with the computer and his original imaginative style firmly finding its way into the digital sphere. The pieces cover a wide range of sonic texture and are generally less ethereal and atmospheric then “Aerial” which was Dockstader’s last release during his lifetime. What set Dockstader’s compositions apart from many of his contemporaries is that his work is focused on highly imaginative constructions of organized sound as opposed to the use of sampled sound collage or synthetic extensions of the traditional composition world of “do re me” that continues to dominate electronic music. Dockstader’s compositions had a kind of cinematic drama in their construction and this continues to be the case with the pieces on this new volume – “From the Archive”. In this new work we are treated to a subterranean prelude of ringing filters in “Basement Passage”. The sounds of a choir of ghosts singing and wailing in whispered tones on “Whispered Smooth”. Contrasting cinematic edits between real and imagined sounds in “Todt 1”. “Anat Loop” is a subtle construction of glitch and loops. Then there is the noisy, rhythmic, almost industrial sonic assault of “Big Jig” and so much more.

Todd Dockstader’s “From the Archives” is one of the best releases of 2016. It provides us with an hour of new music from one of the masters of sound art. “From the Archives” will make long time Dockstader listeners extremely happy and will hopefully bring his incredible work to many new listeners. Thanks to the efforts of Tina Dockstader Kinard, Justin Brierley and Thomas Steenland we have the chance to hear this new work and to enjoy it for many years to come.

Highly recommended!

For more information – http://www.starkland.com/st226/index.htm

Chris De Chiara

Alessandro Bosetti Interview

From New York’s Roulette:

Central to the music of Trophies is the voice or a multitude of voices.  A type of voices bordering song and speech but not embracing either one of those practices completely. On November 14th at Roulette, composer and sound artist Alessandro Bosetti presented TROPHIES along with Kenta Nagai, and Ches Smith.  We met up with Alessandro to talk about the project. 

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Musique Machine Reviews

From Musique Machine:

Habsyll – MMVIII
Habsyll are a doomed drone collective and this is their extremely weighted, crushing and horrifying début album which spews forth tow painful, long and skull grindingly heavy tracks of that recall the long form doom tortures of the likes of Moss and at times Khanate; through MMVIII is very much it’s own slice of total stream rolling pained doom.

Tiziano Milani – Im Innersten
Tiziano Milani is an Italian based experimental artists who mixers together sound art, ambience & drone textures, improv, electro acoustics, and slight noise tendencies into long shifting, dreamy and varied long form sound paintings that as he calls acoustic architecture.

Merzbow – Camouflage
Camouflage finds Merzbow in a more psychedelic noise sound mode, offering up three lengthy tracks of kaleidoscopic, shifting and multi-coloured noise matter to pummel, boil and expand your mind with.

The Thirteenth Assembly – (un)sentimental
The Thirteenth Assembly are a jazz collective who take in influences of funk, modern classic, avant metallic riff chug and all manner of genre hints to make a very vibrate, atmospheric and varied album.

Brothman,Pyle & Mckinlay – Self Titled
This little self titled release finds Brian Pyle and Merrick McKinaly (otherwise know as the Starving Weirdos) taking the work of Arcata, California resident and respected jazz pianist Darius Brotman and chop it up into eerier, chilling, discordant and filmatic shapes.

Japanther – Tut Tut, Now Shake Ya Butt
Tut Tut, Now Shake Ya Butt is a very bizarre split between dumb ‘n’ bubblegum art skate punk and lengthy, surreal and plan odd spoken word texts over strange stripped electro beat work-out, odd field recording ‘n’ samples mix and match.

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New on Victo Records

From Victo Records:

In the spring of 2006, Spanish sound artist Francisco López led a composition workshop in Montreal. A master of the field recording and its use in acousmatic composition, López asked the participants to share their urban field recordings. From their work came a compact disc, Montreal Sound Matter on Pogus, and an exhibition presented at the Fonderie Darling in Montreal. The Victoriaville Matière Sonore project continues the work started in the metropolis. For this occasion, the original seven participants have agreed to get together again, under López’s direction, and create a new collective work from scratch. First, they came to Victoriaville to make field recordings in various public and private spaces, recordings that have been once again shared with the group. Then, they each produced a new piece using this common soundbank. However, this time around López did add one extra rule: a sequential order has been set, so that composers had to use, as the starting point for their own composition, the piece of the composer coming before them. As a result, we have a long acousmatic work in eight sections, each section picking up where the previous one has left

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