Posts Tagged ‘Microtonal’

29th August 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

True to form, details of the theory or process behind Gintas K’s third release of 2020 are sparse: ‘Played & recorded live by Gintas K 2019. Recorded live at once, without any overdub; using computer, midi keyboard & controller assigned to vst plugins’.

What he presents here are three longform compositions, between fifteen and twenty-one minutes apiece, each accompanied by an ‘extension’ piece, of around five minutes or so, which tacks on to the end. The pieces are untitled, beyond ‘Track One’ and the date and what I assume to be the end time of recording.

K works from a palette of synapse-popping digital froth, tiny bleeping tones that fly around in all directions like amoeba in a cellular explosion, which builds to some neurone-blasting crescendos of whirring electronics and fizzing bursts of static and sparks. Amidst a swampy swirl of squelchiness rises a hum of interference, like an FM radio when a mobile phone’ been left next to it. ‘track one’ dissolves into a mass of amorphous midrange; its counterpart ‘extension’ reprises the glitching wow and flutter, ping and springs of the majority of the preceding twenty minutes, and follows a similar structural trajectory, only over a quarter of the time-frame.

‘track two’, recorded the following day in November of 2019 is, ostensibly, more of the same, with birdlike tweets and twitters fluttering around random clunks and thuds. Here, initially, there is more restraint, fewer fireworks, and more space between the sonic somersaults, until, briefly but intensely, about five minutes in, when a fierce blast of static cuts the babbling bleeps, washing away the sound to silence. Granular notes trickle in a minuscule but rapid flow which hurries keenly toward the conclusion, only to return for the extension piece, sounding rather like the tape being rewound.

Bloops, glops, tweets and twangs abound once more on ‘track three’, and if the pieces on Extensions are given to a certain sameness, it’s testament to Kraptavičius’ focus and dedication that he explores such a small sonic area in such intensely obsessive detail. Gintas K creates intensely insular music, which picks through the details of its own creation in a microscopic level, and if his spheres of reference seem suffocatingly introverted and inwardly-focused, then that’s precisely because they are, and it’s welcome. Instead of eternally reflecting on his emotions, like so many musicians, his work emerges from an infinite loop of self-reflectivity concerning its own content, and as such exists in a space that is free of such emotional self-indulgence. If this is indulgent – and perhaps it is – it’s equally scientific and detached, which very much paces it in a different bracket. And as Gintas K continues to pursue a most singular journey, it’s most educational to be able to tag along.

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DL only – Self Released – 15th July 2020

Christopher Nosnibor

Four months on from the original Kressel Studies release, Mick Sussman delivers a second volume of ‘algorithmic studies’ which explore ‘new rhythmic and timbral techniques’ The accompanying text explains that ‘as with the previous volume of Kressel Studies, these pieces are brief and generated from compact nuggets of computer code. But they form a varied procession of musical thoughts, some severe and some almost merry.’

I wrote of the first back in March that Sussman took the listener ‘deep into skittery microtonal bleeping territory’, and this twenty-one track collection of snippety fragments of drones, hums, bleeps and yawning extraneous and quivering noises follows the same experimental trajectory. And as one may reasonably expect, Vol 2 is more of the same, only different – but not very.

‘kr40P1p5’ is a jittery, skittery melange of synths, and ‘kr40P1p5’ is similarly brain-bending, but even more fractured and dizzying, as stunted notes bounce and ricochet every which way in a kind of Brownian motion. ‘Kr42p2p5’ is a swampy soup of straining analogue, while ‘kr42p2p7’ is a fizzing morass of whupping phase and stunning static hiss that’s churned to a spacey foam.

R2D2 bleeps and whistles and retro-futurism clash with short blasts of power-electronics noise, and this is very much a work which is preoccupied with sound rather than sense, conjuring a wibbly-bibbly world of weirdness.

It’s very much a mixed bag of oddities, and if, like its predecessor, it sounds like so much dicking about in the studio, then that’s because it really is, although that’s no criticism. The blurb explains that across the album, ‘some [tracks] veer toward pure noise, like Kr. 42.2.3, while others have a lighter melodic flavor, like Kr. 42.3.1. And some split the difference, with rough-textured grooves, like 44.2.1.’ And perhaps, rather than view this as an album in the conventional sense, it should be held up against the sound effects alums of the 70s and 80s, the likes of which were recorded by the BBC Radiophonic workshop.

With each piece – compositions is a stretch, at least as a musical descriptor: any composition involved is digital coding as Sussman plays with the parameters of programming – so brief, the listener doesn’t get the opportunity to settle, and is instead slapped by a quickfire succession of sonic assaults presented as sketches that flit across the full range of textures and tones, and at a pace that’s sometimes bewildering.

It does work – again, not as an album, but a collection of random sounds and sonic experiments.

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Carrier Records – CARRIER049

Christopher Nosnibor

We’re deep into skittery microtonal bleeping territory with this 24-track extravaganza. Sussman’s work is algorithm-based, meaning there’s a certain formality to the proceedings, however chaotic the notations become. And they do indeed become chaotic, explosive,

The first of these tiny sonic snippets, ‘Kr 22.2.6’ is a hyperspeeded barrage of blips that sounds not dissimilar to the old dial-up sound. Wonky chimes and clanging digital bongs abound, along with stammering, clattering metallic beats and popping electronic arrythmia jitter through EQ filters.

Variety comes in the form of splurging squelches, parping electronic squiggles that wobble digital farts: ‘Kr 28.1.6’ almost forges a semblance of a funk groove from the bubbling sonic swap. In contrast, ‘Kr 29.4.13’ ebbs and flows ins surging pulsations that set the teeth and nerves on edge with a squall of digital fizz’, while ‘Kr 30.3.14’ is fun but warped, a detuned piano bouncing every which way in a tidal wash of delay. ‘Kr 31.3.18’sounds like a call from a mobile phone in a washing machine, while ‘Kr 33.5.8’ is a sparking digital blastbeat that showers treble explosions are several hundred shards per minute.

The album as a whole is a morass of digital experimentation, and each piece is but a fragment, with running times ranging from 2:28 to 2:49. It’s bewildering, disorientating, difficult. It isn’t for everyone. But it is interesting.

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