As regards this and the other Musicuratum website, the last week has largely been absorbed by the work after the work, which proved to be somewhat less protracted than the former but demanded an equal exertion, so much so that it’s something akin to a marathon which I feel I’ve just nearly completed. (Alas, some technical or systemic quirks do remain to be ironed out, but these I may well refer to the kind assistance of the professionals; my inclination to deal with them is likewise almost done.)
Thus tonight’s excursion will not circle leisurely around Soundcloud, but will instead travel through it at a brisk clip – some stamina will be required – for during these several weeks when my attention was mainly focused on the format, the material has accumulated, and so by now, beyond the usual three, there are quite a few more tracks calling out to be featured here.
Without further ado, then, let’s begin tonight’s long sonic sprint.
An alumnus of the Amsterdam conservatory, hailing from Ankara (by way of Uzbekistan), Emre Sihan Kaleli now works in this city as a freelance composer; his recent work, “[No.9:2] Seventeen Thoughts on a Chamber Concerto,” was performed last month at the Muziekgebouw aan ’t IJ by the Nieuw Ensemble, with Ed Spanjaard conducting: and it’s a piece of dramatic music, interspersed with some lonely soliloquies, which will start things off nicely.
Next in the line-up is a new work by Rory Smith, whom I’ve written about before (and still some distance down on my agenda is another, longer text about his music and its significance), amusingly entitled “Plod,” which, as its ironic title already intimates it will, proves to be quite fleet on its feet. This composition turns his particular feeling for syncopated effects and slightly off-kilter piano in some unexpected directions: this is no mere accompaniment to a dance, but a piece of music which has incorporated it into itself – and dispenses it again as tap-dancing.
A pianist in California whose recordings on Soundcloud I just happened to chance upon, Kimdo Adear, offers some delightful performances of works by Beethoven, Debussy, and Chopin, but these unfortunately (perhaps in view of copyright or other restrictions) she’s marked as private, entailing that they cannot be embedded elsewhere: so by all means please listen to them on her page there! In lieu thereof, one of her piano variations upon some well-known pop-music songs, Tears for Fears’ “Shout,” recommends itself.
One work of classical music that lends itself especially readily to variation and adaptation is Erik Satie’s “Gymnopédie” sequence (it will figure more than once in tonight’s tour), and from the Brisbane composer Henry Collins, who is known on Soundcloud by the moniker Light Bulb Sound Design (I do appreciate light bulbs, evidently) and the pianist Michael Manikus comes a rearrangement of the first of them, which limns the procedures by which it was made in its very title, “Mnédie Gyop 1,” without by the transpositions destroying the oblique mood of the original.
A new work by a composer in New York whom I wrote about some months back, Brian Petuch, much as (to my ear at least) his earlier compositions do, imparts aural form to one Manhattan or even more specifically West Side street scene after another, though this time with a greater utilization of electronic means. Imbued with the exuberant sound of mid-morning, this one is called “Bleeper.”
From Nature’s Jokes, the musical moniker of Chris Payne in Birmingham, whom I featured here once before, there comes an “Orchestron Version” of his new song “Who Are You?” – with an arrangement that’s more complex than the other’s, yet without sacrificing anything of the rhythmic appeal of a very catchy tune.
A singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer in Austin, Max Frost, has become something of an Internet sensation over the course of the last couple of weeks, on account of his new song “White Lies,” and, listening to it, it is not hard to understand why, as the arrangements are equipped with hooks in abundance, and then too there’s something about his phrasing, which is somehow both ingratiating and ice-hard all at once, that simply sticks in the mind. But it’s the companion tune that I’d like to feature here, for it is darker (a video has been made for it – a disturbing piece of work): it’s called “Nice and Slow.”
Another recent Internet sensation is the singer, composer, and producer from Bogatá, Humberto Pernett, whose several albums have explored and adapted various Caribbean and Columbian genres, some of which were scarcely known elsewhere. One song in particular, “La Galáctica,” may be recommended as a starting-point for those who want to learn and to hear more.
Now – perhaps after a brief intermission for the reader – tonight’s effort would not be complete without a cinematic score, and this is provided in the shape of the music for Steve Holzer’s short film Machine Deva (which I have not seen, though I attempted to locate a copy on the Internet) composed by his son Derek, a sound-artist residing in Berlin who goes by the moniker Macumbista. This set comprises five tracks of eerie electronica.
Turning again to Erik Satie and moving on to Paris, a trio there comprising, alongside the guitarist and saxophonist Romain Fitoussi, the saxophonist Olivier de Colombel, and the drummer Gregory Desgouttes, has uploaded a recording of a jazz interpretation of the third “Gymnopédie,” and it is inventive while yet preserving much of the form and the mood of the original work.
At this point, tonight’s trip will pause briefly to admire the “Mur sonique” recently constructed by an electronic sound artist about whom little is known other than his place of residence, Ottawa, and his profession by day as some sort of bureaucrat, as indicated with a certain ironic distance by his nom d’artiste, Beaucrat.
Venturing now southwards, to Salem, New Jersey, we encounter another electronic sound artist who calls himself the Constant Zombie (he is otherwise known as Jordan Livingstone), and his music, as one might expect, given the moniker, is quite a bit darker, calling forth by sonic means the scenarios in all our heads of non-human incursions, civil-defense maneuvers, desperate states of emergency, ultimate containment measures … all of which may be heard in his track “Stranger Than Fiction.” (One might also discern, towards the beginning, bits drawn from New Order songs, and so it is not surprising to find on his Soundcloud page that an instrumental cover of “Bizarre Love Triangle” was just uploaded.)
Another exploration of similarly dark regions is conducted by one number on last year’s album A Bond with Sorrow, “Traumspiel,” and the artist, the Berliner Christoph de Babalon, has not given it that title without cause: the apocalyptic scenarios in the manner in which they are outlined here, oneirically, most likely would never have become as well-established in our heads and at large as they indisputably are in general, were it not for the prevalence of such themes in the various modes of theatre and the sorts of games to which by now nearly everyone has been exposed.
Crossing now right around the world back to the antipodes, from the vicinity of Perth there comes yet another interesting Australian variation upon the first “Gymnopédie,” this one the work of Joshua Sweetman, who goes by the moniker of Yaqui Yeti. The hardest of the bunch, it unearths a metallic element in Satie’s composition of which one previously had perhaps at most some slight inkling.
A bleak ode to the element from which life came and which it could well be will swallow most of it up thalassically again, is delivered in a song, ominously replete with the sounds of submergence, which was recently uploaded by the Israeli singer and sound-artist Stella Gotshtein (she spends part of her time in New York), or as she’s also known, Stella Got; it’s entitled simply “Song to the Sea.”
Though it is instrumental only, “Vio,” a composition by Jan Hendrich in San Francisco, who’s active musically under the name Qepe, sounds as though it were conceived similarly, embodying an analogous effort to discern what a world (if the term itself would not then be hopelessly wrong) from which we all had been stricken out might sound like, if only somehow we were given a chance (per impossibile) to hear it.
In a somewhat similar way, in some contemporary musique improvisée one could hear glimmers of how a music that would – likewise hypothetically-impossibly – exist in the absence of human beings, both as the performers and the audience, might sound; in musical experimentation of this kind, we are perhaps given some faint taste of what the synthesizing operations might comprise whereby the elements of such a music would be assembled into wholes (again, assuming that this term itself would then not be utterly inapt) – would they not differ radically from those with which we are more or less familiar? An instance of this inquiry may be discerned in the improvised music for which Joel Garten is becoming known; of these pieces his “Piano Improvisation on the Keys and with Gamelan Mallet” may be taken as representative – and apart from any inquiry his music may or may not comprise, in its own manner it is also beautiful.
To register the impressions emitted by the Chicago composer Nomi Epstein’s composition “Trio for Flute, Cello, Piano,” one will have to listen very intently, very hard, for low volume and softness as such are in part what her music seems to be about. This is a thought-provoking subject or set of topics, to be sure, and it deserves further reflection: other of her works may well furnish an occasion to engage in the latter, but for the moment there is much to appreciate and to enjoy in this one.
Courage! Just short of twenty entries, tonight’s tour is nearly finished – we’ll end with the French composer we’ve encountered a number of times already, now in the form of “Ein anderer Satie,” which is a lovely homage to him by Thoralf Dietrich, with just the right amount of oddness mixed into the honor bestowed, in a fashion that he would probably have appreciated – this is a piece composed “for two hands and a finger (or toe).” (About himself Dietrich provides nearly no information, and so, apart from his location in some German-speaking region, he too remains enigmatic.)