Quite some time ago, I wrote some entries about the fascinating concept of Generative Music: music that is different every time you play it – the missing link between recorded and live music.
SSeyo Music introduced their fascinating concept as KOAN software – a brilliant package that was released about fifteen years ahead of it’s time.
Brian Eno was on of the first to pick up on this concepts, because it fitted perfectly to his multi-CD installations.
Read more about this here and here, but be sure to get back to read on.
(Side Note: this software still exists: it’s called Noatikl now. )
So the concept of Generative Music is as fascinating as ever. Enter Parallel Music, or PMusic – (as opposed to RMusic: Recorded Music).
There are quite a few ways to listen to ambient / environmental sounds. Apart from buying CD’s and finding new musical releases, you can listen to the sound of your own environment. Take a walk and open your ears to the sounds you don’t normally hear.
Or: play a computer game.
A few years ago, the creators of Myst were praised for the use of sound in their game. They hád to pay attention to detail, because the game was a sequence of beautiful but non-moving images (can you imagine that nowadays?).
Currently, games tend to be almost lifelike experiences. Not only in graphic detail, but also in sound.
There may be quite a lot more people listening to ‘ambient music’ on daily bases, maybe even without realising it.
The MMORPG (Massive Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) The Chronicles of Spellborn comes with almost 20 hours of sound.
About one hour of that is ‘composed’ soundtrack music (written by Jesper Kyd), the rest is environmental sound enhanced with ambient musical effects (created by Matthew Florianz).
Wixel sometimes refers to the small group of musicians surrounding the Belgian artist Wim Maesschalk. When I recently saw them performing at a dutch festival (CrossLinx), I felt they sounded like Sigur Rós but without the vocals. Which is meant as a compliment, because when listening to most of Sigur Rós’s music I always wonder if I would like it better without the odd vocals.
‘Wixel’ is also used as Wim Maesschalk’s artist nickname.
Wim ‘Wixel’ Maesschalk is a prolific artist, working very hard to find ways to get his music exposed to the world. (not unlike Rutger ‘Machinefabriek‘ Zuydervelt, though their musical angles are different).
Slowly, the world starts to find Wixel’s music too.
Celebrating their 25th birthday, ECM Records released a recording of the unusual musical combination of saxophone player Jan Garbarek with the Hilliard Ensemble performing ancient vocal music (‘Officium‘, 1994).
An album so stunning it proved to be one of ECM’s biggest “hits”.
I was lucky enough to attend a live performance of this album in a church in my hometown that year, and amidst all of the concerts I have seen in my life this one especially is one I will never forget.
In 2009, ECM celebrates it’s 40th birthday. Could this be the reason they have searched for a musical combination as unusual and maybe even as unheard as on Officium? Maybe they did, maybe they didn’t. But to me, ‘Being Dufay’ has about the same effect ‘Officium’ had.
Robert Henke’s previous works (Layering Buddha / Signal to Noise / Piercing Music / Floating Point – not to mention Monolake’s music) almost makes “Atom/Document” a blind buy.
However, the music on this new album is quite different from the previous releases. So be prepared!
The album opens with […flicker] spreading a massively deep drone. But the drone only returns in [convex], and in the closing track [_exit]…and there’s quite a lot of beating, pounding and clanking inbetween.
Albums released near or in december tend to fall through the cracks of the end-of-year-list frenzy. They are not noticed in the year they are released and will not get through next year’s selection because they are released the year before.
Some of these albums deserve special attention to help them get noticed.
(Especially since a lot of music addicts strongly tend to focus on their peer-group’s lists which – in the end- makes every one of them buy the same album collection..).
One of these titles is Arve Henriksen’s Cartography.
Trumpet player Arve Henriksen already gained some attention with precious albums on Rune Grammofon (Sakuteiki, Chiaroscuro and Strjon) and as a member of Supersilent (operating on the other side of the musical spectre, where ‘silent’ isn’t exactly the word that comes to mind ).
His latest, Cartography, released on ECM, is an amazing collection of thoughtful sounds. His trumpet playing sounds like Jon Hassell, the overall musical sound sounds like that of Nils Petter Molvaer (who’s trumpet playing, in turn, sounds like Jon Hassell).
‘Opposites attract’. That’s quite appropriate when talking about Machinefabriek and Soccer Committee working together.
Their music seems quite incompatible at first: intimate acoustic folk vs. gritty electronics.
But Mariska Baars (Soccer Committee) and Rutger Zuydervelt (Machinefabriek) have been playing together more often in the past.
The music of Michel Banabila has been on the top of my personal playlist favourites for years (check my last.fm account if you want the details).
Considering the strength of his versatile output, it really is a shame he doesn’t get the recognition he deserves (in terms of sales, that is).
In the past few years, his music has found its way into theatre productions (by well-known Dutch company Orkater, for example) and television documentaries. Some of this work has been compiled earlier on the self-released double-CD ‘Hilarious Expedition‘ and on ‘Traces‘.
Dutch record label Steamin’ Soundworks released a new compilation, fully titled “Precious Images – Datafiles 1999 – 2008“. The two CD’s are hand-picked and remastered by Michel Banabila himself and show an interesting duality in his work.
When you listen to this album you hear quiet (Indian) Music – tambur, oud, violin, slide guitar, flute – with an occasionally added non-indian touch (like the trumpet of Nils Petter Molvaer, or (REM’s) Bill Rieflin’s percussion).
But when you listen closely you will hear all kinds of things are happening behind this music.
Fragments and splinters bounce around like light in a house of mirrors (hence the title, of course).
At first listen, the ‘post-classical’ music on Janek Schaefer’s new CD “Extended Play (Triptych For The Child Survivors Of War And Conflict)” resembles the quiet peacefulness of the compositions of Arvo Pärt – especially in the beautiful 24 minute piece “acoustic ensemble”.
But there are some disturbing details: most artist would go a long way to avoid the vinyl crackle-and-pops for a CD release like this. The parts of the acoustic ensemble piece are also represented as solo piano, cello and violin piece, which contain some stops and re-starts breaking the flow of the composition quite unexpected.
Janek Shaefer is, after all, not primarily know as a post-classical composer but as a ‘turntablist‘….
The installation picture on the cover explains the performance we hear: