Friday, June 26, 2009
the trick is layers
Kronos Quartet/John Oswald - "Spectre" from Short Stories (listen) In checking out some John Oswald info for the Michael Jackson piece, I came across this collaboration with Kronos Quartet, where he spent 10 hours recording them doing a number of very basic things and then recombining it into a beautifully dense piece that is, as it proceeds, increasingly beyond what the quartet itself is capable. By the end of it, he supposedly has 4000 layers of instruments going, turning a plaintive cello tone into a swarm of locusts.
Carl Stone - Mom's (listen) Carl Stone employs a much simpler variant of stacking samples; he simply slows them down and gently loops and overlays them into gorgeous hypnotic songs that unfold as the speed of blossoming flowers.
I got this album about 15 years ago under most fortuitous circumstances; I walked into a records store to talk to one of my friends that worked there who, perhaps pissed at his boss, told me to go grab the first thing that caught my eye and walk out with it. I don't know what I was looking for in the "St" section, but I didn't find it, and not wanting to dally over choosing a record to steal, let the cover photo catch my eye without knowing anything about the artist.
I was deep into Brian Eno's similar ambient music then, so it was a pleasant surprise when I got around to putting it on. The wonderful thing about Stone's methods that instead of creating a placid soundscape, he starts slow and gradually whips them up into a parade. It is still one of my all-time favorite records.
Brian Eno - Discreet Music (listen) Most people will point to the simple elegance of Music for Airports as Eno's finest ambient hour, but I have a warm fuzzy for Discreet Music, his first non-rock release, particularly the reconstitutions of Pachelbel's Canon, elongating the string parts by various mathematical strategies so that the classical music staple is coerced into slowly releasing its potential energy.