• Stream Logic

    Jace Clayton on Carl Stone and close listening in the Spotify era

    ONCE OR TWICE A YEAR, if we are lucky, the corporations that stockpile and sell data generated by our digital habits share a glimpse of it with us. For Spotify, this happens in December. “You listened to 3,436 different songs on Spotify this year,” ran the Swedish streaming company’s automatically personalized email to me (and roughly two-hundred million other users)—“but which will be your #1?” I clicked through, certain that Carl Stone’s 1986 “Shing Kee” was top of my list.

    Carl Stone has been cutting music into very small pieces for a very long time. His oeuvre constitutes a powerful investigation

    Read more
  • Story of O)))

    Sasha Frere-Jones on Sunn O)))

    EARLIER THIS YEAR, the French composer and artist Éliane Radigue published an essay called “Time Is of No Importance” in a collection called Spectres. In it, she writes: “Like plants, immobile but always growing, my music is never stable. It is ever changing. But the changes are so slight that they are almost imperceptible, and only become apparent after the fact.” The music of SUNN O))) lives in a similar balance, alive and immobile, exceptionally loud but not cruel.

    For their show at Brooklyn Steel on April 25, the core duo of guitarists Stephen O’Malley and Greg Anderson were joined by Tim

    Read more
  • Master Blaster

    Sasha Frere-Jones on Aphex Twin’s show at Avant Gardner

    WHEN APHEX TWIN played Brooklyn’s Avant Gardner earlier this month, it was his first New York appearance in at least twenty-two years. From day one, Richard D. James has used live appearances as DJing opportunities, focusing heavily on the ragey, detailed tracks he and his cohort favor. But these tracks are, and have always been, a fairly narrow tranche cut from his larger body of work. Don’t flip out if you miss his recent shows and are a lifelong fan of Selected Ambient Works 85-92 (1992)—that show can happen any time, in your house.

    The sound was clear and not too loud. The big ass, windy

    Read more
  • Room and Cord

    Christian Fennesz talks about his new album Agora (2019)

    There are few sumptuous descriptors that have not already been deployed to describe the sui generis music of Austrian composer Christian Fennesz: Equinoctial. Thalassic. Amniotic. His previous albums Endless Summer (2001), Venice (2004), and Bécs (2014) were duly iconoclastic experiments, marrying honeyed, guitar-based melodies and snippets of field recordings with tesseral permutations of post-techno algorithms. Along the way, Fennesz has become a lodestar of left-field pop, counting among his collaborators Ryuichi Sakamoto, David Sylvian, Peter Rehberg, and Keith Rowe. The sprawling four tracks

    Read more
  • Written In the Stars

    Phillip Greenlief on Lisa Mezzacappa's Cosmicomics

    SINCE THE EARLY 2000s, Lisa Mezzacappa has worked in the San Francisco Bay Area as a composer and in-demand jazz bassist who plays with a roster of free improvisers and maverick composers including Fred Frith, Myra Melford, and Rhys Chatham. She has a knack for conceptualizing and articulating fresh ideas in collaborations across multiple disciplines: Touch Bass is a recent project with choreographer Risa Jaroslow for three basses and three dancers. As well, she founded the live cinema series Mission Eye and Ear at Artists Television Access (ATA), and is co-organizer of the Do-Over Music Series

    Read more

    Canada Choate on Panda Bear at Pioneer Works

    WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE between being boring and being uninteresting? Panda Bear’s show at Pioneer Works earlier this month, during which he played almost exclusively material drawn from his 2018 EP A Day With the Homies and his 2019 LP Buoys, left me wondering which of those adjectives best describes his musical sin. Noah Lennox (aforementioned Panda Bear, and member of Animal Collective), with the help of Person Pitch (2007) producer Rusty Santos, built the nine tracks on Buoys out of repetitive acoustic guitar strumming, a few samples, a deep, almost inaudible bass, and his wheedling voice.

    Read more
  • Idol Hands

    Phillip Greenlief on the music of Motoko Honda

    THE MUSIC OF PIANIST AND COMPOSER MOTOKO HONDA is to mainstream jazz what Brahms’s music was to the neatly packaged forms of the Classical period. Following Beethoven’s belief that forms must expand to represent the breadth of human experience, the 19th century composer presented elongated themes with lengthy development, in which melodies were passed throughout the orchestra; he avoided the leitmotifs of Wagner, for whom specific instruments were associated with specific themes.

    Honda has assimilated many forms on her path to the present: early classical piano training in Japan, a move to the

    Read more

    Sasha Frere-Jones on Éliane Radigue

    HOW LONG did an hour feel in 1971? Was it like three 2018 hours? Ten minutes? The music of the eighty-six-year-old French composer Éliane Radigue forces these questions because as much as it’s about synthesizers and magnetic tape and silence and held notes and resonance, it is also about time. Her work cannot be excerpted or sliced into representative swatches or versified. The movement from a piece’s beginning to its end is the motif itself; to lose even a little of that adventure is to lose the music. Œuvres électroniques (Electronic Works), a new fourteen-CD box set recently released by Ina

    Read more
  • Tea and Apathy

    Devan Diaz on Martine Gutierrez’s “Apathy”

    SHE APPEARED IN MY LIFE at the corner of Ninth Avenue and Thirty-Seventh Street, the star of a billboard advertising “Martine Jeans.” The seductive arch of her back evoked a nude—but she was completely covered. I wanted that mien for myself.

    A quick Google search revealed that the jeans did not exist—the image was the product. Overlooking Manhattan’s Garment District, the artist—also the model, photographer, and stylist—used signifiers of fashion ads to confront the public with fine art. Two weeks later, I saw her again. This time it was a portrait by Inez and Vinoodh in Candy. My eyes focused

    Read more
  • Free Your Voice

    Phillip Greenlief on Beam Splitter and Voicehandler

    TRADITIONALLY, A VOICE SINGS while accompanied by an instrument, but the members of Beam Splitter and Voicehandler—two electro-acoustic improvisation duos hailing from Berlin and Oakland respectively—dispense with that custom in favor of offering a conversation between sounds. There’s no adhering to conventional roles of harmony and melody, and the results offer balancing acts of sound-grammar pointillism and textural landscape; when the groups shared a bill at The Lab, they offered a study in conceptual contrasts as well.

    The first set featured Voicehandler—Jacob Felix Heule and

    Read more
  • Sasha Geffen

    on the best music of 2018

    1 SOPHIE, OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDEs (MSMSMSM/Future Classic) An emphatic departure from her initial singles, SOPHIE’s debut album deploys the producer’s unique pop vernacular to probe questions of identity, survival, and freedom. Plasticky synthesizer sounds warp around vocals from Cecile Believe as the record proposes an ecstatic vision of utopia beyond the body’s historical confines.

    SERPENTWITHFEET, “CHERUBIM” (Secretly Canadian/Tri Angle) A love song doesn’t have to be light. It can dent the earth with the weight of its singer’s devotion. In “cherubim,” serpentwithfeet renders queer

    Read more
  • Vivien Goldman

    1 LUDWIG GÖRANSONN FEAT. BAABA MAAL, “WAKANDA” (Marvel) It is ironic that it took a film (Black Panther) about a fictional country to make much of America embrace the idea of Africa. Nonetheless, Maal’s sustained griot vibrato summons and enthralls on Göransonn’s theme song “Wakanda.” All bow to the handy magic of the imagination.

    CARDI B, BAD BUNNY, AND J BALVIN, “I LIKE IT” (Atlantic) The surge in rich-world collaborations with Afrobeat and reggaeton artists de-exoticizes the squirmy tag “world music.” Are Brits and Yanks really out of this world? Debates aside, it’s joyous when phenom Cardi

    Read more