Laughter

the human race has one really effective weapon


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Review: Nicholas Szczepanik, “Not Knowing” (Desire Path)

Halfway through Nicholas Szczepanik’s Not Knowing things take a turn for the dark. It required a full 25 minutes to unfold them, but it takes only a few short moments for Szczepanik to stab his gilded melodies and let them die. First the strings lose their luster, then they grow still and cold, and finally they sink into icy cold waters. Afterward, all that remains of their swaying, sentimental song is a muffled harmonic echo and the barest suggestion that something warm still persists below the surface. But the music sweeps us along, and the symphony finally fades into a wavy blur of shivering tones. The transition is forlorn and paradoxically comforting, like recalling a happy memory and realizing you’re unlikely to experience anything like it ever again.

Not Knowing first saw the light of day in 2011, when it served as the inaugural disc in Szczepanik’s Ante Algo Azul subscription series. It was a brief 18-minute piece on a 3-inch CD-R, extremely limited, housed in a handmade sleeve and sealed with a dedication to Eliane Radigue, whose work served as an inspiration for the music. You can hear her at points throughout the album: in the patient introduction, in the pulsing analog tones, and in the directness of the elements employed. Her influence is clear, but Szczepanik does a lot more than imitate her work.

Read more… (at Dusted)

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Eliane Radigue at her synthesizer


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Eliane Radigue Interviewed at Electronic Beats

There’s an excellent new Eliane Radigue interview up at Electronic Beats. She talks in depth about her creative process, growing up in Paris, her dislike of twelve tone music, and working with Pierre Henry and Pierre Schaeffer. She even responds to a Youtube comment that compares her music to the sound of a refrigerator. Recommended reading.

When I was preparing for the interview I listened to a lot of pieces of yours that are accessible through YouTube. It’s funny to read what people write as commentaries because, of course, this being the Internet everyone can comment on anything. Here’s an example: “Sounds like my old refrigerator but it helps me sleep and contemplate about life.”

[laughs] That’s nice. I have a comment on the comment: There is a way of listening to every sound and making music out of it. The motor of an aeroplane, not from now because they’re too strong, but from years ago, had a very interesting sound that you could really make a symphony out of just by how you listened to it…

Adventurous listeners unfamiliar with her work can also check out the below mini-documentary produced by the Austrian Institute for Media Archaeology. It has great footage of her at her ARP synthesizer talking about how she works with and thinks about music.

shot from the ZBC studios


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The Monthly List: September’s Top 15

The Monthly List is just a list of my favorite records from the previous month, with links to audio, video, and reviews where possible. Titles may or may not be new releases and some records may or may not be repeated from month to month. This month there are 15 records on the list, next month there may be only eight or nine; the number isn’t fixed. If you’re interested in buying the music, you should check out the “Get Music” links at the bottom of the page; some of those sites also provide sound samples. Formats listed are the ones I own. Releases may be available in other formats.

So here are September’s 15, in no particular order: