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William Basinski – The Disintegration Loops III

  The Disintegration Loops is a quartet of albums published in 2002 and 2003 by American avant-garde composer William Basinski. The pieces are made up of tape loop recordings that were played over time, with noise and crackles rising as the tape deteriorated. Basinski noticed this effect when attempting to convert his older recordings to digital format. The completion of the recordings coincided with the September 11, 2001 events, which Basinski witnessed and adds a deeper meaning to the composition. The composition is fascinating in many ways and makes the listener lose track of time. The tape loop recording had a very calming effect on me and put me in a trance-like state when I listened to it in its entirety. The tape loop is really soothing, so much so that I didn't even notice the loss of quality when I first listened to it. It makes you forget about time and allows you to really get into the piece capturing the calmness it exudes. You forget or don't really notice how i

Steve Reich – Different Trains

  In his piece "Different Trains" Steve Reich uses sound recordings of noises that typically occur at a train station, such as train announcements: "from Chicago to New York" or the sounds of a departing train. These recordings are accompanied throughout by a four-piece band/orchestra with string instruments, such as a violin. As soon as a new voice comes with the announcement of a new train, the beat and the style of playing of the band changes. More precisely, the band's playing changes first before the new announcement follows. At the same time, the speed of the pieces changes depending on the commentary of the people. With this the band brings additional tension. From minute seven a small chronology begins starting with 1939 up to 1941 and back again to 1940. This all seems to be related to the second world war, which is also confirmed by the following statements. Like "The Germans invaded Hungary" or "Black Crow's invaded this country&q

Pierre Schaeffer - Étude pathétique

  Pierre Schaefer begins the piece with sounds produced by drums and similar percussion instruments. One hears the sound of an object spinning and then coming to a stop. I assume it is a circular object, like a cymbal or hi-hat of a drum kit, that spins until it comes to a stop. Sounds of a locomotive follow, continuing with a mixture of drums and spinning objects as well as voices. There are slight parallels here with another piece by Schaeffer, "etude aux chemins de fer," in which he has the musical piece consist of sounds of trains and locomotives. I also recognize an accordion and a violin playing rapidly, accompanied by human sounds that are not really decipherable. By combining all these background sounds and using human voices, Schaeffer creates an exciting atmosphere while listening to the piece, and the listener's auditory senses are constantly challenged to decipher all the details of the sounds. At times one could be reminded of a scene from a scary movie, at l

Pauline Oliveros – The Goddard in the Dan Harpole Cistern

  After watching Dan Harpole's film of Goddard in the Cistern, one is struck by how creepy the location appears and feels. In the light, you can just make out a lengthy ladder leading down into a concrete-walled area. It's absolutely dark, with only the top hatch and a small lamp providing lighting. This sequence accounts for a significant portion of the plot. Three persons are seen climbing up and down the ladder, which might be regarded the music piece's official start. Additionally, while the name "Dan Harpole Cistern" suggests a vast space, it appears to be a homemade video. A hum and other vocal noises travel across the room, bouncing off the walls. The women's voices generate a hum that contributes to the room's unique feel. The beautiful singing is interrupted by metal fragments falling on the floor. One would ask how much thought went into the sounds, given that the majority of them appear to be chosen at random. The emphasis is not on making sound

Meredith Monk – Songs of Ascension

  She uses her voice as an instrument and sees the human voice as the first instrument for the deepest level of connections and feelings that people have no words to explain. That is what she hopes to convey through her music. In the piece "Songs of Ascension," she is accompanied at first by violins and, I believe, accordions. When they all use their voices as instruments, the singing sounds like an opera at times and like a choir at others. Because of the instruments used, all four pieces are very close to classical music. She uses the piano to accompany her singing in Gotham Lullaby. She begins with very pleasant quiet tones and actually introduces the piece with the three-line "When a song...". That's what I heard before it changed to the tones she produced with her voice. Throughout the piece, the piano plays the same melody. As a result, she primarily uses her voice to express her emotions and mood. The piece begins harmonically and becomes restless in

John Oswald – Plexure (Full Album)

  Jon Oswald was known for his Plunderphonics music pieces, where he created new pieces from already existing music recordings of famous artists and reworked them. Artists like Michael Jackson, who was also part of the cover on Plunderphonic, The Beatles, James Brown, Bing Crosby but also classical musicians like Beethoven and Bach were part of his pieces.   The first minute and a half of his album consists of a wild mix of R&B and hip-hop songs. They are single, very short sequences, about 2-3 seconds long, which were cut together. The first song was introduced with a sound that reminded me of Michael Jackson's Thriller. From minute five to about minute seven, the use of rock & roll music was recognizable. At the end, I recognized Madonna, Nirvana and again Michael Jackson, among others. Personally, I can hardly identify with this kind of music, because listening to the album, I felt the compilation was relatively arbitrary and not balanced with each other. I recognized ma

John Luther Adams – Drums Of Fire, Drums Of Stone

  The track begins with a thunderstorm, where you can hear the thunder and rain. This is followed by a very lively part with drum sounds that captured me directly and also let me drum along in my mind. I felt directly transported to a movie scene in which warriors beat on huge drums in the middle of a thunderstorm to announce the arrival of their leader.   Starting at 1:20, the beat of the drums changes and more beats are added. Strikingly, each time the beat of the drums changes, there is a brief pause in which only the sounds of the thunderstorm, or whatever the sounds are supposed to represent, can be heard. The use of the drums makes it a very energetic piece, reminiscent of fight scenes in movies, but it could also be used to prepare for an important competition for top athletes. Just before the sixth minute, however, it takes on a somber note, and the tension in the piece seems to build, like a countdown in a movie where something exciting is about to happen, ending with a comple