Most of the music here would not typically be called "songs", though a few of them, where noted, do derive from songs.
From the final Monday of 2016. That year that everybody's been saying has been "quite a year". This is in lieu of any such words.
This is a setting of a Walt Whitman poem from Leaves of Grass. This will spoil the surprise, so listen first — but you might notice that what seems to be an arbitrary and rather spasmodic rhythm at the start suddenly becomes (retroactively) familiar when the voice kicks in: because, of course, the instruments are mimicking the rhythm of the voice. Cool, right?
This uses some of the same techniques I later played with in "A Noiseless Patient Spider" (see above), duplicating rhythms and pitch contours from one source, "playing them" with another. (The technology in use is the "Audio to MIDI" feature of Ableton Live.)
This whole piece is composed mostly of field recordings made during a stay at a cabin in Brandenburg, during the summer of 2014. There's also the sound of a chorus that I sing in here in Berlin, singing Sumer Is Icumen In, that wafts in and out. I put the whole thing together while sitting at a table on a patio, looking at a lake, where the birds and other animals I'd recorded were still carrying on. So it was essentially born in the sonic environment that it recalls.
I think these might be part of an ongoing project. There might be more to do, more to add to the series, at some points. For the moment, obviously, they are in some fanciful sense "orchestral" pieces, at least in my mind, totally running roughshod (I hope) over any unitary sense of "a single space" in which things seem to happen. The combination of "acoustic" and "electronic" sounds, the clashes in referents — these are all things I like a lot.
You win a prize if you can accurately describe how this track was produced.
This is the musical backdrop for a "how to make coffee" video that I made, purporting to show how to use an Aero-Press, which I thought was very funny.
The elements here are simple: a handful of vocal tracks, each one of which is extending a single phonetic sound. The action is in the mixing; the action is in the interplay of the sounds; the action is in the instability of the sounds.
One day at the public library I checked out a side-by-side English-German translation of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land. I didn't know the text. One thing I found interesting was how there were a few German phrases in the original. That gave me the idea to do this "side-by-side" reading of the text, with minimal additional sound. My German pronunciation is pretty bad, sorry to say.
These are part of a series, with some vague, loosely-defined concept that has something to do with the mathematical constant e.
This might be heard as a predecessor to the "Monumental Oversight" pieces from a few years later (above), and a descendant of "GONE" (1993, below) — at least most obviously in the rhythmic qualities and choices of "instruments".
Like "Abschere" (below), this is a 4-track tape collage piece that I did shortly after to moving to Brooklyn. Many of the sounds are heavily processed field recordings from around New York City in 1996.
This is an abstract "tape collage" piece composed in the little apartment above a grocery store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where I lived with my girlfriend at the time. I had a little studio set up in one corner of the living room and tried to carry on with my music work. But this and "Insulation" (above) were the last pieces of any note that I did in a while, as I started dissolving into the working world.
This is a computer-generated piece, produced by a special program that I wrote to interpret a drawing. The story is described in an article I wrote for a book/CD-ROM project issued by MIT Press. The article is a bit embarrassing to me now. I'm not sure how coherent I find the whole piece as a musical composition, though I have become familiar with it (so much so that I instantly recognized passages from it, 20 years later, when I heard them in the incidental music mix for a German TV series).
In circumstances I won't go into here, I behaved very badly and engaged in an extended freak-out, along with a few friends, in our final year in college. As part of my process, I "said goodbye" to a whole world of musical practice and exploration in this brief solo session at a familiar piano. It's only hearing it years later that I decided to give it this name, which I think is quite apt.
This is a so-called "tape collage" piece, produced with a 4-track tape recorder and using sound generated "in studio" (i.e., no collected/"found" sound), for whatever that's worth. I think it's lovely.
This is essentially a cover (of Bob Dylan's "One Too Many Mornings"), but I think it's warped enough that it belongs here, rather than on the "Covers" page.
This is a rendering of a text, entitled "File 1991", from a journal called "News of Music" that was published by Music Program Zero at Bard College for several years. The author of the text is Sol Pittenger, whom I believe I met once.
This is, again, a cover of sorts — or at least eventually becomes one. The whole thing is raw and jangly and bent, but has qualities that I identify as constants running through a lot of other work I've done. It's weird and embarrassing and scary and absurd. Oh, the song being "covered" is Bob Dylan's "Isis", from Desire (1974).
This was produced using an old organ of some sort that sat in Brook House, the headquarters of Music Program Zero. I'd love to know what type of organ it was. Obviously there are several layers here, all mixed on a 4-track, playing with tape speed and EQ and all the rest. I quite like it — there's a good deal of drama.
This piece really started a lot of things for me. It was actually an angry reaction to a breakup, but it became a kind of touchstone, where I first began exploring some things that feel like characteristic gestures and attitudes for me. I remember playing this for a class at Bard, where a kid said he "liked it but it was missing a beat". Ben Boretz invited the student to take a keyboard and play a beat together with it. That was instructive.