Sunday, September 07, 2008

Keith Rowe/Seymour Wright -3D (w.m.o/r)

It's an issue, of course, that arises all the time but for myself a little more so in the past few weeks while I was dealing with the Capece DVDs--the necessary inaccuracy of a given capture of a performance that acknowledges the space within which it occurs. In that, I suppose, the majority of recorded eai discs are essentially live performances and generally of a subtle nature, this problem can be especially thorny. So it was a nice happenstance that I received this set the other day which contains three recordings from different vantage points within the concert space, using different equipment, of an event created by Rowe and Wright in Derby, 2002.

The music itself is pretty fine, Rowe in kind of post-Weather Sky mode. I'm much less familiar with Wright's history but here, he seems to travel between blown and percussive/rubbed sounds on his alto. It would take many more comparative listens to determine what's missing in one version, what's heard in another and, in all honesty, I doubt I'll get to that level of interrogation. There are salient "events" easily picked out of the sea of abstraction and I guess one could isolate them, play them back to back, note the variations, but someone else, not me.

What I can do, however, and am indeed doing as I type this, is play all three simultaneously. It so happens I have three CD-playing devices in my room: the stereo, the PC and the XBox and while the latter two aren't by any means ideal, it's worth a go. I noticed the total time varied somewhat so precise syncing seemed a fool's errand and, besides, I'm not so much interested in that as in constructing a "blurred" performance, so I just began them within 15 or so seconds of each other and am sitting back and enjoying the result. Since my stereo speakers are to the rear and the other two in front of me, I automatically get a spatial effect I don't in routine listening. Plus, it seems the events of the concert are enough out of sync that there's no real echo effect, rather gaps of 30-40 seconds between recognizable episodes. Sounds great, actually! Hard to imagine, now, listening to it otherwise. (Coincidentally, I played Terry Riley's "You're No Good" at Record Club this past week, so I have that quasi-similar experiment kicking around in the noodle as well. I was also reminded of the set Mattin did with Malfatti at Tonic a couple years back where he recorded audience sound, playing it back some minutes later, enough time having elapsed that one's recollection of a given cough or chair squeak was slightly uncertain). Just now, some 23 minutes in, Wright lets loose with four relatively clear honks; they made it from XBox to PC to stereo in about a minute, the way the discs are staggered and did, in fact, sound remarkably different in tone, richness, etc. (allowing, to be sure, for the relative deficiencies of my own playback equipment) When Wright begins (I'm assuming) jangling metal objects against his horn or within its bell, the immersive, shimmering effect is quite ticklish!

In that it's on w.m.o/r, you can readily try this yourself (or not), via free download here. I highly recommend doing so and, if you have the means, experiencing the three discs more or less at once. Very rewarding and refreshing.


robert said...

You know the most interesting thing to me in this post Brian, is the revelation that you have an xBox. More info on that please!

I've listened to the discs of this individually and I was tempted to try to mix them together. Playing them simultaneously sounds like a better move considering how out of sync they are.

On the music itself, I found Rowe's playing pretty interesting, much more akin to the discrete events style of playing you hear when he performs Treatise as opposed to his more laminal improvisations. I like his playing on this quite a bit. Wright, whose solo from this year I'm as enamored with as everyone else, does not impress as much. Clearly there has been a lot of refinement in his technique since 2002! Some great bits from him in this but I think that overall he makes too many poor choices, or tries to do things that he doesn't actually pull off. I could do w/o those honks you mention...

Brian Olewnick said...

Heh, didn't I write about the xbox here? Picked it up last spring in order to play Oblivion, a series I'd been hooked on since its first incarnation in the mid 90s. Currently, I have GTA4 in play, though my time doing so has been minimal. It comes in handy to screen DVDs when I don't have access to our main TV or when re-viewing music DVDs etc.

spiralcage said...

Ha, gamers everywhere, never would have thought. How'd you like Oblivion, opinion was pretty mixed in the industry. Interestingly the same developer is about to put out a sequel to the post-apocalyptic series Fallout which was one that I loved in the 90s.

Brian Olewnick said...

well, I loved the world and the immersive factor. The level of detail was consistently amazing and, of course, I'm entirely partial to open-ended games where you can pretty much do what you want which is what I did, ignoring the main plot line entirely for a few months.

The actually game-play had some major flaws, imho, including especially the automatic leveling up. I like the idea of there being many places where you'd simply be foolish to venture into at an early stage, where you wouldn't survive ten seconds. It was too "easy" in that sense and the combat was routine.

Also, after a while the types of areas began to overly resemble one another. I know it's a hugely labor intensive thing, but when for example you see the same rock formations in cave after cave, it becomes bothersome.

That said, I think they have a platform for incredible future enhancements and this was such a huge step forward from Morrowind that I definitely look forward to the next generation.

And yes, Fallout 3 looks seriously intriguing.....

btw, I've computer gamed since the Zork text adventures on my Commodore 64 in, what, 1982?

spiralcage said...

There was a lot of complaints about the leveling system in Oblivion IIRC. From what I understand in the PC version you could patch the game with user generated patches that solved that and other complaints. I also seem to recall a lot of complaints about the voice acting...

If you like the big open worlds then Fallout definitely should be right up your alley. At least if you are into the setting. I for one am more into the post-apocalyptic settings - I pretty much can't play fantasy themed things anymore. Anyway the old 90s Fallouts were incredibly flexible, you could get through the game in a vast number of completely different ways, including focusing on communication skills and being able to talk your way into/out of situations instead of just always fighting.

Man those Infocom text adventures were totally the best - I don't think that storytelling in games has advanced much beyond them. Gone backwards even. I gotta say, its not too surprising that you are into games, especially as you are a big puzzle solver. Its the time aspect that is more surprising, I try to keep up on games for professional reasons and I find it tough to devote the time. Even when its a game I really like and want to play.

Anonymous said...


(I keed, I keed)

(not really)

(yeah, sorta)