Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Joe Jones - Xylophone (?, 2004)

Another glorious mechanized symphony from the maestro Joe Jones, this time scored for xylophone alone and captured in a 1976 performance. Over its thirty-one minutes, the dizzying chimes wind up and down, sometimes hanging briefly on a note but rarely settling into much of a pattern beyond that up and down. Once accustomed to the automatons, I find myself listening more to the spaces in between, honing in especially on a bumping that may be accidental or might even be an unsteady drum. Its timing against the steady ringing of the xylophone cannot help but bear similarity to the Javanese kendhang, though I'm sure I am making a bit more out of what's there. The accompanying diagram sheds some great insight into how Jones constructed his instruments and why they played the way they did.


Thursday, July 8, 2010

Bill Fontana - Ohrbrücke - Soundbridge Köln - San Francisco (Wergo, 1994)

If one idea prevails through much of Bill Fontana's recorded work, it's the notion of transporting sound, of taking what's heard in many places channeling them into one. His Soundbridge pieces work in a similar fashion to his Sound Maps, pooling together sounds from geographically distant locations. For Ohrbrücke, Fontana juxtaposes sound maps of Cologne and San Francisco, broadcasting them then via satellite to numerous radio stations across Europe and the US. The resulting sound mass was not entirely owed to happenstance. During the broadcast, the six Romanesque church bell towers in Cologne performed a piece of Fontana's design. For listeners in Cologne, this allowed a unique experience dependent on one's proximity to any one bell tower. Simultaneously, and beyond Fontana's control, the fog horns along the Golden Gate Bridge sound, introducing tones that interact and at times interfere with the sounding of the church bells. The bulk of the work's impact is first felt as these collisions occur--and as the overlapping of the two cities is most obvious--which in turn makes the less active moments equally engaging as the listener attempts to pry apart the cities' sounds.

Ohrbrücke - Soundbridge Köln - San Francisco