Wednesday, May 03, 2006

ECM, CIMP &c.

responding to drew's and taylor's comments from yesterday... (and mark's)

i don't have the parker/bley/phillips drew mentions tho it apparently gets the slight thumbs up over the one i do have, sankt gerold.

i agree with taylor that the super souped-up sound is never well-applied in one-size-fits-all manner. same hold true for the CIMP folks, whose production values are perhaps the polar opposite of ECM: straight off the mike, no boosting no compression no fiddlin and twiddlin of any kind. which in some settings is exactly what you want, but like anything this kind of rigorous purity can be self-defeating. i have a CIMP recording of a marc edwards trio with drew's friend sabir mateen on reeds and hilliard greene on bass -- it might as well be a reeds/drums duo recording for all intents and purposes as hill is virtually inaudible for most of the disc.

with the evan parker electro-acoustic ensemble tho, i wonder if some post-performance production enhancement isn't entirely appropriate on some level: i mean there's already live electronics and electonic processing of acoustic sounds going on from the get-go...

i guess garbarek's dis is the classic ECM cliché, or so the penguin guide would have it

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"Who wants to go out and get whipped? And if you do, aren't you just being entertained, really?" --Bob Dylan (1965) in the midst of bereating a Time magazine reporter in Don't Look Back



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i'm really wishing that when magnolia electric company played at the black cat a few weeks ago, and after realizing that secretly canadian was selling its songs: ohia CDs for ten bucks apiece, that i had not mistakenly hit "$20" on the ATM instead of the "$40" that i had intended to withdraw so that i could buy four songs: ohia CDs. the two i bought, axxes and ace and didn't it rain, have been playing wonderfully lately. but i want the others -- all of em.

5 comments:

Taylor Brady said...

Going back over what I wrote, I can see that it might be taken to mean that there's some inherent dishonesty or bad faith in applying ANY sort of post-production to improvised music. Just wanted to clarify that this wasn't my intent at all. And you're right, especially in terms of electroacoustic improv, that the question is already there in terms of the technical apparatus of the live performance itself. I've written about this a bit, in an essay on Tommy "Bugs" Hunter's experiments with tape delay in the Sun Ra Arkestra, and how that work starts very early on to worry at the category-distinction between performance and recording.

My beef with the production on the Parker ensembles, though, isn't that it doesn't hew to the CIMP line. You're right about CIMP, that acoustic realism certainly isn't a one-size-fits-all approach, and I'm always a bit nonplussed by Rusch's claims to greater authenticity based on his noninterventionist stance. The endpoint of that argument would be "We didn't even bother hiring an engineer -- this is the real deal!"

What I'm objecting to with the Parker recordings, though, is the specific post-production techniques that get chosen. I hear this music as needing a fairly broad continuum of sound spaces, from one in which individual, sharp-edged "events" abrade and jostle each other in a granular fasion, to one in which there's a more oceanic "wash" of sound. The problem with the ECM reverb, in this context, is that it dumps everything into the ocean right from the git-go.

tmorange said...

no, i know, the ECM/CIMP dichotomy is something of a strawman relative to what yr saying taylor.

i'd love to see that piece on hunter's tape delay effects with sun ra -- that's early sixties, cosmic tones for mental therapy and art forms of dimension tomorrow stuff right?

i'll be listen to the parker e/a ensemble recordings i have again (drawn inward and memory/vision only so far) in the short run. what yr saying is interesting and i've never listened to them this way, but it strikes me that part of what is at stake in this stuff -- and this goes alltheway back to the music improvsation company stuff and even AAM i suppose -- is the profound ambiguity they produce or reflect with respect to the nature of sound, sound production and sound continuity. it often becomes difficult to tell what instrument is producing what sound, especially when sounds are enhanced through live processing or extended technique. (parker talks about adding circular breathing to his repertoire of techniques in part as a way to compete with the sustained tones of guitar, bowed bass, electronics, etc in the music improvisation company.

so that dumping everything in the ocean and letting it all wash around seems to me a perfectly commensurate production gesture. but llike i say i'l listne again...

t.

(p.s. dig drew's comments to the previous post -- reminds me of what alvin lucier has done with recording and composing using the "acoustic signatures" of given interior spaces...)

Drew said...

The Lucier thing I am Sitting in Room is interesting in this set of questions - it an extreme sports vers of the room eq- the harmonic resonance of the room, reinforced repetitively until only those voice frequencies that the room eq (and this is related to the reverb but the same thing) reinforces are left. So his voice becomes the musical representation of the space he's in - pure musical information about space and voice, literally. You could also think of that as a radical collaboration between poetry and space where music is the result.

Taylor Brady said...

Outing my hyper-derivative production techniques here, but the Lucier thing is operative (albeit in digitally-simulated form rather than actual room recordings) in what I did as a secondary soundtrack for Norma Cole's SCOUT CD-ROM.

If you have the disc, you'll notice when you click out of the main slideshow into the section titled "Documents" (which displays closeups of the artist's book that was the beginning of the project for Norma) that the voiceover narration stops and an electronic soundtrack takes over.

This soundtrack is sourced entirely from Norma's voiceover, and was created by generating two identical versions of the voice part, inverting one, applying radically different reverb effects to each, and then mixing down at unity gain. (And then repeat -- I think I did it eight or ten times). Essentially what comes out is several room reverbs "around" the voice, minus the voice itself. (Of course, after that I did a lot of timestretching, folding, etc., which is more John Oswald than Alvin Lucier).

OK, that's my geek moment for the day. Interestingly, though, listening back to that stuff, it sounds a tad too wet to the ears I'm wearing today -- which has me thinking maybe this whole preference for a dry sound I've been getting at is more driven by mood and whim and what I had for lunch than anything else, as I know I really liked the sound of that track when I made it.

Drew said...

cool , I do have the Scout CD-ROM - it's been sitting on my desk waiting to be opened- I'll check it out...