CARL STONE – Electronic Music From The Eighties And Nineties

Unseen Worlds

It seems just logical that another handful of Carl Stone’s electronic works follows, at relatively short distance, the brilliant Electronic Music From The Seventies And Eighties issued by the same label in 2016. If that plunge into archival materials was a study in the origins and development of an unmistakable compositional style, this chapter revolves around certain aesthetic principles – neo-minimalist, if you will – which, in conjunction with Stone’s interest for textural organization and form, warrant impressive quality standards.

There are several episodes in Stone’s output deserving to be called essential; one of them is the opening track of this album, “Banteay Srey”. Besides representing this reviewer’s initiation to the composer’s sound world and a veritable indicant of new electroacoustic orbits, to this day its introvert ataraxy reminds of primary natural occurrences. Tears of conscious loneliness escorting long silences; the ebb and flow of a marine wash under the feet. Obvious? Only for those who get orgasmic while deluding themselves with the intoxicating fumes of extramundane maths. You can’t build a skyscraper starting from the roof; this piece literally teaches the fundamentals of inner germination.

“Sonali” is typified by a slightly mechanical reiterative character that might bewilder selected listening specimens. Still, there’s no need to get overly defensive. By rolling with the incoming punches one ends appreciating that spasmodic audacity, emerging from the sonic escalation with increased focus (in spite of the presence of a Mozart shard somewhere in there). “Woo Lae Oak” – finally in its complete version – unfolds its magnetism on different levels of time stretching, mainly via extensive crescendos of layered tremolo strings gradually shifting in pitch. The quivering substratum is counterbalanced by the dignified bareness of a fluty blown bottle influencing the breathing and overall color of the resulting entirety.

The program is concluded by a wonder named “Mae Yao”, previously unheard by yours truly. Originally scored for multiple bagpipes, organ and live electronics, it juxtaposes spirals of shattered patterns, transfigured timbres and linear repetitions to generate a mind-boggling pulse. In the second half the vision is furtherly elevated by a heartrending melodic shape coming from an undisclosed heavenly place, ultimately intoned by a multi-tracked female voice. It stays with and within our soul until the end of the record, and well beyond that stupid temporal restriction.

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