SCOTT BARTON – Stylistic Alchemies


For some aspects, Scott Barton – an assistant professor of music at Worcester Polytechnic Institute – is the sort of electroacoustic investigator that I love passionately.

His impressively documented researches (try this one among the many on his website if you want to experience a feeling of cognitive impotence) may represent the ultimate weapon to definitively shut the mouth of under-average persons who deem appropriate to talk and write on sound and rhythm perception without having even the slightest idea of what actually occurs within the innumerable incidents that give life, in essence, to life itself. Namely, to the constant regeneration of pan-vibrational, pan-harmonic, pan-rhythmic phenomena whose totality constitutes the very consciousness a being should navigate to find wordless answers.

This spells “anathema” for the self-declared grand viziers of celestial mechanics, presumed owners of the mathematical keys to The Truth lacking the basics of competence in practically everything, let alone the universal palpitation and its relative intrinsic pulses.

Barton does not appear to have been traumatized as a youngster. This might explain the absolute lack of esoteric egomania and vacuous verboseness in the compositions presented in Stylistic Alchemies, a seven-track jewel scored for different instrumental combinations obeying to robotic laws.

Exactly. This gentleman is specialized in robotics, applying mercilessly complex conceptions to the palette of each piece. Indeed the album’s title says it all: a pinch of this and a smidgen of that, most everywhere. Electric vs acoustic, voices (spoken, sampled and sung, also in reverse), impossible patterns, reiterative fragments gifted with an oblique melodic grace, shards of contemporary classic/minimalism following segments that sound like Etron Fou LeLoublan mangled by a plunderphonic blender (if you have never heard of John Oswald, do your homework). Every minute introduces a new surprise, and that includes a “twisted easy listening” finale.

The record starts and ends in a finger snap; you just do not realize about the passage of time, in spite of Barton’s expertise in its infinitesimal subdivisions. It’s a great recipe comprising revitalizing ingredients, challenging music that speaks of the “right now” in the right way. When the brain gets trained to instantaneously react to a given combination of signals, there’s no need to be afraid not to “understand”; you are living the event and acquiring crucial data at once.

So get drilled and have fun while the less fortunate keep sailing towards cerebral erasure in search of the scattered relics of their own psyche. In absence of a correct synchronization between the internal and the external tempos, there’s really no hope left for the precarious cosmic rambler.

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