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Electronic music composer Carl Stone was the featured performer at Bonnie Wright's March 14 installment of her Fresh Sound @ Space 4 Art series.

A pivotal moment in Stone's musical history came about in his student days at Cal Arts, when his work-study assignment found him transferring the school's huge collection of vinyl of all genres onto cassette tape. Alone in a basement, with three turntables, three recorders and a mixer to monitor the sound--Stone encountered by chance the layering and juxtaposition of radically different sound sources.

It was a discovery that still guides his aesthetic today.

Using a lap-top, mixer and Max MSP software, Stone crafted a one-hour plus improvisation culled from electronically manipulated string and percussion samples, "field-recordings" of intercoms, shortwave radios and martial-arts classes around three generic, and somewhat hokey pop-music records from various Southeast Asian countries.

The whole concert had the effect of traveling through a foreign city, both by car and on foot--there were sounds recorded from the inside of a cab, other times it was like walking down a long street bazaar, end-to-end, and perhaps getting stuck in places you'd just as soon leave.

Things really picked up for me about the half-way point, when a swirling menagerie of conversations, sirens, bells, thunderous percussion and singing from a monastery all cycled between the four, strategically placed loudspeakers.

There were eerie long tones that curled around each other, ghostly drones and overtones layering atop a pulsing throb.

Definitely challenging listening--but rewarding as well.

Photo by Bonnie Wright

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