Paul Miller
JUDGE'S COMMENT
 




Sound

Winner: S3 (Erik Bünger): This track is absolutely brilliant! Based on the concept of a skipping CD, this piece is comprised of the samples from the chorus line of the KC and the Sunshine Band hit “That's the Way I Like It” chopped up into small fragments, rearranged, scored for a 10 piece band, and then played and recorded live. Innovative and executed perfectly, it displays both depth of conceptual insight and musical precision. Funny without being corny, this was definitely one of the most refreshing things I've run across in a while. Most importantly for this competition, this track is both aesthetically and intellectually engaging - and would be even without any explaination: A powerful comentary on the interplay of music technology with the sound and structure of music itself. Short and to the point, this song embodies the philosophical and existential character of the Drunken Boat Panliterary awards. A must listen!

Honorable Mention: S2: (Matthew Burtner) From this entrant I looked at three intriguing short pieces apparently produced using patches designed in max/msp. The first segment, Music For Music, attempts to capture the struggle between 'music' (contemplation) and 'sound' (perception) that is present in every listening experience. This track is challenging to the ears, and thus forces the listener to consciously differentiate (or not) between the music in the backround and the polyrhythmic bass drum and noise bands layered over the top. The second segment, Dischord Records Phase, uses software to sample the pops and clicks from a Minor Threat single on Washington DC's Dischord records. (One of my favorite bands!) The effect is a soundscape that gets progressively louder and more complex over time, until it ultimately drowns out the sound of the song and only the texture of the clicks and pops remains. An interesting exploration of the question “what is music?” focusing on the blurring of the dividing line between the 'music' and the sound of the medium that it is recorded on. The third (and most impressive) segment, St. Thomas Phase, explores the boundaries of sampling and its transformative potential. Using a piece by Sonny Rollins and Max Roach, this track is able to both maintain the original rhythms and melodies from these two great players, while emphasizing and amplifying those rhythms into a unique new set of polyrhythmic structures. This piece is a real pleasure to listen to, as it demonstrates the recombinant potential of digital manipulation. Most of the entries I received were in the environmental/ambient genre. That, in and of itself, is an interesting reflection on the readership of Drunken Boat. Because of the high quality of all these entries, it was exceedingly difficult to narrow it down to the one that best captures the spirit of the Panliterary awards. But, after some deliberation, I decided that these two were the most interesting of the remaining entries.

Special Mention: S10 (The Night Collective): A compelling suite of ethno-ambient compositions. Beautiful and dark, these pieces capture both the power of environmental soundscapes and the emotion of classical composition. I'm assuming this was a live performance, which adds a level of interest. Beginning with the sounds of layered sitar and flute and progressing through unsettling bass strings loaded with reverb and dijeriodoo drones, this solidly constructed sonic journey leads us through gathering feedback and violin passages, meanders through electro-acoustic variations on the theme and comes to a suprising end. A good example the affective emotional and psychic power of well thought out and executed environmental music. For me, the greatest strength of these compositions is the mysterious narrative implied in the movement between their margins, and narrative structure is something that is always welcome in the world of ambient music.

Special Mention: S4 (Marcelo Radulovich): (A) Ambience with overloaded scream - that says it all. Dark and menacing, this entry is in the best spirit of what I've heard from Accretion Records. Well produced and impeccably mastered, the sonic barrage in this song is mediated by a haunting hip-hop beat and eerie tribal chants. With a slight Latin flair and a truly disturbing underlying horn melody, this song embodies the best elements of experimental noise music and ontological anarchy. (B) Mildly reminicent of the first track, this song is an admixture of death metal, IDM, and experimental noise elements. Highly layered and richly textured, this track leads the listener through the realms of the sonically terrifying and emotionally disturbing, dropping us in the end into a kind of ambient discoteque. (C) This track is the heavy artilery of this project's sonic assault, straddling the fine line between intentionality and chance; the struggle between structure/music and noise/sound.


 

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