candlesnuffer aka david brown

... dives deeper into abstraction ...

with Domenico Sciajno
Sonic Shuffle USB/Application
Sonic Shuffle, 2013

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Richard Pinnell, The Wire
Ignore the clumsy title - this project brings into question not only how music is presented to its audience, but the very relationship between composer and listener. Loaded on a USB memory card, Sonic Shuffle is an interactive sequencing programme that, when installed onto a computer presents 48 sound files, each a separate response to a graphic score written by Domenico Sciajno, with one file each recorded by a large ensemble of mostly electronics wielding musicians, with names involved ranging from Phill Niblock and Alvin Curran to Axel Doerner and Toshimaru Nakamura. One option open to the listener, and one I selected frequently, is to just press play and let the programme randomly choose eight of the sound files to play together, replacing them with eight more at their conclusion and continuing thus for as long as you desire. The software allows far more, though, and the option is there to pick and choose from the different musicians' sound files, and alter attack, volume and various other settings. There's also the option of taking up the composer's baton by conducting an electroacoustic orchestra of established names, and given that there is also an option to be able to upload your own sound files to combine into the mix, and a copy of Sciajno's score is included on the memory card, you can even join in the performance as one of the musicians.

The sound files vary dramatically. There are harsh and soft sounds, beautiful and ugly. All of the ingredients, then, for fine music, but the recipe is realized either by the vagaries of chance or by your own volition. For me, this is an unnerving release that challenges my own personal comfort zone as a critical listener that has never had the courage to pick up an instrument for myself. You can't just put it into the CD player and sit back and make a judgment on it. Each time you press play it sounds different. If you want it to sound a certain way, you have to roll up your sleeves and do it yourself. While it is intended as a chance to interact with the music and level the historic playing field rather than a confrontation to its audience, nevertheless Sonic Shuffle feels like a thrown down gauntlet to me, and it is telling that all too often I abdicated the responsibility and let chance do the work. Clever, fascinating and thoroughly challenging.

Featured musicians: Yasuhiro Morinaga, Carlos "Zingaro", David Brown, Francesco Giomi, Franz Hautzinger, Chris Brown, Lawrence English, Toshimaru Nakamura, Phill Niblock, Frank Bretschneider, Gunter Mueller, Oren Ambarchi, Lionel Marchetti, Kim Cascone, Asmus Tietchens, Ivan Zavada, Vladislav Delay, Alvin Curran, Daniel Schorno, Michael J. Schumacher, Elliott Sharp, Philippe Petit, Kazuyuki Kishino, Lukas Ligeti, Thomas Ankersmit, Lucio Capece, Dj Olive Gregor Asch, Cat Hope, Robin Fox, David Chiesa, John Duncan, Constantine Katsiris, Matthew Ostrowsky, Yannis Kyriakides, Tim Hodgkinson, Marc Behrens, Gert-Jan Prins, Anne La Berge, Anthea Caddy, Nikos Veliotis, Benoit Maubrey, Tom Recchion, Luciano Chessa, Thomas Lehn, Idrioema, Zimoun, Axel Doerner, Laurent Dailleau.