Wavelength: Troubled Light (Listening Through Black Midi)

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This post is part of Wavelength, a series of guest curated sound art and music mixes.
 
In a 2006 article for TATE Etc. entitled "Black Moods," Gabriel Ramin Schor surveyed the color black's appearance in the Western art historical canon, and in doing so reminded us of the way Goethe referred to color as "troubled light." From black metal theory to black power; the black screen of a DOS terminal to Olbers' paradoxical blackness of the night sky, I've always been attracted to concepts associated with blackness myself. Crossing from the visual to the aural, as a sound artist and occasional DJ, I was moved to respond to some of what I thought was at stake in Black Midi in the form of a nonchalantly sequenced mixtape qua media-archaeological romp through the archive.
 
Happy Black Friday listening... and if you find anything here that you like, do the artists a favor and buy a copy (if you can find one).
 
 
1. Richard Povall: "Swipesy Cakewalk" from Impossible Rags
 
I can't recall if I first encountered ultra-complex player piano music through Conlon Nancarrow or Richard Povall first; either way, I would've been exposed to both by the phonographer and instrument builder Toby Sinkinson. As an alternative take on Nancarrow's approach, this is a great example of what I would call Inhuman Playfulness.

2. Wolfgang Voigt: "Feld" from Freiland Klaviermusik

The techno king shows that the rubbery, hollow timbre of the preset MIDI piano that is so dear to Black MIDI has a context in which it can really work.

3. DJ Sprinkles: "Bassline .89" (Clip)

Let's get to the real thang, sucka'...

4. Harddisko Orchestra: "Schikaneder Titel 24 1"

So much of what I found beautiful about Black MIDI involved the moment when a system was pushed to overload. What about the harddrives themselves?  

5. Sun Ra: "Dance of The Cosmo Aliens" from Disco 3000

If you're interested in solid-black sheet music and technology, listen no further than the master of tone clusters on a Crumar Mainman organ & drumbox.

6. Kaikhosru Sorabji: "Preludio; Passacaglia; Postludio Pt. 1" from Organ Symphony No. 1

Before Black MIDI's 21-million notes there was the 21-million neuron frying work of Sorabji's symphonic thought. GLBTQ composer solidarity!

7. Q.R. Ghazala:Excerpt of "Cloud of Fire" from Threnody to the New Victims of Hiroshima

The godfather of circuit-bending believed that the eventual decay and overload of the circuits in his instruments were a part of the natural life-cycle of their tonal possibilities. It's evident to me that the same holds for Black MIDI's moments of "error."

8. Drumming from Ghana "Adjagbeko" (fast) 

Human capability in inhuman (Youtube) fidelity.

9. BEATZAKAPOUND4POUND from Juke That Vol 1

Now that we're getting down into it - how 160bpm paino ought to sound.

10. ThaCrackCaponeDjRoc: "Glitch"

Any future where more people are making music that sounds like it comes from the Southside of Chicago as much as from the Mille Plateaux back-catalog is a good future. 

11. Cock E.S.P.: "Black E.S.P." from We Mean It This Time

The masters of maximalism.

12. Florian Hecker: "Piste 6 & 8" from Acid in the Style of David Tudor

Black Acid?

13. Tom Smith: "Untitled 01" from Naturally Occurring Black Metal λόγος

Although there's not any black metal explicitly on this mixtape, KSV-founder Tom Smith goes a few steps beyond 'hitting the mark' with his perfectly heady détournement.

From here... havoc & ecstasy...

14. Isaac Linder: "The Tamburas of Pandit Pran Nath 1 08 20 9 24" from La Monte Young

15. Isaac Linder: "ManfredWerder.wav" (Unreleased) 

16. Excerpt of Auroral Chorus

17. Sonny Sharrock: "Portrait of Linda in Three Colors, All Black" from Black Woman

ilind is the working moniker of Isaac Linder, a media philosophy student, member of the advisory board at punctum records, and co-editor at Continent., a culture, theory, biopolitics, and art quarterly.

Proposals for Wavelength can be sent to emma[dot]hazen[at]rhizome.org