Networked_Music_Review

Imperfect Silence — file sharing

is-cover.jpgImperfect Silence is a new release, curated by Phil Hargreaves, involving international musicians and sound artists exploring the methodology of file sharing.

From Alex Young’s review in Furthernoise:
The disc consists of two tracks, twenty five minutes and thirty one minutes long consecutively. There’s improvisation on a wide range of instruments: guitar, sax, laptops (noise, effects, sampled sounds), vocals, drums, various wind instruments and presumably whatever else the performers could get their hands on. Influences vary from free jazz, ambient electronica and noise and themes are presumably originated by the first person to submit a track, with interactions between each section and theme evolving as each person submitted their contribution. It’s impossible to guess the blueprints behind the final piece or even the order in which the tracks were submitted. Like most group improvisation, ideas occasionally linger on for a little bit too long when a strong personality takes over. But this isn’t a complaint. In fact it’s fascinating that the overall dynamic of the interactions between the contributors is virtually indistinguishable from traditionally performed improvisation.

Collaborating musicians are Gosia Bazinska, Barry Chabala, Paolo Cruciani, Bruno Duplant, David Grundy, Phil Hargreaves, Bret Hart, Massimo Magee, Lee Noyes, Matt Sekel, Glenn Smith and Glenn Weyant.

The “rules of the game” are as follows:

A track is seeded by a musician providing a starting track. Someone else will then download that track, add a further layer and then post the result. Overlayers are not confined to the most recent track, and can reach back into the history of the track to fork it. Results are then posted here for your listening pleasure. All tracks are what they are; there is no ‘finished track’, although a compilation is planned for later in the process. If you are interested in adding to tracks, click here for more information.

Phil Hargreaves had this to say of the process: “working like this, leaving spaces for other people to play into, can be hard, and it’s a tribute to the musicians involved that the whole project works as well as it does.” This implies a process of playing over an evolving piece.

Imperfect Silence shows that we’ve barely scratched the surface of collaborating online. Whilst commercial and open source software is available to enable low-latency performance across the Internet, this release shows what can be done with collaborating through a simple web forum by swapping MP3s and playing around them. These techniques are already fundamental to remixing and mashup, so it would be great to see more improvised music created this way.

Imperfect Silence is available on Liverpool-based net label, Whi Music, and is available for download at their site: Imperfect Silence. It’s also available as a disc, which is professionally put together yet retains a great handmade feel.

— Thanks Alex Young


Feb 17, 2009
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Networked_Music_Review (NMR) is a research blog that focuses on emerging networked musical explorations.

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