Review 3: Chen/Pitcher/Van Nort – One History of Troy (Felt Hat Reviews)
“3 gentlemen in tribute to the late Pauline Oliveros put us on a white knuckle ride of dynamic improvisation where climax is served carefully in a unorthodox mix of granular synthesis mixed with acoustic instruments and field recording. The whole album is a swathe of meditative sounds with a bit of rhythmic quality to it. A showcase of truly utopian idea to blend different genres where we meet the American brass band idiom with Arabic chant. Pauline developed this idea of mixing both electroacustic improvisation with live electronics to the absolute perfection – Chen, Pitcher and Van Nort help to re-invent it or look at it from a different angle. The other aspect is the conceptual background of psychogeographical journey between Troy in New York and Moroccan province of Chefchaouen. Tresspassing the borders and understanding how the changing cultural landscape affects our perception of music is something crucial here. A very diverse piece with amusing context.“
Press: Review 2: Chen/Pitcher/Van Nort – One History of Troy (Raised by Gypsies)
“…Acoustic guitar strums return and there is this rhythm within it to end out the first song, which was really quite the journey. We are back to the acoustic guitar strums, other such strings are in place as well and it just has this deeper sound to it now as if it is being transmitted from a cave. A pounding sense of percussion brings about the scrapes and rush of sound which is somewhere between feedback and static. Such energetic gentle beats, such delicate guitar strings purposefully placed. One of the first things you will hopefully take away when first listening to this album is that some of these notes are so intricate in the sense that they have this pattern to them that feels somewhat normal. At the same time, there are other notes (and sounds) which exist along with them and do not share the same structure; they are more a vision born of chaos. There can be fits of what sound like bells but also could just be lead pipes banging against each other or something of a similar material.
…Acute strings come out in distant spaces. An acoustic guitar rattles. A slight form of jingle-jangles before this song comes to an end as well. The last song is the longest. There is this carnival/circus type of sound to open up this last song before the acoustic guitar comes in with the dark string drones. There is this suspenseful aura to this song now, as the strings somewhat sneak out from within the abyss. About five minutes into this piece it just gets really dark and grinding. Tones then come out which feel like a piano but are likely just higher pitched on the acoustic guitar.
Frantic strings and that still rumbling in the background as if a storm is off in the distance. It’s as if everything on this album has built to this one moment and past the seven minute marker, eight minutes into it now, and it just all keeps on growing, soon to explode. By the end it sounds as if someone is singing while voices are also talking and it just takes you to this weird place where you feel like a planet should have been destroyed but rather it’s more like we just awoke from some dream.“
“This album was recorded in 2012 by the free improvising trio of Jonathan Chen (violin, viola), Jefferson Pitcher (guitars, clarinet, field recordings, playground – its metal structures being used as a percussion set-up) and Doug van Nort (electronics, GREIS = Granular-Feedback Expanded Instrument System, van Nort’s own ever-evolving performance system and digital music instrument). The title refers to the town of Troy, New York, home of the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, with which the three artists have been involved with during their career. Their shared memories of living and working in Troy shine through as a conceptual basis for the improvisations on this album. Titles like “The Hudson” and “Northern White Pine” situate the music in a geographical location – but the field recordings from different places, such as Chefchaouen Province in Morocco, open up this history to other sound-worlds.
Press: Resound: Bells of Ancient China (Georgetowner)
““Resound: Ancient Bells of China” is a multisensory masterpiece of an exhibition. As artifacts, the bronze bells are like divine alien monoliths, austere yet ornate, with the oxidized surfaces of intermingling rust and green decorated with a geometry of dragons, birds, pattern blocks and knobs.
Echoing through the galleries, the low, cavernous hum of the bells is mesmerizing. To be clear, one does not simply whack a 2,500-year old bell with a drumstick. The museum scanned the bells to determine their acoustical properties and commissioned three composers to create soundscapes from the recorded tones of the ancient instruments. The soundscapes overlap with each other, and the effect is trancelike.”
Press: Resound: Bells of Ancient China (China Insight)
“These same 12 notes were shared with three contemporary composers who were commissioned to create soundscapes for the gallery. The soundscapes, accompanied by moving-image projections that interpret the sounds into a visual experience, were composed by Hugh Livingston, Norman Lowery and Doug van Nort. These composers have used the given bell sounds to form melodies, textures, rhythms and forms that bring an ancient tradition to life in the 21st century.”
Press: Resound: Bells of Ancient China (Smithsonian Magazine)
“Modern soundscapes using the bell tones will be heard in the exhibition created by composers Hugh Livingston, Norman Lowrey and Doug van Nort, who were commissioned to create five-minute compositions using the 1991 recordings.”
Press: Resound: Bells of Ancient China (Freer Sackler)
“Today we can use technology to explore these ancient instruments and to explain their acoustical properties, but we know little about the sound of this early music. To bring the bells to life, we commissioned three composers to create soundscapes using the recorded tones of a 2,500-year-old bell set on display. Each of them also produced a video projection to interpret his composition with moving images that allow us to “see sound.” “
Press: Resound: Bells of Ancient China (The Hoya)
“The renovations will allow the galleries to more effectively incorporate media and collaboration between various artists into the exhibits, said J. Keith Wilson, associate director and curator of Ancient Chinese art at the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Wilson said that these technological updates will allow visitors to better interact with certain collections, including a new exhibition entitled “Resound: Bells of Ancient China.” The exhibition features several touchpads that guests can use to hear digitally remastered contemporary interpretations of ancient Chinese songs.
“We have this amazing collection of Chinese bells that span almost 2000 years. I thought that by developing an interactive exhibition using these Bronze Age objects in a kind of performance, it might be more interesting,” Wilson said. “I wanted to bring the whole idea into the 21st century, and since we don’t know what ancient Chinese music actually sounded like, I thought, ‘why not ask some contemporary composers to imagine what they could have sounded like?’, and that’s the idea of this soundscape.” “
AMPD and Canada’s National Ballet School collaborate in an interactive dance creation (Yfile)
“Creativity and technology converge with stunning results in a unique collaboration between two of the nation’s leading arts schools: Canada’s National Ballet School (NBS) and York University’s School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design (AMPD).
Upon invitation from Kevin MacLeod, manager of Digital Media and Learning Technologies at NBS, AMPD Professors Don Sinclair, chair of the Department of Computational Arts, and Doug Van Nort, Canada Research Chair in Digital Performance, teamed up with NBS choreographer Shaun Amyot to create ORIGIN8, an interactive dance work premiering in Toronto May 5-6.
In ORIGIN8, each of the performers wears a Myo band, a wireless sensor technology developed by Waterloo-based Thalmic Labs, that measures the movements and speed of the human body in motion. Using customized machine-learning software integrating a custom-made sound-performance interface and 3D graphics generator created by the AMPD artist-researchers, data captured from the dancers’ movements generates dramatic, kinetic image projections and an ever-changing musical soundscape.
…ORIGIN8 will be featured in a showcase performance that is the culmination of the Assemblée Internationale 2017 (AI 17)– a week-long festival hosted by NBS that brings together students and artistic staff from 21 professional ballet schools around the world. One student from each school has been chosen to participate in ORIGIN8, making it a truly international production.”
“I think [York University assistant professor and composer] Doug Van Nort is doing really beautiful work with his particular setup, with his patch.”
“…Since an intersection between deep listening and technology is a signature aspect of Oliveros’ work, I asked Van Nort about how the relationship between these two elements expressed itself in his own work. His response was curious: “My first pass is always to say I’m not interested in technology, even though I have a degree in music technology.” He explained that this is his way of distancing himself from a fetishization of technology in order to bring attention and focus back to what is unique about technological mediation in performance. It comes down to the idea of creating systems for musical performance that has kept him close to Oliveros as both his mentor and collaborator all these years. How can sonic events, gestures and sounds spread and circulate within an integrated network or web and still be perceived as a musical performance with instrumental-like qualities? He mentioned that this approach was present even in Oliveros’ early works such as I of IV which was created in the U of T studio in 1966.The outcome of Van Nort’s research and performance collaboration with Oliveros has been the creation of GREIS (pronounced “grace”) – the Granular-Feedback Expanded Instrument System, which even in its title is a nod to Oliveros’ own Expanded Instrument System (EIS) which she has developed over many years. During the X Avant XI Festival concert on October 14, Van Nort will be performing with GREIS in interaction with Oliveros on her digital accordian, Anne Bourne on cello, and Ione with spoken word. GREIS is a system that fundamentally puts things in motion and requires the performers to react to it. In the ensemble context, everyone is both generating their own gestures as well as reacting with what is coming back from GREIS – which can happen at any point in time. “What results is the creation of a tight organism that has to respond together and move in a given direction. It doesn’t work without Deep Listening.”Van Nort’s input into the system will be sourced from his large library of field recordings that he will stretch and filter. A second layer will be his capturing and reshaping of the sounds coming from Bourne’s cello and Oliveros’ digital accordian and then fitting these gestures back into the musical flow at some point. In addition, there will be a spatialization component that GREIS will contribute by generating various types of movements over eight speakers – a wide and fast motion for example, or a tight and slow motion. And finally, Ione’s spoken words will sit on top of this entire sonic field in their pure acoustic form. Van Nort sums up the full experience with these words: “The core intent is to create something that is a breathing living organism that has to have at its essence an organic motion to it regardless of whether there is digital technology inserted in the path or not.” For the listener, it will be an enveloping and immersive improvisational environment within which one is invited to be mindful of both global and focal attention – taking in both the entirety of the sound field while also following the individual lines as much as possible. Alternating between both fields is a fundamental aspect of the Deep Listening experience. Toronto is fortunate to now have Van Nort as a professor of digital performance at York University where he runs the DisPerSion Lab and the Electro-acoustic Orchestra.”
“Partly structured and partly improvised, Uncanny: A Telematic nO(t)pera will link six musicians and their audiences across one virtual and five actual locations in Palo Alto/CA, Troy/NY and York University’s Keele campus.The event is orchestrated by Canada Research Chair in Digital Performance Doug Van Nort, a professor in Digital Media and Theatre who contributes live electronic music to the collaboration.
The performances will be streamed in real time, allowing the musicians to listen and improvise with each other. Video of the performers will also be live-streamed and projected onto materials within Van Nort’s DIStributed PERformance and Sensorial immersION (DisPerSion) Lab, room 334 in the Joan and Martin Goldfarb Centre for Fine Arts.
Joining creative and technological forces for the performance is a team of pioneering artist/researchers.Cellist Anne Bourne, a local new music composer and performer who is also featured on recordings by Jane Siberry, Loreena McKennit and Blue Rodeo, performs in York University’s Special Project Gallery on the main floor of GCFA.Celletto player Chris Chafe, director of the CCRMA (Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics), links in from Stanford University in Palo Alto. The trio of Pauline Oliveros (v-accordion), Jonas Braasch (soprano saxophone) and Zach Layton (e-guitar) connect and perform from CRAIVE (Collaborative-Research Augmented Immersive Virtual Environment) Lab at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy.“This is a world-class group of musical improvisers and researchers whose impact on 21st century music runs deep. I’m very pleased to call them collaborators, and that we are coming together for this very special performance,” said Van Nort.Uncanny: A Telematic nO(t)pera also integrates digital media art and design work and collaborations by the 16 students in Van Nort’s third-year Performing Telepresence course.Digital Media student Raechel Kula is part of the team managing the projections in the DisPerSion Lab.“This project has taught us how to interface our work together,” said Kula. “In my case, the videos I’m projecting come from an online video conference managed by another student. Two other students helped code the bridge utility to bring the streaming video into the projector control software.”Her classmate Akeem Glasgow is part of a group who installed Microsoft Xbox’s motion-sensing input device, Kinect in the Accolade West Building hallway to sense the movement activity of passersby. This data will be mapped into sound that will play in the DisPerSion Lab in the adjacent building.“It’s great going off to create something that you’re personally interested in, and coming back to fit it in the world of the DisPerSion Lab,” said Glasgow. “It’s a perfect mix of freedom and constraint, and one of the best collaborations I’ve ever been part of. It builds off feedback from everyone involved, allowing for spontaneous decision-making to enhance the experience for everyone.”The York University audience is invited to wander between the different performative realities of the public spaces: the virtual online platform and the live performances in the Special Project Gallery and DisPerSion Lab.The website http://www.dispersionlab.org/live-stream will provide another realization of the performance, allowing audience to chat, interact via Twitter with @dispersion_lab, and alter the outcome by conducting the musicians during one section of the piece.”
“With the advent of software and ultra-fast internet hook ups they conceived of three live concerts that would combine the core quartet with instrumental artists in three differing locations. The compositions were written by the various participants, rehearsed and then played together in concert while recording simultaneous audio and video with a real-time mix of both locales-ensembles.
So we get the quartet in San Diego with a trio of players in Amherst (Marty Ehrlich, Jason Robinson and Bob Weiner) in a full concert of originals, a second with the quartet and a Zurich contingent of Matthias Zeigler and Gerry Hemingway, and a third with the San Diego outfit and a larger group in Stony Brook, NY: Sarah Weaver (conductor), Jane Ira Bloom, Ray Anderson, Min Xiao Fen (pipa), Matt Wilson and Doug Van Nort (on laptop electronics).
This complex and elaborate synchrony is at the moment a most rarified product of sophisticated technology that a University environment enables. Doubtless we will not be seeing a simultaneous gig at the Vanguard and Ronnie Scott’s, for example, any time soon.
But amazingly we get three full programs of very adventuresome avant compositions opened up by gifted improvisors, with the two-location sounds and images captured fully and excellently on this DVD. If the music and performers were not special, as they certainly are here, it might be less interesting. But that is not the case. The music and performances are beautifully present throughout.
It is a musical tour de force of where composed avant improv can be today, plus a triumph over the constraints of space.
Suffice to say that this is a very satisfying confluence of music and performers. It is the first in what perhaps could be a series of ever-more complex integrations of performers separated widely in space but not in time–two large jazz orchestras, say, along with a symphony orchestra and a folk ensemble from some far away corner of the earth, all connected together in some universe-dimensioned musical work? Yes.
For now we get something quite marvelous with Virtual Tour. A big bravo!”
Review #3: Triple Point – phase/transitions (Todd McComb’s Jazz Thoughts)
“Already, in using a speech metaphor, I’m distorting its qualities: The architectural background, the sense of the environment, is always quite tangible. It is not background music, that is, it has foreground qualities and does not call out for other sounds or activity to complete it. However, the interplay between foreground & background is explored & interrogated to a high degree. In short, this is music that questions & blurs any such duality. I believe that readers can immediately appreciate my interest at this point. It’s a series of studies on this background-foreground issue, with a very sophisticated sense of background via space, some of the world’s most advanced technology, and performers with a heightened sense of listening & nuance. ”
Review #2: Triple Point – phase/transitions (Grego Applegate Edwards, Gapplegate Classical-Modern Music Review)
“The three CDs cover a wide range of moods and sounds, all in the more-or-less “new music” zone, which is to say that timbre manipulation and contrasts play out in real time in an improvisatory context. Braasch’s soprano is nearly always to be heard in its pure acoustic state along with its transformation by Van Nort. Ms. Oliveros’ accordion sometimes can be heard clearly in its pristine form. Much of the time the sounds are electronically altered in varying degrees so that it sometimes sounds much more like keyed electronics. The electronics of Van Nort can be heard at times as a third instrumental element. At other times it meshes with Ms. Oliveros’ sound transformations to create a kind of electronic-orchestral commingling.
What captivates in most of these trio improvisations in the sheer inventiveness of the sonic designs. Some segments flow with long-toned sounds played out against more eventful noted-ness from the soprano, accordion, electronics, or all in various combinations. Other segments are more-or-less pure give-and-take contrapuntal interactions.
Three CDs of such music is a great deal to absorb. It takes time and “deep listening” to completely assimilate. I can’t say I am quite there yet. But I can say that this music has moments that stun in the best way. There are mellow segments and others somewhat abrasive. But they do not repeat themselves. Avant jazz, new music and electronic music converge on Triple Point. And the three artists in the process become one creative music-making being.
It no doubt is music of some importance for the avant scene today. It carries on the premises of the seminal live electronics-acoustics outfits from the first days of such possibilities and makes something wholly unique and fascinating out of it all.
Sonic adventurers will most definitely gravitate towards this set. Recommended for all those who dare go beyond the ordinary.”
Review: Triple Point – phase/transitions (Daniel Barbiero, Avant Music News)
“Electroacoustic improvisation has the potential to be a music of timbral complexity, of rapid shifts of sound colors within a multi-layered environment. Throughout this bountiful 3-CD set Triple Point lives up to that potential, as would be expected from such a fine assembly of improvisers.
Triple Point is made up of Pauline Oliveros, Jonas Braasch, and Doug Van Nort. Each has a distinctive voice, but the group’s sound is a genuinely collective, emergent object in its own right.
Oliveros plays the V-accordion, a virtual instrument that digitally models the sound of an acoustic accordion while preserving the acoustic instrument’s physical playability. As might be expected, Oliveros pushes the instrument beyond its repertoire of standard voices to extend its timbral range into more distant sonic territories. Braasch’s soprano saxophone is the one acoustic instrument, a powerfully serpentine presence darting throughout each piece. Braasch’s use of extended techniques expands the sound palette of the instrument in ways appropriate to this color-based music.
But the key to the group’s sound is Van Nort’s real-time granular modification and electronic playback of the other two musicians’ lines. He can alter the timbres, pitches and tempos of the V-accordion and saxophone, inserting microtones into the flow of a line, or gradually morphing Braasch’s real, and Oliveros’ simulated, reed instruments into a virtual brass section. Pitches emerge from their encounter with the electronics the way light emerges from its encounter with a prism—bent and broken into constituent colors that previously lay hidden. The extraction and multiplication of tones and timbres makes for a complex polyphony in which acoustic and electronic lines often coalesce into thick planes of sound rubbing past, over and through each other.
Several tracks on each disc add Chris Chafe collaborating via internet on celletto, a MIDI-based electronic cello. Chafe enriches the mix with electronically enhanced pizzicato and arco tones.”
Review #5: Composition ‘Outer’ as Soundtrack in ‘il Giovane Favoloso’ (Marco Della Corte, it.blastingnews )
“In queste prime scene c’è un sorprendente effetto musicale, vari generi che si alternano dalla musica classica di Rossini a quella elettronica del teutonico Sasha Ring, fino ad arrivare al bellissimo pezzo Outer di Doug Van Nort.”
“In these early scenes there is a surprising musical effect, various genres that alternate from classical music of Rossini to the electronics of the German Sasha Ring, until you get to the beautiful piece Outer by Doug Van Nort.”
Review #4: Composition ‘Outer’ as Soundtrack in ‘il Giovane Favoloso’ (Roberta Palmieri, Versus Giornale )
“…le meravigliose scenografie lo mostrano con eleganza, tra gli interni della biblioteca di Recanati e i paesaggi natali del regista a Napoli. Eppure non siamo del tutto immersi nell’epoca, non siamo del tutto distanti da quel contesto da sentirci estranei: a farci percepire un’insolita familiarità sono i suoni, quelli elettronici del tedesco Sasha Ring alias Apparat o quelli del brano (dal nome Outer) del canadese Doug Van Nort. Elementi sonori che contrastano chiaramente con il contesto della narrazione e per questo conducono la biografia di Leopardi a divenire senza tempo, a trasformarsi in qualcosa di più di una vita di un grande poeta. A mutarsi in qualcosa di eterno che trova una casa anche in questa era nella speranza che tutti, o almeno molti, trovino la strada per farle visita.”
Review #3: Composition ‘Outer’ as Soundtrack in ‘il Giovane Favoloso’ (Daphne Leonardi, Cinematik )
“Una colonna sonora molto interessante che riesce ad armonizzare la musica del grande operista pesarese Rossini alle sonorità elettroniche del tedesco Sasha Ring e del canadese Doug Van Nort. ”
“A very interesting soundtrack that manages to combine the music of the great opera composer Rossini in Pesaro to the electronic sounds of the German Sasha Ring and Canadian Doug Van Nort.”
Review #2: Composition ‘Outer’ as Soundtrack in ‘il Giovane Favoloso’ (Paola Casella, MyMovies.it )
“In queste prime scene prende il via il contrappunto musicale che è uno degli elementi più interessanti della narrazione filmica de Il giovane favoloso, e che accosta Rossini alla musica elettronica del tedesco Sasha Ring (alias Apparat)e al brano Outer del canadese Doug Van Nort.”
“In this first scene begins the musical counterpoint that is one of the most interesting elements of the film narrative of “il Giovane Favoloso”, which mixes Rossini with electronic music of German Sasha Ring (aka Apparat) and passages of the piece Outer by Canadian Doug Van Nort.”
Review: Composition ‘Outer’ as Soundtrack in ‘il Giovane Favoloso’ (Marilena Vinci, radiocinema.it )
“Una nota anche per lottima colonna sonora, dove accanto a diverse musiche di Rossini e antiche canzoni napoletane, compaiono le musiche di Sascha Ring ed un brano elettronico, Outer di Doug Van Nort.
“A note for the excellent soundtrack, where as well as several pieces by Rossini and old Neapolitan songs, appears the music of Sascha Ring and an electronic piece, Outer by Doug Van Nort.”
Review #2: Leonardson/Margolis/Van Nort – Vendlam, Attenuation Circuit (Franz de Waard, Vital Weekly )
“It was quiet in the past weeks when it comes to releases on Attenuation Circuit (although they are active with download only releases), but here’s a new release of a trio of improvisers: Al Margolis (best known as the man from If, Bwana and label-boss of Pogus Productions) on violin and synthesizer, Eric Leonardsen on springboard, which is something he built himself and he plays with cello bows and homemade friction mallets and Doug van Nort on his laptop using Greis (pronounce ‘grace’) which he built using max/msp. They performed in concert on June 8, 2013 in My Pizza Place, Poughkeepise, NY as part of the Experimental Music Showcase. This all makes somehow quite an electronic work, especially in the final, title, piece; things get pretty noisy and the music seems to be an imitation of the sounds of a train getting to a grinding hold. Quite enjoyable I think. In the opening piece, ‘Mandlev’, is much milder piece in which they scratch and scrape their instruments and it slowly builds up; it seems that the laptop needs time to heat up but once he’s there, he provides a nice backing to the piece, the mortar between bricks. In between ‘Lamvend’ is the shortest and acts a sort of bridge between the longer first and third piece, of slow and low humming sound. Quite a nice one, this one. Nice to see this on a CDR, but perhaps nicer would have been to actually witness the concert? This is, however, a nice souvenir of the event itself. ”
Review: Leonardson/Margolis/Van Nort – Vendlam, Attenuation Circuit (Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes)
“This set is as beetle-browed as a neighbor collecting rusty metal objects and never, ever uttering the corpse of a “hello” when you meet him, instead grunting all the way into his apartment. That’s exactly the reason of my bullheaded attraction to it, having just ended another listening round. Barely grasping the elemental matter behind these aggregations of fizzling frequencies, coughing pulses, crepitant outgrowths and tortured strings means that the artists have trapped you in the impossibility of a definition…Chaos finally triumphs, mere minutes before the end.”
Public Art in the Sonic Realm ( Charles Eppley, Hyperallergic)
“Indeed, the theme of the park as a site of encounter was present throughout the evening, and the topography of the space featured in several works. For example, Doug Van Nort presented an improvised performance based on audio recordings taken from the East River, on which the park is settled. The improvisation shifted between murky drones and deep earthly noise, as well as the occasional rhythmic popping. The sounds were entirely derived from signals transmitted from hydrophonic microphones placed in the river, displacing and relocating the unheard sounds of the aquatic environment above the surface. ”
Interview: The Sound of Two Ants Marching. Doug Van Nort’s Sonic Sculpture. (Montreal Rampage)
““It’s a kind of sound art,” he says. “I think about it as sculpting with sound. I like to stretch sounds out in time and frequency, hacking and filtering, thinking as a sculptor does with material. There’s something about searching for structures that might emerge from the material. I’m also looking into the material in a specific space and discovering what might be teased out of it.” Another way he describes his practice is “sonic dowsing.” Van Nort’s music relies in part on his very open interpretation of melody and harmony. “For me, anything is a melody,” he says. “Raking objects across the desk I’m sitting at now. That’s a melody. It’s a sequence of actions that has meaning in this context. Harmony can be anything. Harmony is the notion of concurrence of things that somehow work together.” This open approach allows Van Nort to collaborate with different kinds of musicians, even acoustic ones. “I have different configurations when I play with acoustic musicians. I might grab some materials they are performing. It becomes source material that I might later re-present. I might stretch it out in time to make a long layer and create harmonics that relate to what they’re playing , or some kind of modulation or motion, which creates a different kind of pulse [that] informs the flow of what happens.””
Pauline Oliveros, Doug Van Nort, David Arner at Roulette (Jenn Grossman)
“Between the soft glow of magenta light, ornate architecture of the concert space, and perfect placement of speakers; the space was only inviting an amazing multi-dimensional experience of sound. Four pieces were played; the pieces by Arner and Oliveros enhanced and expanded with Doug Van Nort’s electronic manipulations. A piano line played fowards by Arner was within moments reversed and played back with a haunting delay. Oliveros’ cartoonish sounds played from her digital accordion were swept from one speaker to the next, seemlessly, circulating around the room and dissolving somewhere in the center. Sound began to feel like it was hovering over the audience in an invisible but metaphysical space, creating a sort of spiritual lifting. I caught myself numerous times looking up, expecting to see a sparkling cloud of tones and timbres floating over me, but quickly remembered that the image of form was only a product of the thick spatialization the reverberant room created. There was a playful response amongst the elder crowd that attended; perhaps the experience of unexpected electronic manipulation to be a foreign phenomenon. The feeling of magic resonated through the room; both a surprise in the possibilities of this new collaboration and utmost respect for the great innovations of these musicians over the years. I left the concert being physically stimulated and intellectually satisfied.”
Giving machines a ‘listening mind’ (Tom Peacock, Concordia News)
“Concordia’s newest Banting Fellow examines collaborative, improvised performances using artificial intelligence”
“Top 40 this is not. Van Nort’s electroacoustic compositions and improvisations are likely to have a lot more in common with the thrumming and sporadic knocking sounds emanating from, say, a faulty central heating system than with the latest Taylor Swift hit. He sculpts environmental sounds, decontextualizes them, then makes them beautiful in a very avant-garde way.”
“…he’s got big plans for collaborative performances, which will be part artistic product and part scientific experiment. “How can machine partners attend to the entire sound world in which they are placed?” he asks. “How can a machine understand sonic patterning over time? Our acoustic world is a highly structured ecosystem, which imprints on the back of our minds. How can machines be given such a ‘listening mind’?””
Pauline Oliveros and Doug Van Nort at the New Museum (With Ears Taut to Hear)
“It’s hard to say that what Van Nort was doing was music. It was more like the manipulation of a sound environment. Utilizing surround sound, he played and manipulated sampled sounds and unique digitally generated sounds. They scratched and hissed and warbled. At times when I closed my eyes, the sounds transitioned between the overpowering and invasive sounds of helicopters coming into land, and large otherworldly swamp bugs. The sounds moved across the room-traveling away from us and outward, expanding the range of the sonic environment seemingly beyond the walls of the room. T- said that listening to that kind of electronic music is like pornography, and I think I know what he means. It gets into your animal core-it enters every orifice.”
“In an age when we’re used to seeing movies in HD and surround sound and IMAX, we keep reaching for ever more immersive artistic environments, and both Van Nort and Oliveros are experts at manipulating our sense of sonic space.”
Constellate Review (A Corner to Fit In)
“For those of you familiar with Van Nort’s work as an improvisor, Constellate is completely different. It’s highly structural. I went up and down the elevator a few times and was impressed by how well the 16+ minute loop of sounds was painstakingly designed to mesh with the elevator experience. Epicycles of calm and tension take temporal cues from the elevator’s motion. If a rider walked in, pushed the button, went to another floor, then walked out, they would experience something that seemed musically complete. But the piece keeps offering new ways to experience the elevator for anyone interested in hanging out in the elevator for 16+ minutes….I find myself extremely impressed that Van Nort composed a loop that seemed to intensely interact with the space. I think the choice to produce sounds by driving the actual elevator surfaces instead of just using samples was crucial, as was deriving the temporal structure of the piece from the motion of the elevator.
I’ve been in a bit of a musical rut lately. This Doug Van Nort’s Constellate made me want to go home and compose. I think that’s the highest complement I can give.”
Quartet for the end of Space Review #5 (Norman Records)
“From the moment I click play and get into Doug Van Nort’s arresting ‘Outer’ I just really know that this is gonna be something quite special. Doug’s piece is a startling transportation into the stars and beyond recalling classic early electronic music and science fiction movie soundtracks. Things start fairly calmly as I can visualize meteors passing by, until the climax where I feel like I’m being sucked inside out through a wormhole. Jonas’ ‘Web Doppelganger’ give off an eerie lost in space mood with sounds manipulated from live improvisations. Francisco’s piece as expected is very mysterious and cerebral with shifting tones, hiss, distant gurgle and pinprick fizzing micro sounds. Again staring at the back of my eyelids it’s not difficult to imagine floating in a void, in the very fabric of time. Pauline Oliveros’ ‘Mercury Retrograde’ is a journey in the fluid dynamics of liquid metal created using the EIS delay lines and modulations with ViMic and sound geometries. The results are a fascinating listen. This just covers half of the tracks here, the rest of which I recommend discovering for yourselves.”
Quartet for the end of Space Review #4 (Franz de Waard/Vital Weekly)
“Triple Point is a trio of Pauline Oliveros, Jonas Braasch (soprano saxophonist) and Doug van Nort. In February and March 2010 they recorded two improvisational sessions along with the help of Francisco Lopez. Later on the quartet also performed in Kingston, New York and all of these recordings are used by the individual musicians to create two new pieces each. It shows the extent of how improvised matters of electro-acoustic music merge into composed music. If at all, there is a division to be made here: on one hand we have Lopez and Van Nort who create all abstract pieces using the material as a concrete block: shape it, bent it, hack things away and sculpt something new. And on the other hand we have Oliveros and Braasch who seem to be more interested in creating a dialogue from the sounds created, without necessarily altering the sounds as such, save perhaps for a mild addition of sound effects. In these pieces we probably hear how the original music sounded when it was played. That is not the case with Van Nort and Lopez. Their pieces go all out into densely layered soundscapes of extreme filtering and processing. Those are my favorites of this CD, and I must admit I cared least for the more straight forward improvised doodling of Oliveros. Braasch’s works are somewhere between Lopez/Van Nort and Oliveros: already a bit more abstract but still somewhere to be recognized. Quite an interesting work of acoustic recycling – a bit like a modern version of ‘Captured Music’.”
Quartet for the end of Space Review #3 (Monsieur Delire)
“Francisco Lopez is rarely seen in live improvisation settings. Yet, the liner notes for Quartet for the End of Space state that the album is based on recordings made at a live quartet performance and several studio improvisation sessions. Out of these recordings, the four artists have drawn materials to compose two electroacoustic pieces each. I’m quite fond of Doug Van Nort’s two contributions: they are complex but not overworked. Pauline Oliveros’ two pieces are also quite strong, especially “Mercury Retrograde” and its mysterious inner workings. Francisco Lopez’s two contributions are less mystifiying than usual, although the abrupt ending of “untitled #273″ is definitely his.”
Quartet for the end of Space Review #2 (The Sound Projector)
“A stellar lineup of composers produced Quartet for the End of Space (POGUS PRODUCTIONS 21059-2): Pauline Oliveros, Jonas Braasch, Doug Van Nort, and Francisco Lopez. On these eight lengthy pieces they assist playing each other’s compositions in the mode of performance which is quite close to “electroacoustic improvisation”, or EAI as some will have it. This strange work is largely characterised by very alien, unnatural sounds; great duration; slow exploration of imaginary spaces; and certain affinities with the weather, of which Braasch’s ‘Snow Drifts’ is the most obvious example. His ‘Web Doppelganger’ on the other hand is asking profound questions about the very nature of improvised and aleatory music, and doing so in a very creative way. Recorded and performed in 2010, and put together with a great sense of deliberation and care; instrumentation is not detailed, but there is a deal of electronic music, signal processing and computer assisted sounds blending with traditional instruments such as the saxophone. All the musicians play with authority and gravitas on this profound and stirring collection.”
Quartet for the end of Space Review #1 (Tokafi)
“Into the abyss: An intense psychological experience.
Quartet for the End of Space is an all-star electroacoustic jam session between composers and sound artists Pauline Oliveros, Francisco Lopez, Doug Van Nort, and Jonas Braasch. The quartet used raw material from two improvisational sessions between February and May 2010 to construct eight compositions – two by each composer – that blur the lines between improvisation and composition. Together, the pieces of Quartet for the End of Space – a play off of Messiaen’s Quartet for the End of Time – offer an intense psychological experience straight out of Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The album’s opener, “Outer,” begins with low-end engine-like rumblings that swell to an ambient, spacious composition. In the last quarter of the piece, extraterrestrial insect-like sounds swarm between the speakers as the sonic texture is gradually engulfed in a tide of white noise.
“Web Doppelganger” is a tour through a spaceship, with manipulated saxophones mumbling like androids before a backdrop of ever-evolving celestial drones. “Mercury Retrograde” features free-jazz horn squealing over reversed tape, struck strings and mallet percussion. In “Snow Drifts,” alien howling sounds are layered into a microtonal field of pulsing sonic interferences. “Cyber Talk” is the sound of a malfunctioning robot: digital beeps, metallic scrapes, and inhuman slurping sounds spiral around one another in schizophrenic spurts.
Perhaps most intriguing about Quartet for the End of Space is its cohesive narrative arc. While each piece clearly has it’s own sonic character, there’s a conceptual and textural continuity between the works that constructs a compelling and psychologically charged whole. The pieces are arranged so as to lead a virtual tour through a futuristic environment. The journey begins outside of a spaceship, and then proceeds through its inner chambers, some of which are chillingly sedate (“Untitled #273”), while others offer disorienting and dystopian visions of the future (“Cyber Talk”).
By the time the album’s last bits of static fade out, Quartet for the End of Space has guided you on a chilling Sci-Fi journey. The album closes with its most ambient composition, “Untitled #273.” Floating weightlessly over sustained synth-like chords, breathing sounds, and quiet bass rumblings, the piece seems to offer an exterior shot of a ship disappearing into the abyss of space.”
HMMM Remix Compilation (Staalplaat)
“A hypnotic assortment of styles and approaches of digital composition by electronic artists around the globe; each artist remixing the same 5 minute recording of an intimate group of singers humming together. Luminaries in the field such as: Kathy Kennedy + David Gutnick, Hélène Prévost, Steve McLeod, Austistici, Thanos Chrysakis, Francisco Lopez, Margaret Schedel, Jonas Olesen, Bryce Beverlin 11, Magali Babin, Kim Cascone, Doug Van Nort and .i8u.”