Boomkat Product Review:
Outrageous chop-ups of Queen and Aqua feature prominently in computer music pioneer Carl Stone’s invaluable 3rd retrospective via Unseen Worlds - massive RIYL Paul DeMarinis, V/Vm, Goodiepal, Nicolas Collins, Art of Noise, Rian Treanor
Stuffed with revelatory wonders spanning fifty years of Stone’s decimated compositions, the followup to installations in 2016 & ’18 offers the broadest overview of work by a true maverick in his field. Injecting humour and playfulness to an often unyielding framework, Stone is responsible for some of computer music’s wittiest and playfully psychoactive work, bar none. This set scrolls right back to his earliest work circa 1972 at CalArts, under Morton Subotnick and James Tenney, and brings us bang up to date with his tekkerz in 2022, dilating the purview of previous instalments for the wildest, and arguably best, primer to his vital avant-garde side-spins on pop, Latin, folk, and experimental musics.
It all begins with a practice stemming from his graduate job at CalArts, when he systematically preserved to tape some 10,000 vinyl records ranging from Renaissance music to early electronics and global folk styles, where he effectively developed a process of pause-button editing foreshadowing hip hop. Also influenced by his studies of electro-acoustic music and the possibilities of computer memory as prototypical samplers, his music can be heard as an innovative sort of meta-archiving, and the through-line of Stone’s genius from primordial, early vocal cut-ups to strobing samepledelia becomes apparent across the eons charted here.
Whether working with the laborious techniques of early computers, as on 1972’s uncannily future-proofed ‘Three Confusongs’ or smearing the vocals of Stefan Weiser (aka Z’Ev) into Roland Kayn-esque drones in ‘Ryouund Thygizunz’, or beyond the speed-of-thought algorithms of contemporary CPU’s in the trio of 2022 works, including the AI-alike sea shanty ‘Kustaa’, the effortlessness of Stone’s work is belied by very crafty mechanics and concept under the hood. And the way which he can truly tease out a sample before fully revealing its source simply never ceases to leave us reeling, as with the transformation of ‘Flint’s’ from Ace of Base like airport reggae lilt to a Max/MSP gobbled ‘Barbie Girl’, or indeed with his V/Vm-meets-Paul DeMarinis-like dissection of Queen’s in ‘Moranguk’.