Audiobulb label head David Newman moonlights as Autistici, an ambient/musique concréte project that would never, ever sound out of place at a MOMA-sponsored event. The composer, based in Sheffield, UK, has been fairly prolific over the years, releasing music under the moniker since at least 2003, if his Discogs page is to be believed. (This is my introduction to him. Sue me.) (I lied – actually, my introduction to him was his contribution to The Silent Ballet: Volume 12 compilation.) According to the onesheet, “Autistici’s work incorporates a wide range of sources including textrual sound design, orchestration, space and fragments of found sound or field recordings.” What this description doesn’t say is that Newman’s compositions can be gorgeous, haunting, and transcendent, all within one lengthy passage.
I’m really, really digging Live at Electric Spring, and I wasn’t sure I was going to. The main, eponymous piece lasts 47:16, which may be an endurance-testing time frame for some. For Newman, it allows him to stretch and expand, to breathe life into his work. It also allows him to showcase a patchwork of audio experimentation, some of which dates as far back as ten years ago. It’s the perfect entry for Newman in the Electric Spring annual five-day event, held at the University of Huddersfield, where “concerts, talks and workshops [bring] together some of the cutting edge proposals in acousmatic and mixed music, software interfaces and video music.” See? I told you this wouldn’t sound out of place at MOMA!
The spaces Newman explores throughout Live at Electric Spring live and breathe and shift and adjust as the performance continues, and the results are never less than fascinating. This is a truly remarkable feat, and showcase Newman’s talents as an imaginative and exciting composer. What, you think I’m crazy calling a 47-minute ambient/found sound piece “fascinating” and “exciting”? Take a listen yourself – strap on a pair of aviator-size headphones and let this thing buzz in your ear for a while, you’ll see what I mean. Plus, they gave acid to everybody at the event, so there was that extra level of inventiveness at play. (What? Nobody was on acid? I must be thinking of that other University of Huddersfield event…)
There’s a second track here, “Questions for Autistici,” which is literally a 10-minute Q&A following the performance. There was probably one guy in the audience who raised his hand five minutes in, and the moderator had to keep harshly whispering to him that he wouldn’t be able to ask questions until after the performance. Unbelievable!
RIYL: Tatsuro Kojima, Max Richter, Leland Kirby