Label: Unseen Worlds
Unsung West Coast maverick Carl Stone is subject of a necessary 2nd retrospective on Unseen Worlds following their Laurie Spiegel and Jacqueline Humbert & David Rosenboom releases. As revelatory as the first volume Electronic Music From the Seventies and Eighties, the temporal shift into the ’80s/‘90s in this 2nd collection opens four hallucinatory new planes of ambient enquiry yielding some of the most beautiful electronic music we’ve never heard before. Progressing farther along Stone’s timeline we find him refining the flow of his practice in four prime examples or his work within the parameters of real-time electronic music performance and process. With computerised sleight of hand, all four works reveal a magick of metamorphosis, or how fixed elements can become im/perceptibly changed over time. In Bantreay Srey we hear a lone East Asian vocal slowed and bifurcating into evaporating helixes of floating tones, only to appear to invert its place in the soundfield by the work’s close, whilst the percolated glassy chain of Sonali appears to predate the playful brilliance of his glitching pop cut-ups in its keening, frothy drive and evolution leading to a secreted Mozart chorus.
Woo Lae Oak follows with a sublime play on tension between levitating flute lines and a backdrop of strobing, hyper electronics keeping us rapt for its 23 minute lifespan, before another extended number Mae Yao aligns the senses in a sort of digitally windswept segue from hyperventilating female vocals to shimmering shoegaze radiance hinting at gamelan music, but never quite resolving at either. To be honest, we’re still nowhere near getting our heads around Carl Stone’s body of work, but this and the last volume are a great place to start probing, and likewise his Al-Noor CD if his more popwise aspects take your fancy.
"In recent years, the Unseen Worlds label has performed an essential service by reissuing significant (and too little heard) works of Minimalism and electronic composition. This month, that hot streak continues with “Electronic Music from the Eighties and Nineties,” the label’s second collection of pieces culled from the catalog of sampling maven Carl Stone. In some earlier works, Mr. Stone relied a Buchla synthesizer. He also tended to favor a disorienting approach to looping and layering. This new compilation shows the composer steadily embracing new technologies as they became available — and exploring some new moods. In notes for “Banteay Srey,” created in 1993, Mr. Stone wrote that “a Burundi child’s song is stretched and recontextualized with an original musical bed,” courtesy of MIDI, a then-new “personal computer,” a sampler and a synthesizer. The end product is far less manic than some of his prior experiments, but no less gripping." - Seth Colter Walls, The New York Times
"The album ends with Mae Yao (1984) which evolves along a hectic trajectory. The gamelan is pushed through the meat grinder, working itself into a heaving mass of Morse Code splinters and jumps. Backwards, forwards, upside down and the right way around, in a hall of mirrors… At the point it seems almost unbearable, it blossoms into a huge nebulous drift. A vast window into deep, active space. An immensely beautiful and soaring finale... Like the previous overview lovingly spot lit by Unseen Worlds, Electronic Music from the Eighties and Nineties is an amazing point of entry into Stone’s beautifully exhilarating sonic world." - Obladada
"It seems just logical that another handful of Carl Stone’s electronic works follows, at relatively short distance, the brilliant Electronic Music From The Seventies And Eighties issued by the same label in 2016. If that plunge into archival materials was a study in the origins and development of an unmistakable compositional style, this chapter revolves around certain aesthetic principles – neo-minimalist, if you will – which, in conjunction with Stone’s interest for textural organization and form, warrant impressive quality standards." - Massimo Ricci, Touching Extremes
"An Aaron Dilloway for the Baby Boomer generation, Stone was known for making unforgiving loop music, taking snippets of sound and slowly replacing their initial meanings with new ones through longform repetition." - Norman Records