Concentrics

“concentrics” is a loose term i’ve explored for years in personal reflection, written notes, poetry and sound

i view it as an idea that connects my understanding of aesthetic beauty, simplicity, perception and rhythm

this thread is intended to foster discussion because it seems important to:

  1. share some of those thoughts publicly
  2. offer sound experiments as an ongoing series w/ commentary about the musical choices
  3. release them in some form as a collection

here are some of the recordings so far…


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to understand why i find this style rewarding and fun
yall have to understand that the most basic principles relate to motion of concentric circles which form in water when a foreign object is introduced

it’s a familiar metaphor in music

i don’t always follow strictly and each piece may put particular focus on a specific aspect of the visual idea in sonics…at times subordinating traditional tone, structure and rhythm to highlight textures or motion of sound within a space (or fluid)

what i try to do is equivalent to emphasizing the water itself & the way it interacts with light travelling thru it rather than the hand/stick/stone which caused the wave to move

which brings me to two other points

  • adopting this metaphor is really an excuse to consider travel thru space as an improvising prompt
  • as space and time are linked this is a somewhat backwards approach to space/time travel using unconventional tools [an important attribute of music i admire]

for these concentrics, any tool that can alter my perception of time and the space which a sound inhabits (or moves thru) is essential

i frequently use many in tandem


additional context about how i approach concentric improvisation and arrangement can be found by looking at some past recordings [annotated]

let’s start with the most familiar examples…tracks on muqarnas:
knowing how i assembled the tracks, golekalam & arils are both songs that i think qualify as concentrics but a few on the b-side really exemplify the style and led me to focus more deliberately on recording this way

  • gaz is 100% focused on interplay between drums, one horn stab, and digital fx (while the 2nd half, bdm, gives way to something more traditionally melodic or danceable)
  • aizo is a concentric masterpiece…during both passages the listener is tightly confined and their attention forced in the direction of fx (reverb / delay) as central elements beyond any melody or rhythm
  • matkarim again attempts to articulate the limits of movement possible within confines of a loop . filtering and parameters of the delay play a key role

lesser known examples from other albums









i welcome questions about the tools and techniques used for any of these…


lastly, one of the few which i meant to be “concentric” from the start

in this case highlighting the motion of water drops in an enclosed space which eventually breach the surface of a pool

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I think a lot abt time travel in my work - forming tangents between multiple moments in my life is essentially the reason why I make things. Its crucial both aesthetically and conceptually.

all the tools I use revolve around performing this process at multiple time scales (ms/µs = downsampling, seconds = delay/looping, days/years = sampling)

for me the best moments are when the technology plays back the data differently than when it came in. it parallels perception, memory, mediation, all kinds of things relevant to human psychology.

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this is it right here for me
excellent point

it has been so clarifying to realize why i was attracted to seemingly disparate facets of the same principle

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accepting this aspect is why i now freely pull from past synth freestyles saved on cassette, minidisc, or my pc

they serve merely as source to “agitate the water” so to speak, so i’m less concerned than i used to be about whether i’ve sampled them before or whether i’m able to preserve the original sessions’ chronology as i mangle the fragments

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another exhibit

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Cool thread I can’t wait to dive into these! Now back to my whisky… (what did I mean by …?)

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this was fun

combining several methods to arrive here

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Hmm. The movement of water that you describe is a kind of homeostasis. It’s changing and moving and very “busy” but on another level, the general shape remains the same.

I can see how this could naturally lead to polyrhythms and other complexity, as simple and orderly ripples reflect from the edges of the water and interfere with each other.

I like this idea a lot :slight_smile:

In my own music I don’t usually have a metaphor of motion either in time or space (though sometimes there’s anticipation of arrival or departure), though I do often think about wind. On the song/narrative scale of time, motion is a coincidence of how I happened to improvise… but I feel like that fits with the way human perception and perspective changes as we regard things.

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these are fantastic :slightly_smiling_face:
dig the process theory as well
(very visual)
plz keep it going…

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thanks evan

fed part of @andrew’s softcut/drip session into @Olivier’s compass then processed w/ ekphras, dirge and aaltoverb

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cool sounds :slightly_smiling_face:

talk of water
ripples
rhythm…

we are a living system ourselves
made of mostly water
with geography
like in TCM theory
the qi flows with the blood
…heartbeats

ripples thru multiple hands :heart_eyes: