Review of Sti.ll [12k2060]

The Wire (UK)

The folio is a format proposed by Joseph Branciforte, the proprietor of Grenade, that aspires to combine the best of the physical and digital worlds. It consists of a high resolution digital download and a hardcover book, which contains texts analysing the music and chronicling its realisation.

In a way, it recalls record albums of a century ago, which were collections of 78rpm discs contained within books adapted from those designed to hold photographs. Both derive their names from the bound volume,e not the music itself, which is conveyed using the most commercially viable sound transportation format of their respective times.

While this correspondent is unwilling to accept digital music files as ideal, Greyfade’s books (Sti.ll is the labels’ second such release) have a lot going for them. The clothbound cover projects substance, the graphic design is clean, and the opportunity to fill a book permits the music’s makers to explain their processes at much greater length than the notes on the back of your average Blue Note LP.

Sti.ll transposes Stil., which Taylor Deupree made in 2002, from the realm of synthesis to analogue instruments. When Deupree made the original recording, he was determined to push the new options made available by digital audio workstations as far as he could, which meant that there were no notes or beats to be transcribed, since Stil. was the product of tiny micro loops that had been subjected to granular interventions. Instead, Branciforte extracted the information from narrow frequency filter passes through thea album’s four tracks, which he then scored for vibes, woodwinds and stringed instruments.

While the instrumentation is acoustic, the performances are not live, but built up from dozens of tracks. Branciforte’s vibes and Madison Greenstone’s clarinets are most responsible for the music’s glowing pulses and woody textures, but it’s the ultra-clean mix that connects Sti.ll with its digital predecessor. In each iteration, music of indeterminate mass lures the listener into a realm of insubstantial yet endlessly variable sound.

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