Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Tristan Perich - 1-Bit Symphony (Cantaloupe, 2010)

Tristan Perich - Movement 4

If you've been reading AGB for more than a couple of years, or even if you've just been paying attention to cool shit lately, then you've probably heard of Tristan Perich and his sound/music/art brilliance. He just released 1-Bit Symphony, the sequel/follow up to 1-Bit Music. He's making waves not just because he's making 1-bit music, but because it comes contained on a little chip attached inside a CD jewel case. You plug your headphones or speakers directly into the jewel case and flip the switch to "On."

The structure of Symphony is just about the same as it was with Music, with 6 elements: "music maker," on/off switch, battery, skip button, volume knob, and headphone jack. The two main differences are that the music is actually "performed live" now (not gonna pretend I know what that means) and that now you can fast forward through a song by holding the skip button. Not sure why, but still a nice option I suppose.

The music aspect of Symphony is worlds different, though. If you thought Music was lush for 1-bit tunes, just you wait. It's called 1-Bit Symphony for a reason. 5 movements of astoundingly diverse and complicated lo-fi electronics. There's much less emphasis on the dance/glitch like Music, instead focusing more on serious, though still a tad poppy, compositions. There's really no way to accurately describe 1-bit music but that's probably because I don't truly understand it. Your best bet is to listen to "Movement 4" up there if you're not already.

But wait guys, it still gets better. How? The final movement is infinite. It stops playing new music and freezes in a static drone. It is not a loop like a locked groove, it is actually programed to play forever. Granted, there is a battery involved so it kind of relies on that, BUT STILL. This is the Neverending Album. You have to consciously decide when you want it to end. I can't tell you how goddamn hard it is to flip the switch and move on with your life.

It's limited, obviously, but it's easily the coolest $30 you will ever spend. Also, there is a stupidly fascinating interview with Perich over at BOMB Magazine where he explains everything: 1-bit being a combination of sound & music, experimental improvisation, never finishing Gödel, Escher, Bach, why it's called 1-Bit Symphony, and why he felt the need to let his album play forever.