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Album Review

Carl Stone was one of the first contemporary composers to take a serious look at sampling technology and Mom's is his masterpiece. With an extremely wide range of musical interests, Stone generally employed one of two strategies: either he took diverse material from unrelated sources and stitched them together to create an entirely new and amazing fabric or he took the tiniest sliver of sound and investigated microscopically, peeling away layers and unearthing incredible and hitherto-unheard material. The former is in evidence on the title track, with music from numerous geographical areas (what sounds like — but may not be — Haitian guitars, South American brass bands, and Eastern European accordions, among many others) being made to cohere into an exciting, rhythmically alive soundtrack from everywhere. "Gadberry's," a live performance (all pieces are titled after eateries favored by the composer), has a generally gamelan feel, with metallic, percolating percussion augmented by guitar and bass sounds that inject an ever-so-slight funky element. "Shing Kee" is an example of the second approach and is a phenomenally beautiful piece of music. Using as its source a tiny slice of the Japanese pop singer Akiko Yano singing Schubert lieders in English, Stone very gradually stretches it out from around one second to several in looped fashion. As more and more of the fragments come into the range of aural perception, the listener has the impression of an impossibly vast landscape opening up before him or her. When, about halfway through, it reaches a turning point, the result is as dramatic and startling as anything in more traditional fields of composition. Recorded between 1986-1992, the art of sampling has come a long way since and there are aspects of Mom's that could come across as quaint to someone familiar, for example, with the work of Otomo Yoshihide (who collaborated with Stone on the fine Monogatari album), but Stone's musical ideas continue to carry the day. No one has covered this area of contemporary music with more grace and acumen. Very highly recommended.


Born: 10 February 1953 in Los Angeles, CA

Genre: Classical

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s

American electro-acoustic and computer musician Carl Stone works primarily in sampler-based composition, emphasizing the slow evolution of sound through thematic variation and recurrence. A Los Angeles native, Stone currently lives in San Francisco, a base of sorts for his ongoing involvement in the international avant-garde scene. A student of computer music innovators Morton Subotnick and James Tenney, Stone studied composition formally at the California Institute of the Arts. Focusing strictly...
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