Alva Noto


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The visionary producer Carsten Nicolai's album as Alva Noto, Prototypes, takes the typically non-artistic sounds of electricity and frames these sounds on a comprehensible musical canvas where they become art. Somewhat similar to Andy Warhol's Campbell's soup cans as art theory, Nicolai magnifies our surrounding technological environment in such a way that the listener discovers the beauty dwelling within pulsing, vibrating, and buzzing electronic tones. Call it "ambient"; call it "electronica"; call it "clicks + cuts"; call it whatever you want, but know that this is purely raw electronic sounds sculpted into accessible shapes. The hum of a PC or the buzz of an overhead florescent light resemble the sounds Nicolai funnels into his music. He then loops the raw sounds into song structures where faint buzzes and hums occupy the background of a given song while more prominent pulses, chimes, clicks, and static loops cycle for minutes at a time in the foreground. The effect is at first rather cerebral; the listener reclines, thinking about the raw ingredients and how they somehow make the transition from seemingly natural phenomenon to art. Once this initial contemplation subsides, the listener simply revels in the delicate context of the sounds in motion. The effect of the well-formatted loops cycling in slow orbits is at times comforting and serene but may also become dissonant and annoying, depending on outside variables such as mood or context and how the listener reacts to these faint sounds.

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