Tuesday, May 12, 2009

James Plotkin and the Art of the Musical Soundscape

In recent years the soundscape has emerged as an art form in its own right. It has come about gradually, starting from earlier extended electronic music compositions and working its way through landmark Fripp and Eno works. Whatever the lineage, it is undoubtedly an ever more significant medium of expression.

James Plotkin shows himself one of the more important creators within this form on his excellent CD Kurtlanmak/Damascus (Utech Records). The good soundscape tends to be electro-acoustic in nature. It revels in the sensual components of musical and extra-musical organized sound. At the same time it invokes a kind of narrative. But to be truly noteworthy, the choice and organization of musical sound events should strike the ear, should evoke panoramas, expanded vistas, infinite horizons before the ears of the listener. This Mr. Plotkins does admirably. Each section connects to the long narrative but has interest in itself.

James comes to us as an important member of three innovative groups since the 1980s: Old, Khlyst and Khanate. (See a recent posting in my other blog for a discussion of an "Old" CD at www.gapplegate.com/musicalblog.htm.) He gets away from the apocalyptic in-your-face metal of those bands to show a more lyrical side on this solo work. I am intrigued with it. It has some very nice guitar playing. It has envelopes of sound that put you outside of yourself. And it is musical at all points.

Go to his site at http://www.plotkinworks.com/.

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