The Psample-delic Psounds of Carl Stone's "Four Pieces"

If you think sampling in music means MC Hammer looping "Super Freak," you gotta another think coming: Los Angeles legend Carl Stone has been using custom software to spin complex, beautiful webs out of found sounds since before most people even owned a computer. The closest comparison to another composer one might make would be to John Oswald and his Plunderphonics, but Oswald often hits with an ADD-addled aggressiveness. Stone takes a more trance-inducing path that sometimes approaches Minimalism, but the results are still too thorny to ever function as yoga music.

Track #1 "Wall Me Do" is not, as the title suggests, a Pink Floyd/Beatles mash-up. The title, like most of Stones' titles, comes from an LA area Asian restaurant. It's glitchy electronica, not unlike Aphex Twin, but years before the fact. #2 is pretty funny, slicing and dicing that classical classic "Pictures at an Exhibition" into an increasingly unrecognizable delirium.  #3 ("Shing Kee") from 1986 hypnotically loops unidentified sounds (inc female vocals) into dreamy gorgeousness; tho reminiscent of Frippertronics and Steve Reich's early tape-loop works, the gradually unfolding patterns bear the stamp of Stone's original style. Play this with the lights out, glass of red wine in hand. Aaahhh... And #4 is Stone sampling himself, in this case remixing #1. I actually prefer it to #1 - it's all Minimalistic grooviness, but with no predictable looping and phasing.

Carl Stone - Four Pieces (1986-1989)

I was happy to see that Stone is performing live this March 22 with LA Free Music Society vets Tom Recchion and Joseph Hammer. Those two have been using extreme turntablism and tape-loop tomfoolery to great effect for as long as Stones' been tweaking his Macs. Don't think Stone was ever actually a member of the LAFMS, but note that Recchion designed the insert to this album.  And the two used to rule the KPFK airwaves in the 1980s with back-to-back (Tuesday night?) shows, Stone with "Imaginary Landscapes" and Recchion's "Soundings II, aka the Tom and Tony Show." Between Stone's alt classical-to-Yma Sumac approach and Tom 'n' Tony's avant-tarde mix of free noise, kitschy thrift-store records, and live antics (e.g. playing the entirety of "Sgt Pepper" on fast-forward when the CD was first released), Young Master Fab's mind was suitably re-aligned. Tom Waits said he wept when he first heard Gavin Bryars' "Jesus Blood Never Failed Me Yet" (which Waits would later sing) on LA radio in the '80s. 'Twas on "Imaginary Landscapes" - I was listening that night, too.

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