Carl Stone’s sample-based compositions unearth new beauty hidden in other people’s music | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Carl Stone’s sample-based compositions unearth new beauty hidden in other people’s music 

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click to enlarge Carl Stone

Carl Stone

Courtesy the Artist

American composer Carl Stone has been making sample-based music for decades, but his recent albums Baroo and Himalaya (his first solo releases in 12 years) show that he’s still refining his craft. These days he primarily deals with what composer John Oswald christened “plunderphonics”—meticulously cutting up samples of music from around the world and transforming them into evocative new pieces. Stone has experimented with this technique in the past, such as on his 1990 composition “Mom’s,” but his latest results are far more emotive and technically impressive. Part of what makes Stone’s music so fascinating is that his songs extract and magnify the specific rhythms, timbres, and moods of his source material. On “Panchita,” he takes Ayumi Hamasaki’s “Moments” and turns her vocals into a series of glitches, highlighting the gradual swells in her melodies through rigorous fragmentation. On “Han Yan,” Stone shreds joyful Congolese guitar melodies into a million bits, but thanks to his ingenious edits, their ebullient charm still comes through. On the final two songs of Himalaya, he sets aside this method of precise deconstruction in favor of long-form drones: on its title track, one of the most mesmerizing pieces in Stone’s oeuvre, vocalist Akaihirume patiently recites lyrics in a clear, resounding operatic timbre that foregrounds the simple power of the human voice. No matter what his methodology, Stone is an excellent musical excavator, unearthing new beauty from whatever work he touches.   v

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