Review: Devin DiSanto – Waiting and Counting: Domestic Ritual for the Stereo Field (Rope Editions, May 12)

There are a few reasons why I’m catching up on these mid-May releases so late; the most relevant to me at the moment is that I’ve been out sick the past week, but even beyond that a lot of material just takes longer to reach me now. Whether you’re an artist, label, or distro, please send me stuff (can be digital or physical). I want to build and grow a mutually beneficial network now more than ever.

Based in New York since 2013, sound researcher and performer Devin DiSanto has sporadically but deliberately crafted a select body of work focusing on objects, space, timing, and choice. Earlier projects like his duo CDs on Erstwhile with Nick Hoffmann and Taku Unami sketch preliminary formulations of a distinct style, but nothing I’ve heard has been as fully realized as Waiting and Counting: Domestic Ritual for the Stereo Field, DiSanto’s first full-length solo effort in nearly a decade. Released as a handsome CD run by South Korea’s newly minted Rope Editions, Waiting and Counting, in the artist’s own words, “is based around a performance determined by a partial system of cues (max patch) that occur ‘randomly’ and are intended to be listened for and responded to by a performer or small group. This activity is occasionally juxtaposed with brief sections of recordings from different waiting areas I’ve made over the years.”

The allure of DiSanto’s music has always been its algorithmic nature, sound with a core of simple mechanisms that radiates much more complex consequences, and these 15 short pieces are humbly illustrative examples. “A” and the other letter-titled segments are granular exhumations of the original sessions, their plasticine texture-stretch and spatial inversions adding further dimensions to the unmanipulated numbered extracts, which range from supermarket and sine-tone ambience (“1”) to sparse shuffle and clutter (“8”). With the simultaneous preoccupation by what’s happening inside and outside of the performance, I’m reminded of comparably radical documents like Eric Laska’s Presets & Studies or Jean-Luc Guionnet and Thomas Tilly’s Stones, Air, Axioms / Delme: down-to earth, democratic sound art with one ear to the ground and the other to the sky.

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