Abstract Audio Systems | The Ivory EP

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The Ivory EP

by Abstract Audio Systems

Five lo-fi piano pieces recorded using a handheld. A palpable melancholy permeates this release, but travels hand in hand with a sense of hope.
Genre: Electronic: Ambient
Release Date: 

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2. Dihahd
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ABOUT THIS ALBUM


Album Notes
The digital and the organic have always fascinated me.

The former captures every tiny aspect of sound, ignoring nothing. This complexity affords a musician enormous power over the music they create.

The latter is the result of direct contact between the instrument and the musician. Each touch returns a tone. This simplicity affords a musician the opportunity to create in the rawest sense of the word.

But what happens when the digital and the organic meet? This is the concept behind these recordings.

I wanted to explore what effect a primitive digital recorder would have on purely organic sounds. What colors and overtones would be added? What would be lost?

The contents of this CD was recorded using a Dell Axim handheld computer placed above the keyboard of a baby grand piano. None of these songs were planned or pre-composed. All the melodies you will hear were completely improvised. These sessions were subsequently downloaded off the Axim and manipulated in the studio.

It is my hope that the results are an intriguing example of the marriage between simple digital recording and organic sound.

B. Hudgins
Abstract Audio Systems engineer
July 2005

Review from The One True Dead Angel:

This is a concept album of sorts, exploring the use of a "primitive digital recorder" to record "purely organic sounds" (in this case, a baby grand piano), and not a long one at that, but don't let that scare you off. The sounds on this disc were further processed in the studio (mainly in the form of adding lots of reverb, from the sound of it), The tracks begin with basic melodies and simple rhythms played on the piano, and are overlaid with strange droning noises and other piano tracks to give them more depth, but the playing is so sparse that even the more layered pieces retain a tremendously spacious feel. The results are spare and melancholy; the only album I can recall sounding like this would be the obscure Thymme Jones album WHILE. Interesting stuff, and the short length keeps the concept from growing tedious.

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Reviews


to write a review

Wink Junior

Solo Piano That Revives, If Not Reinvents the Style
Abstract Audio Systems is the mastermind of a solo multi-talented musician
(yes, that term is overused, but is very appropriate in this rare case) from
New York City who is preoccupied with music not as a way to achieve fame,
money, or any of the common lures that compel people to take up instruments
and try to write songs, but instead that rare and endangered sort of musician
who is truly and simply an artist: one driven to follow their muse, wherever
it may lead them, in pursuit of music as an expression of exploration,
experimentation, and the need to discover new territory and ground that has
yet to be explored.

More simply put, Ben Hudgins is a "real" musician, someone who's interested
solely in the expression of his immense talents towards the creation of
something with meaning and beauty, without concern for appeasing anyone but
himself, uninterested in the trappings of being some kind of "rock star". The
term "musician" really isn't fair; Abstract Audio Systems' music is best
appreciated as art in the purist sense. While it is something you can just
listen to, as background music to color your environment, it's also something
that rewards attention to detail, the mark of a true innovation.

Over the years Ben has released a number of full-length and CDEPs as Abstract
Audio Systems (he also has two other bands, runs a record label to release his
own and others' material, and is a regular downtempo/ambient DJ as well; where
he finds times to eat and sleep is beyond me.) He's prolific in the right
way; releasing material when it comes along and is ready, but not caught up in
thinking that every little sound or experiment needs to be foisted on the
public (think Thurston Moore for example.)

His newest work, entitled "The Ivory EP", is an album created from the drive
of curiousity and the juxtaposition of some fairly simple yet interesting
concepts: the melding an old, hand-crafted instrument (a Baby Grand piano
owned by his parents) with a new, foreign factory-assembled, digital computer
(a Dell Axim); an attempt to merge the imperfections of the former with all
the inherent flaws that sound real with the precise yet unforgiving perfection
of digital recording; the improvisation of musical pieces that are recorded as
they are literally being invented yet in a way that they can be replayed, over
and over again, never changing and completely frozen in time.

If one ponders too much, it sounds like flawed thinking at best and a really
Bad Idea, but it's the conflict between these two worlds, one very old and the
other very new, out of which something entirely unique and wonderful has been
created. There are plenty of flaws in this recording stemming from both the
instrument and player as well as the way it was recorded, but it is in these
imperfections, and the way they interact with each other, that makes this
recording so very interesting, real and for lack of a better term, intimate.
This is an artist creating solely for the love of doing so, and while taking
an intellectual approach to the concept behind this album, leaves it behind
and just lets fate take him where it will once the plan is in place.

And the results are something that's very difficult to say about solo piano
works in the last couple of decades: it's something very different and unique.
Every little inperfection adds to the organic and immediate feel of the songs,
and you can almost unfeel them unfolding just as they were improvised, as if
you yourself were a part of that creative process. Truly an artists' album if
there every was one.

But lest I make things sound too clinical or over-analysed, they results are
also just wonderful to listen to. One is reminded of a time when a piano in
the house was there to entertain and bring joy to those present, long before
radio and television and the Internet turned us into a country of introverts.
I enjoy listening to this album in the same way I did sitting on my
grandmother's lap as she pulled out old 78 RPM records from "the old country"
(Lithuania) and played them for me, teaching me the lyrics and telling me what
the stories meant, bouncing me on her knee the whole time. And that's what I
love about this album so much - that feeling that I'm getting to sit back and
let someone tell me their story and share with me a bit of their life and
experience.

Not despite but very much because of its honest imperfections that brought
about its existence, makes it an album worth buying and hearing. After all,
art truly succeeds when it makes us *feel*, and this album, more than any one
I've heard in years, does exactly that, but better still it's not just simple
enjoyment, but rather the stirrings of something older and more deeply
engrained inside me. It reminds me how much I love music and makes me want to
finally start taking those piano lessons I've always wanted to take.

Take the time to give the sound samples a listen. I'm sure it's not for
everyone, but for those who love improvised solo piano, I challenge you
to find another release aside from Robert Rich's recent "Open Windows" that
really makes one appreciate just how wonderful and enriching this kind of
music can be.

Cheers, Wink Jr. (Sept. 2005)
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