Fresh Stream



There’s a thing about memory in the south. Mike Karnowski takes on two kinds of musical memory with Appalachia, a collaborative split between two of his recording personas: that of custom, or inherited genre, and that of perception, or contextualized sound. Karnowski plural deconstructs and intricately reassembles bluegrass with electro-acoustic tools.

In “Cold Mountain Breakdown,” many bluegrass micro-samples are recalled in subtlety different, kinetic combinations like so many gnats swarming a moving flashlight (essentially it’s an ironic reading of the title trope). Karnowski pinches off the samples and spirals them into themselves and each other, creating a pool of clashing ripples. Each ear possesses its own autonomous sonic space in the mix, and the fragments refract between the two in variant proportions. The sound never feels claustrophobic, however, because there is gradual temporal motion, a continual melding of what has been heard and the steady introduction of new samples. The result is an active spatial sound perhaps drawing on bluegrass’ melodic flux of collective improvisation around a single microphone.

The lens of “Descending Moonshine” is more singularly focused, using a sine wave generator in a more expected minimalist style. Instead of the full string band, here’s a more intimate solo performance, reducing strophic folk song to a single, repeating theme. This song dissects itself, as more and more extraneous sounds infiltrate the main loop. Do we listen for the familiar against the defamiliarizing, separating and independently preserving the remembered theme, or accept the new sounds as part of an ever-changing whole?

Stream the EP HERE through Backporch Revolution

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