Aug 4 2016
I wander the internet looking for cool new music. Yes, I have my routines. I check out the new release bins at various retail sites. I compile my lists and gradually whittle them down. I listen to all the promos that hit my inbox/mailbox. But what I most enjoy doing is just going onto an audio site and typing in a random keyword and seeing what comes up. Mark Clifford’s Dirty Snacks Ensemble led to today’s column.
Kristina Dutton is a violinist from the Berkeley, California scene. She doesn’t appear to have an artist site (well, aside from her Bandcamp page, and that’s what triggered this post), so there’s not much background I can give you. But that’s okay, ’cause this post is about the music.
UPDATE: Kristina Dutton does, in fact, have an artist site, and it’s really good. Plenty of information on her various projects, including some mentioned below. Here’s a LINK.
Her Bandcamp page doesn’t have a proper album, per se, but there’s a bunch of nifty songs for sale, and all of them coming from different and rather intriguing projects. Here’s some of my favorites to get you started…
Rain by The Fen
This is the one that got me hooked to go through the rest of Dutton’s music. The Fen, a duo of Dutton and guitarist Chris Rejman, and based on scant information available, appears to have created the song “The Rain” as part of a soundtrack to a movie by Kim Anno (more on that below). The music does have a strong cinematic presence, and its formless melodicism that sometimes coalesces into gorgeous imagery in some ways reminds me of the music of Bill Frisell but also some of the alt-classical and post-jazz prevalent to the current music scene.
I’m not sure what the status of that movie is, but this song is included on a recording titled Sketches, Mid-West, and the album is no less gorgeous than the track that led me to it. Here’s a LINK to check it out on Bandcamp. At some point, I’m likely to write further upon it.
But for now, here’s that awesome tune…
Check it out on Bandcamp.
And here’s a thirty-second promo video for the movie this song was intended for…
Violin/English Horn Duo with Kyle Bruckmann
I’ve featured the music of Kyle Bruckmann on several occasions, both on this site and back in my eMusic & Wondering Sound days. Despite a busy listening schedule geared toward new releases, I still revisit his 2012 recording Cracked Refraction (LINK). And I’ve got a work-in-progress column draft that features albums with literary themes, and it’ll include his 2014 release …Awaits Tristero’s Silent Empire.
Bruckmann makes his mark on both oboe and English horn. He goes with the latter for this tune. Dutton and Bruckmann develop the melody like a strand of vine, twisting over and upon itself to where it appears that multiple threads exist… and as a consequence, maybe they do. It all begins with thoughtful pauses and careful assessments, then gradually becomes more fluid and free, and all the while maintains an essential focus.
Check it out on Bandcamp.
You can also check out more of Kyle Bruckmann’s music on Bandcamp, too.
Violin/Koto duo with Kanoko Nishi
I love the koto. It’s a stringed instrument that somehow always has an angelic voice even when the musician is playing it with a demonic passion. It sighs like a cloud floating peacefully above the sun and it hums deeply like Mother Nature as the electricity of a rainstorm gradually subsides.
Here’s a picture of what one looks like…
On this duet, Dutton’s violin joins up with the koto of Kanoko Nishi-Smith (pictured above).
Considering that the song lasts a mere eight minutes, they traverse a remarkable range of tones and tensions… and all of it is beautiful. This song, like many on Dutton’s page, leaves me wanting to hear more.
Check it out on Bandcamp.
And here’s a LINK to an interesting duo collaboration between Nishi and Aram Shelton on soprano sax.
The Dirty Snacks Ensemble – Tidy Universe
I mentioned this ensemble in the column intro. Dutton plays violin on this compelling post-jazz recording. I’m not going to write anything about the album here, but before too much longer, my thoughts on Tidy Universe will be revealed in my inaugural recommendations column on The Bandcamp Daily. Instead, I’ll share the brief anecdote about how I first discovered an oddball track on Soundcloud titled “Dirty Snacks Ensemble,” and I featured it in a column much like this one, where I had wandered the internet one evening and found some neat songs to put the spotlight on. In each instance, the musicians contacted me and inevitably asked, “How the hell did you even find my song?” “Dedication” is my typical answer to that question (which also happens to be the truth), with a follow-up comment to get in touch with me if they ever put something more together to go along with their oddball track. Clifford, in fact, did exactly that, and years later I’m absolutely gratified by how wonderful that recording is.
Here’s a track from that album…
And here’s where you can listen and purchase it on Bandcamp (LINK).
And I’m absolutely thrilled by the coincidence that today’s column happened on exactly the same kind of night wandering the internet that, years ago, led me to the music of Mark Clifford, which, tangentially, led to the music of Kristina Dutton. Music discovery is one of those things that can remind each one of us how grateful we are to be alive for the opportunity to experience it, and when that act of discovery weaves into our own personal timelines, etching those moments into our memories, it’s as if that music was always with us, transcending time and consciousness and simply existing, all along. We all get out of it what we choose to. Those are some of my thoughts, which tend to be at the mercy of the potent mix of nostalgia and lovely music.
And one last time, here’s where you can check out more of Dutton’s music (featured above) on Bandcamp (LINK).
And here’s the Bandcamp page (LINK) for her group The Fen, which got this whole column started in the first place. It’s called Sketches, Mid-West, and it’s already something that’s growing into an addiction for me personally. Maybe you, too. Go check it out.