Thursday, March 17, 2011

C. Reider makes abstract music. It's not linear or narrative. The genre identifications can be a bit hazy--you might call his music "noise" or "ambient" or even, in some phases, "minimalist techno", heavy on the "minimalist", very light on the dancefloor aspect. Perhaps the unifying thread of his varying music is that rather than being "music-as-sound" in the ambient formulation, it is "sound-as-music". The sounds are interesting, and somehow, a bit improbably, they add up to music. His pieces rarely cause one to float away on a sea of melody, nor do they paste one against the wall in the way of noise. They happen in their own little created universe, aware of but not entombed in anyone else's universe, and they are their own thing. I listen to C. Reider music for some of the same reasons I read science fiction--it offers me a kind of escape into different ideas, all served up with a kind of unpretentious earnest grace.

C. Reider comes from the musical sharing tradition which predates Creative Commons. He participated in the tape exchange movement, a non-industry way for people who create music to share with one another outside the formal "gallery" of the record label and the record store. He's a friend of mine. We met through our weblogs--I had heard of him, a tiny bit, before we met, so I suppose he's an obscure celebrity of sorts. He and his wife (who records from time to time as Caerie) met my wife and I for a charming dinner at dusk in a little Colorado park not so far from where we were vacationing and not so far from where they live. They're good folks. He's been kind enough to give my music a shout-out in a weblog post or two, for which I am grateful.

He's made music some 20 years now, while holding down a day job as a skilled craftsman. He's well-known in the circles that know him, and completely unknown to the very wide circles with which his circles do not intersect. He releases from time to time, on his own site, on netlabels, and on little indie noise-esque labels.

Some folks ponder their own obscurity and weep and wail and gnash their teeth. This is good for dentists and handkerchief makers. C. Reider pondered his own obscurity and decided to sponsor a remix project. He invited other artists to remix his work. Some 29ish artists responded with remixes. The resulting album, "The More Unknown C. Reider: 20 Years of Strange Sounds Reworked by the Netlabel Underground" is now released on an album page at C. Reider's site.
My song "Where" is part of the release.

I'm not really a very abstract artist. My work amounts to background music with synths, which is often ambient-influenced. I am not ashamed to use melodies, including melodies not that far removed from what used to be called "childrens' songs". My work is probably "representational", in that the moods and ideas in my instrumentals are not hard to glean. Accordingly, "Where" is a fairly straightforward set of upbeat synth melodies. I built "Where" with samples from the C. Reider song "Cew". It turned out that "Cew" is the word for the English word "Where" in one of the South American indigenous languages. As one might expect, C. Reider tells me that "Cew"'s song title is entirely coincidental.

I enjoyed making "Where", because it was fun to take C. Reider's obscure sounds and make them primary-school-accessible. Most of us labor in obscurity, and most of us have sounds to make. I'm glad to add my 3 minutes to C. Reider's 20 years. The entire album is a free to stream or download at the site link above.

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