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Old Time Music

by Weston Olencki

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  • Limited Edition Cassette
    Cassette + Digital Album

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Following the conceptual avant-hillbilly trajectory of their previous SUPERPANG release "Verd Mont", "Old Time Music" is composer/improviser Weston Olencki’s newest collection of historically-driven sound works. The album’s three pieces are rooted in the specific intersections between musical instruments, their associated genres, and broader cultural/material histories: the tenor saxophone with jazz and recording studio technology (tenor madness), the banjo with bluegrass and the mechanized modernism of the Carolinas (a vine that grew over the city…), and the pump organ with Sacred Harp hymnody and the aging marble industries of Olencki’s home in Vermont (Charon guiding the weary…). “Old Time Music” explores just that: sound that binds itself to remembrance, futurism, (nonlinear) time, and the living musical traditions of America.


01: tenor madness

For tenor saxophone with real-time concatenative synthesis and machine-listening software environment. The patch granulates and redistributes a 60 minute corpus of individual samples onto a live input source using a closest-match sorting algorithm. The corpus is a collection of short extracts from over 300+ albums - all spanning the entire recorded history of the (improvising) tenor saxophone from 1939 to the present. Additional Wekinator-driven Language-Music identification training interpolates global patch presets and adjusts formal interaction between live input and resynthesized output.

The piece makes audible the often-heard (& likely paraphrased) maxim: ‘to freely improvise is to play (with) everything one has ever heard’.

With Anna Webber, tenor saxophone

02-05: a vine that grew over the city and no one noticed
I. Cripple Creek // Pretty Polly
II. 10:23pm through the Saluda Grade // Moonshiner
III. interlude (Nachtmusik)
IV. "the by and by"

For two electro-mechanically controlled banjos, homemade magnetic resonators, solenoid motors, AM radio transmitters, vintage transistor and tube radios, railroad spikes, mason jars, carriage bolts, South Carolina red clay distortion unit, 60Hz ground hum, field recordings, and neural net re-synthesis of seminal old-time repertoire and Markov-driven Scruggs-style banjo picking. Various additional samples drawn from the field recording archive of photographer O. Winston Link, Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians, and miscellaneous historical tapes, cylinders, records, and wire recordings made in the Carolinas.

Samples from O. Winston Link's "Sounds of Steam Railroading" (Vol. 1 "Self-titled" & Vol. 3, "Thunder on Blue Ridge") [1957] expressly used with permission from the O. Winston Link Museum, in Roanoke, VA. Archival preservations made of the steam engine's final months of operation throughout the Appalachians.

“the by and by” was compiled by generating predictive audio models using OpenAI's Jukebox engine. The script learned a Carter Family classic and regenerated its material with the virtual and digitized voices of Johnny Cash, Dolly Parton, Hank Williams, Charley Pride, Elizabeth Cotten, Jimmie Rodgers, Buck Owens, Loretta Lynn, Uncle Dave Macon, Willie Nelson, etc.

The reanimated voice of Roscoe Holcomb was made using Google’s DDSP timbre-transfer algorithm passed through a corpus of voice samples made by Charlotte Mundy.

06: Charon guiding the weary 'cross the Long River (or, how to care for a dying instrument)

For four computer-controlled electric reed organs, rural field recordings, household lamps, telephone pickups, photodiode amplifiers, Vermont “Imperial Marble”, Sacred Harp tune “Windham”, cassette deck loaded with hydrophonic recordings made of the Connecticut River transduced through found slate roofing tiles, two “VT Copper” coins (minted as the currency of the sovereign Vermont Republic (1776-1791)), exposed speaker cones filled with debris found on CT river watershed, and an antique missionary-style Estey pump organ (made in Brattleboro, VT, ca. 1915)

Film version made in collaboration with Jack Langdon. Footage taken in the now-abandoned Freedleyville Marble Quarry; East Dorset, Vermont. (Film commissioned and first presented by the Darmstadt Ferienkurse für Neue Musik)


released May 13, 2022

Developed and recorded between 2020-2022,
mostly in Brattleboro, VT and Greenfield, MA.

Concept and production by Weston Olencki.
Lovingly mastered by Alan F. Jones (Laminal Audio).

With Anna Webber, tenor saxophone (track 1).

Cover photo by Ginevra Shay.


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Tripticks Tapes Greenfield, Massachusetts

experimental music label /// est. 2020 /// submissions are currently closed

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