Discovery Chains: From Murcof To Murch

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This post is about how one thing can lead to another. In other words, it’s about process.

I checked my email and opened a newsletter from the online music retailer, bleep.com.

Scrolling through Bleep’s recommendations I found a number that seemed promising, and began downloading them on Spotify.

One release that stood out was a new recording by Murcof called Statea. Murcof (Fernando Corona) is a Mexican musician who makes atmospheric and minimalist electronica. On Statea he teams up with the French pianist Vanessa Wagner to create renditions of piano pieces by Erik Satie, John Cage, Aphex Twin, John Adams, Philip Glass, Arvo Part, and others. It’s a beautiful, hybrid recording. Here is a video overview of the Murcof and Wagner collaboration:

A side note: yes, Murcof’s processing is sonically interesting, adding something significant to the originals. For example, listen around 6:43 to his processing on John Cage’s “In a Landscape:

As I began listening to Statea, I searched online for interviews with Corona and Wagner. My search brought me to headphonecommute.com, a quality source of information about electronic music.

At headphonecommute I noticed an interview with another musician, Yann Novak. (Already I had forgotten that I had been searching for information on Murcof!) Novak’s work explores “notions of presence, stillness and mindfulness through the construction of immersive spaces.” I had never heard of Novak but read the interview anyway, learning about the musician’s thoughtful and thorough composing process. (I particularly like his technique of putting away music for two months and then returning to it.)

While reading the Novak interview I zoomed in on the photo of his studio to take a look at his bookshelf. I noticed a book with the title Notes toward a Conditional Art. It sounded familiar but I couldn’t remember its author.

Ah right, it’s a classic by the artist Robert Irwin. Here is Irwin defining art-making as inquiry: “More correctly, by our commitment to curiosity and wonder we willingly take up a posture of pure inquiry” (222). (I’m re-reading the book now.)

Then I remembered having read the wonderful book about Irwin by Lawrence Weschler, Seeing Is Forgetting The Name of The Thing One Sees.

I looked up Weschler’s book on Amazon.com in the hopes of finding something new by him.

Bingo! That’s how, as one thing can lead to another, I came upon Weschler’s forthcoming Waves Passing In The Night, a profile of Walter Murch, a film sound editor turned amateur astrophysicist.

This blog post, then, is about process, but also about sharing the links that make up a discovery chain.

Check out Murcof, Wagner, Irwin, Cage’s “In A Landscape”, headphonecommute.com, Yann Novak, Lawrence Weschler, and Walter Murch.

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