Morten Riis

The Isolation Mixtapes : M

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It’s week 13 in my series of Isolation Mixtapes, which means we’re now halfway through the alphabet. When i began this series it seemed possible that the prospect of 26 mixtapes, unfolding weekly over the course of six months, might well be in keeping with the length of time of lockdown. As things stand now the lockdown, and its associated isolation, is slowly becoming less of a reality in the UK – and even more so across Europe – though ‘normality’ (however we end up (re)defining that) remains somewhere in the future, particularly for music and the arts. So my plan is to continue through the latter half of the alphabet in the hope that, by the time we reach Z, all of our lives might be a lot more genuinely normalised, and that enforced isolation is becoming a memory.

To that end, here’s this week’s mixtape, devoted to composers, groups and artists beginning with the letter M. The first half has an inadvertent focus on song, while the second half becomes more abstract and atmospheric. As always there are two tracks for each of the years 2010 to 2019, presented in chronological order.

Here’s the tracklisting in full, together with approximate timings and links to obtain the music. As usual, the mixtape can be downloaded or streamed via MixCloud. Read more

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Like a ton of feathers: Morten Riis – Digital Sound Drawings

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Many moons ago, i wrote a retrospective of the work of Ryoji Ikeda, composer of some the finest raw digital music yet created. It’s an unfortunate corollary that Ikeda, like all great innovators, has a sizeable cluster of imitators (‘flattery’ be damned), many of whom form part of the now woefully tautological output from the once interesting Raster-Noton label. But something quite new appeared today, from the Crónica netlabel that i’ve praised so highly in the past. Out today is the fifth of their ‘Unlimited Releases’ series: Digital Sound Drawings by the Danish composer Morten Riis. The short programme note speaks of these six compositions being “composed through the drawing of images and their direct conversion into sound”, which brings to mind the well-known spectral imagery occasionally used by, among others, Aphex Twin, Venetian Snares and Plaid (about which more can be read here). Riis’ compositions are quite different, however, more akin to ‘sculptures’ than anything else, something that becomes strikingly apparent when the music is listened to using audio editing software, as recommended by the composer. i found this a fascinating way to listen, proving revelatory about the sound structures Riss has created. Read more

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