Tristan Perich
1-Bit Symphony
Cantaloupe Music (computer chip housed in jewel case)

Electronic music composer and visual artist Tristan Perich is fascinated with 1-bit audio. 1-bit Music, his first release for the Cantaloupe imprint back in 2006, featured a computer chip and on/off switch housed in a jewel case. Listeners looking for the CD found a headphone jack. All one had to do was plug in a pair of headphones, flip the switch, and voila! A fragile yet supple music, redolent with signatures of early electronica, was revealed.

Perich has expanded his use of 1-bit audio in the past few years, developing it in several collaborations with classical instrumentalists. Thus, for his next music maker in a jewel case, Perich has correspondingly expanded the ambitions of the work, having it reflect the formal issues addressed in symphonic music.

1-Bit Symphony utilizes on and off electrical pulses, synthesized by code and routed from microchip to speaker. Thus, a script of computer code (included in the liner notes) is transformed into sound. The results are sometimes reminiscent of the ambient looping heard in minimalist keyboard works such as Terry Riley’s organ pieces from the late 1970s. Occasionally, it replicates the soundtracks of early computer games, but the blips and loops are far better finessed!

The juxtaposition of 1-bit audio, and its relatively simple sound wave building blocks, with a more expansive musical design proves an oddly adorned yet appealing amalgam. Gone is symphonic bloat, replaced instead by delicate circuitry. And the artifact itself is easily the coolest physical recording medium I’ve come across in some time.

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