Over the last few years the eclectic sound artist and experimentalist Carl Stone has enjoyed a two-pronged reevaluation of his work, with the forward-looking Unseen Worlds label shining a focus on his early music from the 1970s and 1980s while simultaneously unleashing a series of fizzy, idea-packed new recordings. The label will soon issue a third, major retrospective of early material titled Electronic Music from 1972-2022, and even though much of the pieces were handmade with tape and razor blades well before the advent of personal computers, its operating principles shine through his latest work. Well before sampling was a recognized artistic practice, Stone was slicing-and-dicing recordings into kaleidoscopic, trippy new compositions.
As a recent story in The Wire explained it, “Even in Stone’s earliest pieces, there’s an intimation of what would become his compositional signature: snatches of sound sampled and looped, layered and time-shifted, decontextualized and transformed. All sources are fair game as he pulls from pop, jazz, classical and enka, field recordings and folk musics from around the world. The results are as mind-melting as you’d expect if you fed tape loops through a psychedelic Cuisinart, followed by a hacker-modified replicator from Star Trek.”
Building on the sampladelic patchworks of John Oswald’s Plunderphonics and the agitprop of Negativland, Stone’s recent work uses MAX/MSP to create dense, hyperactive rhythmic workouts that isolate, exaggerate, and mutate tiny little snippets of sound, whether a warped dissection of Miles Davis’ “Nefertiti” or lapidary sound fabrics assembled from international pop styles. More recently he dug into the catalog of the Finnish imprint We Jazz, transforming a label sampler into the detritus of a brutal sonic tornado.