Longform Editions acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional owners of the land upon which we operate.

Weston Olencki is a composer, musician, and audio engineer originally from South Carolina, living now in Berlin. They are currently making work focused around questions of instrumental music and its contexts/constructs, various mediated practices of listening and improvisation, and the technological, material, and cultural histories of vernacular art-making. Their recent music deals with the non-linear relationships and unexpected resonances between experimental sound, geography, historicity, and (mostly American) musical traditions. They have presented work at the Borealis Festival, Donaueschinger Musiktage, Lampo, Black Mountain College, Roulette Intermedium, Jalopy Theatre, among others. Various recording projects have been released by Carrier Records, Dinzu Artefacts, SUPERPANG, Tripticks Tapes, PAGANS, Full Spectrum, Hideous Replica, Sound Holes, and Astral Spirits. Their latest recording/performance project, Old Time Music,was featured on Bandcamp Daily’s Best Experimental Music of 2022. 

Jules Reidy makes music for processed and acoustic instruments (mostly guitars). Their recent recorded work—World in World (Black Truffle 2022), Vanish (Editions Mego 2020) and In Real Life (Black Truffle 2019)—can be described as a series of non-traditional song forms which combine unstable harmonic territories, rhythmic elasticity and abstract narrative over stretched, episodic forms. They have recently performed at Rewire (NLD), Tectonics Festival (SCT), Send/Receive Festival (CA), Dark Mofo (AUS), Berlin Jazz Festival (DE), Ultrahang Festival (HU), Skaņu Mežs (LV), Sonica Festival (CZ), Angelica Festival (ITA) and Borderline Festival (GR).

Artist notes:

For the last few years, I've been working a lot with music from the American South. It's been a way to explore facets of my upbringing in the Carolinas and my evolving relationships with that place. I’m fascinated by the music's entanglements of stories, memories, mythology, and lore – through these recent pieces I’ve been trying to figure out my preoccupations with those preoccupations. There are sets of tensions in this music I find poignantly immediate, sprouting from small details which beget a much bigger perspective. The music often holds simultaneities of melancholy and joy, uniqueness and commonality, mundanity and fantasy, life and death: a kind of collective, existential ‘seeing and being seen’. This music has an ability (necessity, I think?) to balance these contradictions in a kind of emotional suspension, earth-bound and sky-reaching all tied up in one arcing gesture. Or, up in the mountains encapsulated in what was once called ‘that high lonesome sound’. 

I’m not originally from Louisiana, but to my ears the old recordings made by the Balfa Brothers radiate that ethos within a unique patina. The permutational melodies of “Madeleine” centripetally rotate around and around the song’s gravitational centre, its ornamentation spinning off into heterophonic eddies. More grounding than Proustian, Dewey Balfa's repeating chorus always signals us to return back down to home. A Feldman-esque “always changing, never changing” melodic development, filtered through their skewed Cajun gallop. No matter how many times I listen to the exuberance on this record, that lonesome feeling remains: longing oneself elsewhere amidst the swirling joyful lines. I wanted to take this particular melancholia and tease out its inner voices, listening in to the grit and grain of the fiddle, the deeper clang of lower guitar chords, the lopsided shuffle of the triangle (as a person from the mountains, a curious choice to play timekeeper). Early on, I had a vision of ending the piece in a mass of vibrating triangles – an ecstatic ribbon of brightness – almost too severe, too vibrant to be witnessed. After failing to build a machine to mechanically realise this, I tried picking a bunch of these triangles up at one time, just to quickly move them off my desk. This action instantly created that messily distinct clangor that I was originally after. I was then curious to see if I could play something of the original tune in this state, bow arm burdened down by these keepers of the time. The ending invites a small orchestra of these ungainly, sigogglin fiddlers to expand the instrumentation of my fictitious cajun band, seeing the song through to its rather extravagant conclusion. 

The title is simply an English translation of the eponymous Cajun song ‘J’ai été au bal’, but is also a nod to a particular story I heard a while back, told in an interview with accordionist Marc Savoy. Paraphrasing roughly: he introduces a pair of brothers, both musicians, accompanying each other into old age. One suddenly passes, the next day visits the other still in our world of the living, bringing two messages: “one, all of the best players are up with me in heaven and they host the best parties every night; two, tomorrow you’re set to play the dance”. 

I want to specially thank my dear friend Jules for enthusiastically and generously recording this material with me and bringing their unique and special harmonic sensibilities to bear on this piece. 

Listening is a way of opening one's awareness to the world and bearing witness to it. All sound comes from somewhere and goes somewhere else, and it carries with it the entanglements, stories, dependencies, imprints of its journey through space and time. Composing and editing not just as the mixing of waveforms but the tangling of these streams of past and future – that elusive present of perceiving sound allows for a distillation of this density, the intersecting narratives held in vertical suspension. Using time to play with time, in a way. My interest in deep listening stems from a practice of attention, both in its expansion and magnification, which encourages both a heightened awareness of a teeming sonic interiority but also its way of sitting in the (or, a) world: the acoustic, virtual, mental spaces it exists and participates in.