Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Mystified - Thomas Park - Treetrunk

It's like a game of checkers - one position leads you to another. A while back I blogged about the netlabel Webbed Hands, particularly the Rain series. Three in the group particularly captivated me - by Mystified. Which led to a wider search across the web.

First of all there are some other Mystified (real name Thomas Park) releases on Webbed Hands, some solo and some collaborations. But there is also a pointer to his own label Treetrunk which is based in the wonderful Internet Archive (and which I had also obliquely visited while completing my K M Krebs collection). Mystified's home page has some, though limited, information on both himself and the label. (and there's the now obligatory MySpace page - I must be getting to old, but I don't get the social networking side - but it does give you a chance to listen).

Mystified's music is an interesting mix of ambient and techno styles. Following the minimal structure of his entries in the Rain series, releases such as Constant or Free Passage focus on subtle changes in the layering of ambient noises
(some dense, others more minimal). Seen also in Texture (with Stephen Phillips) and Intrigue (with Flores). To my mind this is one of Mystified's greatest strengths - some of the earlier releases, such as Electronic Ragtime are closer to the world ambient genre and are less 'unique'. Though are then used to great effect when combined with radio sounds and samples in Screams in Space

However, in addition, Mystified is also a phonographer and many of the releases are based around found and recorded sounds - Nocturne, Cavern of Tile, Mutescape (which mellows the sounds of the city) or South City Spring for example use these as the primary component, while Audio Paintings uses other components as well. These (and a compilation I included in the Webbed Hands review) are great examples of the power of phonography/sonography.

There is also more standard keyboard/tonal ambience such as Music for Infants and Clockwork. These pieces have an aleatoric feel that relates to Mystifieds aims to create fractal music: seen in Fabrication and a series called Fractal Diner (1 - 3 on Treetrunk; whose releases are primarily by Mystified) that feature slowly modulating delicate ambiences (there is also Fractal Reflections on Webbed Hands). Many of these reminded me (positively) of Brian Eno.

As an introduction two mixtapes are available - Oddities (a collection of pieces released across various labels and formats) and Big Shoulders (an homage to Chicago and composed over tracks created over an extended time)- which make a good starting point.

While most Treetrunk releases are by Mystified (in the normal way of weblabels) some others have also been released, including K M Krebs, Akashic Crow's Nest, Edward J Poley, Tim Doyle and the very flexible Tribe of Astronauts - all of whose interests seem to intersect with Mystified's.

This is all free music - varied but with a underlying strength and focus. I've enjoyed all the pieces I have downloaded - and now have all of Treetrunk (except number 7: one complaint is that there is no 'master list' of releases and an Internet Archive search hasn't brought it to light) and all the Mystifieds from Webbed Hands (including collaborations) - and find them very satisfying particularly for the deep minimal ambience that pervades many of them. (Mystified has also had many real releases, but I haven't heard any of those). Anyway, my advice is to try some Mystified: it's free and I am sure you will enjoy most if not all of it.

PS doing an internet archive search on Mystified I realise I have a lot more to collect - at least another 20! Expect an update eventually