Mark Applebaum
Speed Dating


2.8
good

Review

by Tristan Jones STAFF
February 24th, 2018 | 9 replies


Release Date: 2018 | Tracklist

Review Summary: This is my piece, and you - mine - can go - mine - and make - mine - your own.

Musical autarky is Mark Applebaum’s creed. Watching the Chicago-born composer and Stanford professor speak of his craft in a 2012 TEDTalk, one can imagine a ye’ old scientific symposium: Applebaum, presenting his signature instrument - the comically elaborate ‘Mouseketier’ - to a rather polite audience, speaking with enough zest and wry hubris to suspend a hot air balloon. I’d argue, watching some of his ensemble performances is comparable to watching a decontamination crew in Hazmat suits: fun to watch, but you instinctively stay at a safe distance. Applebaum is an admitted narcissist, and this performative quality tends to create a 70/30 split of contempt/admiration among viewers. On Speed Dating, one can’t help but occasionally smile at the exhibitionism of it all. The music is gluttonous. It’s difficult, maybe ill-advised, to assess Speed Dating’s emotive appeal; an ability to infer much (if any) is probably to the credit of the listener, not the music. Mark Applebaum excels in cool-headed indulgence, not heartstring tugging.

This manifests especially well in "Skeletons in the Closet”, which is an exercise in compositional deism and indeterminacy. The piece uses eight old analog synthesizers (Moog MG-1, Roland Jupiter 8, Sequential Circuits Prophet 5, and other goodies), with Mark winding the springs and watching chaos ensue, seemingly not getting involved or attached. Applebaum’s algorithms are complex, resulting in “a series of arbitrary ensemble explosions.” We get a sense that the creator established the laws of physics, and let the natural processes occur unfettered. (There’s almost a collective struggle for sentience, as the eight dusty analog synthesizers communicate.) Differing greatly in style, titular octet “Speed Dating” features woodwinds, percussion, and chordophones, separated into duos and irregularly re-paired throughout the piece, swinger-style.

The issue with Speed Dating is that it feels more like a compilation than a consolidated vision. "The Plate of Transition Nourishes the Chameleon Appetite” (for solo violin) is a two-decade-old composition given new life, but it’s not apparent how it’s supposed to segue into “Clicktrack”, an unconducted semi-improvisational piece featuring twelve percussionists. The first three songs, comprising a triad called “Three Unlikely Corporate Sponsorships”, are essentially poetry with an emphasis on phonetics. At best, these particular songs are funny and whimsical; at worst, the payoff isn’t really worth the runtime, unless you’re a linguist with a taste for Charles Amirkhanian's lexical music (imagine a Venn diagram for this). ((I’m unsure as to why Applebaum didn’t make these into a separate EP.)) All said and done, connecting with Speed Dating means yielding to Mark Applebaum’s overbearing character: the humour, the excess, the frizzy-haired Dadaism. For most, the trade will be one-sided, in Mark’s favour. For some, the blend of painstaking composition and tongue-in-cheek decadence could be truly rewarding.




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user ratings (1)
2.8
good

Comments:Add a Comment 
JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2018


6676 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

https://www.innova.mu/albums/mark-applebaum/speed-dating

applebaum jeaaans

IcelandRevel
February 24th 2018


906 Comments


Huh, I remember this guy's TED Talk. I watched it when I was younger and it never occurred to me how pretentious he came off. But the music always interested me, so I should check this out.

Edit: I just listened to a few minutes. I no longer want to check this out.

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 24th 2018


6676 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

well, tbf: it would be nice if there were other streamable songs I could find. the ensemble pieces are much more interesting imo

bloc
February 26th 2018


53033 Comments


Those are some funny looking anal plugs

Digging: Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark - Organisation

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2018


6676 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

o.g. Fisher-Price Little People figures?



dare I ask how you got the nickname ‘bloc’?

bloc
February 26th 2018


53033 Comments


Ah, the story is nothing special. I really really really like Bloc Party's Silent Alarm album. That album was released around the time I was signing up for different forums etc, so it was only a matter of time before I found Sputnik and used the name again. For the first year, I was actually bloc01, before asking the mods to edit it.


JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2018


6676 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

so nothing to do with using lego blocks as... ah nvm, almost had a Doof-humour moment there

bloc
February 26th 2018


53033 Comments


Oh, actually there is some relation to Lego too. I used to rep Lego block avatars for years haha

JohnnyOnTheSpot
Staff Reviewer
February 26th 2018


6676 Comments

Album Rating: 2.8

lmao



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