John Supko's & Bill Seaman's new CD, "s_traits"

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Duke faculty composer John Supko’s s_traits, created in collaboration with media artist Bill Seaman, Professor in the Department of Art, Art History & Visual Studies, comes out Tuesday, November 4 on the Manchester-based Cotton Goods label. It is the second album devoted to Supko’s music, following drawn only once on New Amsterdam in 2011.

s_traits is the product of three minds: two human, one artificial. With a discarded version of the electronic track to Supko’s percussion duo Straits as a starting point, Supko and Seaman compiled more than 110 hours of audio source material over a three-year period, including field recordings, analog and digital noise, acoustic and electronic instruments, cassette recordings of Supko’s juvenilia, recordings of Seaman and Supko playing the piano (inside and out), and soundtracks from documentaries made in the 1960’s and 70‘s.

During that time, Supko developed the intelligent bearings_traits software to “navigate” this vast ocean of sound. The program selects samples from the database – ranging from barely a second to a few minutes in length – and juxtaposes them to create spontaneous, multi-track compositions. Twenty-six of these “first drafts” have been developed by the two collaborators into the 77-minute album that is s_traits. Thirteen tracks were shaped by Supko, thirteen by Seaman, alternating odd- and even numbered tracks (though they don’t disclose who worked on which).
 s_traits is the Q2 radio show’s Album of the Week on WQXR in NYC.  
More information is available on John Supko's website.