Another Green World

Erik Schoster

This is the first of a series highlighting interesting
and free things on the Web.Keith Fullerton Whitman is better known for his remixes of the Anticon Records crew (as Hrvatski) than for his numerous projects under his given name. As Hrvatski, he expands the Milwaukee-born breakcore tradition of coked-up drum-machine pummeling by lathering on a frothy layer of experimentalism and left-field electronics.
It’s this latter element of experimentalism
that Whitman holds closest to his heart. On his website and in numerous interviews, he doesn’t fail to remind us that he’s mostly interested in the kind of “golden era” of analog tape splicing and concert hall performances surrounding, for example, the early experiments of Pierre Boulez’s Institute for Research and Coordination of Acoustics and Music.
A 1996 graduate of the Berklee College of Music, Whitman had an early exposure to software and methods that would remain central to his music. It wasn’t until 2001, however, that he applied his college-era Max/MSP software experiments to developing a live performance environment centered around his guitar and a plug-in that allowed him to grind the sounds of his guitar into simple sine waves – maybe the most basic element of electronic music.
Kranky Records released “Playthroughs” in 2002 – a masterfully beautiful and understated record of minimal drones and subtle changes that finally allowed Whitman to expand beyond his breakcore persona in the public eye. “Kfw.quickie.2005.” isn’t a formal release, but a proof-of-concept MP3 concert recording of how he and his “Playthroughs v3.0” Max/MSP system as it have evolved in the last three or four years. “Quickie” doesn’t dwell long in the aesthetic territory of 2002’s “Playthroughs” – Whitman dives immediately into the magnetic land of 1970s IRCAM with a howl of glissando and washed-out distortion.
This 2005 “Playthrough” is much more a continuation of the electroacoustic pastiche Whitman has occupied himself with on releases and compilation appearances since the original “Playthroughs.” What sets Whitman apart, and what has him straddling comfortably the lecture halls of academia and the beer-soaked dives of indie rock, is his undeniable gift for capturing beauty; Whitman can pen a tune. Whether it’s in the language of indie rock cum breakcore or abstract minimalism, his gift for melody and gesture is an easy draw.
The MP3 discussed here – and many others – can be found on Whitman’s website: