Daniel Wolf's "Holographic"

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Daniel Wohl is one of the most gifted alchemists in sound, known for seamlessly blending electronics with acoustic instruments. Though he is based in Brooklyn, New York, Wohl was born in Paris, France in the year 1980 (Jurek 1). Wohl has a rich background in Music having acquired degrees in composition from Yale School of Music, University of University and Bard College (Jurek 1). He was also taught by celebrated music teachers who included Aaron Jay Kernis, Ingram Marshall, Bright Sheng, Joan Tower, Martin Bresnick, and David Lang (Jurek 1).

The Music

For Daniel Wohl compositions, the distinction between an electronic sound and a physical performance is inconsequential. A majority of his music builds on the traditions of the heady pioneers of electronic like Paul Lansky and Morton Subotnick. He also seems to take inspiration from visual art, minimalist chamber music, and pulse-driven dance beats. Wolf music showcases a high ability to transcend genre and seamlessly integrate electronics and live musicians. Through his compositions, Wohl creates a remarkable hybrid of music which is partly organic and partly mechanical. Wohl strives to close instead of exploring the gap between his collaboration and composition background within the ever-evolving electronic music. His compositions are mainly about exploring the different worlds-improbable combinations of sonic landscapes and sounds-hidden, both electronic and acoustic by resampling or processing more traditional instruments like the human voice, percussion or strings. His compositions tend to create a strong link between the contemporary music and the past, hoping to retain or rather uphold the inconsistencies and warmth of the human playing and at the same time interfacing with the available technologies.

Context and Comparison

In all his compositions, Wohl pushes his varied sound sources to the limits making it difficult to distinguish between the physical performance and electric sound. For instance, in his newest composition ‘Holographic’ the first sound heard is a deep static drone sounding as if a modular synth had created it. Surprisingly, the sound was captured or rather produced by placing a microphone on a resonating snare drum. Successively from this murky, warm texture, he creates a percussive exploration which is marked by an end characterized by the arpeggios bursts in the vibraphones in track one and 2 of the album. On track 3 ‘Formless’ Wohl utilizes the Mivos Quartet strings to come up with a weightless texture which is complemented perfectly by the dark, pulsating electronics.

Holographic which is track 5 and also the title of the composition stuns with its combination of densely layered melodies and propulsive rhythms. The instrumentalists of the Bang on a Can All-Stars are completely merged with the interleaving samples of Wohl’s decaying electronics, bubbling water, and vocals. Track six by the name ‘Pixel’ investigates the sound that results from the unconventional playing of an instrument which is supposedly a glockenspiel as one can hear it in the opening. In this track, percussion, piano, and ty pianos collide with the noisy electronics of Wohl to create a joyful clatter.

‘Source’ which is track 7 of the album is a gorgeous piece which undoubtedly sets a new standard for how electronics and vocals can work together in music. In the 8th track titled ‘Progression,’ Mantra Percussion and Mivos Quartet are locked into intricate polyrhythmic interplay. Over the course of the 7th -minute piece, it gets progressively darker with a prepared piano-harmonies.

Works Cited

Jurek, Thom. "Daniel Wohl | Biography & History." AllMusic. N.p., 2018. Web. 23 Feb. 2018.

August 01, 2023


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