Ashley Bellouin & Ben Bracken

Bio

Ashley Bellouin and Ben Bracken make music with both traditional and handmade instruments that exploit the natural overtones and sympathetic vibrations generated by highly redundant tuning systems. Minimal structures and simple harmonic relationships give rise to meditative washes of sound. Each composition is constructed by considering the physical site, the materials used in the construction of the instruments, and the interplay between the two. Their performances are a mixture of the imagined and real, natural phenomena, and direct action. Ashley and Ben have been awarded collaborative residencies at the Paul Dresher Ensemble Artist Residency Center, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and EMS in Stockholm, Sweden.

Ashley Bellouin

Ashley Bellouin’s work explores the merging of sound art, electro-acoustic composition, and instrument building. She focuses on the studies of sonology, psychoacoustics, and the interaction between sound and architecture. Her compositions emphasize and exploit the sonic potential contained within a single musical gesture, regularly using electronics to develop latent qualities. Spatialization, beat frequencies, auditory illusions, and microtonal tunings are frequent compositional tools.

Ashley holds an MFA in Electronic Music & Recording Media from Mills College, where she studied closely with Maggi Payne, John Bischoff, and Daniel Schmidt. Upon graduating she was awarded the Frog Peak Collective Experimental Music Award for most outstanding thesis. She has presented her work at the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival, Soundwave ((5)) Festival, the San Francisco Tape Music Festival, UC Santa Cruz, and Stanford University, among other venues. She has additionally been awarded a YBCAway grant from Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and has held residencies at the Paul Dresher Ensemble Artist Residency Center, the UC Berkeley Center for New Media, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, Sitka Center for Art and Ecology, and EMS in Stockholm, Sweden. In November 2016 her debut solo LP, Ballads, was released on Drawing Room Records.

Since 2012 Ashley has collaborated with musician Ben Bracken on both musical compositions and instrument building. Their piece “After Image” is included in the double LP/DVD compilation Gravity Spells: Bay Area New Music and Expanded Cinema Art, released in 2014 by Bimodal Press. Other current and past collaborators include musician Sarah Davachi, filmmakers Paul Clipson, Kerry Laitala, and Madison Brookshire, and visual artists Rick Bahto, Chris Duncan, and Chris Fraser.

Professionally, Ashley has worked for synth pioneers Don Buchla, as his assistant in research and development, and Dave Smith, as a technician at Dave Smith Instruments. She currently serves as Visiting Faculty at the San Francisco Art Institute and resides in Oakland, CA.

Ben Bracken

Ben Bracken makes music and installations with acoustic and electronic sounds. His work oscillates from performance to installation, often blurring the lines between the two. The location of the event becomes an active participant, intimately shaping the nature and direction of each work. His previous musical groups include Flashpapr, Remote Viewing Ensemble, and Date Palms. Ben has improvised with Le-Quan Ninh, Kevin Drumm, Peter Kowald, Chris Cutler, Phil Minton, Werner Dafeldecker, Fred Van Hove, and Johannes Bauer, among others. He often collaborates with filmmakers and visual artists including Paul Clipson, John Davis, Chris Fraser, and Kerry Laitala. Currently, Ben collaborates with Ashley Bellouin on performances, recordings, and installations with handmade instruments and electronics. He resides in Oakland, CA, and works at Cycling ‘74, the developers of Max, a digital signal processing software environment.