ListN Up: Phong Tran (October 28, 2022)

ListN Up is a series of artist-curated playlists that offer an intimate sonic portrait of contemporary artists by showcasing the diverse and stylistically varied music that influences their creative practice. 

Phong Tran is a Brooklyn-based composer, electronicist, and visual artist. His work revolves around emotions and experience in nonphysical spaces. His most recent album, The Computer Room, is a thank you to virtual worlds, video games, message boards, and the people who filled them in the early 2000s. Tran performs in MEDIAQUEER, a synthesizer and violin duo formed in 2018 with Darian Thomas. Tran’s solo work has been released through New Amsterdam Records, people | places | records and slashsound.

Hi, I’m Phong Tran. I’m a composer and visual artist based in Brooklyn, NY. I’m excited to share this playlist with you!

A lot of what I’ve been listening to has been playing with the feeling of something super familiar but then doing something weird or interesting to it and bringing it into a frame or lens. So here are some of the things I’ve been coming back to recently. I hope you all enjoy!

“Eccojams Vol 1 – A3” by Chuck Person

Chuck Person is a pseudonym of Daniel Lopatin (who’s better known as Oneohtrix Point Never). It’s just this one sample on a loop for a long time which then transitions into another sample. But it’s that moment where you’re first listening to something, and you go, Wait… I know this song… what…??? It’s that moment of familiarity with the hypnoticness of the loop that has me coming back to this.

“hell .III” by christtt

This plays around with that iconic piano part from Bruce Hornsby’s “The Way It Is.” To me, all of the samples used in this album are set pieces to tell a larger story.

“이​보​다 좋을 수는 없​겠​어” by Death’s Dynamic Shroud

I can’t listen to DDS without having another tab opened to just to see what they are pulling from. It took me a good three or four listens before I realized this was Nina Sky’s “Move Ya Body.”

“Java Clouds” by Blank Banshee

There are layers of nostalgia for this one for me personally. First are the Windows XP notification sounds from the early 2000s, but I also got into this album when I first moved to New York back in 2015, so listening to it now has me thinking about two important time periods in my life, at the same time, interacting with each other.

“Being Harsh” by A.G. Cook (Oklou cover)

I’m a sucker for a good cover or remix. I think that’s actually something really hard to do well — to be able to inject your own personality through someone else’s work and show respect for the original at the same time. Also, this song has definitely been on repeat this year as another reminder to be nicer to myself.

 “The Tragedy of Hikikomori Loveless” by Bakudi Scream

I think that the most important thing about sampling isn’t necessarily the sample itself, but that whoever is sampling is wearing their influences on their sleeves. Bakudi Scream does exactly that, while being totally original.

“Kid Gunner Brother” by Darian Donovan Thomas, Shelby Blezinger-McKay, Kasey Blezinger, Sō Percussion, and Bergamot Quartet

This recording just came out, but this has been one of my favorite pieces by Darian for a while. The text from this is about a conversation Darian had with his younger brother about guns. It’s childhood fun and nostalgia, but layered on top is this very sad and tragic reality. This piece is exciting, fun, and heartbreaking all at once.

“The Meta Simulacrum Vol. 1” by William Brittelle

This one has less sampling of audio but definitely more sampling of video and aesthetics to get at this kind of look into a weird alternate dimension/timeline. This was livestreamed during the peak of pandemic winter, and honestly it was one of the best things to happen from it. I was hooked from the waiting animation before it even starts.


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