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Conduit: From birdsong to animation with Luke Bassuener

The Madison musician discusses his solo project Asumaya and several other facets of his work.

Photo by Audre Rae Photography.

A couple weeks ago we wrote about Madison musician Luke Bassuener’s latest release under his solo moniker Asumaya, Of Water, Land, & Sky. The album is constructed mostly from field recordings of birds and Wisconsin wetlands, and grew out of a multidisciplinary arts residency of the same name. Setting aside Asumaya’s usual looped array of percussion, bass, vocals, and thumb piano, Bassuener has instead created a set of rhythmic interpretations of the natural world.

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“This album was also kind of just a challenge—to see how much would it sound like music if I only used those things?” Bassuener says.

Bassuener spoke with us on the April 16 edition of Conduit, a livestream collaboration between Tone Madison, Communication, and UnderBelly. He’ll be performing on April 17 in a livestream event on Arts + Literature Laboratory’s Facebook page, which will also feature art and poetry from others involved in Of Water, Land, & Sky.

Bassuener is also a public-school art teacher in Madison. One of his ongoing projects is helping his students at the west side’s Crestwood Elementary create animated short films based on myths from across different cultures. One of those, The Weaver Girl And The Cowherd, was scheduled to screen in this year’s canceled Wisconsin Film Festival. It’s available to watch online through the festival’s Big Streams, Little Folks program. You can see more work from Crestwood students on YouTube.

We also talked about Bassuener’s work in the band Disaster Passport, which has created something of a local sensation over the past year with its original score for Godfrey Reggio’s experimental documentary Koyaanisqatsi.

The next Conduit session is on Thursday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m., and our guest will be Dan Shafer of the Milwaukee-based politics newsletter The Recombobulation Area. On April 30, we’ll talk with Carlee Latimer of the Madison Public Library’s Bubbler program, and on May 14, our guest will be artist Nibiiwakamigkwe. On. To join each week’s conversation, Venmo $1 to [email protected] and include your email address in the note. The money will be donated to a non-profit or artist of our guest’s choosing, and we’ll email you a Zoom link for the meeting.

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