(b. 1970, Stanford, California) is a musician, recordist, and composer. He currently performs and records using modular analog electronics and location recordings. He began playing improvised music on trumpet and electronics in ‘free noise’ and jazz groups in Seattle, and moved to Chicago in 1995, where he was very active in the city’s improvised music scene. Among other projects there, he and Kyle Bruckmann formed the group EKG, whose electroacoustic music was most recently documented on their fourth CD, Electricals (another timbre, 2009). While in Chicago he also worked as location recordist, live board engineer, and editor/mix engineer at Chicago Public Radio. During this same period, Ernst conducted fieldwork in South India for his PhD dissertation at the University of Chicago, Kerala Sound Electricals, a study in the anthropology of sound.
Following a year in Berlin, where he and guitarist/electronicist Annette Krebs recorded Falter 1-5 (Cathnor, 2010), Ernst moved to Cambridge, Mass., in 2006. His most recent CD Heard Laboratories (and/OAR, 2010) consists exclusively of hand-held, long-take location recordings made in various scientific research environments, edited as imageless observational cinema. Other recent sound work based on location recordings makes use of four-, five-, and eight-channel recording and exhibition formats. He also works on sound for explicitly cinematic works: his sound editing and mixes for two recent award-winning nonfiction films, Sweetgrass (Barbash and Castaing-Taylor) and Foreign Parts (Paravel and Sniadecki), using only location sound, have been widely noted as significantly contributing to the power of both works. He currently manages the Sensory Ethnography Lab and the Film Study Center at Harvard University, where as Lecturer on Anthropology, he co-teaches courses in media archaeology and ethnographic audio and video production.
Ernst Karel: "Swiss Mountain Transport Systems" (Gruen 091/11)