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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Monthly Archives: April 2005

Frippertronic MP3s

The loopdiary.com website collects a fairly steady schedule of guitar-based soundscapes, 20 so far this year by a single musician who goes by the name Disproduction. These are loops, but not loops as in brief presets that you can download and use as patterns in your home audio-production setup. No, these are long-form loop-based performances, in which sounds recur repeatedly, over an extended duration, overlapping with themselves and their derivations, and develop a sleepy realm of aural ghost images. How long is long-form? Two thus far clock in at over 10 minutes. Disproduction describes them as follows: “Semi-ambient guitar improvisations using a single guitar, various effects and long recurring delays. … Sometimes referred to as ‘frippertronics’, these pieces are minimally edited, nominally processed, and likely uninteresting.” That’s an accurate description, aside from the “uninteresting” line. Particularly recommended are “03.12.05a,” which has a nearly vocal effect in its silk-thin harmonies, and the more evidently guitar-produced accents of “03.21.05a.” Among the more dissonant entries are “02.02.05a.mp3,” which highlights a more varied number of contrasting elements than do most of the pieces here, and “03.08.05b.mp3,” which milks what appears to be a particularly tangy alternate tuning. The site’s homepage appropriately features a mythological beast eating its own tail.

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Slonimsky Lecture MP3

Here’s another nugget from the Other Minds catalog at archive.org (aka the Internet Archive). This time it’s a 1987 discussion with Nicholas Slonimsky, the legendary musical biographer, and a humorous and insightful speaker, who passed away in 1995 at age 101. When the OM founder Charles Amirkhanian inquires how, for example, Slonimsky clarified that composer Villa-Lobos was born in 1887, not 1890, he replies: “I asked his mother. His mother at that time was 102. … I wasn’t even sure if she was alive. She looked fossilized.” He talks and jokes about musicians he has known, from Ravel to Varese to Frank Zappa. He plays a few of his own pieces, including “Objets Trouves in the Dodecaphonic Environment,” explaining that the “objets trouves” (aka the found object) is “a device invented by modern composers who were incapable of composing.” He tells the story of how he came to befriend Frank Zappa, whom he teases about the great expense of his $100,000 Synclavier. It’s a great, hour-long talk. Highly recommended. (This link should go to versions of the talk in different formats, depending on which browser you’re using.) There’s a lot more by and about Slonimsky in the Internet Archive, if you look around.

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Beck Remix MP3

So, where is the free MP3 hidden on the website of Beck, urban folklorist turned sample meister turned r&b ironist turned (as of his new album, Guero) back on himself? Well first you go to beck.com, and then you click on the prominent link to Guero, which was produced by the Dust Brothers, who previously midwifed his Odelay, and one half of whom, John King, produced the great Medeski Martin & Wood album of 2004, End of the World Party: Just in Case (Dig). On the Guero webpage, you’re greeted by the album’s cover art, by Marcel Dzama, and so you click on the little puppet figure raising his hands in the air like he just don’t care. What does the puppet spit out when you tickle his belly? A remix, by the band Subtle, of Guero‘s “Fairwell Ride.” The original was built from hand claps, tasty slide guitar, kalimba, thick backing vocals, piano and a dirge of a main lyric somewhere between burned-out Neil Young and apocalypse-weary Glenn Danzig. The remix, almost a minute longer, exaggerates the percussion, emphasizes the piano and uses various effects to shade specific words. Oh, and it adds a rap, and takes its sweet time fading out. How did you find out about this hidden file in the first place? You subscribed to the email list of lexrecords (lexrecords.com), home to Subtle, one of whose members, Dax Pierson, was severely injured when the band’s tour van was in an accident in Iowa in late February. More details on Pierson’s recovery at daxpierson.com and on Subtle at subtle6.com.

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Spanish StutterPop MP3 EP

Drones are simply one end of a very long musical continuum. At the far opposite side is, arguably, music possessed by the rhythmic jitters. Take the recent EP by Bacanal Intruder, Room-a-Tronic, released on the Spanish netlabel So Soft (at sosoft.tk). Its six tracks whiz, blip and otherwise mechanically make their way by, each melodic line subdivided into countless little pieces, strung together like some carefully staged event. It’s no coincidence that they have the charm of a stop-motion short, because that’s what they are: little triumphs of staccato ingenuity. The track “Lowid” provides swiftly plucked guitar amid water-drop percussion, along with the fuzzy comfort of static dissonance and an occasional vocal utterance. “Wearing Nice Shirts with Legs” introduces a harmonica into the mix. The ingredients are different, but the recipe, which is quite perfect, remains largely the same. This is Eadweard Muybridge’s idea of electronic pop. “Morning Meeting for Dinner” makes good on the common if base desire of musical tourists: shuttling some regional sound (in this case the low-strung drama of Spanish guitar) through the universal translator of tech. To quote one of the song titles on Room-a-Tronic, “All Those Clicks, Miks and Bips Will Just Make You Crazy.” Crazy for Bacanal Intruder, that is.

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Winning Remix MP3s

In the November issue of Wired magazine last year, a CD was tucked under the cover. At first glance, one might have mistaken its reflective surface for a graphic designer’s attempt to add some metallic bling to the cover subjects: hip-hop outfit the Beastie Boys, whose early albums helped cement sampling in the imagination of the mainstream, back in the day when lifting a Led Zeppelin drum beat wasn’t heavily regulated. But it was a full-length CD, with tracks licensed under the Creative Commons, by the Beastie Boys, as well as Dangermouse, Matmos, David Byrne and others. The project didn’t end there. The website ccmixter.org provided a community space for folks to sample the collection and upload the results of their fiddling. That contest has ended, the winners have been announced, and they’ll appear on a followup CD, The Wired CD — Ripped. Mixed. Sampled. Mashed. Of course, they’re already available for download, for free. The music ranges through genres, from noodly funk fusion to homebrew hip-hop to generic electro-pop, and there’s some abstract goodness in there, too. Highlights include SSLID‘s “dislocation” (at five and a half minutes, the longest track in the set), a pulsing metronomic delight, and Pat Chilla the Beat Gorilla‘s dubby “Wadidyusay (Beatgorilla’s 28 grams REMIX).” Coming soon from ccmixter: an ODB remix contest.

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