Quick Links and News: (1) A new, 10th-anniversary edition of Brian Eno‘s book A Year with Swollen Appendices is apparently due out in January from the publisher Canongate (canongate.net); it’s said to include a CD of a story written and read by Michael Faber with background music by Eno, which supposedly originated in a recent issue of the British magazine Prospect (via hyperreal.org and thescotsman.scotsman.com), though as the hyperreal.org report mentions, there’s currently no evidence of such a collaboration on the Prospect website. … (2) A roundup of coverage of the recent Ars Electronica festival at createdigitalmusic.com. … (3) An automaton orchestra called Partially Artificial Musicians, created by Kurt Coble, at pamband.com (via gizmodo.com). … (4) A music-generator based on computer automata, or digital approximations of simple life forms, at tones.wolfram.com (via boingboing.net); it’s a neat idea, but the music is pretty Casio-sounding. … (5) Researchers can tell what you’re typing by the sound of your keyboard clicks (pcworld.com), plus (6) a short-lived sound art exhibit that amplified the sounds of the ionosphere (mit.edu), by Carrie Bodle (both via engadget.com). … (7) This is a late mention, but back in July it was reported that Jem Finer, of the punk-folk band the Pogues, won the New Music Award prize, which will allow him to implement his Hole in the Ground sound art piece (guardian.co.uk; thanks to Andrew Jaffe for the reference).
… Good Reads: (1) A review of a sound art exhibit at the University of South Florida Contemporary Art Museum, featuring work by Celeste Boursier-Mougenot, Christian Marclay and Stephen Vitiello (sptimes.com). … (2) A profile of composer Else Marie Pade, “grand dame of electronica” in her native Denmark (link), who turns 81 this year. .. (3) A researcher at UC Berkeley is developing software to “simulate the sound of any percussive instrument, real or imagined” (coe.berkeley.edu/labnotes).
… Select New Releases: Due out this week, or thereabouts. Most of the record labels’ websites feature streaming, if not downloadable, examples of the music. (1) The Black Dog‘s “Remote Viewing” single and Silenced CD (Dust Science) … (2) Broadcast, now a duo (James Cargill, Trish Keenan), follow up the “America’s Boy” single with Tender Buttons (Warp), which Keenan describes, on the Warp site, in these terms: “The potential of folk, nursery rhyme and electronica to provoke memory and imagination.” … (3) Build an Ark‘s Remixes 12″ includes, among other treats, Daedelus remixing Build an Ark’s version of Sun Ra‘s “The Stars Are Singing Too” (Plug Research). … (4) Christian Marclay (turntables), Yasunao Tone (prepared CDs and players) and Christian Wolff (cassettes, bass, percussion, melodica) collaborate for Event (Asphodel), music for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. … (5) Steve Reich‘s Different Trains, for string quartet and tape recording, gets a performance by the Smith Quartet (Signum). … (6) Sutekh‘s techno Two Vireos (Soul Jazz). … (7) The third volume of Instrumental Icons (Koch), all vocal-free edits hip-hop hits.
… Disquiet Heavy Rotation: (1) Empty Rooms (Ant-Zen) is the score for a play based on Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. The music, by the duo Silk Saw, is an ever-changing stream of casual noises pitched and layered until they’re threateningly claustrophobic: rhythms that refuse to directly assert themselves, voices just out of focus, sharp rising tones that cycle through like an air raid’s going to cut short the performance. You have to admire a troupe willing to be upstaged by the likes of this. … (2) Rapper Tony Yayo‘s “Drama Setter” (G-Unit/Interscope) is an Eminem production, and it sounds like none of the latter’s catalog so much as the guitar-laden feat of momentum that charged the soundtrack to the film 8 Mile, the same trenchant bit of musical, well, drama that can be heard in the trailer now airing for 50 Cents’ forthcoming movie, Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Stripped of Yayo’s vocal, the instrumental cut of “Drama Setter,” available on a 12″, modulates up and down to the sounds of guns being cocked and windows getting broken.
… Quote of the Week: From a note sent by comic-book writer Warren Ellis to his email list this past week: “It’s not as strange a piece of TV as CSI, which has gotten genuinely odd in its old age. I saw a re-run from last season recently, and there’s a two-minute sequence of William Petersen sluicing blood off a body on a metal tray put to ‘Sfevn-G-Englar’ by Sigur Ros. That’s all it is. Slowed down visuals of water washing blood off brushed steel. Twenty years ago, that would’ve been an art film. Now it’s a musical interlude in a major US network show. Mainstream culture eats its young to gain its strength, like a cannibal warrior, and the intent of the fringe becomes the tool of the mainstream.”