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

Monthly Archives: October 2007

Six Acre Jam MP3, Circa 1973

Nearly 25 years ago over the course of three days, in April 1973, reportedly some 60 musicians on “no less than ten synthesizers” and various other instruments filled six acres of the San Bernardino National Forest in California with music. Other Minds guru Charles Amirkhanian was there at the time, interviewing the involved composers and recording snatches of the music, heard in this archival document echoing and overlapping amid the trees (MP3). There are jazz performances, radio improvisations and much philosophizing about the nature of music — and about music amid nature. Participants included Richard Bunger, Barry Gott, Jacques Bekaert, Nicolas Slonimsky and Dane Rudhyar . More info at archive.org and otherminds.org.

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Tangents / Sound Art (Badger, Nicolai, Rubin …)

Quick Notes from the World of Sound Art: (1) I missed the piece “Harmonic Field,” by Christopher Badger, which had been on display at the gallery Silverman in San Francisco — it was part of an exhibit, titled Double Resonator, that also included work by Robert Smithson and La Monte Young (images in the archives at silverman-gallery.com). … (2) That gallery currently has work up by Desiree Holman with Lynda Benglis and Joan Jonas, under the collective title TV Honey, through November 10; the excellent three-channel video installation by Holman, “The Magic Window” (a riff on sitcom families), includes music by Soft Pink Truth (aka Drew Daniel from Matmos). Jonas, of course, studied with Alvin Lucier . … (3) There’s also a Jonas exhibit — The Shape, the Scent, the Feel of Things — up over at the Berkeley Art Museum through July 31, 2008 (bampfa.berkeley.edu). … (4) And also over at BAM/PFA, the exhibit rip.mix.burn.bam.pfa opened on October 24; it runs through March 2, 2008 (bampfa.berkeley.edu). … (5) It was a week for missing things — I wandered into the Michelle O’Connor Gallery on Mission Street in San Francisco just as Eric Ryan‘s “Denial and Repression” (headphones, canvas, rubber mats, rocks and audio) was being dismantled, so I didn’t get a chance to check it out. …

(6) The Feature Inc. Gallery in Manhattan currently has featured the Gentle Wind Project/Family Systems Research, a collection of tools developed for healing by the controversial organization that lends its name to the exhibit; among them is a piece, “Puck-Puck” (2001), made of three tuning forks (featureinc.com). … (7) The show by Carsten Nicolai (aka Alva Noto), static balance, runs through November 3 at PaceWildenstein in Manhattan (pacewildenstein.com, alvanoto.com); the gallery website is hosting one video from the show, “fades” (2006). The exhibit was reviewed by the New York Times: “The experience is enhanced, though not greatly, by white noise coming from speakers” (nytimes.com). …

(8) Excellent scene report by Ben Sisario last week in the New York Times on China’s emerging avant-gardge music activity, focused on FM3 (of Buddha Machine fame), Wang Fan, Sulumi, Yan Jun, Sun Wei, Dou Wei and others (nytimes.com). … (9) The Times doesn’t just cover sound art — it funds it; the paper’s new building in Manhattan has a permanent installation by Ben Rubin and Mark Hansen, creators of the “Listening Post,” which has been covered on Disquiet.com previously. This new piece, titled “Moveable Type,” draws data not from the Internet as a whole, but from the New York Times’s own online presence. Sonic component? “[F]rom hundreds of small hidden speakers, issuing the din of typewriters, the lost music of newsrooms” (nytimes.com). …

(10) Images from the Brooklyn opening of Selling the Sound of My Voice, a collaborative exhibit between visual artist Brice Brown and composer Alan Shockley: “The exhibition centers on a large wall-mounted piece consisting of 88 twelve-inch square aluminum panels, and a looped 30-minute electro-acoustic score” (vertexlist.blogspot.com; artcal.net, princeton.edu). … (11) Advance notice: Tuned City: Architecture and Sound is the name of a conference, exhibition and performance series to be hosted in Berlin in June/July 2008 (garage.in-mv.de).

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Toy Piano Horrorshow MP3



John Cage loved his toy pianos for good reason. Those instruments, with their simple construction and even simpler range, invite chance with every plink — sour notes, rusty mechanics, and so on. And the one-man toy-piano band known as Twink (born Mike Langlie) milks those industrial-design eccentricities for all their textural value.

Just check out his multi-track recording of Christopher Komeda‘s theme to the horror classic Rosemary’s Baby. Langlie’s posted it on his site for free download (for a limited time). The piano, for all its terse timbres, takes on a truly gothic feel, and the extra layers of sound effects make it all the more perfect for Halloween (MP3).

Additional info (including a gallery of images like the one above, of the synthetic-polymer oxymoron that is the Fisher-Price Grand Piano) at twink.net.

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Dubby Raz Mesinai MP3s

The new album Unit of Resistance by Raz Mesinai’s Badawi is welcome not only because it is Mesinai’s first new collection since he started branching into film (Sorry, Haters; Romántico; the forthcoming Burning the Future: Coal in America), but also because the album’s guest line-up is the clearest delineator of the how so-called, once-upon “illbient” begat today’s so-called “dubstep.” In addition to Mesinai himself (also known to record his heavily dub-influenced music as Badawi), there’s a mix by DJ Spooky, a key illbient figure. More recent dub-drenched electronic contributors include Kode 9 and DJ/rupture. Up for free download, courtesy of releasing label ROIR, are two very different Resistance tracks. “Market Place” is from Badawi Quintet; it’s a raging piece of acoustic trance, all roiling drums and searing woodwind (MP3). Then there’s the potent “Knife the Etherics,” a gurling mix of industrial mood music by Filastine; it’s truly expert digital dub, never prone to triggered loops, instead morphing as it moves along, from martial drums to rubbery slithers to dire feedback (MP3). More info at razmesinai.com.

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R.I.P., Paul Raven and Richard Cook

Paul Raven, who helped forge what we know today as industrial music — merging electronic effects and trenchant, metallic rock — during stints with the bands Killing Joke, Ministry and Prong, passed away in his sleep on October 21 at the age of 46. He was in Geneva, recording with the band Treponem Pal, which includes Prong drummer Ted Parsons (wweek.com, kerrang.com).

Richard Cook, who edited the excellent British music magazine The Wire between 1985 and 1992, passed away on August 25. He was 50 years old. In those less-than-heady, pre-World Wide Web days, The Wire provided a musical oasis, the then rare periodical where one would regularly read about outward bound jazz and its contemporary-classical kin. This is the same Cook whose name appears, alongside that of Brian Morton, on the spines of those massive Penguin guides to jazz recordings. Tributes have been posted at the magazine’s website, thewire.co.uk (timesonline.co.uk, independent.co.uk).

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