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Sounding out technology.
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Monthly Archives: August 2008

Image of the Week: Loud Roots

The interface of Weather Report on the Brick Table, which will serve as the foundation of a new installation, Roots, by Jordan Hochenbaum, Owen Vallis, and Memo Akten:

Roots will be on view at Minitek: Electronic Music + Innovation Festival in New York, September 12-14, 2008. A festival release describes the installation as follows:
Roots is an interactive installation for the Brick Table’s tangible and multi-touch interface, where multiple people can collaborate in making music in a dynamic and visually responsive environment.  When a user presses their finger on the table’s surface, a vine-like structure will branch out and generatively maneuver around the surface– actively triggering sounds and loops.  Harnessing “multi-touch” technology, a single user, or multiple people can very quickly create dense and lush generatively evolving sound collages and compositions, simply by pressing their fingers anywhere on the tables surface. New software is being developed for minitek where Brick Tables surface becomes a virtual ocean; ripples generated from users touching the screen, trigger sounds that decay and use the waves interference patterns to create an interactive musical experience. Brick Table has been exhibited at festivals showing Weather Report, an interactive installation where users sonify real-time surface temperature data.
More info on the festival at minitekfestival.com. More on the Brick Table at bricktable.wordpress.com.

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Quote of the Week: Sebald’s Radio

This is attributed to the late German writer W.G. Sebald during the last year of his life, 2001:

as i lay down i turned on the radio set standing on the wine crate beside the bed. the names of cities and radio stations with which i used to link the most exotic ideas of my childhood appeared on its round illuminated dial – monte ceneri, rome, ljubljana, stockholm, beromunster, hilversum, prague, and others besides. i turned the volume down very low and listened to a language i did not understand drifting in the air from a great distance: a female voice, which was sometimes lost in the ether, but then emerged again and mingled with the performance of two careful hands moving in some place unknown to me, over the keyboard of a bosendorfer or pleyel and playing certain musical passages, i think from the well tempered clavier, which accompanied me far into the realms of slumber. when i woke in the morning only a faint crackle and hiss was coming from the narrow brass mesh over the loudspeaker. soon afterwards, when i mentioned the mysterious radio at breakfast, austerlitz told me he had always imagined that the voices moving through the air after the onset of darkness, only a few of which we could catch, had a life of their own, like bats, and shunned the light of day…
Originally excerpted on Steve Roden‘s inbetweennoise.blogspot.com on August 25, 2008.

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New Trio of Tech-Metal MP3s from Drumpcorps

The whole new-retail mode of “download for free, buy the snazzy version at a premium” isn’t restricted to the established likes of Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead. Drumpcorps (aka Aaron Spectre), long a Disquiet Downstream favorite for his having located the exact sonic space where chaotically implemented digital noise is indistinguishable from the whiplash riffage of metal bands like Slayer, has now used the same Web 2.0 nu-capitalist system for his new 10″, Altered Beast.

The downloadable ZIP file (ZIP) collects all three tracks off the 10″, each a technologically enabled dissection and reanimation of death metal by the San Francisco-based band Animosity. (All three tracks originally appeared on the Animosity album Animal.) Meanwhile, the 10″ itself is an almost garishly beautiful object, a multi-colored picture disc that comes in such themes as “Cupcake Oil Spill” and “Cheese Streak.”

The beauty isn’t reserved for folks who fork up for the physical release; the free ZIP file includes a nine-page PDF of photos of the 10″. As for the music, each of the three tracks takes an Animosity recording and whips up the frenzy, inserting stop’n’start instances, warping noise into the ether, and emphasizing the pummel. One of the three tracks was previously included in the Downstream (disquiet.com), back on April 3, when it appeared as part of a mix on UK Channel 4 radio.

More info at aaronspectre.com/drumcorps.cc, myspace.com/animosity, and wearemanalive.com.

PS: There’s another direct link to the MP3s and FLAC versions of the three Altered Beast tracks at wearemanalive.com/abdownload.

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“Molotov” Cocktail MP3 from Bass Communion

Can something be searing and sedate at the same time? More to the point, can some single thing, a single slice of sound, be mistaken from a distance just as easily as one of those or the other? It’s certainly the case for “Molotov” (MP3), a free track off the new Bass Communion album, Molotov and Haze, the very title of which touches on the inherent duality between fire and cool, cacophony and calm. (It was released recently on Important Records.) The two and a half minutes of “Molotov” could be a bonfire of epic proportions, vast charges of energy unleashed in stop motion and melting everything in their path — or it could be the comforting undertone of some slow natural process, a cozy lull that fills your room with an artful rendering of white noise. The deciding factor may merely be a matter of volume. Turned up high, “Molotov” is a wanton force, akin to the sludge rock of the band Earth. Turned down low, it’s a subtle background pattern, a quiet composition that flavors your room without filling it. Bass Communion is a moniker of Steve Wilson. More info on the full release at importantrecords.com. More on Wilson at swhq.co.uk, where he describes the record as “Multi-layered (and sometimes very noisy) pieces generated from guitar.”

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Jon Wozencroft Field Recordings MP3 from Touch

For his entry in the Touch Radio series, its 33rd, Jon Wozencroft has compiled 15 archival recordings, ranging from train sounds he taped for a Neville Brody exhibition, to overheard conversation, to rain and birdsong, to a field recording of the coast of France mixed with a bit of cassette surface noise (MP3). The majority are real-world recordings, but there is the odd bit of analog-synth humor. Some of the samples receive a modicum of post-production, notably the looping of brief moments.

The “field” sounds heard here are somehow both delicate and earthy, refined and raw. They’re generally simple noises, the aural equivalent of casual snapshots, and it may require a certain amount of attention to discern individual elements. There is a surfeit of silence, within which a handful of footsteps, or a passing car, or a dash of thunder, might suddenly and briefly make its presence heard. Wozencroft has also made available a digital document summarizing the provenance of the various source material (PDF). More info at touchradio.org.uk.

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