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

The Fax Machine as Dubstep Muse (MP3)

Schrödinger's Dog locates musical charm in the information handshake

When we speak of dropped lines, we mean breaches in communication that are severe enough to cause the connection to end: a severing beyond mere degradation of transmitted information. In the capable hands of Schrödinger’s Dog, the dropped line takes on a double meaning. This is because the fragile sound of a fax handshake, the scratchy short-circuiting noise of that fading technology, serves in his song “Automatic Negotiation” as the source material for a track that takes dubstep as its genre model. And like many a dubstep track, “Automatic Negotiation” takes a break midway through for a lengthy — and nearly silent — pause, when the fax’s ringing is heard on its own, before letting loose a half-speed variation on what had come before. This pause is known in the trade, to the point of cliché, as a “drop.” It’s a stellar track. The fax sound isn’t transformed significantly beyond its originating mix of squelch and jitter, so the familiar noise is no less a part of the “musical” aspect of the piece as are the tones and beats that lend it framing context.

The track is by Schrödinger’s Dog, aka British musician Mike Wolf, who thanks the American musician Margaras (aka Ryan Abbott) for some of the sound manipulation. Track originally posted for free download and streaming at soundcloud.com/schrodingers-dog. More on Wolf at twitter.com/strangeloup.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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