¶ Android Music: There is a heap of Easter Eggs hidden in the holding page for the upcoming Google I/O developers’ conference, at which various Android subjects will be unveiled. These Easter Eggs are accessed by clicking the I and O on the page to yield various results. For example, clicking 10001000 yields a wave generator, as pictured above, and 11011011 yields a touch-based music toy. This being Google, there are Easter Eggs within the Easter Eggs — that is, the binary code isn’t entirely random. For example 10000001 yields a game of pong, the sense being that the 1 on either end symbolizes a paddle. It’s not immediately clear what the meaning of the two music-related codes is. (Found via the helpful comments on the post at theverge.com.)
¶ Tape Ops: The Dutch musician Wouter van Veldhoven has posted remarkable footage of old-school tape machines deployed to make minimal techno music:
¶ Spring Drop: The score to Spring Breakers, the new film by Harmony Korine (Kids, Gummo), was largely composed by Skrillex and Cliff Martinez, often working together. The pairing is certainly interesting, since it is fair to say that Skrillex, the showboating EDM figure, and Martinez, the composer of subtle scores to such films as Solaris and Traffic, represent polar extremes along the continuum that is contemporary electronic music. Almost the entire Spring Breakers soundtrack album is streaming is currently at pitchfork.com. Of the album’s 19 tracks, all but 5 feature either Skrillex or Martinez. Three are collaborations, 7 are Skrillex solo pieces (one a remix), and 4 are Martinez solo pieces. The album comes out March 18 on Big Beat/Atlantic Records, and the movie on March 22. The Pitchfork stream includes all but two of the tracks (numbers 8 and 19 in the list below). The movie stars James Franco, Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, and Rachel Korine. More on the film at springbreakersfilm.com. Here’s the track listing:
“Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” – Skrillex
“Rise And Shine Little B***h” – Music by Cliff Martinez & Skrillex
“Pretend It’s A Video Game” – Cliff Martinez
“With You, Friends (Long Drive)” – Skrillex
“Hangin’ With Da Dopeboys” – Dangeruss with James Franco
“Bikinis & Big Booties Y’all” – Music by Cliff Martinez & Skrillex
“Never Gonna Get This P***y” – Cliff Martinez
“Goin’ In (Skrillex Goin’ Down Remix)” – Birdy Nam Nam
“F**k This Industry” – Waka Flocka Flame
“Smell This Money (Original Mix)” – Skrillex
“Park Smoke” – Skrillex
“Young N****s” – Gucci Mane (feat. Waka Flocka Flame)
“Your Friends Ain’t Gonna Leave With You” – Cliff Martinez
“Ride Home” – Skrillex
“Big Bank” – Meek Mill, Pill, Torch & Rick Ross (feat. French Montana)
“Son Of Scary Monsters” – Music by Cliff Martinez & Skrillex
¶ The deadline for signing the White House petition to “Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal” is February 23. This is a serious issue that relates to many subjects of importance to this site: creative reuse, terms of service, intellectual property, and the right to tinker, among others. Please give it a read and consider weighing in: petitions.whitehouse.gov.
¶ Fascinating if brief interview with Jeff Kolar over at rhizome.org about the correlations between radio and dance, about forms that might be thought to correspond with the disembodied and the body. The interview was done in response to a collaboration Kolar has undertaken with performer/choreographer Jennifer Monson and lighting designer Joe Levasseur. Kolar performed at the 2012 Chicago Disquiet Junto concert, and founded the Radius broadcast, a frequent source of entries in this site’s Downstream coverage.
¶ We talk a lot about sonification, the aural parallel to data visualization, but the flipside is important, too: the application of big data to sound. Interesting Q&A at forbes.com about Gracenote’s API, with smart contrast drawn to how it compares with that of Echo Nest.
¶ Beat boxing, an MRI, and learning about the physiology of language: bbc.co.uk
¶ Not sure I’ve mentioned this. Thanks to my newly upgraded SoundCloud account (courtesy of the service’s Heroes program), both the Instagr/am/bient (with music from 25 musicians, including Marcus Fischer and Ted Laderas) and LX(RMX) (with music by Steve Roden, Scanner, and six others) compilations are available for free download.
¶ This mockup of the forthcoming HTC One mobile phone seems to suggest it has stereo speakers. Note the grill pattern on top and bottom: androidandme.com.
¶ Pitchfork is streaming the new Matmos album, The Marriage of True Minds, for the next few days: pitchfork.com.
¶ Joon Oluchi Lee was Roddy Schrock’s partner in the second of the pieces that Schrock performed at the apexart Disquiet Junto show back in November. Over at his lipstickeater.blogspot.com blog Lee talks more about his development of the piece. Video here: apexart.org.
¶ John Kannenberg has posted his first download at johnkannenberg.bandcamp.com, Live at ZKM Medienmuseum | 11.11.12, a “live site-specific performance of electronically manipulated field recordings of other museum sounds.” Two bucks.
¶ The Verge tech/gadget website has been doing some interesting things with its design of late, notably the inclusion at the top of Sam Byford’s interview with Craig Mod (“What is a book in the age of the iPad?”) of the ambient noise of the Tokyo, Japan, location where they had their conversation. Byford, in the comments, notes what he recorded the noise, and presumably the interview, on: “I got a Sony TX-50 on fire sale, which turned out to be perfect for what I need it for. Super thin and convenient.” (Via Evan Cordes, aka pheezy.com.) … In a related note, “Chronicling the Trip: From Pixels to Paper” by Stephanie Rosenbloom in the New York Times includes this observation: “No app is as foolproof as my Moleskine notebook. But they can make multimedia memories with details like miles traveled and ambient sounds heard along the way, whether they’re church bells in Florence or Pacific loons in Alaska.” Needless to say, the idea of journalists and travelers making sound recordings on a regular basis, whether professional or casual, is a welcome one.
◼ Power Station: Fascinating piece at bbc.co.uk on how forensic police detection can use the ~50Hz hum of the power grid as a date/time-stamp for confirming legitimacy of audio evidence:
This buzz is an annoyance for sound engineers trying to make the highest quality recordings. But for forensic experts, it has turned out to be an invaluable tool in the fight against crime.
While the frequency of the electricity supplied by the national grid is about 50Hz, if you look at it over time, you can see minute fluctuations in the order of a few thousandths of a hertz.
◼ Italo Horror: Trailer for Berberian Sound Studio, directed by Peter Strickland, about a sound engineer employed by an Italian horror-film studio (thanks for the tip, apeshot.tumblr.com). The score is by Broadcast (guardian.co.uk):
◼ Scanner Patrol: Nice to see Eric Eberhardt‘s youarelisteningtolosangeles.com (and other cities, including New York, Chicago, Montréal, San Francisco, Boston, San Diego, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, Minneapolis, Portland, Austin, Baltimore, Denver, and Phoenix), which layers streaming music with police scanners, getting some coverage: latimes.com rightly brings Michael Mann’s films into play, while nsfwcorp.com does some dream analysis. The site also goes by url2.la.
◼ Junto Records: A lot of Disquiet Junto folks involved in the weekly creative-restraint music projects have made sets on SoundCloud of their efforts, such as Carlos Russell (carlosrussell.bandcamp.com), but Grzegorz Bojanek, with Constraints, goes the step further with a physical release. Here’s a shot of the cover being printed:
◼ Tome Report: Make note of nochpublishing.com: “a publisher for expanded listening”; edited by Daniela Cascella (whose En abîme: Listening, Reading, Writing. An Archival Fiction was published by Zer0 Books last September) and Paolo Inverni. Also: twitter.com/nochpublishing.
◼ Ava Moderne: Great interview with guitarist Ava Mendoza (by Michael Ross) at guitarmoderne.com. The Nels in this quote from her is Nels Cline:
Nels’ playing when I was a teenager sort of helped me understand that classical-esque guitar playing, shreddy solos, and walls of noise were not necessarily unrelated and could actually be good friends
“A major sound of war is the sound of white noise. If you are a commando, it’s always in your ear, and every base location or operations room has that crackle of radios,” says Godfrey.
[Patrick] Hennessey cites the “whirl of generators” as another constant at modern patrol bases, while in a “surreal juxtaposition”, whatever is playing on MTV can become a soundtrack to a war.
Presumably that bit about MTV is meant in anecdotal or associative terms, since what’s playing on MTV these days, and for some time, has been anything but music. (Godfrey is Amyas Godfrey, “an associate fellow at the Royal United Services Institute.” Hennessey is described as “an author and former captain in the Grenadier Guards.”) The article as it appears online is packed with example audio-video recordings.
One particularly memorable detail opens the article:
In Gaza, correspondents have described the whine of Israeli drones overhead. In Arabic they’re known as “Zananna”, literally “whining child”.
“Provide open source archival data+live feeds to new media artists to create aesthetically rendered data visualizations (data as both source and artistic medium) Artists and scientists working together unique method to explore and showcase new discoveries. Artist residencies?”
It’s received just one comment: “With this you run the loss of science data in the images. That is not what the NASA website is about.” That person should read “Shhhh. Listen to the Data” in the May 2012 physicstoday.org, about Wanda Díaz-Merced’s xSonify:
“When I get the data, I convert it to sounds. I can listen for harmonics, melodies, relative high- and low-frequency ranges,” she says. With NASA’s Swift satellite, for example, Díaz-Merced “was able to hear [previously overlooked] very low frequencies from gamma-ray bursts. I had been listening to the time series and said to the physicists in charge, ‘Let’s listen to the power spectra.’”
(The xSonify project was covered here back in May of last year.)
◼ Art Worlds: My friend Raman Frey has started a new blog. In a recent post, he pondered where art is headed in our brave, still new-ish world of networked, geographically disperse, lightly overlapping micro-communities. I weighed in with a comment about how the art world is different from, for example, the music industry and the journalism trade: ramanfrey.com. In part:
One key difference is that music and journalism, again just to take two examples, didn’t really court digital media as a subject to anything remotely resembling the extent that the art world did. In a way this helps, because the art world has a library of jargon and learning at hand about understanding digital media. In another way, it makes the transition all the more difficult, because after how many years — what, it’s been 40-plus since Jasia Reichardt’s The Computer in Art, just to suggest one milestone — the art world less than other worlds can’t claim ignorance to the generational forces at work. It can’t, like the flailing business known as publishing, just say, “Well, this is how we’ve been doing things for so long,” because part of what the art world has been doing for so long is embracing, exploring, and promoting digital media.
◼ App Yap: This is a bit of a tangent, but I have a new phone, as of one month ago. It’s my third Android phone in a row. I spent about two years with the G1, then about two years with the Samsung Galaxy S (aka the Vibrant), and now I begin life with the Nexus 4. So far, my one-word review is: Wow. My main disappointment is the report that Jelly Bean, the 4.2.1 version of which resides on my phone, has given up on USB On-The-Go, which allowed Android devices to connect with USB devices like keyboards, mice, and thumb drives. As for apps, my main task-oriented software is: the stock email (K9, an alternate, for the moment seems unnecessary), HootSuite (for Twitter and Facebook posts, and potentially Google+ if I can get the time to set up a proper page), OfficeSuite (for formal document writing) and Epistle (for .txt, which is my primary medium for writing), FBReader (for DRM-free ePubs — plus OverDrive for library ebooks, and the Kindle and Google Play Books apps; I wish they’d all adopt the “scroll” reading mode recently introduced in Apple’s iBooks app), Dropbox and (Google) Drive (for storage), and Google Reader. And I’ve begun fiddling with iDisplay, which like AirDisplay lets you use your phone (or tablet) as a second screen to your laptop/desktop — and, better than AirDisplay, it works via USB in addition to wifi. (By “task-oriented” software, I mean that I am not counting things like the dedicated reader for theverge.com, or the Instagram app, or games and music/sound-making software.) One reason I stick with Android over iOS for my phone is the widgets — I have an iPad and an iPod Touch, and there’s something disorienting about the expansive grid of app icons that makes me feel like a hungry person walking into a supermarket: “Er, which first?” As for me, I prefer how Android lets me view information, and to update information, front and center. I rely on the stock calendar widget, on a “sticky notes” variant called seNotes Plus (which combined with the Jelly Bean voice-to-text software is pretty killer), and on the stock Reader widget (to keep me up to date on a handful of priority RSS feeds). Other widget favorites: Easy Voice Recorder, Extended Controls (which lets me set up one-touch things like screen dimming, screen always-on, screen lock, battery level, and so forth). Also: Ultimate Rotation Control, which among other things lets you set the homescreen/desktop of your phone to landscape mode. That about covers it. My needs are fairly minimal. If you use Android and have any favorite apps or gear, let me know.
¶ Download Before It Expires: The flagship RjDj app of the London-based Reality Jockey firm, home to the Inception and Dark Knight Rises Z+ apps, will no longer be available shortly. It is highly recommended that you download RjDj from the iTunes app store now for your iOS device before the app is retired. Details on the decison at the company’s blog, at rjdj.me. The post mentions that the company’s website will be relaunched on Monday, October 8.
¶ Android Play Pretty Some Day: The website androidmusician.com is a solid compendium of sound/music apps for the Android operating system. It does a much better job than the Play store of displaying the state of tools for such activity. It’s more product-specific than the more cultural/newsy palmsounds.net, and complements it well.
Recent discoveries via androidmusician.com include the generative tool Orbits (screen shot shown above) and the old-school drum machine RD3 — Groovebox (video below):
The site also has a presence at twitter.com/androidmusician. It’ll be interesting to observe, over time, how these app-discovery services function best, whether the users will congregate at sites focused broadly on OS-specific coverage (Android versus iOS, etc.), focused broadly on usage-specific coverage (music, productivity, fitness), or as is the case of androidmusician.com focused at the intersection of a specific OS and a specific user base.
¶ Boinquarius: One of the best music publications about adventurous sounds is the weekly email newsletter of the San Francisco record store Aquarius. The store is located on Valencia Street, not far from such cultural epicenters as the Borderlands science-fiction bookshop and the McSweeney’s pirate store. Aquarius’ newsletter, which usually pops up in email boxes on Friday evenings, has hooked up with the great Boing Boing (boingboing.net). The latter will be publishing one review per day, culled from Aquarius’ loquacious and knowledgeable crew, who are major fans of Krautrock, experimental electronics, and the darkest of death metal, among other things. Here’s a taste of what’s to expect, a review of the Common Eider, King Eider DVD Sense of Place: “wheezy chordal whirs, the vocals layered and wreathed in echo and reverb, a mysterious chorale that instead of building and then fading out, remains somewhat constant, with different voices receding and resurfacing, each part of the music slipping easily from just organ, to organ and voices, making for a constantly shifting landscape of muted melody and vocal texture.” Visit Aquarius Records (online) at aquariusrecords.org.
¶ Sonoma Sound Art: If you’re in the North Bay (and, that is, if the Bay is the San Francisco one), be sure between now and October 14 to take the time to visit the art gallery on the Sonoma State campus, which is currently showing Sound, Image, Object: The Intersection of Art and Music. The participating artists are Mauricio Ancalmo, Terry Berlier, John Cage, Brian Caraway, Chuck Close, Bruce Conner, Lewis deSoto, Chris Duncan, Jacqueline Kyomi Gordon, Victoria Haven, Robert Hudson, Christopher Janney, Paul Kos, Tom Marioni, Jack Ox, Sarah Rara, Steve Reich, Isabelle Sorrell, Alice Wheeler, and William T. Wiley. Indeed, quite a lineup. I hope to have time to write it up soon.
¶ In Brief: Camera-phone footage of Kronos Quartet opening for Amon Tobin last night: youtube.com; apparently someone threw a bra onstage, a first for the ensemble. … Kronos violinist and founder David Harrington submitted a mixtape to wqxr.org, where it is streaming currently; it features Arvo Pärt and DJ Qbert, Erik Satie and John Oswald. … John Kannenberg (of the Stasisfield netlabel) has started a new blog, phonomnesis.wordpress.com; its focus: “Silent memories of sound, art, time, museums, philosophy, and culture.” A definite add to your RSS reader. … In his excellent soundscrapers.blogspot.com blog, Nick Sowers probes a pressing question about fluorescent light sculpture Dan Flavin: “Spending countless hours, days, and years to get his installations just right, was Flavin using the buzzing sound to inform his work?”
The above is a recording by Sowers of Flavin’s buzz.
It’s all under the auspices of GAFFTA’s Sound Research Group. GAFFTA is located at 923 Market St, Suite 200, which is between 5th and 6th Streets. The event runs from 7:00pm until 8:30. Tickets are $20, but GAFFTA has a solid “no one turned away for lack of funds” policy.
I’m excited to be headed back to GAFFTA. I last took part in a discussion there in August 2011, when I presented some thoughts on “Sound as Commentary.”
Update (2012.07.25): The following description of the event has been added to the GAFFTA page at gaffta.org:
We’ve seen many shifts in ways to control sound over the millenia; everything from animal skins and bones to hacked Game Boys and everywhere in between. We find ourselves positioned at an interesting point in time for how we manipulate sound in a post-instrument world. The topic of alternative musical interfaces has been discussed by those attempting to redefine how we’ve shaped sound since the tribal era, but the discourse seems to be thriving. We’ve brought together three specialists (see below) who have dedicated large portions of their lives to the noble task of constructing new musical interfaces and pushing musicians to interact with their instruments in new and different fashions.
The object of this evening is to gather together those interested in redefining our physical relationship to sounds and music. If you are interested in audio we recommend that you come join in the discussion with us.
Spring 2013: The Disquiet Junto is assisting Geoff Manaugh in a course he is teaching at Columbia University's GSAPP, "San Andreas: Architecture for the Fault." Details at bldgblog.blogspot.com.
February 26: I'm giving a three-hour guest lecture about listening to a class on writing for radio productions at the Academy of Art in San Francisco.
May 15, 2013: Last day of 15-week course I'm teaching about sound in the media landscape at the Academy of Art in San Francisco, California.
Ongoing: In January 2013 I became part of the SoundCloud Heroes project, more on which in the near future. In the short term, full disclosure, I was gifted the top-level account, Pro Plus. Initial post here: "What I'm Up To."
Ongoing: The film The Children Next Door (2012), on which I served as music supervisor and collaborated with Taylor Deupree on sound design, is currently touring festivals. It won a special jury prize at DOC NYC and has also played at the Denver and Hamptons festivals. Directed by Doug Block, produced by Lynda A. Hansen. More at thechildrennextdoor.com.
Down the Pike: Concerts in the Disquiet Junto series are in various stages of planning for London, England; Portland, Oregon; and elsewhere.