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

Monthly Archives: July 2001

Orchestra, Beats, Craft

Demolition Squad: On the band’s MP3.com site is a song titled “Get On Down,” definitely worth a listen. The initial effect, an avant-garde orchestra slicing its strings over a stuttered beat, sounds obvious enough, but the longer it goes on, especially once a spoken-word segment concludes, the more the group’s craft becomes evident.

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Sound Art for Art

Toshoklabs: The electronic site/label produced an hour-long set (89 MB) at the Whitney Museum of American Art’s opening reception for its electronic-art exhibition, titled Bitstream. (Speaking of which, here‘s a good story about the overall exhibit.)

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Pop After Portishead

The single “Paths” off the recent Robert Miles CD, Organik (Shakti), features Nina Miranda (of the British trio Smoke City) contributing a sinewy, Portishead-style riff of a vocal against Miles’ blend of urban and Middle Eastern sounds. He combined electronics with a mid-size orchestra on the album, and the effect is moving and sensual. The single’s B-side provides an answer for those who’ve been wondering what Future Sound of London have been up to lately. By redeploying “Paths” (dubbing their effort the “Cosmic Juke Box Remix”) to add a bit of groovy electric guitar, hand claps and thick backing vocals, FSOL (purposefully or not) bring to mind early Jesus Jones and Big Audio Dynamite singles, which set multi-culti joy against a looping backbeat. A good introduction to a worthy CD.

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Atomspheric Remixes

Shinju Gumi is the name adopted by Frederic Paul, a Paris-based composer who is more than comfortable repeating a bar for the Nth time, to Zen effect, before moving forward. Mixing a Ghost (Shadow) isn’t quite a snail’s-pace affair, but this collection (largely of remixes) achieves a lovely, atmospheric effect. The remixers include Tarwater (aka Bernd Jestram and Ronald Lippok), 7-Hurtz, Solex and others. The influence of soundtrack-style drama and proto-minimalist classical music (especially Satie — there’s a substantial amount of rudimentary acoustic piano) is highly evident, but never unenjoyable or overstated.

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Shakespeare Auto-Mashup

Name: Shakespeare Cuisinart Ӣ Rating: Way Cool Ӣ Format: Phone Service Ӣ Info

Get thee to a phone booth. Shakespeare Cuisinart is an automated composition machine that you activate with your telephone. The instructions are simple: you dial a phone number and, when prompted, speak for up to 20 seconds. The Cuisinart then produces a piece of musique concrete from your words, looping them, slicing them up, layering them. To access the service, dial 1-800-555-TELL. When you get to what’s called the “main menu,” enter the code: 133156. Instructions will follow. (And yes, it’s free.)

The software was created by Columbia graduate student Jason Freeman, who suggests that people use their favorite quote from the Bard for source material. The Cuisinart temporarily saves the files on the Internet, so you can download your composition to your computer, or email it to a friend.

Here are two such samples, saved as half-megabyte “.wav” files: (1) “DisquietIntro.wav” (475K), a quote from the introduction to the Disquiet.com web site, and (2) “DisquietBeat.wav” (688K), for which the sound was a simple, steady tapped rhythm. (This service came to Disquiet’s attention thanks to an article by Matthew Mirapaul in the June 25, 2001, edition of the New York Times.)

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