Continuing in the podcast-recommendations, in light of the recent iTunes software upgrade, definitely check out the series from brainwashed.com, whose latest hour-length download (MP3, dated June 30) includes musician-approved material by such goth-noise-art figures as Current 93 and Nurse with Wound, among others. Direct link to the brainwashed podcast here.
At a time when concerns about digital privacy and viruses are widespread, it’s somewhat ironic that the big pop-technological trend, one endorsed by Apple earlier this week in its new version of iTunes (4.9), is a system that automatically downloads files onto people’s computers. The podcast is on the rise, helping transform the humble MP3 from a song-specific medium to a broadcast-length one. Recommended is the series from the Echoes syndicated radio program, the latest entry in which is a profile of French synthesist Francis Rimbert (MP3, dated June 28), the Jean Michel Jarre collaborator. To add Echoes to your podcast-subscriber of choice, the link is here.
Singular electronic-music figures are joining bands, writing songs and even going on tour. Prefuse73, aka Scott Herren, has recorded Brazilianate pop music with Catalan singer Eva Puyuelo Muns, under the collective name Savath & Savalas. Oval’s Markus Popp made good on his last name by doing a record with a proper vocalist, Eriko Toyoda, under the name So. And now Robin Rimbaud, known as Scanner due to his early penchant for funneling scanned conversation into his atmospheric music, has joined a quartet, Githead, in which he is not the only known entity. The band teams him with Wire’s Colin Newman and Minimal Compact’s Malka Spigel and Max Franken. Together they make music ripe for a moment in which post-punk is having a comeback and various Wire contemporaries are regrouping. Githead’s website, githead.co.uk, features several downloadable examples of exactly the sort of spartan pop you’d expect from Rimbaud’s fellow players, if not much of what one associates with Rimbaud himself. Still, “To Have and to Hold” (MP3) opens with a moody bit of reverberance that suggests the Cure and the Police, as does the extended fade on “Option Paralysis” (MP3). Electronica it ain’t, but any fan of Scanner’s will benefit from getting a broader sense of where his head’s at … and, heard in the context of the likes of Herren and Popp’s vocal projects, where electronic music may be headed.
Some music is electronic by intent; other music accrues the association over time. The Internet Archive, at archive.org, has much intentional electronic music on it: among other places, in the Other Minds archive, which has been featured often in the Disquiet Downstream, and the general live archive, which sneaks in some work by DJs and techno acts amid the overwhelming amount of roots rock. Then there’s the “78 RPMs” section (link), 798 tracks in total as of this writing. The whole batch is defined by its technological moment, bearing the scar of thick surface noise that is, depending on your mood, either a palimpsest of recording history or a premonition of tinnitus. Buried deep in the 78 RPMs section are many key items, long in the public domain, that define audio history, notably songs by Enrico Caruso and Bing Crosby, artists who early on learned to use the studio to their advantage. (There’s nothing, unfortunately, by Les Paul, who turned 90 earlier this month.) If you wander through the stacks, you’ll come upon material that is so entranced with the idea of recording sound that it dispenses with song almost entirely, in favor of effects. A case in point is “The 11 69 Express” (MP3), dated 1911, 3:12 in length and credited to Fred Duprez, reportedly a monologuist and character from Edison’s recording company. After an orchestral opening, Duprez tells his tale accompanied by staccato strings, bells, train sounds, whistles and more, including a clucking-like noise, around the 3:06 point, that eerily suggests the scratching of vinyl many decades ahead of its scheduled arrival.
Quick Links: (1) CommonTunes.org is “a community directory of freely available music”; among its most popular tags (akin to genres) are electronic and laptop. … (2) Two video-game composers, Tommy Tallarico (Advent Rising, Tony Hawk Pro Skater) and Jack Wall (Jade Empire, Splinter Cell), are going on tour (link). … (3) A student at the University of East Anglia has posted initial data from a recent survey he did of so-called MP3 bloggers (I was one of the respondents). Highlights: 98% male, over 50% between 21 and 30 years of age, 7% electronica, 15% have been around for more than 24 months (for what it’s worth, Disquiet.com was launched at the end of 1996, and its Downstream department of daily music downloads debuted October 14, 2003). Parse the results here. … (4) Team Sleep has announced the winners of its remix contest (link), and posted the entries. … (5) Info on contributing to a new compilation of “slow motion” videos, organized by media artist Ryan Junell: slomovideo.com. The site features a helpful list of “medications or substances” that one “should avoid while making/watching slow motion videos.”
… New Releases: It’s a big week for new records. (1) Christian Fennesz and Ryuichi Sakamoto release Sala Santa Cecilia (Touch), a laptop duet recorded last November. … (2) The quasi-supergroup Githead (Malka Spigel, Robin Rimbaud [aka Scanner], Colin Newman and Max Franken) debuts with Profile (~swim). … (3 – 6) Can reissues four albums on the hybrid SACD/CD format: Future Days, Soon Over Babaluma, Unlimited Edition and Landed (all Mute). … (7) Turntablist Still‘s dark-ambient Remains surfaces (Public Guilt; see yesterday’s Disquiet Downstream entry). … Also: (8) Kero‘s Kerologistics (Neo Ouija), (9) Vidna Obmana‘s Noise/Drone Anthology 1984-1989 (Projekt). … And in related news the U.S. Supreme Court (supremecourtus.gov) is due to weigh in on filesharing when it decides “Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios v. Grokster” tomorrow. … More new-release info at brainwashed.com/releases and videoeta.com.
… Keeping Score: News on the overlap of electronic music and motion pictures: (1) The Fountain will re-team composer Clint Mansell and director Darron Aronofsky, whose Requiem for a Dream Mansell previously scored. Mansell wrote the music for the recent Sahara, and is listed as the composer for the forthcoming Doom, based on the video game. … (2) Moby and Trent Reznor are contributing original songs to the futuristic musical Southland Tales, by Donnie Darko director Richard Kelly; it’s due out in 2006. … (3) RZA (Wu Tang Clan, Kill Bill) is listed as the composer on Michael Mann‘s feature film version of his innovative TV series, Miami Vice. All that news, according to IMDB.com. … (5) The site whomix.trilete.net is dedicated to remixes (“faithful or pisstakes”) of the Dr. Who theme, originally composed by Ron Grainer (who also scored The Omega Man and wrote the theme for The Prisoner); via warrenellis.com.
… Disquiet Heavy Rotation: (1) “Insomnia,” the penultimate track on Ikue Mori‘s laptop-built new solo album, Myrninerest (released in May on John Zorn’s Tzadik label); something like an otherworldly combination of a glass harmonica and a toy piano, this should be the soundtrack to Tim Burton’s upcoming Charlie and the Chocolate Factory remake. … (2) “Not Sensitive,” a cue of backward-masked aquatics, off the “ambient” bonus disc that comes with Moby‘s recent Hotel (released in March on V2). … (3) Four Tet‘s folktronic, melody-reducing quasi-cover of “Iron Man” from the collection Everything Comes and Goes: A Tribute to Black Sabbath, which also features Matmos, Ruins, and others (released earlier this year on Temporary Residence); it makes a good companion to Four Tet’s earlier cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Castles Made of Sand,” off the compilation LateNightTales (Azuli, 2004). A full set of classic-rock covers is eagerly awaited.
… Good Reads: (1) On physorg.com, an overview of DISSCO, a software project by mathematician Hans G. Kaper and musician Sever Tipei. Says Kaper, “The computer takes a general idea and develops sheet music or recorded sound.” Check it out at dissco.sourceforge.net. … (2) Fourth-world trumpeter Jon Hassell talks with his hometown newspaper, The Memphis Commercial Appeal (link).
… Quote of the Week: “Could this end up being like The New York Philharmonic Plays the Bee Gees?” That’s Gavin Chuck, managing director of the Alarm Will Sound new-music ensemble, describing some initial hesitance before the group threw itself into preparation for its new recording, Acoustica: Alarm Will Sound Performs Aphex Twin (Cantaloupe). More info at alarmwillsound.com (and check out last Wednesday’s Disquiet Downstream entry for a free track off Acoustica).