Tangents (post-colonial, Rochberg, Latinate)

Quick Links: (1) Via boingboing.net, using a driving interface as a musical instrument (link). Via gizmodo.com, (2) a photo-sensitive theremin (link) and (3) a touch-sensitive interface from JazzMutant/Cycling ’74 (link). … Good Reads: (1) Alex Ross in the New Yorker (June 6, 2005) on “The Record Effect,” or “How technology has transformed the sound of music.” It’s largely a review of recent books on the subject of the technological mediation of classical music. … (2) Ann Midgette in today’s New York Times (“Play It Again, Vladimir [via Computer]“) on an under-covered direction in computer music: “Today scientists around the world are turning computers on human performance, seeking to quantify an element once thought to be intangible: the expressivity of a human artist.” … (3) Also in today’s Times, “Post-Colonial Electronica,” about the Kinshasa, Congo-based group Konono No. 1, which has been together for 30 years: “To make its traditional trance music heard above the roar of the traffic-choked streets, it amplifies its toylike likembes, or thumb pianos, using pick-up microphones made from the magnets in car alternators and loudspeakers left behind by Belgian colonists in 1960. The squalling feedback this lo-fi system produces is worked into the polyrhythmic drumming and call-and-response chanting to create a brutal, neotraditional genre Kinshasa’s musicians call tradi-moderne.” … (4) Igloomag.com has been running reports from the MUTEK festival in Montreal this weekend: parts 1 and 2.

Not So Good Read: A New York Times review on Friday (link) of the current Tom Phillips art exhibit in Manhattan opens with a broad remark about his various careers (“artist, writer and composer”), but neglects to mention that of teacher. Among his students was Brian Eno, several of whose albums he provided cover art to, including Another Green World (see “How We Met: Brian Eno & Tom Phillips,” here). The review also presents some obnoxious assumptions about the limited potential of collage and of comic books. … New Releases: Among albums due out this week are: (1) Bochum Welt‘s Elan (Fuzzy Box), a collaboration between Gianluigi Di Costanzo and Brian Salter. … (2) Tuba virtuoso Oren Marshall releases Introduction to the Story of Spedy Sponda Part One: In a Silent Room (Slowfoot). … (3) Further evidence that reality has outpaced both Saturday Night Live and Mad magazine, Kraftwerk releases a live album, whatever that means, Minimum Maximum (Astralwerks). … (4) Charlie Schmidt‘s Xanthe Terre (Strange Attractors) is a solo guitar album in the meditative, circular, deeply Zen manner of John Fahey, with whom Schmidt worked (perhaps too closely, as some recordings attributed to Fahey may actually have been Schmidt). … (5) The 4 Women No Cry Vol. 1 compilation (Monika) features Rosario Blefari, Tusia Beridze, Eglantine Gouzy and Catarina Pratter; a 12″ has remixes by B. Fleischmann, Gustavo Lamas, Ark and Post Industrial Boys. … More new-release info at brainwashed.com/releases.

R.I.P: Composer George Rochberg (b. 1918), avant-garde composer whose catalog includes the collage “Contra Mortem et Tempus” (1965), comprising “fragments from works by Pierre Boulez, Berio, Varese and Ives,” according to the New York Times obituary (link). Also see Kyle Gann‘s PostClassic entry. … Set List: This is what was playing in the lounge at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles during its recent Visual Music exhibit: Alexander Scriabin‘s Piano Sonata no. 7 (White Mass) and Piano Sonata no. 9 (Black Mass); Mikalojus CiurlionisThe Sea; Arnold Schoenberg‘s 5 Orchestral Pieces, op. 16, and Die Gluckliche Hand, op. 18, Sir Arthur BlissA Colour Symphony, Edgard Varese‘s Arcana, Iannis XenakisConcret PH, Olivier Messiaen‘s Chronochromie, Michael Torke‘s Ecstatic Orange, Bright Blue Music. More on the exhibit in Disquiet’s field notes (link).

Disquiet Heavy Rotation: (1) Black Flag Damaged (Glochids Edit) is a kind of fan fiction remix of Black Flag, 15 of the punk band’s songs whittled down to 6 minutes total. It’s self-released. I picked up my copy at the Alternative Press Expo held earlier this spring in San Francisco. … (2) Keith Fullerton Whitman‘s Multiples (Kranky) is on the minimalist end of the prolific performer-composer’s personal continuum, slow-motion, often drone-oriented work, reportedly put together on the vintage equipment at the studios of Harvard University. Current fave: “Stereo Music for Yamaha Disklavier Prototype, Electric Guitar and Computer” (aka track 5). … (3) The Jackson 5‘s “I Want You Back (Z-Trip Remix)” off the new Motown Remixed is a pleasant surprise, as is much of the album. This is no big-beat shuffle, no matter of laying heavy of-the-moment dance tracks below hallowed favorites. To the contrary, Z-Trip’s edit sounds considerably less commercial than the original, looser and groovier. … (4) Kampion‘s free download “Routes,” a Latinate bit of computer-hewn instrumental hip-hop (and the subject of the May 30 Disquiet Downstream entry).

Quote of the Week: “When you say sound artist … it’s … people like me … and Jim Tenney, and certain other people, we are more in the American experimental tradition than the European avant-garde. And the distinction is the avant-garde takes and sort of moves ahead what has already occurred; it’s just a further development of that, whereas experimental music comes from a different source.” That’s composer Alvin Lucier speaking with musician Stephen Vitiello on volume one of The Relay Project, the “magazine you listen to.” Vitiello had asked Lucier whether he distinguished himself as “a composer versus a sound artist.” More information at therelayproject.com.

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