Tangents (NIN, synaesthesia, Common)

Quick Links: (1) Industrial act Nine Inch Nails has put another of the songs off its new album, With Teeth, up for public re-construction. NIN’s Trent Reznor had previously made “The Hand That Feeds” available as a series of raw production files for Apple’s GarageBand software. Now the song “Only” is available as part of a remix contest, sponsored by acidplanet.com and myspace.com. While GarageBand was Apple-only, the new contest also makes the song available in the Pro Tools, Sony Acid Xpress and Ableton Live formats. Reznor wrote on his website, “there is no agenda here other than for you to explore, experiment, and have fun with it. depending on how this goes we may construct a more formal community for remix postings and/or possibly some sort of ‘official’ endorsement by means of an EP or something.” Download the files here. Meanwhile, a question for philosophers: Since Robert Henke (aka Monolake) is one of Ableton’s software engineers, does that make any Ableton remix of “Only” a Monolake co-production? … (2) Video of a “physically programmable drum machine,” created by Andy Huntington (link), and (3) details on the prototype of a CD package, designed by Matthew Falla, that includes tools to remix the enclosed sounds (link), both via engadget.com. … (4) Tips on how to listen to your computer’s data (link): “The more cluttered the data in your drive is, the more interesting the sound is,” via makezine.com.

… Good Reads: (1 – 4) The “Visual Music: Synaesthesia in Art and Music Since 1900” exhibit, previously at the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art (click here to read the Disquiet.com review), has moved to the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, D.C. The New York Times has a lengthy review, “With Music for the Eye and Colors for the Ear” (July 1), and the Washington Post has published three: “‘Visual Music’s’ Colorful Cacophony” (July 1), “Music to Your Eyes” (June 23) and “A Visionary Attempt to Catch Sight of Sound” (June 23).

… Select New Releases: A relatively slow week, perhaps due to the Fourth of July break. (1) Rapper-producer Missy Elliott‘s The Cookbook (Atlantic) means plenty of new instrumentals to dig for. … (2) Arch sentimentalist Angelo Badalamenti (Twin Peaks, A Very Long Engagement) scored the new horror flick, Dark Water (the CD’s on Hollywood). It’s directed by Walter Salles, whose The Motorcycle Diaries featured an electro-acoustic score by Gustavo Santaolalla (who’s at work on Ang Lee’s forthcoming Brokeback Mountain).

… Disquiet Heavy Rotation: (1) Common’s “The Food (Instrumental),” a Kanye West production off the rapper’s recent Be (Geffen), offers up a nostalgic, low-key mix: a bit of chordal piano, edited to fit within the confines of a steady beat. No schmaltz, no sheen, and certainly no irony (this is Common we’re talking about, perhaps as close as hip-hop has to a “conscious rap” star, “conscious” meaning “socially conscious”). The album version was recorded live with conflicted Comedy Central comic Dave Chappelle, but the 12″ has a studio rendition. If its coziness feels familiar, the track credits samples from the Chi-Lites‘ “I Never Had It So Good” and Sam Cooke‘s “Nothing Can Change This Love.” Did the “Food” piano part really originate in that Cooke song? If so, West is truly amazing, having shaved what started out sounding like country and western into bluesy shards of its former self. … (2) The hip-hop duo Platinum Pied Pipers consists of Saadiq and Waajeed, the latter of Slum Village, and while “Act Like You Know (Instrumental),” off their recent Triple P (Ubiquity), is undistinguished, just a muted heavy-metal guitar crunch played against light cascades of synths, the 12″ includes a strong left-field remix by Rich Medina, clipping the synths, if not yanking ’em entirely, in favor of push-button sci-fi touches and substantially hardened beats. It’s tremendous. (The 12″ also features a somewhat less distinct remix by Ge-ology.) And why didn’t they call it Quadruple A instead of Triple P? … (3) “This” may be as good as it gets. That is, “This,” the lead track on Brian Eno‘s new Another Day on Earth (Hannibal), surpasses everything that follows it. Another Day is Eno’s first full-length vocal outing since Wrong Way Up, recorded with John Cale, of the Velvet Underground, back in 1990. The album pretty much never bests that first cut, with its deeply intoned, loner of a vocal, its underbrush of percussive churn and its cautious grace. … (4) Marvin AyresCellosphere, electric soundscapes built from strings, was originally released on Ritornell, a subsidiary of the Mille Plateaux label, and it’s back in print, this time on Burning Shed, plus it’s expanded from three cuts to four, with the additional, very heady, 10-minute “Sensory.” Fans of David Darling’s mid-period ECM recordings will find much to like here. (More info at marvinayres.com and burningshed.com.)

… Quote of the Week: Comic book creator Alan Moore (Watchmen, V for Vendetta) recounts meeting Brian Eno at the studios of BBC Radio 4: “I was surprised when he insisted on polishing his own shoes just before we went on air. I pointed out that this was wireless and that nobody would notice, to which he replied by asking if I didn’t think that an impression of one’s dusty shoes could somehow be transmitted over radio? I was transfixed, and honestly had no response to this spontaneous Zen koan. What’s the sound of one shoe gathering dust?” From a “salute” by Moore to Eno in the July 2005 issue of Arthur magazine, which also featured an interview with Eno. Neither is online. More info on Arthur at arthurmag.com.

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