Tangents (Gibson, Scratch, HBO)

Quick Links: (1) Instructions (link) on how to download “any multimedia file from the web to your hard drive” (via downloadsquad.com). … (2) A guitar-playing robot (link) and (3) a drum machine for the PlayStation Portable (link), both via engadget.com. … (4) Make your own microphones (link), via makezine.com.

… Good Reads: (1) The July issue of Wired focuses on remixing, and includes an essay by novelist William Gibson (“God’s Little Toys”) about the literary roots and metaphors of cut’n’paste culture. … (2) Also in the Wired remix issue, a piece on how the Avalanches pursue a remix (“Making of a Remix”). … (3) A review (link) in this past Friday’s New York Times of a synaesthesia-minded group-show exhibit in Manhattan’s Eyebeam gallery. More details at the gallery’s site (link). … (4) A review of an exhibit by MacArthur grant-winning sound artist Trimpin in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer (link). … (5) Robert Gable‘s fine “aworks” blog (rgable.typepad.com), focused on “‘new’ American classical music,” celebrates its third anniversary (link). … (6) Not much of it is online, but Scratch may be my favorite new(ish) print music magazine. It posits itself as “the only hip-hop magazine that reps the beats.” And, indeed, reading Scratch, you’d think the producers, not the rappers who drop by the studio to lay a lyric on top, are the real stars, which is how it would be in a better world. Issue six features a Timbaland cover story, a piece by mix engineer Ken Lewis on how he assisted Kanye West to construct a bit of faux-’70s soul for West’s The College Dropout, and a short piece covering a New York University forum on the making of Public Enemy‘s It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back (mentioning that Hank Shocklee, member of Public Enemy’s production team, the Bomb Squad, is writing a book on the album’s recording process). More info at scratchmagazine.com. (By the way, Lewis is a prolific in-studio blogger, over at hiphopmixing.com/blog.html.)

… Select New Releases: Due out this week are (1) Daniel Lanois‘s Belladonna (Anti), (2) psychedelic rockers Kinski‘s Alpine Static (Sub Pop), (3) Juan Maclean‘s robot-dance Less Than Human (DFA/Astralwerks) and (4) Adrian Belew‘s Side Two (Sanctuary), with Erick Cole on theremin, plus (5) Secede‘s Silent Flower Observers (Neo Ouija). And on DVD, (6) Bodysong with score by (and interview with) Radiohead‘s Johnny Greenwood.

… Disquiet Heavy Rotation: (1) It’s not due out until Tuesday, but Belladonna, by longtime Brian Eno collaborator Daniel Lanois, is already floating around. It’s a beautiful album of rural ambient music, not folktronica per se, but lilting instrumentals performed by a proper band. It’s a bit like Boxhead Ensemble, especially on the pedal-steel-dominated opening cut, “Two Worlds.” The song is barely two minutes long, but you may find yourself listening to it dozens of times before moving deeper into the album. Belladonna closes with a remote soundscape, “Todos Santos,” with loops that seem to go slowly out of sync. … (2) The next single off rapper Common‘s album Be is just like the first, simply piano’n’drums, courtesy of expert producer Kanye West. But where “The Food” featured an old acoustic piano (actually a sample of a Sam Cooke album), on “Go (Instrumental)” it’s an electric piano. And West, as always, isn’t happy to play the sample straight; instead every second of the electric piano is warped, as if on a wobbly turntable, accentuating the instrument’s inherently lush vibe. Judging by the credits on Be, those keyboards originated on Linda Lewis‘ pop-soul nugget “Old Smokey,” off her 1972 album Lark. … (3) The cuts are pretty short and terse on Japanese avant-turntablist Turntabrush‘s View of Rainbow CD. The medium distinction is important, because the CD, LP and cassette (yes, tape cassette, remember them?) of View of Rainbow are all different. Anyhow, the cuts run generally in the one- and two-minute range, but there are a few pushing the five-minute mark, and they can be listened to as songs unto themselves, instead of as abstract tiles in Turntabrush’s set-on-random mosaic. … (4) Of the Downstream entries for the past two weeks, the one in heaviest rotation has been “Atomsk” (MP3), the scratchy little sonic world perpetrated by Octopus Inc. and Le Gun, of the kracfive.com collective. More details in the Downstream entry (link).

… Score-Keeper: (1) The artist known as BT has scored Stealth, the fighter-pilot thrill ride due out at the end of the month. The Hollywood Reporter has an interview with him (link), in which he talks about writing “algorithmic music to code” for Stealth, which happens to feature an artificial-intelligence antagonist. … (2) The same Hollywood Reporter piece also interviews Tyler Bates on his score to Rob Zombie‘s forthcoming The Devil’s Rejects: “Many sound sources were mutated into ambient textures and percussive loops through various forms of synthesis, and, in turn, generated disjointed rhythms and conflicting harmonics. … In other words, it sounds like tennis shoes in the dryer.” … (3) Philip Glass is attached to Vic Sarin‘s Partition and Emmanuel Carrere‘s La Moustache, via IMDB.com.

… Quote of the Week: “Claire, hey, it’s, uh, it’s me. Are … are you still at Amoeba, because if you are, I really need to hear some Brian Eno today or I’m going to tear my eyes out.” That’s a voicemail on Claire’s phone, left by Billy during the June 27 episode of Six Feet Under, “Time Flies.” (Her response, in part: “Please, get a life for a minute.”) While she’s checking her messages, the band Alva Star’s mope-rocky “Cold Calculated” plays in the background.

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