New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • Disquiet.com F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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

Monthly Archives: July 2005

Tangents (Bumbershoot, Houston, space)

Quick Links: (1) This year’s Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle, September 2 – 5, will feature a sound art exhibit, “In Resonance,” with curators Fionn Meade and Rob Millis (link). … (2) Details on the 3rd Annual Festival of New Trumpet Music (link), to be held throughout August in New York City. … (3) A MIDI-controlled sofa (link), via engadget.com. … (4) A neat inexpensive speech synthesizer (link), via gizmodo.com.

… Good Reads: (1) Interview with Prefuse 73, aka Scott Herren, in the debut issue of Robotspeak magazine, by Donald Bell, aka Chachi Jones (link). He talks about his fave musical era, an adolescence steeped in hip-hop, and the techniques that keep him ahead of “[a]ny little trust fund kid whose mommy can buy them an MPC or a computer.” … (2) Boston Globe piece on Bang on a Can‘s covers of Brian Eno‘s Music for Airports (link). “Eno’s music was carefully crafted, but his intention was to create something that would remain in the background,” says composer Michael Gordon. “In that respect, he failed — the music is more interesting than that.”

… Select New Releases: (1) Erasure‘s Here I Go Impossible Again/All This Time Still Falling Out of Love (Mute) single consists of two CDs plus a DVD, including live footage, remixes by Meloboy, Shanghai Surprize and Triggertrax, and software (Digimpro) that facilitates remixing of “Here I Go Impossible Again.” Yes, there’s a contest. Winners get iPods packed with 19 live double-CD Erasure albums. More info here. … (2) Recording together under the name Groundtruther, Charlie Hunter (guitar) and Bobby Previte (drums) invite a guest on each of their ongoing Longitude series of CDs (Thirst Ear). Last time it was saxophonist Greg Osby. This time it’s turntablist DJ Logic. … (3) Minimal techno act Pub‘s Liltmor (Ampoule). … More new release info at brainwashed.com/releases.

… Disquiet Heavy Rotation: (1) Daniel Lanois‘ new album, Belladonna, will attract fans of his ambient work with Brian Eno and fans of his French Canadian-inflected roots recordings. The best tracks on Belladonna strike a happy medium, and a particular favorite right now is “Telco,” which does just that, treating rudimentary piano and guitar elements like sound effects, and setting them above a rich industrial whir. … (2) Mike Jones, one of Houston’s many sudden rap stars, may sound like a latter day Tone-Loc, his thick nasal delivery scraping the low registers like a busted muffler hitting pavement. But what distinguishes Who Is Mike Jones?, his current full-length, is the intimacy of his man-machine interface. Throughout the album, he and his guests rap in a way that’s one with the music, moving with the biomechanical feel of a good turntable manipulator. His phrasing, especially on songs like “Got It Sewed Up” and “Still Trippin,” is honed to mesh with the continuous scratching and fluctuations in production. Which isn’t to suggest that his instrumentals can’t hold their own. The vocal-free dub of “Still Trippin” is a cinematic swath of rhythmically adroit beats and a rising violin line with noir-ish overtones. … (3) Of the Disquiet Downstream entry from this past week, the one getting the most frequent listens is Raz Mesinai‘s “Ghost of the Gulag (Reprise)” (entry, MP3), a bit of chamber maximalism from a musician more generally associated with modern dub.

… Score Keeper: Multi-instrumentalist and studio whiz Jon Brion (who chips in on rapper-producer Kanye West‘s forthcoming Late Registration) is said to be yet again collaborating with director Paul Thomas Anderson, this time on Oil!, based on an Upton Sinclair novel and due out next year (according to IMDB.com).

… Quote of the Week: “‘I love to listen to music in space,’ he said. ‘It’s a very peaceful thing for me.'” That’s Space Shuttle veteran Dr. Stephen K. Robinson, who’s on the crew of the current mission (link).

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Two Podcast MP3s

Close the week with one of the web’s most generous podcasts (MP3), the occasional hour-long sequences of music from artists and labels associated with brainwashed.com. The latest, dated July 16, features music by Out Hud, Mimir, Eau Claire, !!!, Kid 606, Richard H. Kirk, Electric Company, Barbez and Henry Jacobs. … And why not load up with two podcasts? A more recent favorite is the series from fatbeats.com, an online purveyor of vinyl and CDs. All hip-hop, but there’s always a handful of instrumentals tossed in; last week’s (episode five) included pieces by East Flatbush Project and Waajeed. The latest, episode six (MP3), includes instrumentals by Prozack Turner (remixed by Madlib), Evidence and Mass Influence.

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Raz Mesinai MP3

To follow up on yesterday’s fine post-dub MP3 by Raz Mesinai (“Ghost of the Gulag”), here’s a … well, what would one call it? Pre-post dub? Mid-dub? How about just dub? It’s from Mesinai’s Viagra Opus, which surfaced last year, just like Cyborg Acoustics, from which that “Gulag” track was culled. In contrast with “Gulag,” Viagra’s “Lady Dem Crazy” (MP3) bears all the hallmarks of dub, right down to the faux-patois title. It’s got the light reverb, and the percussion that makes the most of those echo patterns. It’s got the trance-like rhythmic solemnity, sounding meandering despite coming in at less than two minutes. What distinguishes it is its utterly acoustic vibe. Unlike much dub, “Lady Dem Crazy” isn’t audibly compressed; it may bear the mark of its genre, but not the varnish, not the understood low fidelity, not the skunky haze. Taut dub: now there’s a contradiction in terms. More info at razmesinai.com and at the website of the Agriculture, theagriculture.com, which released Viagra Opus in the first place.

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Post-Dub MP3

Once upon a time, cohorts in John Zorn’s circle in the Lower Manhattan music scene spoke of a mutt classicism. Today, some two decades hence, young musicians fully conversive in written music and in popular music (the two being, in many cases, mutually exclusive) are often drawn to an artfully astringent realm of what would probably be called minimalism, if they weren’t, by definition, self-conscious about ever risking boring their audiences.

Raz Mesinai is such a musician. Though he’s best known for his trenchant modern dub, which updates the Caribbean sound with Middle Eastern elements (he was born in Jerusalem) and digital production (he did come of age in the 1980s), his skills are well beyond that. Some of his best dub, like his intense contribution to the BSI Records compilation Docking Sequence (2000), infuses the genre with piercing string playing. Later, on Cyborg Acoustics (2004), a release for Zorn’s record label, Tzadik, Mesinai ditched the dub entirely, for a driving near-orchestral feel that has the gusto of one of Glenn Branca’s old guitar symphonies, but composed (yes, there’s that word) with virtuoso musicianship in mind (musicianship that Branca’s early writing often had no use for).

On Mesinai’s homepage currently, a full track off Cyborg Acoustics has been made available, “Ghost of the Gulag (Reprise)” (MP3). It’s a tremendous piece, meaty in its playing but kept aloft by its hesitance to ever fully resolve; it just keeps churning. One resists calling it atmospheric, but it is; this just happens to be a particularly dense atmosphere, like Venus-dense. Mesinai is credited with sampler, percussion, processed piano and “objects,” and other contributors to the album (if not to this track in particular) include Mark Dresser (contra bass), Mark Feldman (violin), Okkyung Lee (cello) and Zorn (alto sax). More info at tzadik.com and razmesinai.com.

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Star Wars Sampling MP3 Competition

Back in March of this year, no doubt with the then imminent premier of the sixth (or third, depending on how you count) Star Wars film on their minds, the kracfive.com collective hosted another of its Iron Chef of Music competitions. In these face-offs, musicians work quick electronic songs from a shared sample. The ingredient du jour: a snippet from the second (or fifth) film, The Empire Strikes Back, in which Princess Leia and Han Solo debate how to repair C-3P0. Han suggests Lando Calrissian: “Lando’s got people that can fix him.” Leia, on the other hand, asks Chewbacca, who groans accordingly, that groan having always been the most humanizing element of the Star Wars movies.

And then, giving new meaning to the phrase “pod race,” six kracfive participants take that 41 seconds and run with it. Kettel, Kristian and Mr Numan construct tunes that barely recall the original sonic matter in any significant way, instead making background music that might have played in one of Calrissian’s cloud-white 1970s living rooms: Numan with a lightly beading bit of minimalism, Kettel a more upbeat, percussive entry, Kristian with what sounds like Hal 9000 whistling a Laurie Anderson cover (sorry, wrong movie). Octopus Inc (whose “Atomsk” collaboration with Le Gun supplied the Downstream entry back on July 7) takes the groan and plays it like a keyboard-triggered tone, much as Colongib uses it for textural purposes amid a burbling track. Ipagos, in the most literal-minded entry, quotes Leia directly, and turns Chewie’s groan into something of a punch line. Who’s the champion? It’s best to let the wookie win. Check out the whole bunch at kracfive.com/ironchef.

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