Tangents (space, BPMs, consumption)

Quick Links: (1) On NPR’s July 30 Weekend Edition (RealAudio), astrophysicist Donald Gurnett explained that space really isn’t entirely silent, and shared sounds recorded by the Cassini space probe when it reached Saturn last year. (Thanks for the tip, Barney.) … (2) Composer Walter Cianciusi has produced a digital implementation, in Max/MSP, of La Monte Young‘s sine-tone installations (link, via of Kyle Gann‘s Post-Classical blog). … (3) One-minute? Brother! In case you were wondering, someone has sorted out (link) how many old-school computer punch cards it would take to store a 60-second MP3 file encoded at 128kbps: depending on how you organize the data, either 36,864 or 40,960. The latter is a stack over five and a half feet high (via boingboing.net). Now that’s one thick hipster PDA. … (4) Build a mechanical paper pipe organ (link, via musicthing.co.uk). … (5) Close Encounters of the 16^2 Kind: Also via musicthing, Yamaha’s futuristic Tenori-On instrument, a grid of 256 buttons that light up. It’s quite lovely, and was developed by media artist Toshio Iwai. More at yamaha.com and at Iwai’s page (link). … (6) Createdigitalmusic.com asks of Apple’s new, multi-button Mighty Mouse, “Good for music?” (link), noting that the handy peripheral includes a tiny internal speaker. … (7) Peek inside said mouse over at arstechnica.com. … (8) Boot Camp: How to make a mash-up (link), in one easy software package (via makezine.com). … (9) Yahoo has launched the beta of its audio search (audio.search.yahoo.com). … (10) There’s a messier, but still quite useful, third-party approximation of this functionality for google.com, at xtragoogle.com. … (11) More info on finding MP3s, etc., via google.com at tech-recipes.com. … (12) A growing list (at createdigitalmusic.com) of music-related widgets, or small programs (for both Mac and, thanks to Konfabulator, PC), including a Beat Meter and Brian Eno‘s Oblique Strategies. … (13) Need a quick BPM counter for your Palm OS device? Try the one programmed by DJ Timothy Wisdom (timothywisdom.com). It has a simple interface that averages the beats in real time.

… Good Reads: (1) The Washington Post profiles sound artist Janet Cardiff (link), and in a side note mentions that (and this is a bit out of the ordinary) only museum members who have contributed more than $100 can attend her lecture at the Hirshhorn on September 28, part of its current Visual Music exhibit. … (2) The London Independent on July 29 profiled Soul Jazz Records, which has become a sort of British answer to Rhino: a reissue label that originated as a record store (link). The label will take a break later this year from releasing dub reissues to do up some Tibetan and Georgian (yes, Georgian, as in Russian) chant. … (3) Brian Eno talks with the BBC about the use of technology to manipulate his vocals on his recent album, Another Day on Earth (link). … (4) In the New York Times, July 26 coverage of Alarm Will Sound‘s Aphex Twin covers (link) and (5) the next day a marimba’n’vibraphone adaptation of Steve Reich‘s “Electric Counterpoint,” by Svet Stoyanov (link); more info at svetoslav.com.

… Select New Releases: (1) Bjork has recorded the soundtrack to artist Matthew Barney‘s new film, Drawing Restraint No. 9 (One Little Indian), working with Will Oldham (Palace, Bonnie Prince Billy), Mark Bell (LFO), Valgeir Sigursson, Akira Rabelais and Leila. She discusses the album in the London Telegraph (link). Some news sources list this as coming out on August 23, while others list it as already released. … (2) Foscil‘s Foscil (Fourth City) draws on hip-hop and dub, having been recorded “with an Atari ST computer system, open-reel analogue tape and a hybrid of live instrumentation, analog synths, and sequencers.” The Seattle-based group consists of Tyler Swan, Ryan Trudell, Anthony Moore and Adam Swan. … (3) Matthew Herbert‘s Plat du Jour (Accidental) takes global food consumption as its theme. While it was still a work in progress he wrote, “The album will include tracks made from a grain of sugar, 30,000 chickens, a salmon farm, the sewers below London and water.” More info at platdujour.co.uk.

… Disquiet Heavy Rotation: (1) The Dead Texan‘s self-titled album (Kranky) is a mix of entirely acoustic sounds, like the Satie-esque piano on “Taco Me Manque” and “Aegina Airlines,” and tech touches, like digital drones, wafting synths and what seem to be field recordings of delicate sonic ephemera. In all, it suggests the studio-informed composition of Gavin Bryars, much as it does the kitchen-sink toolbox of so many soundtrack composers. … (2) The rap compilation You Don’t Know Half (Halftooth) came out in 2004, followed closely by the solid downtempo 12″ for Kenn Starr‘s resulting single, “If,” featuring guests Asheru and Talib Kweli. I didn’t catch wind of Starr until recently, when fatbeats.com, the web record retailer (and Halftooth distributor), opened one of its podcasts with the instrumental version of the single’s flipside, “Walk the Walk.” It’s a great piece, a shaggy beat below the sort of openhanded chordal piano that suggests a church service; a loose electric bass line is added early on, and later there’s a craggy call, like someone’s blowing a conch shell through a distortion pedal. Halftooth’s latest full-length is the 24-track Oddisee Instrumental — Mixtape Volume 1, which contains “If” but, sadly, not “Walk the Walk.” Perhaps it’ll make volume 2. … (3) The standout track on Permanent Flow (Accretions), a live date by the out-jazz trio of Joscha Oetz (contrabass), Andreas Wagner (tenor saxophone) and Greg Stuart (percussion), is titled “Straight Curves.” It opens with Oetz playing a bluesy figure, which neither of the other musicians seems interested in disturbing; instead they contribute what sound like sonic accessories, bits of noise and brief riffs that keep Oetz aloft.

… Quote of the Week: “All the stuff I scrapped was shot at night outdoors in the winter in London. I had to go outside four nights with no clothes on and I nearly died. Then I scrapped all the footage anyway. It was pointless torture.” That’s director Chris Cunningham and longtime Aphex Twin colleague talking to the Pitchfork zine (well, last week) about filming Rubber Johnny (link).

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