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Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

Monthly Archives: August 2005

Open Source Beastie Boys MP3s

Rap trio the Beastie Boys are posting MP3s of a cappellas from their back catalog, one a week on Fridays for the foreseeable future, and inviting the world to remix ’em. The entries so far are heavily weighted toward their most recent full-length, To the 5 Boroughs (“Right Right Now Now,” “Ch-Check It Out,” “3 the Hard Way,” “Crawlspace,” “Rhyme the Rhyme Well,” “Triple Trouble,” “An Open Letter to NYC” and “Oh Word?”) but also include “Root Down,” off Ill Communication, and the lesser-known “Alive” and “Brr Stick ‘Em.” There’s a forum set up where the user-submitted remixes are being posted, among the highlights a chaotic drum’n’bass take (MP3) that’s nearly seven minutes long. Join the fun at beastieboys.com/remixers.php. (Initial news via of boingboing.net.)

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Luc Ferrari Memorial Streams

Reports have circulated that composer Luc Ferrari passed away on August 22. And although at this late hour, some three days later, news.google.com still appears to call up no such search result, the sad news is confirmed at the website of the French newspaper Le Monde (link). Much will be made of Ferrari having died in such close proximity to Robert Moog, creator of his namesake synthesizer systems. Those waiting for a third shoe, or electronic musician, to drop may take comfort in how little Ferrari, born in Paris in 1929, and Moog, born in New York City five years later, had in common. In fact, the nature of their distinct pursuits posits them as twin poles in the course of contemporary music, electronic or otherwise.

Though both used technology to push the creative envelope, Moog did so by creating new instruments that built sounds from the most basic materials, such as sine waves and electronic pulses, while Ferrari came to be associated with musique concrete, with taking recordings (often seemingly a-musical ones, of natural settings) and shaping them, after the fact, into compositions.

Several Ferrari works were presented at the Other Minds festival in 1999, among them his “Presque Rien No. 4,” available in full at the Internet Archive, at archive.org, albeit only in streaming form (link). The piece mixes treated and found sounds in with a recording of Ferrari and his wife, Brunhild Meyer-Ferrari, taking a walk in Italy, where he would later pass away.

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Steve Roach MP3s

Generally speaking, the Disquiet Downstream is focused on and restricted to legal downloads of full tracks from musicians and record labels, which, often as not in this aural realm, are one in the same. Case in point Steve Roach, the longtime ethno-enivro-ambient musician who’s been self-releasing the majority of his records in recent years. Now, Roach has two new albums out this week, New Life Dreaming and Possible Planet, the former a return to the freeform soundscapes of his Dreamtime Return album (itself just reissued on Projekt) and the latter an experiment in ditching much of the digital toolset he’s employed of late, in favor of real-world sounds and reverberations. Roach has posted excerpts from each of the two albums’ combined eight tracks, but since many of those tracks are in the half-hour range, the excerpts themselves are long enough to stand on their own, each between just over two minutes to about four and a half. It’s a diverse patch of recordings, from didgeridoo warbles to rattlesnake percussion to synth waves to ambitiously rich drones. One keeper, for sure, is “First Murmer” (MP3), off Possible Planet, a modal slo-mo glottal undulation from the deep subconscious. Check them all out at steveroach.com.

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Remix Chain MP3s

How many electronic musicians does it take to switch on a lightbulb? At the online project known as Freesound, the answer is: as many as want to. Freesound is a web community, founded in May of this year, dedicated to the collection and sharing of sounds. It’s a sizable and steadily growing database of raw sonic audio files, mostly field recordings, instrument samples and effects. One highlight of the project is its “Remix! tree,” in which users post remixes of existing Freesound material, and, in some cases, remixes of the remixes.

One excellent example began its life as “light-switch.wav”: a three-second sample of a plastic lightswitch, posted to Freesound by TwistedLemon (link). Next up was someone by the name of dropthedyle, who “remixed and looped” the original lightswitch material, adding an echo and extending its length by about an extra second (link). It’s worth dwelling on how those small fixes substantially altered the original before moving on, because soon enough a bright knob twiddler named mdsp dropped by to turn in two minute-and-a-half entries that turn that click’n’clack of the lightswitch into witty, percussive tracks with touches of dub and minimal techno (link, link). More info at freesound.iua.upf.edu.

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Moog Memorial MP3s

Robert Moog, as synonymous with electronic music as any individual, has passed away, according to an announcement on the website of his instrument company (moogmusic.com). He was 71, and was being treated for a brain tumor.

In lieu of a sample of a Moog playing taps, take a trip in the wayback machine and visit the archives at the Electronic Music Studio at the University of Iowa for a 19-track demonstration of the Moog Synthesizer recorded in 1979 by Peter Tod Lewis, the studio’s director from 1968 to 1980. Listen as Lewis introduces the studio (MP3) and the instrument (MP3), noting that it “consists of four carrying cases, each about 28 inches high, 20 inches wide, and each crammed with numerous modules, clearly labeled, and differing from each other in their configuration of knobs and sockets.” He then demonstrates its various outputs and attributes, including its sequencer (MP3), its ability to produce combination tones (MP3) and its white-noise generator (MP3). Visit the page directly here.

A public memorial celebration for Moog is planed near his home in Asheville, North Carolina, on August 26. His family has announced the Bob Moog Foundation, dedicated to the advancement of electronic music. Sitting on its board are David Borden, Wendy Carlos, Joel Chadabpe, John Eaton, David Mash and Rick Wakeman. More info at moogmusic.com.

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