Likes birds of a feather, sound collectors flock together. A favored web-nest of late is the Freesound project, at freesound.iua.upf.edu, which hosts raw sound files for enthusiasts, researchers, sound designers and remixers. The “Remix! tree” at Freesound represents a list of files and the remixes that result from them. This past week, about a month after a fellow named Marcus Horndt posted a two-minute field recording of birds (link), another Freesound participant, Hans Timmermans, uploaded three remixes he’d perpetrated on those unsuspecting birds, turning their natural utterances into what he described as ragas (links: 1, 2, 3), in which he digitally re-tuned the original songs as if they were being played on a sitar. The results suggest the birds’ playful squawks are reverberating gently on superfine wires. Somewhere, late avian-obsessed composer Olivier Messiaen is smiling. A little confused, but smiling nonetheless. (Side note: Though Horndt’s file is saved as a high-fidelity wav, and Timmermans’ experiments are in the equally weighty aiff format, the Freesound interface includes a preview that compresses each track to a tidy one-megabyte MP3. Just click on the “Waveform & Preview” window to check one out.)
In the future, one won’t simply use scents, cosmetics and jewelry to augment one’s appearance. One will filter one’s voice through electronic systems that will, if so desired, give each syllable a halo crunch of guitar-like feedback, accenting each phrase with fractals of sonic decay. Or at least that’s what it sounds like on “Volume Becomes a Process” (MP3), a free download off A Mouth Full of Small Barks (Paper Goose) by Mormo (aka Tomasz Kaye). It opens with a woman telling a strange anecdote, her accent just about as rich as Kaye’s sound processing, atop a lovely backdrop of loungey music that eventually subsumes the monologue entirely. More info at papergoose.net.
The Other Minds organization announced an upcoming performance in San Francisco of composer Daniel Bernard Roumain‘s A Civil Rights Reader, in which Roumain is to perform his work on electric violin along with the Del Sol String Quartet and turntablist DJ Scientific. Scientific’s role is to drop in beats and sampled recordings by four civil-rights leaders: Maya Angelou; Martin Luther King, Jr.; Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.; and Malcolm X. A quick web search yields a full recording of what appears to be the Angelou section of the work, at the Other Minds catalog at the Internet Archive (aka archive.org). At close to half an hour, it uses a blues-tinged score for the quartet as a foundation for Roumain’s solo. Scientific takes his time before making an appearance, unfolding echo-laden bits of speech that sound like they’re emanating from history, and eventually, as the piece’s momentum increases, matching the quartet’s rhythm with hip-hop beats. Definitely worth checking out. This link (FTP) should lead to the FTP server spot where various versions of the recording are saved, from low-fi to hi-fi. This link (MP3) should lead directly to the lo-fi version. If none of that works, just search for “Roumain” from the Internet Archive’s home page, at archive.org. More info on Other Minds at otherminds.org.
All the people in the house, say … “Blip. Bleep. Click.” True to the name of its netlabel, One Bit Wonder, Sven Tasnadi‘s Love, Despair & Hope album is entirely lo-tech techhouse. On it, the thump of minimal techno is achieved in a virtually echo-free chamber. The arid state emphasizes each little beat and sample as self-contained element, rather than as a ripple in some composite musical pond. It’s remarkable to achieve this level of languor without depending on humidity. The key track is the lead, “Fuck of N.Y.C.” (MP3), which is rife with microscopic little pleasures that cycle by in unpredictable combinations. It’s the sort of track you’d love to hear some singer lend lyrics to. More at 1bit-wonder.com.
For its full hour or so, Rui Gato‘s single-track Transit (MP3) transports the listener from one aural locale to another. Each spot on the itinerary is a mix of instrumental, found and synthesized sounds, be it acoustic guitar against a wash of beach waves and long electronic tones, or carillon bells against pick-up-stick percussion and swampy drones. There is accordion and bird song and, throughout, a thoroughly enchanting sense of detachment. There are never so many items that the sounds melt into an indistinguishable mass, nor so few that any one of them becomes the focus of attention. The set is among the most recent and most highly recommended at the netlabel called test tube, at monocromatica.com/netlabel (where, it’s worth mentioning, the album’s listing includes a gratuitous and nonsensical swipe at another musician, utterly out of sync with the sedate mood of the recording).