Quick Links and News: (1) Perhaps inevitably, a podcast of silence, for John Cage‘s MP3 player (silentpodcast.com). … (2) Among Time magazine’s list of the best inventions of 2005: the Turtle Dance, a little plastic toy that, among other things, bleeps out a bit of Mozart and, more of interest, “can remember and mimic a rhythmic pattern of up to 15 clicks” (time.com). … (3) The exhibit “Visual Music,” shown this year at the MOCA in L.A. and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and curated by Kerry Brougher, Judith Zilczer, Jeremy Strick and Ari Wiseman, was recognized as “Best Exhibition of Time Based Art” in this year’s awards from the U.S. chapter of the International Association of Art Critics (calendarlive.com). … (4) Homemade musical instruments, including a “dollar-store echo/reverb,” variations on the kalimba and more (ehhs.cmich.edu/~dhavlena), (5) instructions on how to make automated instruments, like a player piano (logosfoundation.org), and (6) a forum for instrument makers (mimf.com), with an area for experimental instruments (all three via makezine.com). … (7) Electronica origami: make one of two paper model Moog synthesizers for your favorite action figure (PDF1, PDF2; via musicthing.blogspot.com). … (8) Google has gone live with Google Base, but don’t try to create a database of netlabels; the word “netlabel” registers as misspelled (base.google.com). … (9) Re-watching The Last Waltz, Martin Scorcese‘s 1978 documentary/concert film about the Band, on DVD, you can’t help but notice how much Garth Hudson looks like Arvo Part, especially thanks to his proggy keyboard solos toward the end.
… Good Reads: (1) A Times of London report on a Brian Eno performance in Beijing, China, composed for 16 CD players with a park frequented by tai chi practitioners in mind: “Everybody makes music for younger people, but I wanted to make music for old people” (timesonline.co.uk): “Fu Yangsheng, a gatekeeper for the nearby Divine Kitchen, where the imperial instruments of sacrifice were stored, was entranced. He squatted out in the chilly late autumn sun to listen. ‘Is this music? I don’t understand it, but it sounds really nice,’ he said.” … (2) Douglas Wolk writing in the New York Times today on the Sublime Frequencies record label, headed by Sun City Girls‘ Alan Bishop and filmmaker Hisham Mayet: “They specialize in content and techniques that would make old-school academic ethnomusicologists run screaming: radio collages, pop tunes from street vendors’ cassettes, and anthologies that are explicitly products of their compilers’ subjective experience” (nytimes.com). … (3) Earlier this week, Will Hermes writing in the NYT about junk-tronic band Konono No. 1, led by Mawangu Mingiedi, and the effort by musician Vincent Kenis to locate and record them: “To capture the sound vividly, Mr. Kenis recorded three tracks for each instrument — one miked off the group’s sound system, one from the Fender amplifiers that Mr. Kenis brought along, and one directly from the instrument — and blended them” (nytimes.com; thanks for the tip, Rob). … (4) Lengthy conversation with Russell Mills (who designed the covers to such albums as Brian Eno‘s Apollo, David Sylvian‘s Gone to Earth and Nine Inch Nails‘ The Downward Spiral, not to mention the jackets to books by David Toop) about his art, his music, and his sound art at allaboutjazz.com.
… Select New Releases: A few releases of note this coming week: From 4AD, (1) a Cocteau Twins box (Lullabies to Violaine: Singles and Extended Plays 1982-1996), reportedly a complete set of singles and EPs from the 4AD and Mercury/Capitol years, and (2) 1980 Forward, a various-artists set on the occasion of the label’s 25th (25th!) anniversary. … (3) Interpol‘s Interpol Remix (Matador) contains four remixes, one by each member of the band. … (4) Instrumental rock band Tristeza‘s A Colores (Better Looking). … More release info at brainwashed.com and icemagazine.com.
… Disquiet Heavy Rotation: (1) Malpractice collects 20 chunks of often formless noise as a kind of primer for Fflint, the CD-R label that has championed its own brand of outsider sound art since the late 1990s. The contents range from rhythmically enticing cues to contorted vocals, from inchoate drones to barely retouched field recordings, from raw feedback to just plain goofy hypnotic weirdness. … (2) The latest Meat Beat Manifesto record, At the Center (Thirsty Ear), finds Jack Dangers — who, for all intents and purposes, is MBM, despite various close collaborators over the years — feeding live jazz instrumentals into his dub-honed, industrial-weaned, sticker-emblazoned mixing board. … (3) My two battery-operated Buddha Machines, by the group FM3, usually playing two different tracks (more info in the November 14 Disquiet Downstream entry).
… Score Keeper: (1) Michael Nyman is attached to Therese Raquin, to be directed by Charlie Stratton. … (2) Angelo Badalamenti is on for Life of Pi (to be directed by Amelie‘s Jean-Pierre Jeunet) and David Lynch‘s upcoming Inland Empire (via imdb.com).
… Quote of the Week: “Miles Davis would be accused of something similar,” writes Bob Dylan on the subject of going electric in his autobiography, Chronicles: Volume One, “when he made the album Bitches Brew, a piece of music that didn’t follow the rules of modern jazz, which had been on the verge of breaking into the popular marketplace, until Miles’s record came along and killed its chances.” He continues: “Miles was put down by the jazz community. I couldn’t imagine Miles being too upset.”