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Blue Gene Tyranny MP3s

The nature of the Internet Archive, at archive.org, is that it’s so big — or, as Monty Python might have had it, so very very big — that one only really knows if one’s seeing, or hearing, something oneself for the first time, and even then memory is known to fail. As for an individual file’s place in the broader information timeline, who knows? Invariably, given the Archive’s focus on public-domain materials, much of what’s up there was in existence when the closest approximation of the Internet was just a gleam in the eyes of a few science-fiction novelists, U.S. military officials and beatnik fellow travelers. Still other items are uploaded sometimes years, or decades, after their initial composition or recording.

Latest in the Other Minds archive appears to be an archived interview with Robert Sheff, aka Blue Gene Tyranny, with Other Minds founder Charles Amirkhanian from 30 years ago, recorded on July 14, 1976 for KPFA radio. (The RSS feed of the Other Minds archive lists it as having been uploaded on January 13 of this year.) The two discuss Sheff’s early experimenting with tape, playing the Mellotron, recording film music based entirely on descriptions of a given scene, and gigging with the Mothers of Invention, and they broadcast several examples of his work, including a lengthy sound collage of rural conversations and field recordings from the late 1960s, “Country Boy, Country Dog.”

The discussion is available in two half-hour parts (MP3s 1 and 2). Amirkhanian notes at the end of their conversation how little, if any, of the music discussed was available at that time for commercial purpose, and he talks about how he sees the broadcasts on KPFA as a means to redress that. Today, archive.org has picked up that baton.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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