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Sounding out technology.
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Monthly Archives: July 2006

Sound Art from OZ MP3s

Stephen Vitiello collaborated with Julie Mehretu on a sound art piece for the current Sydney Biennale, which runs through August 27. He’s posted a nearly three-minute excerpt from the installation (MP3). Photos of the exhibit on Vitiello’s website (stephenvitiello.com) show a spiral of upward-facing speaker cones, suspended in a bright white room with at least one wall covered in Mehretu’s drawings. The piece is untitled, and the sound would have been appropriate on the Fourth of July, with its scatter of firecrackers amid quotidian field recordings and light synthetic textures. More info at bos2006.com.

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Soundwalk MP3s

The annual sound art festival SoundWalk, held in Long Beach, California, has been set for October 6 and 7, 2006. Applications are due by August 5. While this year’s event is still coming together, check out the extensive downloads available from the 2004 and 2005 festivals (at soundwalk.org). Highlights include entries by John Kannenberg, “Horizons” (MP3), an eerie overlay of static and street noise; Harry Um, “Wilshire Boulevard” (MP3), a slightly more melodic version of what Kannenberg’s up to; and James Adams, “Snow for the Trees” (MP3), a stream of gurgles that suggests a low-res nature sim. Other participants last year included j.frede and Steve Roden.

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Scanner MP3s

Scanner (aka Robin Rimbaud) has newly posted two mixes he created for the Tate Modern’s tribute to John Cage‘s Musicircus, which ran at the end of this past May. A 10-minute piece called “Tate Modern Hall” (MP3) is a light whorl of slowly spiraling sounds. And the three-minute “Tate Modern Voices” (MP3) is a collage of spoken snippets. More info at tate.org.uk and scannerdot.com.

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Alvin Lucier MP3s

The Tate Modern’s online archive is a wealth of sound-related material. The site’s homepage recently linked to a series of performances of music by Alvin Lucier from September 2005, including four pieces and a load of associated materials, which together are titled Alvin Lucier: Open Sound Systems.

“In Memoriam Jon Higgins for solo clarinet” (1984) tracks over the course of its 20 minutes an ever-rising pitch performed by clarinetist Andy Harper, who plays against an “electronically generated pure wave” (MP3). “Silver Street Car: For the Orchestra: solo triangle & microphone” (1988), its title lifted from a Surrealist text by Luis Bunuel, is a piece of microscopic intensity, performed entirely on a single triangle, a 15-minute expanse of lightly tapped beats played by Ross Parfitt (MP3). “Opera with Objects” (1996) is all clicks and clutter, performed by the composer (MP3). Along the lines of the “Higgins” pieced, “Wave Songs for solo soprano” (1997) has a singer (Juliet Fraser) pitched against a pair of pure wave oscillators, allowing for light beading (MP3).

Also available for download are the score for the “Higgins” and the score and Lucier’s notes for “Wave Songs,” plus rehearsal recordings for all but “Opera with Objects,” in which you can hear Lucier giving advice to the performers. More info at tate.org.uk.

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Tangents (minimalism, youtube, Superman)

Quick Links, News and Good Reads: (1) Steve Reich‘s “Music for 18 Musicians” has been posted for free download by the BBC as part of (yeah, you guessed it) a remix contest. The winning track, to be selected by Reich, will appear on a Nonesuch release, along with remixes by Four Tet and Alex Smoke. Unfortunately, as with the 1999 Reich Remixed album, the individual parallel tracks of the “18 Musicians” recording have not been made available to the remixers; only the final mix has, as a single file (MP3). More info at bbc.co.uk (via Robert Gable‘s aworks blog). … (2) Roundup of a new generation of young British artists, many with an interest in sound, including Jem Finer, Matthew Bourne, Vicki Bennett, Dreams of Tall Buildings, Claudia Molitor, Alex Bradley and Charles Poulet (guardian.co.uk). … (3) Trimpin‘s large-scale sound art tribute to Pythagoras is at Suyama Space in Seattle, Washington, through July 28 (suyamapetersondeguchi.com). … (4) Review of Lucas Fowler‘s art film about composer Cornelius Cardew (nytimes.com). … Synaesthesia is the theme in an exhibit of Wassily Kandinksy paintings at the Tate Modern: (5) telegraph.co.uk, (6) guardian.co.uk. … (7) The Sound Travels series of events is running in Toronto through October 1 (naisa.ca/soundtravels), and it will include “guerilla sound art” events that “that draw attention to the contemporary urban soundscape.” … (8) Interview with Hefty Records founder John Hughes III (chicagoist.com): “We kind of live by file transferring over chat programs or uploading a file to an FTP and kind of swapping it back and forth until it’s finished.” … (9) Interview with Amanda Stewart as part of the annual Liquid Architecture festival in Australia (smh.co.au): “When you are cutting up voices all day,” she says of her time as a radio producer with ABC, “you hear different things.” More info at (10) liquidarchitecture.org.au and (11) couriermail.news.com.au. … (12) Interview with Janet Cardiff on her audio walk at the Hirshhorn in Washington, DC (hirshhorn.si.edu): “Sound has an innate ability to transport you out of your body, so if you give an audience various soundscapes, you can transport them through their imagination into many different places.” … (13) Cardiff and George Bures Miller‘s installation The Paradise Institute is part of And Therefore I Am at Skidmore’s Tang (tang.skidmore.edu). … (14) Squarepusher‘s next album, Hello Everything, is due out on October 16; a track off it, “The Modern Bass Guitar,” is currently streaming from the home page of Warp Records, warprecords.com. … (15) Alex Ross on Morton Feldman at newyorker.com, plus a follow-up at Ross’ blog, (16) therestisnoise.com. … (17) Radiohead‘s Thom Yorke talks about his new, electronic-infused solo album (boston.com). … R.I.P., Gyorgy Ligeti: (18) nytimes.com, (19) bbc.com, (20) guardian.co.uk, (21) washingtonpost.com.

… YouTube Treats: There’s an absurd wealth of video available at youtube.com. These are just a handful of suggested viewings, most under three minutes. (1) A minute and a half surreptitiously taped at Janet Cardiff‘s 40-Part Motet exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan (youtube.com). … (2) Brian Eno pays tribute to Can (youtube.com) and (3) talks about the making of Music for Airports (youtube.com). … (4) Robert Fripp performs a soundscape live in Japan in 2003 (youtube.com). … (5) Fan of Cliff Martinez for his ambient scores to Solaris and sex, lies and videotape? Check out this footage of when he was the drummer for the punk-funk band Red Hot Chili Peppers (youtube.com). … (6) Video for David Holmes‘ “Don’t Die Just Yet” off Let’s Get Killed (youtube.com). … Lots of live DJ Krush: (7) dark with skateboard clips (youtube.com), (8) at the Sonar festival (youtube.com) and (9) rockin’ some “Tubular Bells” in Tokyo (youtube.com). … (10) And via Google’s similar video service, footage (video.google.com) of that drum game for the Nintendo Wii that I mentioned in my E3 overview (“Synaesthesia at E3”; footage link via digitalmusicmag.blogspot.com). … Oh, and there are also at least four versions of John Cage‘s “silent” piece, 4’33”, on (11) youtube.com and (12) three (one of them “abridged”) at video.google.com.

… Quote of the Week: “Gentle theme begins.” That’s the text description you’ll see of a scene’s background music toward the end of the new movie Superman Returns if you use the Rear-Window Captioning system (or equivalent). I noticed this because the fellow in front of me at a screening this weekend was using the system, which involves a wide mirror that reflects text that’s displayed at the rear of the theater. When music is playing and there’s no voice over, the screen would occasionally display a pair of quarter notes.

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