Tangents (air-conditioners, cactus, polygamy)

Quote of the Week: The eminent comics artist Ben Katchor writes and draws a single-page comic for the last page of each issue of the magazine Metropolis. The July/August 2007 entry, “Peabald’s Field Guide to the Air-Conditioners of North America,” imagines a couple whose hunt is disturbed by birds: “Damn those cerulean warblers! I can’t hear the compressor kick in!” (Update: The piece is archived on the magazine’s website, metropolismag.com. Thanks to Chris Boone of hypsometry.com for having located Katchor’s “Peabald” strip online.)

News, Quick Links, Good Reads: Philip Glass did a solo piano riff on Paul Simon‘s “Sounds of Silence” during a June 27, 2007, broadcast of the event honoring Simon, who was being awarded the first ever Gershwin prize from the Library of Congress. Unfortunately, there was an unrelated voice-over during much of it. Now that Glass has arranged both Brian Eno (the Low symphony) and Simon, perhaps he can take a hand to their collaboration, the album Surprise. More info at pbs.org.

… The Tate Museum in London has been commissioning tributes by contemporary musicians for individual works in its holdings (Chemical Brothers on Jacob Epstein‘s “Torso in Metal from ‘The Rock Drill'”; Graham Coxon on Franz Kline‘s “Meryon”). Now it’s holding a competition for entries. The due date is August 31, 2007 (tate.org.uk/modern). … In related news, the Tate St. Ives current exhibit based on the life of Beach Boys lead songwriter Brian Wilson, If Everybody Had an Ocean, is up through September 23 — curated by Alex Farquharson and organized in association with CAPC Musée d’Art Contemporain, Bordeaux. Included are works by John Cage, Joe Goode, Kaz Oshiro, Raymond Pettibon, Ed Ruscha and others (tate.org.uk/stives).

… David Byrne‘s score may be the best thing about the the HBO series Big Love. His participation is as central as is that of any actor in the polygamy melodrama, drawing on his kitsch instincts (think True Stories) but also his ear for chamber music (think his Knee Plays). Those Americana sounds match the setting and the small-ensemble orchestrations mirror the family-drama plotting. And on at least one occasion, his plaintive voice has been heard in the mix.

Survival Research Labs needs about two and a quarter million to relocate its headquarters (karenmarcelo.org/srlblog).

… Clippings from the New York Times: A profile of Matmos in electro-acoustic collaboration with So Percussion and bio-tech collaboration with a cactus (nytimes.com) and a subsequent concert review by Bernard Holland that was anything but effusive (nytimes.com). The next day, Holland considered how written (manuscript) versus recorded (piano roll) evidence of Debussy‘s music differ (nytimes.com). … The A Point in Space Is a Place for an Argument exhibit at David Zwirner through August 10 includes “Gordon Matta-Clark’s inchoate idea of a musical score” (nytimes.com). … Composer Joseph Bertolozzi is working on a composition that uses the Franklin D. Roosevelt Mid-Hudson Bridge as the instrument (article: nytimes.com; composer homepage: josephbertolozzi.com; sound sample newmusicjukebox.com). … R. Luke Dubois, of Freight Elevator Quartet, filmed performance artist Lián Amaris Sifuentes‘s 72-hour date-prep piece (nytimes.com; lukedubois.com; lianamaris.com). … The location of video artist Jeremy Blake has been unknown since July 17, when his companion, Theresa Duncan, was found to have committed suicide in her Manhattan apartment (nytimes.com). … Today, the “Consumed” column (nytimes.com) by Rob Walker (murketing.com, nonotes.wordpress.com) is about the the duo FM3‘s mass-market sound-art fetish object, the Buddha Machine (“Although the American audience for meditative, low-action, experimental music performances is small, its appreciation for little plastic objects is robust”). And as the Times might put it, the piece mentions this website. (Thanks, Rob!)

… Notes recently culled from engadget.com: Jowan Sebastian has created a Game Boy drum machine that controls solenoids (engadget.com, file-error.net/kBANG). … Super Mario subwoofer (engadget.com) and Super Mario musical Tesla coil (engadget.com). … Yamaha’s Bodibeat matches music to your pulse (engadget.com); DJ biofeedback beckons. … David Hockney blames the rise of digital music players, saying that the iPod in particular has caused a “decline in visual awareness” and, more specifically, “fallow period of painting.” Wonder what he thinks of sound art (engadget.com). … A watch with BPM counter (engadget.com). … Talking paper (engadget.com). … Thermoacoustics (engadget.com). … Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute student Zane Van Dusen has a new take on head-banging — as a musical interface (engadget.com). … Jess Hoefs‘ Beat Blocks uses wooden cubes as a MIDI interface (engadget.com). … Yann Seznec has created a loop machine for the Nintendo Wii (engadget.com). … Finger Beats (engadget.com).

… And via downloadsquad.com: Watch out, Palm OS; now we’re making music with Windows Mobile (downloadsquad.com). … Findsounds.com is a search engine for sounds (downloadsquad.com). … Wildsanctuary.com matches soundscapes to Google Maps and Google Earth (downloadsquad.com). … And the perfect gift for the entrepreneur who doesn’t have everything: a CD of background noise that makes it sound like your home office is bigger and busier than it is (downloadsquad.com).

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