New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • Disquiet.com F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Monthly Archives: February 2008

Homemade Japanese Instrument MP3

There aren’t just second and third lives on the Internet, but countless ones, because links are rediscovered anew by successions of web-surfers — and one new link yields a new search result which yields new readership. The “self-made instruments” page at the website of Adachi Tomomi hasn’t been updated since June 2005, but a weekend post at livepa.blogspot.com was picked up by the-palm-sound.blogspot.com, which is recommended reading for its constant feed of information on mobile music-making. One highlight on Adachi’s website is a set of images and sound related to a device he created and called the Tomoring: “It has many springs, metal wire, strings and so on. It is to hit, scrub by fingers, small sticks, brushes and electric fun. The sound is amplified by 4 piezo pickups attached on the acrylic plastic body” (MP3). The resulting music sounds like a kalimba plucked by an extroverted octopus. More at adachitomomi.com.

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End of a Netlabel

Brad Mitchell reflects on the decision to close his long-running netlabel, Kikapu.

A funny thing happened on the way to downloading the most recent release from the netlabel known as Kikapu. Run by musician Brad Mitchell (aka Pocka), Kikapu has been posting for free download original electronic music since 2001. The latest release popped up late last month as a headline in my RSS reader, with links to archive.org, the Internet Archive, where Mitchell and many other netlabel administrators house their media files.

But when I visited to the Kikapu website, kikapu.com, for additional information there was no mention of the release, a nine-tack set titled VXVII by Mikronesia. Given the punctuality and professionalism that have been Kikapu’s standard for nearly eight years, the lack of information at kikapu.com seemed odd.

The next day, a visit to the website explained everything: Mitchell was closing down the label, after 109 of its virtual albums and EPs, with a suddenness that defines un-ceremonial — little more than an “R.I.P.” tagline (“2001 to 2008”) and some poetry by Walt Whitman:

The Past! the dark, unfathom’d retrospect! The teeming gulf! the sleepers and the shadows! The past! the infinite greatness of the past! For what is the present, after all, but a growth out of the past?

While neither the first netlabel nor the most prolific, Kikapu has been, since its debut, one of the most substantive and consistent. It was a stable entity in the vast, growing and often chaotic field of freely, legally downloadable music. Kikapu didn’t contain Whitman’s multitudes so much as it hinted at them.

I’d first interviewed Mitchell almost exactly four years ago (disquiet.com). He explained then that he’d discovered netlabels, such as Monotonik (mono211.com), while looking for music to play on his college radio show. In time, he set up his own, releasing work by Raemus, Karl Zeiss, Veem and others, including Leonard J. Paul’s soundtrack to the documentary film The Corporation — an appropriate partnership, given the inherently anti-corporate nature inherent in any netlabel venture. Many of those releases have been reviewed as part of this site’s ongoing Disquiet Downstream section.

With Kikapu now shut down, I corresponded with Mitchell via email, and he agreed to answer some questions about the end of his much-loved netlabel.

Marc Weidenbaum: How did you come to the realization that you wanted to close down the Kikapu netlabel?

Brad Mitchell: The thought had actually crossed my mind a time or two over the years, but the final decision came about six months ago. The past few years, the amount of time and energy I’ve been able to put into the label has decreased significantly. When I started it I was still at university and had a lot of free time, and I really enjoyed it. But now that I work full time I don’t have nearly as much free time to devote to it, and this caused me to lose interest in it, to be honest.

I feel that the artists involved are giving 100 percent of themselves to their releases, and when I’m not able to match their dedication I feel that I’m cheating them of something. Running a label requires a lot of work, way more than I ever expected. Once I started spending less time on the label, promotion slowed, and I think some of the releases didn’t garner nearly as much attention as they deserved. And I mainly blame myself for this. Hence, I decided to stop doing any more new releases, so hopefully the artists can find homes at new labels that are able to put in all of the necessary work to get their music heard. Read more »

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Steve Roden’s Chance-Vinyl MP3

There’s the chance employed by musicians schooled in improvisation, and then there’s the chance that’s occasionally foisted upon ’em — by the elements, by circumstance, by the Post Office. Steve Roden‘s ongoing “airform archives” blog (inbetweennoise.blogspot.com) recently included a snippet of an LP damaged in transit. While the pictures over at his website might seem to tell more than enough of the story (one of them is shown here, to the left), the resulting sound has a groove all its own (MP3).

Leave it to Roden to not only find the music in the instance, but to locate a parallel between the broken vinyl and the work of Matisse. And, of course, that champion of readymades, broken or not: Duchamp.

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Quote of the Week: G&G’s Synaesthesia

The following text, under the heading “We met in London last year,” appears on the wall above the exit from the new Gilbert & George retrospective at the de Young Museum in San Francisco:

We began to dream of a world of beauty and happiness of great riches and pleasures new of joy and laughter of children and sweets of the music of colour and the sweetness of shape, a world of feeling and meaning a newer better world, a world of delicious disasters of heartrending sorrow, of loathing and dread, a world complete, all the world an art gallery.

It’s from a pamphlet that accompanied one of their earliest collaborative works, a performance piece titled “The Singing Sculpture” (1968-1970), a 1997 video version of which is playing in the museum as part of the exhibit. The pamphlet and other artifacts are on display.

Gilbert & George opens today and runs through May 18, 2008. More info at famsf.org/deyoung.

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Nintendo Wii Loop Machine MP3s

Yesterday’s Disquiet Downstream entry was a 25-year-old discussion about computer-powered interactive art systems (disquiet.com). Today’s is a pair of MP3s recorded thanks to an ingenious piece of software that turns the Nintendo Wii video game console into a musical instrument. After a quarter century, art and science have become entertainment.

The Wii Loop machine needs to be seen to be believed, and video is available at the website of its inventor, Yann Seznec (theamazingrolo.net). But hearing isn’t so bad either. Seznec posts occasional examples by Wii Loop Machine users. Recently among them are Nick Janaway‘s track of broken beats, with echoes of hip-hop and house music (MP3), and Dimako‘s exploration of a fluttery realm of minimal techno (MP3).

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