My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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

Monthly Archives: October 2008

Panel Discussions at APE in San Francisco, November 1

This coming Saturday, November 1, I’ll be talking at the annual Alternative Press Expo (aka APE) in San Francisco with comics artists Matt Madden and Jessica Abel (pictured at left, in their dual self-portrait) on panels dedicated to their work.

The Madden panel is from 12:30 to 1:15 and the Abel one is from 2:15 to 3:00. Both artists contributed to the decade-long series of comics inspired by music that I edited in Pulse! magazine. (I did a similar one-on-one panel at Comic-Con in San Diego this past summer with Adrian Tomine, another Pulse! contributor.) Also appearing, by coincidence, at APE this year are several other cartoonists whose comics I edited in Pulse!, including Megan Kelso and Chris Ware. More info on APE 2008, to be held at the Concourse (620 7th Street, San Francisco), at comic-con.org/ape.

Among the earliest entries on Disquiet.com is an essay (“Home Decorating in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction”) that I wrote for Jeff LeVine’s magazine Destroy All Comics about a Madden comic, titled “House Music,” that appeared in Pulse! in 1995. The essay includes the full image of the comic, as well as the full image of an early draft of the comic. At right is the first panel of the six-panel comic, which has heavy echoes of John Cage’s theories on the silence-ness of silence, and of Erik Satie’s interest in “Musique d’ameublement,” or of sounds emitted by common, everyday household objects.

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Images of the Week: Ikeda’s Mathic Region

Two promotional shots from sound artist Ryoji Ikeda‘s exhibit V ≠ L, created with mathematician Benedict Gross at Le Laboratoire in Paris.

 

It runs from October 11, 2008, through January 12, 2009.  More information at lelaboratoire.org.

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Quote of the Week: Lessig’s Sousaphone

This is band leader and composer John Phillip Sousa criticizing recorded music at the start of the last millennium:

“When I was a boy … in front of every house in the summer evenings you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or the old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal chord left.'”
That is Sousa as quoted by Lawrence Lessig in his new book Remix: Making Art and Commerce Thrive in the Hybrid Economy, as quoted in M.J. Stephey‘s review of the book in Time (time.com).

Stephey goes on to quote Lessig in regard to the famous Sousa statement, wherein Lessig separates its philosophical concern from its technophobic context: “Sousa was not offering a prediction about the evolution of the human voice box. He was describing how a technology … would change our relationship to culture. These ‘machines,’ Sousa feared, would lead us away from … ‘amateur’ culture. We would become just consumers of culture, not also producers.”

I haven’t read Remix yet, so I don’t know the extent to which Lessig quotes Sousa, but for what it’s worth, Sousa did, in fact, predict the evolution of the human voice box; most citations of Sousa’s comment include the following sentence: “The vocal chord will be eliminated by a process of evolution as was the tail of man when he came down from the ape.” What Lessig does, though, is recognize Sousa’s hyperbole as metaphor, and in the process remixes the material himself.

More on Lessig’s book (including, soon enough, a freely downloable copy) at remix.lessig.org.

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Pseudónimo’s Sour-Syrupy Pop MP3s

The little snippet of clicky static that opens “A Rosy Wisp of Cloud” (MP3), the middle track on the EP Terra Firme by Pseudónimo, may or may not be an actual needle hitting actual vinyl. There’s a bounce to it that suggests as much — it has that familiar feel of a sharp object finding its groove — but the collection overall is such a feat of succulent artificiality, one finds it preferable to imagine that the little buzzy clack at the start is no more a real, physical needle than the percussion that comes later on was played with actual drums — especially after the sad-robot vocoder vocal kicks in.

This is a collection of sour-syrupy melodies played a note at a time above cereal-box-trinket beats. The loungey melody that plinks through “Estória dos Dias Curtos” (MP3) could be the score to a dating-sim video game — certainly a more likely situation than it being played at a meatspace club where human beings interact — and that’s very much to its credit. Get the full set at the releasing netlabel, broque.de.

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Japanese Noise-Packed MP3s

The elegantly named record label Cock Rock Disco, home to such noisy mixmasters as Duran Duran Duran, DJ Donna Summer, and Disquiet.com favorite Drumcorps (aka Aaron Spectre), is both a commercial label and a netlabel. Its 11th and most recent free release is an intense bit of 8bit-flavored, pop-toned, mashed-up, data-packed, whimsical aggression from Tokyo-based act CDR. The album, CDR on CRD, contains 14 tracks that sound like they were sped up to aid in compression — a mix of amped up, jocular techno with found elements such as metal guitar riffs, pop melodies, and recorded dialog, not to mention a raucous sense of humor.

For example, there’s pixie-voiced “MIKUMIKU (ran ran ru mix),” in which a digital angel squeaks her lines above rampaging automated percussion, and “DANCE fuckin RAJA fuckin DANCE,” in which Bollywood-style touches make themselves heard amid the flurry of rhythmic data. CDR isn’t incapable of reflection, though he’ll still muck it up; on a track titled “shit ambient,” after a minute of soothing if canned vocal’n’synth calm he drops in pummeling, off-kilter beats that’ll have your earbuds standing on end.

The full release is available as a single archived file (ZIP), including a little movie and cover art, with additional info available at the label’s website (cockrockdisco.com). More on CDR at myspace.com/cdr and asahi-net.or.jp/~zr3a-tnmt.

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