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Monthly Archives: March 2009

Quote of the Week: White Noise

One of the six parts of the Homeland Security Suite by composer Robert S. Cohen:

    WHITE ALERT:

    Solo Percussionist: Cuica (Lion’s Roar).

    There is actually no “White Alert” in the Homeland Security Alert System. In the simplest of terms it represents the moans of the planet Earth or, perhaps, the echo of our souls after the final apocalypse. The color white represents both the blinding flash of a nuclear explosion and a blank sheet of paper on which everything has been erased.

As excerpted in the April 2009 issue of Harper’s (harpers.org). The other five parts of the suite are Green, Blue, Yellow, Orange, and Red. More information on Cohen’s work at honeyrock.net.

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Field-Studio Mix MP3s from Nimalan Yoganathan

The musical moniker of Montreal-based Nimalan Yoganathan isn’t going to do him much good at customs (it’s Shoebomber), even if the Banksy-style cover art gives the name a pop spin. But his Cantus in Memory of Lasantha Wickramatunga, named for an assassinated Sri Lankan journalist, should get him all the right sort of attention. Its four tracks deftly blend synthesized rhythms, borrowed funk, and found field recordings. The opening track employs a brief loop of what could be African pop — taking a horn part and, with repetition, stretching it into something trance-inducing.

And better yet, Yoganthan isn’t just looping for its own sake. Each track on Cantus changes as it proceeds. That first song, “Le Petit Sauvage,” for example, moves through backwards-warped samples and clubby beats before it comes to a close (MP3). Also particularly recommended is “Sangam Dub,” the arid rhythms of which could be a downtempo Timbaland production (MP3).

[audio:http://www.archive.org/download/pan036/pan036-shoebomber-3-sangam_dub.mp3|titles=”Sangam Dub”|artists=Shoebomber (Nimalan Yoganathan)] [audio:http://www.archive.org/download/pan036/pan036-shoebomber-1-le_petit_sauvage.mp3|titles=”Le Petit Sauvage”|artists=Shoebomber (Nimalan Yoganathan)]

Get the full set at notype.com.

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Inca Ore Phones It In (MP3)

Musician Inca Ore (aka Eva Saelens) phoned it in recently — that is, the Oakland, California-based musician participated in the great podcast Phoning It In (phoningitin.net, associated with KDVS 90.3 FM radio), in which acts are interviewed and play music over the phone.

[audio:http://www.phoningitin.net/files/shows/KDVS/2009/Inca%20Ore%20-%20Phoning%20It%20In%2003_15_09.mp3|titles=Live on KDVS show Phoning It In|artists=Inca Ore]

The result could turn even the most high-end production into a lo-fi affair, but as Saelens and the show’s host discuss early on in the broadcast (narrowcast? shallowcast?), it really just adds a cozy, old-school, AM-radio vibe (MP3). “It’s right in line with my fidelity,” she says, listing among her favorite effects “tape hiss” and “far-away sounds.”

For her five-song set, Saelens plays distant, droney, maudlin keyboard-oriented work with a mindfully meandering quality, haunting and evocative. She jokes, in perfect deadpan, that she’s gone gospel, but the effect is arguably more druid.

Info on Inca Ore at myspace.com/incaoreincaore.

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Odd Nosdam & Jel Found-Sound MP3 (& Video)

How is hip-hop not like sausage? Knowing what’s inside and how it’s cooked can make it all the tastier.

Case in point, the “online TV” spin-off of Xlr8r magazine recently put two ace producers to the test: Spend 40 bucks on found music, and forge some worthy beats out of the foraged material.

The producers were Odd Nosdam and Jel, whose thriftiness yielded “Afternoontune” (MP3), built from warped and damaged vinyl obtained at a Berkeley, California, thrift store.

[audio:http://media.xlr8r.com/files/downloads/mp3s/Jel%20and%20Odd%20Nosdam%20-%20Afternoontune.mp3|titles=”Afternoontune”|artists=Jel and Odd Nosdam]

Their record-hunting and subsequent studio activity was caught on video at http://www.xlr8r.com, a growing library of snack-length viewing (other recent highlights include visits with Christopher Willits and Alchemist).

Here’s a shot of Odd (left) and Jel, with their fresh purchases:

In the video, you can watch them take snippets from records by R&B team the Detroit Emeralds and drum legend Louie Bellson, just to name two, and build from those elements a funky, downtempo little groove.

More on Jel at myspace.com/jelanticon and Odd at myspace.com/nosdam.

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Ãœber-quiet Seth Cluett MP3

The word “equilibrium” brings with it a false sense of placidity. In truth, equilibrium has an underlying unease — accompanying the term is the sense of opposed forces. On the surface, it suggests balance; in truth, there’s sweat on its brow. Thus it’s entirely fitting that Seth Cluett titled his recent release on the Stasisfield netlabel A Position in Equilibrium. For what begins as bug-like roving — actually, earlier still, what begins as a deep near silence, only to slowly reveal insectoid noise — eventually becomes a mix of subtly shifting sine waves and all manner of small sounds (MP3). In truth, the silence is betrayed by fissures of tension and a constant imprecision.

[audio:http://www.stasisfield.com/mp3z_07/SF-7001-equilibrium.mp3|titles=”A Position in Equilibrium”|artists=Seth Cluett]

According to a brief accompanying liner notes, those sounds include “styrofoam blocks, slide whistle, tin toys, and motors,” and the work was originally part of a performance at the Studio Soto gallery in Boston (studiosoto.org; also performing that evening were Julien Ottavi and Mike Bullock).

While the small, ambiguous noises throughout Equilibrium are of constant interest, the real focus, at least to my ears, are the sine waves that make their way through, these singular sonic forms, so distinct that you can’t help but picture them in your mind’s oscilloscope — how they come into contact with each other, moving in and out of phase, approaching, though never achieving, the work’s title state.

More details at stasisfield.com. More on Cluett at his website, onelonelypixel.org.

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