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

Monthly Archives: July 2009

Painter’s Portrait in Ambient Jazz (MP3)

The album For the Painters… by Collin Thomas is comprised of portraits in sound. The one named for Jean-Michel Basquiat is sqwonky and noisy, and gives to sudden jarring interjections. The Mark Rothko is built from long singular swaths with a discordant undercurrent. The Francis Bacon is eerie yet grounded in the familiar (here a jazzy drum set). Perhaps the most literal of the batch, the Henri Rousseau piece contains tribal drums and buzzing insects. To promote the album, Thomas has made available for free download two of the tracks, one of which is an especially pristine example of what he calls “ambient free-jazz” (MP3). Dedicated to Alexander Ross (with whom I am not familiar — I’m assuming he doesn’t mean Alex Ross, the grand comic-book illustrator), it is a purposefully thin sliver of jazz elements — little bits of instrumental play — that are heard through an ever-shifting cycle of light electronic mediation, small changes and processes that alter the sound ever so slightly; thus, little rewinds or crannies of rupture interrupt the rhythmic flow and contribute a gentle chaos to the melodic development.

[audio:http://www.collinthomas.net/for_the_painters…_files/4%20For%20Alexander%20Ross.mp3|titles=”For Alexander Ross”|artists=Collin Thomas]

More on Thomas and For the Painters… at collinthomas.net.

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Found Suite for 5 Fridges (MP3s)

There are many types of refrigerators. There are the industrial churning ones, which sound like they grind your food when you shut the door. There are the ones that sound like your fridge is infested with a swarm of cicada — that magically disappears upon opening. And there are the fridges that, in their premium quietude, suggest that your perishables receive better care than do you.

Those and other fridges are among the subjects of field recordings of the Domestic Appliance Audio Research Society. The Society, which consists of sound artists, musicians, and fellow aural-tradition travelers, performed this past weekend at Wilton’s Music Hall in London, and there are almost two dozen examples in their audio collection, as well as concert photos, online to commemorate the event.

The non-fridge sources include ventilation flaps, radiator piping, coffee filters, kitchen lights, windows, toasters, and so on. There are among the currently presented material no fewer than five refrigerators (including its close confederate, the freezer). They were collected by DAARS members Helen Gough (MP3), Benedict Drew (MP3), Simon Swartman (M3), and Lee Patterson, who posted two (MP3, MP3). This streaming segment below collects them as one long industrial drone:

[audio:http://www.benedictdrew.com/old%20fridge%20birmingham.mp3,http://www.benedictdrew.com/freezer%20whitstable.mp3,http://www.benedictdrew.com/Fridge.mp3,http://www.benedictdrew.com/paul_kaajals_fridge_brighton.mp3,http://www.benedictdrew.com/graham_megs_fridge_hindringham_norfolk.mp3|titles=”Fridge Birmingham”,”Freezer Whitstable”,”Fridge”,”Graham Meg’s Fridge Hindringham Norfolk”,”Paul Kaajal’s Fridge Brighton”|artists=Gough,Benedict Drew,Simon Swatman,Lee Patterson,Lee Patterson]

More at the DAARS page, benedictdrew.com/DAARS. Also among the group’s members contributors are Catriona Clayson, Seth Cluett, Tristram Drew, Karen Gwyer, and Al Jones.

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Buddha Machine—Infused Soundscape MP3

Let’s start the week with another in the ever-growing catalog of Buddha Machine”“infused ambient projects. This one, the full-length album Complex Silence 2, by Gordon MacMillan (under the name Tange), provides two half-hour transits into meditative space. The album consists of a complementary pairing of ancient and modern. Track one (MP3) takes as its source material prayer bowls, and track two (MP3) the of-the-moment descendant of sonic ritual tools, the Buddha Machine (a series of short loops housed in a cheap plastic box).

Both tracks unfold as rapture-on-slo-mo: thin layers of casually ecstatic sound that don’t seem to get any louder, even as you turn up the volume. The key distinguishing characteristic is that the prayer-bowl piece includes the percussive sound of a bell being struck, while the Buddha Machine piece is endlessly soft. Kudos to MacMillan for keeping both tracjs free of space-music cliche, and for making a Buddha track in which the now familiar loops manage to get lost.

[audio:http://www.archive.org/download/tmth05A/tmth05A-tange-01-ancient_bridge_part_1.mp3|titles=”Ancient Bridge Part 1″|artists=Tange (Gordon MacMillan)] [audio:http://www.archive.org/download/tmth05A/tmth05A-tange-02-ancient_bridge_part_2.mp3|titles=”Ancient Bridge Part 2″|artists=Tange (Gordon MacMillan)]

The album (downloadable at archive.org) was produced by Phillip Wilkerson. More on Tange/MacMillan at myspace.com/complexsilence.

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London May, Part 1: The Foundry

Back in May, I spent a week in London, Birmingham, and thereabouts. I’ve yet to post any reports from the trip, but for starters, here are some shots from the Foundry, a pub and arts center in London co-founded by Bill Drummond, of KLF.

Sound-oriented small pieces lined one stairwell:

The basement corridor, a detail of the layered graffiti:

The array of TV screens below is an installation by artist Nao Ujiie:

The crowd on a Friday evening:

More on the Foundry at foundry.tv. Thanks to Thorsten Sideboard, of highpointlowlife.com, for the pint.

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Images of the Week: Instruments at the Exhibition

Instruments currently on view at the gallery Solway Jones in Los Angeles, as part of an exhibit simply titled Instruments. This is Robert Wilhite‘s “Gongs from Ramona” (1977):

And this is William Leavitt‘s “Analog Synth” (1989):

Also on exhibit are pieces by Koh Byoung-ok, Paul DeMarinis, Reed Ghazala, Nam June Paik, Clare Rojas, Dani Tull, and William T. Wiley. On display through August 15. (Found via twitter.com/dtauvdiodr.)

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