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Monthly Archives: August 2009

Delhi & the Cultural Intonation of Horns (MP3)

Field recordist Mike Hallenbeck knows that the sounds documented by phonographers — by those who tape and collect the noises of the natural and the built worlds — are both unique and interchangeable. He knows that a car horn in one country is just that country’s version of what is heard, however slightly differently, in numerous, in countless, other countries. And he also knows that despite that interchangeability, in fact because of it, each car horn is all the more special. As he jokes in the liner notes to his recent album, Just Before Diwali – Field Recordings from North India, “The art of field recording needs another recording of trucks in the street like I need a hole in my head, but I found this particular sonic situation valuable.”

This situation in question is the Karol Baugh district of Delhi, and the recording was made on a trip during which Hallenbeck taped the dozen tracks that comprise Just Before Diwali, which was captured all around North India. The traffic that resounds here (MP3) is just as rambunctious as one might imagine — a mix of rough bells, heavy tires, mumbling motors, and barking exhaust systems. And to the ears of someone who has never been to India, its most distinguishing factor is the melody (really less the melody than the key) hinted at in the intonations of bleeping horns.

|titles=”Karol Baugh Streetscape Delhi”|artists=Mike Hallenbeck]

Get the full set at the releasing netlabel, wanderingear.com. More on Hallenbeck at juniorbirdman.com.

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Images of the Week: Tape Art

Perhaps the term “mixtape” hasn’t fully outlived its suffix. There’s been a small flurry of cassette-only releases in recent months, what with the Odd Nosdam split tape on Sanity Muffin (which makes its home page on myspace — at myspace.com/sanitymuffin — another technology prematurely reported dead), and the launch of the cassette-only label Tapeworm, with initial release by Philip Jeck, Stephen O’Malley, and Simon Fisher Turner, among others (tapeworm.org.uk).

There have also been design fetish objects, like lamps (see transparenthouse.com/design) and, more recently, jewelry (details on Stephanie Simek’s work at 18kt.wordpress.com).

And then there is the tape-ography — that is, the typography in tape form — of Ankara, Turkey-based artist Ersinhan Ersin. It’s an inspiring collection that makes the most of the fragile mechanisms at the core of tapes, the stark differences between the hard plastic gears and the slender ribbons:

Via behance.net (via psfk.com).

More on the responsible artist at behance.net/ersinhanersin.

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Quote of the Week: Electric Lullaby

A Twitter post by Aaron Ximm, aka Quiet American:

    listened to my 18-month-old daughter hone her pitch and tempo to sing along perfectly with a bleating car alarm. Childhood in the city…!

There’s scientific evidence that some birds follow highways, the way they once followed waterways (cell.com). So, it’s no surprise in a world increasingly permeated by electronic sound, that baby’s first word might, in fact, be “Beep.”

Originally at twitter.com/quiet.

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Past Week at Twitter.com/Disquiet

  • The rumbling of the Outside Lands concerts — from inside the house, it's all tribal pounding. No melodies, no riffs, no hits. #
  • Compiling tracks for a friend's wedding party: instrumental hip-hop, various strains of country. Pondering a third, broadly defined genre. #
  • Commute audio synchronism: woman teaching son English & Japanese with talking dictionary; guy next to me practices bartender flash cards. #
  • A/B: Autechre's "Cfern" — original: http://fizy.com/s/139p10 & cover excerpt by Alarm Will Sound from a/rhythmia album: http://is.gd/2CpUn #
  • RIP, Ellie Greenwich (b. 1940), Phil Spector Wall of Sound colleague ("Leader of the Pack," "River Deep, Mountain High"): http://is.gd/2AqcJ #
  • Earth Wind & Firefox, Swell IMAPs, RSS Kelly, PowerPoint Station #internetbands #
  • USB40, FTP-FUNK, Atom and the Ants, POP Will Eat Itself #internetbands #
  • Best audio-visual chance synchronism of the day: taxi driver doing exercise squats in Tenderloin in time with Nas instrumental on my iPod. #
  • 2nd best audio-visual chance synchronism of the day: bus makes stop outside my home just as nextmuni.com announces its arrival in browser. #
  • Description of a surprise gunshot from Stark/Westlake's 12th Parker novel: "a flat, echoless clap in the middle of the sunshine." #
  • Evening sounds: hard drives, dish washer, the ping of an arriving email, the fizz of a bum fluorescent bulb. #
  • Just dialed the 212 phone number shown in Roy Lichtenstein's 1962 painting Desk Calendar, on view @mocalosangeles. It's been disconnected. #
  • The 16-screen Christian Marclay audio-video installation at @mocalosangeles is a must-see/-hear. All sounds and images of everyday objects. #
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Heavily Modified Klezmer MP3

You’d never know the source material of “Tanger at Night” is “resampled klezmer,” as the song’s composer, NQ, describes it. Unless, of course, you peer deep into the track’s dark, horror-cue intensity and recall that klezmer is the party music of a historically displaced people.

NQ is Cologne-based Nils Quak, whose “Tanger” is the latest “Single of the Week” over at luvsound.org/singles (MP3). The song opens with eerily shimmering chimes, pulsing like lights reflected on rough water, and slowly raises and lowers its intensity for upwards of four minutes, before fading out into an extended windswept denouement of chance noises.

[audio:http://ia301509.us.archive.org/3/items/luvs017/tanger_at_night.mp3|titles=”Tanger at Night”|artists=Nils Quak]

Writes Quak of the piece’s construction:

    “It’s a two bar klezmer loop i found on a flexi disc. I made a couple of versions of it and automated their levels with a lorenz attractor driven lfo. the outcoming piece was played back into my appartment and recorded with a cheap iphone recording software over and over again, drowning the entire piece in ambient noise, room resonances and the noise and errors of shitty software converters and microphones.”

More on NQ at nhlsqaik.com.

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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