Unboxing Gristleism

Below is brief, quickly cobbled together, somewhat lo-rez slideshow of the new Gristleism device, a collaboration between industrial-rock legends Throbbing Gristle and Christiaan Virant, who as half of FM3 was responsible for the development of the Buddha Machine.

Like the Buddha Machine, Gristleism is a small, self-contained sound-looping device. The Gristleism audio quality is about twice that of the Buddha Machine’s, noticeable especially in how at louder volumes it doesn’t peak out, and how the built-in speaker lacks a certain Soviet-era rattling effect when the deeper tones kick in. Like the second generation Buddha Machines, Gristleism includes a pitch control, allowing the speeding up and slowing down of each track. The Buddha Machines, both version one and two, each contain nine loops, and Gristleism contains 13, each of which appears to be a sliver of a pre-existing Throbbing Gristle song, such as “Hamburger Lady,” off 20 Jazz Funk Greats. Unlike the Buddha Machines, Gristleism doesn’t have an audio-out jack.

There are several variations in the initial release, including red and chrome versions, and collector’s editions. The black one came with a reflective metallic silver business card that reads “The Meme Is the Message.”

The full set is viewable at flickr.com/photos/disquietpxl. The individual images are shown one at a time after the jump: Continue reading “Unboxing Gristleism”

SoundCloud: Justin Hardison/My Fun’s Seaworthy Drone (MP3)

This week on Disquiet.com, all five daily Downstream entries are going to be culled from the great resource soundcloud.com, an increasingly prominent online hub where musicians share their work. I’m at soundcloud.com/disquiet.

Justin Hardison (aka My Fun), who has a special fondness for gentle electronic textures, is a veteran of various online sound formats, having run a netlabel and recorded for several. Among his recent ports to his soundcloud.com/the-land-of page, named for his The Land Of label, is “The Sea, the Sea,” which may or may not have been written under the influence of the Iris Murdoch novel of that name. At just over nine minutes, it’s a water-logged sine wave of a track, the sonic equivalent of grainy footage, swaying to and fro, the static-like sound of gurgling fluids matching, intermingling, and eventually overtaking the lush lull of Hardison’s audio synthesis.

More details on the track at soundcloud.com/the-land-of. The file can be downloaded using the little down arrow in the above SoundCloud interface. More on Hardison at thelandofmyfun.org.

Past Week at Twitter.com/Disquiet

  • Why is the Dyson Ball vacuum cleaner not called the Dyson Sphere: Missed opportunity? Copyright issue? In-joke? #
  • Watched 3 Days of the Condor last night for the first time. Seriously reconsidering my lack of attention to Dave Gruisin. #
  • Listening from living room to early-morning traffic; wondering what would be the loudest sound in the house if I got a quieter fridge. #
  • Yow, another fight on my MUNI bus route — a drunk passenger beating up on the driver before running off. #
  • Happiness is a People Under the Stairs instrumental slowed in the Sonorasaurus app with echo decay and delay on at the highest level. #
  • Glenn Branca, former noise hero; now, based on this NYT piece, oddly uninformed curmudgeon: http://bit.ly/6d6oE7 via @jdkun & @jesshopp #
  • Morning sounds: internal HVAC, passing airplanes, and nearby motorcycles — together in perfect harmony. #
  • Just drove 25 straight blocks on Geary Blvd (in San Francisco) with green lights the whole way, a first. Bonus: not a single honk. #
  • Very much appreciating the recent addition of favicons to Google Reader. #
  • RIP, Don Voegeli (b. 1920), composer of one of the most-recorded melodies: All Things Considered theme http://is.gd/52FbJ http://is.gd/52FcA #
  • There's nothing like coming home to a box full of books from MIT Press. #
  • Now I understand what the SoundCloud DropBox is for. Mine's at http://soundcloud.com/disquiet — thanks for the explanation, @mrbiggsdotcom #
  • There's something distinctly civilized about page proofs, even in the age of the emailed PDF attachment. #
  • Enough helicopters overhead to form a small chamber ensemble. #
  • Vinyl LP sales up: "$57 million in sales in 2008, … double the previous year and the best for the format since 1990": http://is.gd/51UKy #
  • Saw movie '(Untitled)' w/ Adam Goldberg as avant-sound composer. Great David Lang score. Funny in-jokes. Not sure it has a point of view. #
  • The passing helicopter is a rock band. The humble office is a speaker with a rattling tweeter. (Pun acknowledged but unintended.) #
  • Pitch control is nice, but I wish my Buddha Machines had a switch to simulate the effect of near-dead batteries. #
  • Just remembered that last night I dreamed I found the complete tab for all of Billy Childish in a bookstore & intended then to buy a guitar. #
  • RIP, Jeanne-Claude (b. 1935), flame-haired partner and wife of immersive installation artist Christo. #
  • Tristan Perich's forthcoming gadget-in-a-CD-jewel-box maybe not the wisest thing to pull out of your bag on a plane: http://is.gd/50vqf #

The Three Repetitions of Hopen (MP3s)

Repetition is a powerful force. The opening track on Hopen‘s What’s Happened to Mat Collishaw? may prove too powerful for some. It’s a tight loop of a voice. The voice says, “New York City.” This being a loop, the voice, which could be that of a train conductor or bus driver, says it again. And again. The track is titled “New York, Do You Understand?” and at almost three and a half minutes in length, it is Steve Reich as interpreted by the literal-minded — or, perhaps not. In time, that loop does evidence change, the hallucinated transformations that occur as patterns become immersive. It draws attention to all the accentuated moments and tonal markers that have absolutely nothing to do with language and textual meaning, and everything to do with sound (MP3).

There’s a stark, brash, nerve-shattering interruption shortly into the otherwise lightly metronomic “3 PM,”track two of the EP’s three — after that kicked bucket, sure to spike your volume meter and your arm hair, comes a beeping, churning, rattling roil. It’s a repetition free of the stasis inherent in true repetition — it’s the fractured repeat of a defeated machine, maybe a laser printer on the fritz (MP3).

And then comes the perhaps inevitable combination: the closing track, “Early.”It has no formal repetition, but instead the broken beat of something that has the nuance of the repeated (a voice like a sample; drum pads that fail to kick in, until they do, at which point they spasm), but that declines to do the expected. The “New York City”tape reappears, buried in and eventually piercing the mix (MP3). Amid the chaos, the voice may even be welcome.

[audio:http://www.adozen.org/releases/adz009/%5Badz009%5D-01-hopen_-_new_york_do_you_understand.mp3|titles=”New York Do You Understand?”|artists=Hopen] [audio:http://www.adozen.org/releases/adz009/%5Badz009%5D-02-hopen_-_3_pm.mp3|titles=”3 PM”|artists=Hopen] [audio:http://www.adozen.org/releases/adz009/%5Badz009%5D-03-hopen_-_early.mp3|titles=”Early”|artists=Hopen]

Get the release at adozen.org. More on Hopen (aka Childe Grangier) at irrigationworks.net and myspace.com/hopenchilde.

Image of the Week: Paul Madonna’s Album

This is one of several images from Paul Madonna‘s current art exhibit at Electric Works, a gallery in San Francisco. It was used for the show’s promotional postcards, and it’s also the cover of his new book, titled Album:

Images of old audio equipment are a staple of this collection of Madonna’s nostalgic paintings and drawings, which also include video games, novelty items, and other children’s toys. The overall tone lends some additional understanding to the feel of Madonna’s best-known work, the All Over Coffee series of drawings he contributes weekly to the San Francisco Chronicle, each depicting a different San Francisco street view, with an emphasis on its weathered architecture.

In the Electric Works exhibit, which is titled Album 01: In What Era Will You Get Stuck?, there are several pictures of record players, and one of an old computer disk, the latter tagged with a phrase that cements the exhibit’s approach: “Totally old school”:

More at sfelectricworks.com and paulmadonna.com. The show runs through January 9, 2010.