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.”
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.
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]
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”: