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

Monthly Archives: June 2010

Pianotronic Duo Subterminal (MP3s)

Adam Williams plays piano and Leonardo Rosado provides the electronics, and on their collaborative album, Take This Longing, recorded under the combined name Subterminal, it’s difficult to imagine either without the other. There are moments when field recordings of water lap, as if against Williams’ piano itself. And there are moments when the light beeping or woodblock beats suggest a percussive element. Overall, the effect of their commingling involves soft, dispersed chords treated by all manner of little noises — some add, others transform; sometimes they layer in little sound effects, and at others they seem introduce brief delays that lend a cyborg charm. Just as the word glitch seems to have been relegated to the dustbin of recent music history — in large part due to it having recently been set aside by Oval, an artist closely aligned with its origins — along comes a collection such as this one that refreshes the whole idea.

<a href="http://feedbacklooplabel.bandcamp.com/album/take-this-longing">To Begin by FeedbackLoop Label</a>

More details at feedbacklooplabel.bandcamp.com. More on Williams at myspace.com/themodelcitizenuk, and on Rosado at subterminal.tumblr.com.

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Tangents: Cassette Noise, Bubblegum Pop, Soundwalks, …

Recommended reading, news, and so forth elsewhere:

Life After Transducers: Interview by Federico Placidi with sound artist and composer Agostino Di Scipio at usoproject.blogspot.com. He imagines a possible life cycle of electronic/electric music:

FP: What would happen to your works if one day there were no more possibility to perform it in a socially shared space? Where could it migrate, and how could it reconfigure itself? AdS: If one day there were no more transducers (I mean microphones, loudspeakers, the tympanic membrane of human ear, even the skin maybe”¦) acting as interfaces between air pressure waves and nervous-electrical measures, my work and the work of a lot of other people would stop existing, it would cease. Fine so! It happened so many times in history. The music of the British virginalists, a few centuries ago, disappeared because of the extinction of their very instrument (the virginale, existing in several fashions across Europe). Then, just like it happens today with Renaissance music, at some point so-called ‘philologically informed’ interpretative approaches would be proposed, and these older technologies would be revived and again built.

Bubblegum Pop Art: Steve Roden collects sound effects from gum-wrapper comics at inbetweennoise.blogspot.com. The gallery is both touching, in how the onomatopoeia play out, and funny, in how odd some of the word choices are:

Memory Is a Mixtape Blessing: Gino Robair on the cassette tape (at emusician.com/robairreport):

Yes, there’s hiss — you can’t miss it. More importantly, there is a combination of wow, flutter, and crunchiness that warmed my heart. All the worst things about the cassette format as a playback medium were the best things for this new release in terms of sound quality. Although the live performance was from ’09, it sounded as if it was recorded in the ’50s — in a good way. I have yet to find a plug-in that does lo-fi like this.

Ear of the Beholder: Inclusion of a sound artist in shortlist for Turner prize seen as a kind of recognition for the artistic element, sound, often overlooked by short-sighted critics, according to John Kieffer (at guardian.co.uk):

More importantly, perhaps, sound art can be as much to do with the act of listening as it is with making the work. Many of us now live in a world of visual and auditory overload. We happily make do with a pixelated version of music on our MP3 players, and end up hearing things we do not want to. We tolerate buildings and public spaces that look OK, but sound terrible. We eat and shop in places where music and noise are calibrated just short of inducing hysteria. We stick our fingers in our ears when trains screech on dirty tracks. For those of us who live under flight paths or in hectic, noise-filled cities, the recent cloud of volcanic ash brought with it something astonishing ”“ the revelation of hearing the sound of birds and insects for the first time.

Return Policy: A project by Christian Marclay for Peter Norton‘s annual family Christmas project is going for over one grand at abebooks.com:

All That Glitters …: I’d really like to know what this book, at awfullibrarybooks.wordpress.com, contains (thanks for the tip, Eric):

Sound-Walkabout: The Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen, Australia is hosting this Sunday Touch at a Distance, a day of “music, installations and soundwalks,” curated by Ben Byrne: “Alan Lamb will set up some of his infinite music machines, Matt Chaumont will contribute a large scale installation producing sub-bass frequencies you feel rather than hear and Philip Samartzis will present recordings from his recent trip to Antarctica. Meanwhile, Anthony Magen will lead the development of a program of soundwalks that visitors will be able to take around the property”: melb.blogspot.com. The “soundwalk” seems to be a dark-horse term, increasingly likely to gain popular acceptance and usage before “sound art” does.

And in Brief: Technologically, this is an upgrade, but it’s not hard to see the addition of a microphone for DJ Hero 2 to, implicitly, downgrade the element of turtnablism: engadget.com. … A museum of musical instruments in Phoenix, Arizona (nytimes.com). … Interview with sound artist Zimoun at everydaylistening.com: “Q: What sound would you like to wake up to? A: I enjoy a lot the very tiny click sounds which our very old heating system is producing when the radiator is getting warm. Very beautiful and always different.”

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Kirill Platonkin Stream Music (MP3)

Kirill Platonkin‘s Our Eternal Alarm opens with just the sort of attenuated, tantalizing, hold-your-breath ambience that in the pre-digital era would have been accomplished with a sea of violins, whose carefully conducted overlapping would have provided the familiar illusion of one endless, smooth field of sound. Needless to say, Platonkin, like so many musicians today, can accomplish such an effect with relative ease (no violin bows to coordinate, though likely plenty of USB cables to untangle), but the lingering sense of “The Stream,” as the fluidly paced track is knowingly titled, seems to pay homage to its symphonic predecessor with a rough shimmer that hints at the texture of literal or proverbial catgut (MP3).

[audio:http://www.darkwinter.com/dw069/dw069-Kirill_Platonkin-01-The_Stream.mp3|titles=”The Stream”|artists=Kirill Platonkin]

At nearly nine minutes of playing time, it has more than enough space for Platonkin to stretch out in, plenty of room for ghostly echoes, haunted machines, and all manner of ambiguous droning. There isn’t a downbeat or a rhythmic cue to it, yet it seems propelled by a forward sense of development.

Get the full release for free at the netlabel darkwinter.com.

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Hungarian Dubstep Is Fun (MP3)

The first rule of soundcloud.com is to share and share alike. The website is one of the leading places on the Internet for musicians, both bedroom-composing and world-touring, to present their music, to make it available for download (free or purchase), and to comment on each other’s work. The service has proven especially popular with musicians whose music is electronic to begin with, among them Banyek, a Hungarian who put together the Dubstep Is Fun collection written about here earlier this year (disquiet.com). Banyek’s own dubstep emphasizes the former over the latter, the heavy, echoed influence of “dub” over the dance-ready “step.” Case in point is his recently uploaded “Mr. Durden,” a dense molasses-thick dub that makes monotony deliriously attractive. With the exception of two relatively brief breaks, it barely moves from its starting place, a slowly rotating beat that lumbers with a cartoon malevolence:

Original track at soundcloud.com/banyek314. More on Banyek at myspace.com/banyek. More on the Dubstep Is Fun series at bitlabrecords.com/dubstepisfun.

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Sketches of Sound 3: Minty Lewis

This is the third occurrence of a new little project: inviting illustrators to sketch something sound-related. I’ll post the drawing as the background of my Twitter account, twitter.com/disquiet, and talk a bit about the illustrator back on Disquiet.com. Call it “curating Twitter.”

The above drawing was done for me by Minty Lewis, who has been creating comics since 2002. Her characters are mostly fruit, yorkies, jerks, and nerds. She won an Ignatz Award for “Most Outstanding Minicomic” in 2007 and a collection of her work, titled PS Comics, was published by Secret Acres in 2009. She lives in Berkeley, California, with her husband and an army of small pets.

Lewis joined the manga magazine Shonen Jump as lead designer when I was editor-in-chief on it. I was honored to be depicted by her in a story in issue number three of PS Comics. It was loosely about a Chinese restaurant with a frighteningly negative health-department assessment, located across the street from the offices of Viz Media, publisher of Shonen Jump.

Find out more about Lewis and her comics at pscomics.com.

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