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

Monthly Archives: October 2010

Japanese Fashion via Janek Schaefer (MP3)

Currently on display at the Barbican Art Gallery in London is the exhibit Future Beauty: 30 Years of Japanese Fashion, for which Janek Schaefer composed an installation score at the invitation of Barbican curator Catherine Ince. The exhibit space involves four different stereo loops, each about 45 minutes in length, playing on eight speakers (four pairs) spread around the gallery. The shifting gauze of Schaefer’s score, available for free download (MP3), provides a sonic parallel to both the eternally gauzy textiles and milestone-marking technological innovations inherent in fashion.

[audio:http://dl.groovygecko.net/anon.groovy/clients/barbican/unfolding-thefuturebeautysoundtrack.mp3|titles=”Unfolding”|artists=Janek Schaefer]

Schaefer titled his piece “Unfolding” and writes of it at his website, audioh.com, “Unfolding was inspired by the ephemeral unfurling fabric of fashion, viewed through the vertical veils of the Future Beauty exhibition design.” Note that the downloadable version is simply a single stereo mix of the overall score, a snapshot of what is, in fact, a much more random and disparate field of sounds.

More on the exhibit, which opened on October 15 and closes February 6, 2011, at barbican.org.uk. The above image is a 1993 dress design by Koji Tatsuno.

Found via vancooten.com.

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Past Week at Twitter.com/Disquiet

  • I'm interviewing Megan Kelso at noon today at #APE & I made a mini-comic of the Disquiet "Sketches of Sound" series http://ow.ly/i/4CLB #
  • Morning sounds: cooing (baby), whirring (computers), stapling (stapler). #
  • Best thing about a new Clint Eastwood movie (Hereafter)? New Clint Eastwood score. #
  • [email protected]_Pause Cool Attenborough clip on tech-mimic lyre bird, especially because of incongruous preceding Medal of Honor ad http://j.mp/b2q8iM #
  • There's a bird outside that sounds like tiny fireworks. #eartwit #
  • 3 bucks for browser app with dual panes. The iOS business plan can seem like a micropayment economy for every single keystroke and gesture. #
  • Squeaky bicycle passing by, or geese passing overhead? #eartwit #
  • Downward-torquing score cue in tonite's "Electric Sheep" Fringe ep when Olivia learns senator-shapeshifter isn't dead was totally a Lost cue #
  • Playing with soon-to-release upgrade of great music app; pondering how narrative of iterative change is part of app-consumption process. #
  • If Win7's marketing plan made us think we made it, the Notion Ink Adam's is to make us think the 1st product is the 3rd or 4th gen already. #
  • Great casual set of photos of Ava Mendoza performing live http://is.gd/g2pCC I still need to write about her strong new full-length record. #
  • Anyone in San Francisco able to recommend a good turntable-repair shop? #
  • ♫ Afternoon tune: a favorite from several weeks ago, the slow-day urban blues of Mike Rotondo's "Goodbye Mission Dub": http://is.gd/g2dTx #
  • Baby's gurgles from the front of the house, birds squawking past in the back. #
  • Morning sounds: bird song. Quite literally, as in concertedly singular. One bird, one song. #
  • New Steve Reich remix contest is cool, but nothing against Bang on a Can, wish they'd used @eighthblackbird track instead http://j.mp/9h6Oxz #
  • Susan Philipsz now the first sound artist nominated for Turner Prize: http://nyti.ms/bIhIG9 (Winner to be announced Dec 6.) #
  • Wish people would stop saying T-Mobile G2 has "stock" Android 2.2. It doesn't. It may not have a corporate skin, but it lacks Froyo hotspot. #
  • Really interesting this Nazi-reenacting-politician story takes place at the same time as this EA Medal of Honor war-play story. #
  • ♫ Afternoon ambient stream: "binaural harbour recordings" + "contact mic stuck to…neck of a guitar" http://is.gd/g0TdX by @cjherbert #
  • 407,380: The number of horns required to fell the walls of Jericho, according to @wnycradiolab http://is.gd/g0C7s #sonicwarfare #
  • Freesound.org has passed the 100,000-sound milestone, in just over five years. #
  • Composer Andrew Violette only really likes the second movement of 4'33"; "The others, he says, are too short": http://is.gd/g0u46 #
  • New "European sound art network" now centered at http://resonancenetwork.wordpress.com/ and @resonancenet #
  • [email protected] @dizzybanjo Partly think Underworld is 100% correct (excepting @justinlassen's point re: contests). Wish stems always available. in reply to tricil #
  • Where does Underworld charging $3.99 for the stems in its "Bird 1" remix contest sit on the "prosumer" continuum? http://j.mp/bB10wT #
  • Thanks to Megan Kelso for the kazoo background image at twitter.com/disquiet as part of "Sketches of Sound" series: http://j.mp/bA2gqL #
  • If you haven't heard, Steve Reich's 2×5 (essentially two rock bands set in minimalist opposition) is available for remix: http://j.mp/9h6Oxz #
  • Nearing midnite. Dishwasher, mid-cycle. Washing machine, end-cycle. Both past their prime & all the more endearingly rattly for it. #eartwit #
  • [email protected] Yeah, that's what I'm getting at — for original tweets and retweets. #soundtwit is good. Maybe #eartwit — a little shorter. in reply to soundblog #
  • So, @emusic signs up another big label, and raises prices again. Search still abysmal (e.g., can't combine keyword and genre in search). #
  • Wanted: A sensible #hashtag for when re-tweeting descriptions of quotidian sound. #twittear #tweetscape #twittscape #twittaural #
  • RT @heyexit Urban hum extra loud & spikey tonight. Some pretty serious lightning in the background. Thunder just hangs forever. #twittear #
  • Reminder: I'll be interviewing Megan Kelso noon this Sat., 10/16, at #APE Her kazoo drawing will adorn my Twitter page starting tomorrow. #
  • Matmos on Wobbly/Lesser collaboration, Simultaneous Quodlibet: "Privileging flows and dissolves over crowded rest stops": http://j.mp/bVJp3I #
  • Morning listening: the new Corridors (aka Byron Westbrook) album on Sedimental. Liner notes require headphones or widely separated speakers. #
  • Many thanks to Paul @apfrod for having submitted to my music-app interrogation regarding his wonderful ShapeSeq: http://j.mp/shpsq #
  • Reply from @creativecommons regarding CBC dust-up about non-commercial licenses: http://j.mp/bNCxsh #
  • Tom Phillips show (Flowers NYC: 10/7-30) includes '69 piece in style of his Starless & Bible Black (King Crimson) sleeve: http://j.mp/a9rKH2 #
  • Every time I try a different step sequencer, I end up trying to make a fake Alva Noto track. Right now, that's in TweakyBeat (iOS). #
  • Something oddly intimate when people's Kindle annotations pop up in Twitter — like they're on the can or in bed. #
  • After Fleet Week ("after," he writes, hopefully), that jumbo jet in the sky looks and sounds absolutely lumbering. #
  • “I miss the sound of the electric train.”Former army captain Vu Trong Thuan, 80, on the lost Hanoi: http://j.mp/dvKXOz #
  • The city of Hanoi, Vietnam, celebrates its 1,000th anniversary today. (I really want to go back. It's been eight years.) http://is.gd/fV8rK #
  • [email protected] "Major estate sale finds yesterday … three-LP set of train sounds"? Please post some of this. in reply to alexismadrigal #
  • Ah, there was no cross-browser CSS issue with Chrome; it just needed to be refreshed. This is the start to a good day. #
  • Fog horns especially maudlin this morning. They must be mourning Solomon Burke (RIP; b., 1940). #
  • Wondering why the photo-caption CSS I devised looks lovely in Firefox, and not so in Chrome. Yet to look at it in Safari or IE9… #
  • Looking into @cbc @creativecommons dustup. Interesting Sept 2009 CC doc about term "noncommercial" I'm now digging into: http://is.gd/fUhhT #
  • Got new Wobbly/Lesser/Matmos LP from @aquariusrecords but it's too beautiful outside to stay inside and listen to vinyl. Even orange vinyl. #
  • Oh to be in Milan, Italy, at the end of Oct: "Field Recording Workshop: 'Movement of acoustic images'" http://bit.ly/9Zra6S via @usoproject #
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Hazy Weird Folk MP3

A few months ago, I wrote liner notes for an album by Landrecorder, morning-afternoon-evening. Now, 2010 isn’t 1980, which means we needn’t wait another year for another record. A few Landrecorder pieces have drifted out since that one, including the four-song EP Fern Battles, which opens and then proceeds with a looped mix of elements. There’s a halo of breathy chanting, a strum of guitar, and what appear to be resonant field recordings. Small snatches of harmonica frame the piece, helping put it in the weird-folk tradition, and to make it all the more the sort of thing that Low fans dream of in between that band’s far more infrequent release schedule. The track is titled “Rita”:

 

What distinguishes it is how the least prominent element, that hazy background that may or may not be sounds of the “real” world, is in fact the most active element, in that it subsumes what rough edges persist in the chanting and strumming, making the whole thing a sonic cloud of near-pop effluvia.

Check out the previous Landrecorder album at feedbacklooplabel.blogspot.com.

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The Rhythm of Labor (MP3)

Vanessa Rossetto has made a recording that serves as a sound-only answer to, or at least a useful and highly listenable correlate to, that video that circulated recently illustrating the sounds that a package heard as it moved through space and time toward its destination. (More on the video below.) In Rossetto’s montage recording, available as a free download from compostandheight.com, space is a constant, unless you count the small motions that Rossetto herself makes. The variable is time, and the point less a matter of variety than of patterns. See, what you’re hearing is Rossetto packing books, day after day. She explains in a post at Compost and Height:

I sell books for a “job,” so I pack books every day. This summer I began recording myself working over a period of several weeks. At various times throughout, mostly toward the beginning of the recording period, I wore headphones while working so I was made even more aware of the sounds I was making in the course of my daily activities. Immediately it began to affect the gestures used and the speed with which I was going about my tasks. I began to think more and more about the specific sounds I was making while still being able to maintain a productive work flow. In turn, I began to think about all the sounds I was making whether I was working or not, whether I was recording them or not, and about the rhythm of labor in general. This piece was edited down from many hours of recordings in Texas in August and September 2010. While it is edited, there are no additions; no parts that were not recorded during the process of working. Some days it rained and some it did not.

The result is a mix of scratching and stretching, turning and pausing, with a purposefulness that no one will necessarily appreciate as much as Rossetto. But that’s the essence of sound-feedback on a day-to-day basis (that’s feedback not of the sound-contorting kind, but of the self-reinforcing kind). Repeated actions gain a kind of musical currency, a score to the choreography of everyday life, when infused with just a notion of self-consciousness. To listen to Rossetto’s recording several times in a row is to get ever closer to her own perception of the patterns in the motions, to her ability to find beauty in the repetition, and to make art from, as she puts it eloquently, the “rhythm of labor.”

One caveat: The file, stored as Zip archive, is very large relative to its length, over 110MBs, for 14-plus minutes of sound. Here’s the link: Zip. Visit the original webpage at compostandheight.blogspot.com. More info on Rossetto at myspace.com/vanessarossetto.

As for that video, here it is: “Dictaphone Parcel” by Lauri Warsta. Its sound is, like Rossetto’s, an edit, a reduction of a much longer experience. The video is a fiction, intended to illustrate what’s heard.

Package Deal: Lauri Warsta’s “Dictaphone Parcel” video, a package that commits audio surveillance as it is transported.

Rossetto’s audio can act as a kind of prequel to the Warsta video, the moment when the package is formed, before it’s shipped out on its adventure.

Warsta video found via Tim Prebble’s great musicofsound.co.nz (Prebble points out that despite the title, this is a Nagra, not a dictaphone, pictured). More on Warsta at cargocollective.com/lauriwarsta.

Top package photo, courtesy of a Creative Commons license, by Eric Mesa at flickr.com.

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Sketches of Sound 7: Megan Kelso

This is the seventh occurrence of a little Disquiet.com project called “Sketches of Sound”: inviting illustrators to sketch something sound-related. I post the drawing as the background of my Twitter account, twitter.com/disquiet, and then share a bit of information about the illustrator back on Disquiet.com. Call it “curating Twitter.”

The above drawing was done for me for this project by Megan Kelso, the talented comics artist whose long-in-the-works graphic novel Artichoke Tales was published earlier this year by Fantagraphics. Her Watergate Sue serial ran in the Sunday magazine of the New York Times in 2007 (nytimes.com). Kelso contributed several comics to the work I edited at Pulse! between 1992 and 2002, when the magazine closed down (full list at disquiet.com).

I usually post a new “Sketches of Sound” entry on the third Tuesday of a given month, but this one is going up a week early, in time for this coming weekend’s Alternative Press Expo in San Francisco. I’ll be interviewing Kelso from noon to 1:00pm on Saturday, October 16. More on the APE event at comic-con.org.

More on Megan Kelso at her website, girlhero.com.

The previous “Sketches of Sound” contributors were, in alphabetical order, Brian Biggs, Warren Craghead III, Dylan Horrocks, Minty Lewis, Hannes Pasqualini, and Thorsten Sideb0ard.

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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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