Stems: Phone Tinkering, MRI Beatboxing, Ambient Journalism …

Plus free Matmos, Junto notes, museum sounds, and more

¶ The deadline for signing the White House petition to “Make Unlocking Cell Phones Legal” is February 23. This is a serious issue that relates to many subjects of importance to this site: creative reuse, terms of service, intellectual property, and the right to tinker, among others. Please give it a read and consider weighing in:

¶ Fascinating if brief interview with Jeff Kolar over at about the correlations between radio and dance, about forms that might be thought to correspond with the disembodied and the body. The interview was done in response to a collaboration Kolar has undertaken with performer/choreographer Jennifer Monson and lighting designer Joe Levasseur. Kolar performed at the 2012 Chicago Disquiet Junto concert, and founded the Radius broadcast, a frequent source of entries in this site’s Downstream coverage.

¶ We talk a lot about sonification, the aural parallel to data visualization, but the flipside is important, too: the application of big data to sound. Interesting Q&A at about Gracenote’s API, with smart contrast drawn to how it compares with that of Echo Nest.

¶ Beat boxing, an MRI, and learning about the physiology of language:

¶ Not sure I’ve mentioned this. Thanks to my newly upgraded SoundCloud account (courtesy of the service’s Heroes program), both the Instagr/am/bient (with music from 25 musicians, including Marcus Fischer and Ted Laderas) and LX(RMX) (with music by Steve Roden, Scanner, and six others) compilations are available for free download.

¶ This mockup of the forthcoming HTC One mobile phone seems to suggest it has stereo speakers. Note the grill pattern on top and bottom:

¶ Pitchfork is streaming the new Matmos album, The Marriage of True Minds, for the next few days:

¶ Joon Oluchi Lee was Roddy Schrock’s partner in the second of the pieces that Schrock performed at the apexart Disquiet Junto show back in November. Over at his blog Lee talks more about his development of the piece. Video here:

¶ John Kannenberg has posted his first download at, Live at ZKM Medienmuseum | 11”‹.”‹11”‹.”‹12, a “live site-specific performance of electronically manipulated field recordings of other museum sounds.” Two bucks.

¶ The Verge tech/gadget website has been doing some interesting things with its design of late, notably the inclusion at the top of Sam Byford’s interview with Craig Mod (“What is a book in the age of the iPad?”) of the ambient noise of the Tokyo, Japan, location where they had their conversation. Byford, in the comments, notes what he recorded the noise, and presumably the interview, on: “I got a Sony TX-50 on fire sale, which turned out to be perfect for what I need it for. Super thin and convenient.” (Via Evan Cordes, aka … In a related note, “Chronicling the Trip: From Pixels to Paper” by Stephanie Rosenbloom in the New York Times includes this observation: “No app is as foolproof as my Moleskine notebook. But they can make multimedia memories with details like miles traveled and ambient sounds heard along the way, whether they’re church bells in Florence or Pacific loons in Alaska.” Needless to say, the idea of journalists and travelers making sound recordings on a regular basis, whether professional or casual, is a welcome one.

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