Tangents: Visualizing Reich, Seinfeld x Conet, Tortoise Nostalgia, …

Plus the Grammys, cultural generations, Brazil inquiry, San Francisco events

Tangents is an occasional collection of short, lightly annotated mentions of sound-related activities.

Stunning Phase: Alexander Chen has posted at pianophase.com this visualizaton of Steve Reich’s 1967 composition “Piano Phase.” It’s not just a lovely rendering of the original, but it connects to the notion of a graphic score, and also assists in appreciation of the nuances of the piece by making its subtle shifts comprehensible in a complementary medium.

This follows Chen’s visualization of J.S. Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 – Prelude and of the New York City subway system.

Remixing the Supercut: A Vimeo account that goes by Certain Pictures has posted this video. It is a stiched-together compilation of instances in the sitcom Seinfeld where no people are seen. Atop it is layered recordings from The Conet Project, mysterious numbers stations sending unexplained coded messages:

Here is the source video, by LJ Frezza, which retains the intersitial soundtrack audio from the series:

Via thestranger.com.

Pre-Post: Over at redbullmusicacademy.com/magazine there’s a great aural history of the debut album of Tortoise, Tortoise. A memorable comment by band member Bundy K. Brown. He’s refering to Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters, released the following year.

I don’t think any rock bands or indie rock bands put out a remix record before we did [1995’s companion album to their debut, Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters]. If I’m going to claim anything that Tortoise did, we brought that whole idea of it being cool to have these electronic dudes tear it apart and redo it. I remember even approaching [Steve] Albini to do a remix on the remix record and he was like, “What the fuck are you talking about?”And he was one of the most talented recording engineers I know, a master of tape editing. He knew all of this stuff that guys had to do to become competent remixers in the era before samplers. He’s really great at all those things but his whole perspective was, “Remix? What are you talking about? The record’s the record.”And I was like, “No it’s not. We’re on the verge of the 21st century here.”

No Age: The Grammy Awards have changed a genre’s name (via echoes.org). What had been the Pop Instrumental Album Category is now the Contemporary Instrumental Album. As John Diliberto writes: “it makes one wonder if the ‘New Age’ category isn’t redundant, if not superfluous.”

Period Piece: In a piece at thequietus.com on Mark Fisher’s new book Ghosts of My Life, Paul Wolinski quotes with apparent approval the following Fisher statement: “the period from roughly 2003 to the present will be recognised – not in the far distant future, but very soon – as the worst period for (popular) culture since the 1950s.” Is this a commonly held belief? Are these commonly held beliefs? First, that the period that’s given us some of the best television ever and has seen great expanses in comics, not to mention the rise of participatory popular culture from Twitter to Tumblr to SoundCloud, is “the worst period for (popular) culture since the 1950s”? And on top of that, is this a commonly held belief that the 1950s, which gave us the height of jazz labels like Blue Note, some of the greatest recordings of Billie Holiday, essentially the full career of Buddy Holly, not to mention the Beat Generation, and insane amounts of classic science fiction — these same 1950s are seen as a particularly dire void in the history of popular culture? I’ve been sentient during the 1970s (Little River Band), the 1980s (REO Speedwagon), the 1990s (Celine Dion — now, thanks to Carl Wilson, symbolic of the complex notion of “taste”), the 2000 oughts (Nickelback), and these ongoing 2010s (Miley Cyrus), and I don’t recall a period when people didn’t loudly proclaim it to be the worst in culture, popular and otherwise. I perhaps too often don’t comment on things I find specious, but I’m registering this material for my own outboard memory because notions of an exhausted culture are often tied to contemplations of remix culture, vast streaming archives, and other aspects of life in the era of widespread digital media.

Brazil Communication: This musician Asvfucks (no full name given) from São Paulo, Brazil, already has almost 1,000 followers on SoundCloud, so folks are paying attention. Up to some interesting stuff. I’m trying to sort out how much of the source audio is sampled, and if any was originally recorded: soundcloud.com/asvfuks.

Bay View: The Soundwave Festival is coming to San Francisco, and it looks tremendous: soundwavesf.com. Runs July 10 through September 28. … Speaking of San Francisco events, Matmos is playing at the San Francisco Art Institute on June 28.

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