New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • Disquiet.com F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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Monthly Archives: October 2020

“Parallel Normal”

Two pedals, post-serial

Another experiment with electric guitar loops. The main difference between today’s and yesterday’s (“Passing Waves”) is that yesterday’s was recorded serial, so anything coming from the first loop also appeared in the second loop. That gave it a certain density, but, well, it also gave it a certain density. This was recorded in parallel, meaning whichever looper was recording at a given moment was only recording what was being played by the guitar, not what happened to be coming out of the other looper. This means the density took quite a while longer to achieve, but also that the individual segments are much more distinct, even after density has accrued. Also, the loops here are quite a bit longer. Recorded from stereo speakers into a phone (yesterday was from a mono amp), though I’m not sure if the separation is particularly apparent. Major noise reduction in Adobe Audition, and a tiny amount of reverb.

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Loraine James and the Art of the Remix A/B

The club/IDM musician reworks a new Lunch Money Life track.

There’s nothing quite like a remix A/B, one of my favorite forms of listening pleasure: comparing the before and after when one artist reworks another. It’s all the better if the experience of the transition is reversed: if the original track is unfamiliar, and you hear it only after first witnessing a remix of it by someone whose work you already admire.

Such is the case with British club/IDM musician Loraine James, who has grabbed the track “Lincoln” from the quintet Lunch Money Life (off their new album, Immersion Chamber), and as if with so much Silly Putty reshaped it to match her own vision.

The original is exceptional groove-heavy electronic jazz. The band (Stewart Hughes, drums; Sean Keating, guitar; Luke Mills-Pettigrew, bass; Jack Martin, electronics and trombone; Spencer Martin, electronics and saxophone) finds new life in the genre, the key being how reworked the music sounds even in its first iteration. The track breaks frequently as it moves from phase to phase, different instruments taking prominence, digital effects adding glitches, echoes, and other treatments in unpredictable maneuvers.

And that’s before Loraine James takes hold of it. She removes any concessions to a live-band vibe, in favor of something that is very much in her own mode. She locates especially tasty rhythmic elements from the original and sets them on repeat. The tweaks she introduces then gather a more immediate sense of remove from the source material — and like so much sugar on top, bits of pachinko-parlor melodies get drizzled on throughout. And because it’s James, the track must come with a challenge. Eventually that dependable rhythm is encouraged to fall apart, to flail and jitter like Max Headroom after a particularly wild LAN party. In the process, James both helps the listener locate what makes the Lunch Money Life original so strong, and also manages to produce something that is very much her own.

Album and remix originally posted at lunchmoneylife.bandcamp.com.

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“Passing Waves”

Two pedals, Tuesday evening

Separate lines on two different loopers, sometimes recording the same thing, generally not, all notes played on guitar, all with especially slow attack accomplished with the guitar’s volume knob, most notes closing with a natural decay. Recorded to phone from amp, live in the room. Post-recording: harsher high-register overtones removed with extreme prejudice in Adobe Audition, with some reverb added because why not?

Track posted at soundcloud.com/disquiet.

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When Jo Johnson Met Hilary Robinson

And the resulting Antenna Echoes

Jo Johnson and Hilary Robinson’s album Antenna Echoes has its origins in chance and error: a meeting in a shared neighborhood, and a broken piano. The result of those external influences is a Covid-era collaboration of deeply interior music, all cavernous echoes and warm feedback. Piano is the near constant through the album’s three tracks (“Maze Echoes,” “Antenna Gain,” “Fresh Air and the Usual Low-grade Hedonism”), but it would be inaccurate to claim its presence necessarily grounds the plush synthesizer and pervasive sound-design drones. Quite the contrary, what makes the piano so central is just how ambiguous is the place where its familiar physicality meets the ethereal context in which it is heard. The piano bleeds into the broader sonic construct of the recording, in part due to its repair status. As explained in the album’s liner note, the piano suffers from “a faulty pedal mechanism, which sustained the notes long after they were played.” Or perhaps not suffers. More to the point it is, in fact, a blessing. As one Bandcamp listener said, “Please don’t ever fix that piano.”

The record, which is available at jojohnson.bandcamp.com, was released in early July. More from Johnson at soundcloud.com/werkhouse and twitter.com/werkhouse. More from Robinson at about.me/hilaryrobinson.

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2,000 Days of #DailyBleeps

The short-form delights of Todd Webb

Todd Webb has, over the past roughly 2,000 days, posted roughly 2,000 #dailybleeps tracks online. They have populated his YouTube and Twitter accounts, but their primary home on the internet range has been Instagram. There, bite-size videos playfully themed around squash (the fruit, not the sport), and going outside (as determined by an Oblique Strategies card), and frogs, among numerous other topics, feature micro-compositions of what feel like the sonic equivalent of a zine aesthetic: either minor-key chipper, or up-tempo maudlin, and utterly delightful. And like all good things, they must come to an end. Webb will post his final daily bleep this coming Wednesday, October 28, two days from now.

Here’s a recent one, the theme of which is fog on the water. Gurgling beats provide the score for a view over the side of a road and into a deep bright miasma from which the track takes its title:

Some 40 of Todd’s daily bleeps fill out the the second of a two-CD Oahu set released last year. A personal favorite of mine is track 15, “Not That I Mind (Simple Sounds 10),” which is like if Michael Nyman had been commissioned to record a lilting gamelan interstitial cue for a Nintendo video game. (The other half of Oahu, the first five tracks, collectively titled “Slow Waves,” are built from “mysterious sounds” from Deerhoof’s John Dieterich.)

The record is a great object, but arguably the best way to appreciate Webb’s daily bleeps is in situ, as tidy little audio-visual spectacles on Instagram. And since Halloween is just a few days away, here, in closing, is one about “tree skeletons”:

More from Webb, a cartoonist and illustrator, at toddbot.com. He lives in Virginia. (Full disclosure: I edited a comic of his in an early issue of the children’s magazine Illustoria.)

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