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tag: 8-bit

Top 10 Posts & Searches from May 2010

Two of the 10 most popular posts on this site during the month of may relate to Despite the Downturn: An Answer Album (cover shown at left), the recent free album download I compiled. Each track on the album is a response-in-music to a misinformed article (“The Freeloaders”) about copyright and creativity in the May issue of The Atlantic by Megan McArdle. There is (1) the album itself and (2) the announcement of a 10th, additional track to the set, as well as news of coverage.

The majority of the most popular posts this past month were drawn from the site’s week-daily free (and legal) download recommendations, the Downstream department: (3) a Grassy Knoll demo circa 1998, (4) one minute of instrumental hip-hop bliss, (5) a sample track off the Oval album O (due out later this year, to follow up the album Oh), (6) a slice of Bruce Kaphan pedal-steel atmospherics, (7) a sample of the collaboration by experimental electronic duo Matmos and percussion quartet So Percussion (plus guests), (8) electronica lullabies from Athens-based Naono (that’s Greece, not Georgia), and (9) news (and free WAV files) of a Peter Gabriel / “Games without Frontiers” remix contest.

And, finally, (10) a brief bit on the return of the patch cord, which is cementing its role as a visual metaphor in software-based instruments — such as this screenshot from the iPhone/Touch app Circuit Synth by Michael Daines:

The most popular post of both the last 60 and 90 days was the Despite the Downturn: An Answer Album link noted above. The second most popular post of the last 60 and 90 days was the initial response I wrote to the McArdle article, “What, After All, Is the ‘Music Industry’?”

The top 9 search terms on this site for the month of May were: “rss,” “performances,” “oval” (as in Oval, see above), “drone,” “oversteps” (as in the album by Autechre), “autechre” (as in the duo that just released Oversteps), “loops,” “topic,” and “mcardle” (as in Atlantic writer and editor Megan McArdle, as noted above). Tenth place had so many words tied, it’s just silly to list them all.

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Trinkets from a Dark Clinician (MP3s)

The 16 tracks that comprise The Coat Hanger Clinic, its title and content reportedly informed by a binge of Korean horror flicks, range from vocoded computer vocals to elegiac piano to 8-bit giddiness to abstract electronica to saccharine pop. Recorded by Cursed Chimera (aka Benatos Thompson, and formerly L.A.M.P.), it’s a purposeful mixed bag, but in that bag are some fine treats. These are the highlights: “Desi Watfah,” a mix of church bells and choking androids, intermittently punctuated by ritual percussion (MP3); “Face Breaker,” a kind of microwave patchinko noise madness that slowly lets its emotive side show (MP3); and “Two Teeth In,” which is simply good old pneumatic pounding (MP3).

[audio: http://www.archive.org/download/bp054/02_-_Cursed_Chimera_-_Desi_Watfah.mp3|titles=”Desi Watfah”|artists=Cursed Chimera] [audio:http://www.archive.org/download/bp054/07_-_Cursed_Chimera_-_Face_Breaker.mp3|titles=”Face Breaker”|artists=Cursed Chimera] [audio:http://www.archive.org/download/bp054/09_-_Cursed_Chimera_-_Two_Teeth_In.mp3|titles=”Two Teeth In”|artists=Cursed Chimera]

Get the full release at archive.org. More on the musician at myspace.com/cchimera. Visit the releasing netlabel at bp.bai-hua.org.

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Kazuo Umezu’s Chiptune Horrorshow (MP3s)

The world of video-game music is just that, a whole realm unto itself, with its own rules, its own obsessions, its own stars, it’s own logic. Judging by the sheer density of video-game-music sites, there is a large group of people much of whose listening time is spent on pixelated tunes that, by tone and intent, might just as well have been recorded in the early 1980s. But where there is healthy obsession there is absurdity, and there is humor. And all that insular hyperactivity isn’t uniquely characteristic of chiptunes, as the 8bit-music world is called. It describes numerous rich subcultures, notably the world of manga and anime.

Thus it’s no surprise, except in terms of delight, that something along the lines of the The Drifting Classroom: The Game: The Soundtrack should exist. The album is a parody of a parody, or a tribute to a parody, or a parody of tributes, or something like that. What it is is an album of 8bit video-game music, purported to be sourced from an old Famicon video-game, based on the manga Drifting Classroom by Japanese horror legend (and a personal favorite of mine) Kazuo Umezu. Except there is not such Famicon video-game. What there is is a thoroughly imagined suite of shortz esrzatz video-game music, built around the theme of Umezu-sensei’s series, in which an entire school goes missing, leaving a gaping hole where it once stood. The titles of the tracks (“Mutant Mushrooms,” “Killer Cult”) are drawn from scenarios in the story, and the music is fully envisioned: rapid themes for fight sequences, minor-key horror-film cues elsewhere. There are 14 tracks in all. One favorite is “Stage 5 ”“ Underground,” a spooky, downtempo piece (MP3).

[audio:http://www.beepcity.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/11/10-Stage-5-Underground.mp3|titles=”Stage 5 ”“ Underground”|artists=Moldilox]

The collection is credited to Moldilox, aka Joseph Luster. Full release at beepcity.com. More at thejosephlusterreport.blogspot.com, including a photo of Umezu-sensei himself holding a CD of the ersatz soundtrack. Lots more Moldilox music at his page at 8bitcollective.com.

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8bit IDM MP3 (“Bingo Speedmath”)

To listen to 4mat‘s “Bingo Speedmath” is to hear the recent past through the distant past (MP3). Specifically, it is to hear the IDM (that is, the late-1990s mix of elastic beats and shoegazer melodies) filtered through 8bit (that is, the early-1980s computerized sound of a video arcade). The transition works well. The beats, in particular, serve to elevate the shopworn Asteroids/Galaga percussion to something more sinuous, jerky, and random — the ecstatic changes give a little life to what is, inherently, arguably self-consciously, mechanical. And the melodies, while bereft of much tonal nuance, are much more subtle than the average gamer cue. The track is very fun, though its worth as a cultural mash-up may not be fully appreciated by people who don’t already have affection for both zones that 4mat has chosen to plumb for material. The whole thing is sort of like playing a round of some early Mario game, only to discover that the next level’s boss is a pixelated Aphex Twin.

[audio:http://8bitcollective.com/items/music/4mat-(Day07)-Bingo_Speedmath.mp3|titles=”Bingo Speedmath”|artists=4mat]

Apparently “Bingo Speedmath,” which 4mat uploaded on November 7, is the seventh of thirty tracks he intends to upload over the course of the month on a daily basis. 4mat is Matt Simonds: 8bitcollective.com, twitter.com/4mat_scenemusic, myspace.com/4matchipmusic, and ihearthesoundofwaves.blogspot.com. (Found via twitter.com/nobuooo.)

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Tangents: Eno App, Turntable Art, Consumer Sound …

Recommended reading, news, and so forth elsewhere:

On the Making of Brian Eno/Peter Chilvers iPhone/Touch Apps Bloom & Trope (usoproject.blogspot.com): Interview with Peter Chilvers on his development, with Brian Eno, of the iPhone apps Trope and Bloom, and the app Air: “It was something of a two way process,” he says of the development process. “I came up with the effect of circles expanding and disappearing as part of a technology experiment — Brian saw it and stopped me making it more complex! Much of the iPhone development has worked that way — one of us would suggest something and the other would filter it, and this process repeats until we end up with something neither of us imagined.” Story by Matteo Milani. More information at generativemusic.com, according to which a revised Bloom (version 2.0) will be released in early October: “New features include a sleep timer, stereo panning, two additional sounds, three new moods, and two new operation modes. The update will be free to anyone who has already purchased Bloom.”

The Chimes of New York; and Their Ringers (nytimes.com): “Simple rope pulling it ain’t,” goes coverage of the North American Guild of Change Ringers recent convergence in Manhattan. “Change ringing is a surprisingly difficult and subtle art that involves a series of coordinated hand movements and a sensitive touch. Ringers time their strokes partly by listening, partly by watching the movement of the ropes around them. A sense of timing is essential because of the one-second gap between the pull of the rope and the sound of the bell. The ‘music’ consists of cascades of bell strikes, called rows or pulls.” Why the article’s author, Daniel J. Wakin, or his editor saw it necessary to put quotation marks around the word “music” is unclear, but the enthusiasm of the bell-ringers interviewed in the article is infectious — you come to imagine a religion in which the ringing of bells isn’t ceremonial, but the ceremony itself.

Kind of Bloop Update; Participant Critiques Time Magazine Coverage (ocremix.org): Musician Sam Ascher-Weiss was quoted in Time 's coverage of the Kind of Bloop compilation, an album that rendered Miles Davis's classic Kind of Blue, on its 50th anniversary, as "chiptune" music — that is, as if it had been programmed for ancient arcade video games. Ascher-Weiss, whose music moniker is Shnabubula, feels that he was quoted out of context about the limitations and potential of this sort of music-making. Original Time piece at time.com. Kind of Bloop available at kindofbloop.com.

Book Review: Sara Maitland on Silence (nytimes.com): From Dominique Browning‘s review of the new non-fiction book by Sara Maitland, A Book of Silence: “The first kind of silence requires an emptying out of the self in order to be receptive to God; the other fortifies the self in order to be inventively godlike. ‘Silence has no narrative,’ she concludes. ‘Silence intensifies sensation, but blurs the sense of time.'”

Video-game Website Joystiq Interviews Nine Inch Nails‘s Trent Reznor (joystiq.com): Says Reznor: "Rob [Sheridan, NIN Creative Director] and I are working on a project together that's moving forward and focuses on the creation of content from a developer's perspective. Would I do music for an everyday game? Meh. I'm not thrilled about the idea, but if someone cool came to me and had this great game, then I'd consider it." The interviewer posted quotes that didn't make the Joystiq cut at superdunner.blogspot.com.

The Art of Turntables (interviewmagazine.com): Overview of contemporary artists making turntables as art, including Simon Elvins's paper cone (image below, top), Dennis de Bel's sewing machine, Sean Duffy's triptych (image below, middle), Yuri Suzuki's five-armed mutant (image below, bottom), and Tom Sachs's presidential podium. Story by Fan Zhong.

Tauba Auerbach‘s Organ as Art (nytimes.com): It “requires two players, each pushing foot pedals to pump bellows for the other. Every afternoon at 5 Ms. Auerbach and Cameron Mesirow of the band Glasser — hence the name of the instrument, the Auerglass — perform a transporting, specially composed duet.” Photo below by Adam Reich for the New York Times:

On Rock and Joysticks, the Beatles and Nirvana (nytimes.com): The online version of the paper’s lengthy piece about the making of Rock Band – The Beatles, “While My Guitar Gently Beeps,” lacks the intention of the title the article was given when it appeared, originally, as the cover story of the August 16 issue of the newspaper’s Sunday magazine: “The Music Will Matter to You Because You Are Pretending to Make It.” Story by Daniel Radosh. A few week’s later, the paper’s video-game critic, Seth Schiesel, brought some sanity to the hysteria that has followed the appearance of Kurt Cobain, of the band Nirvana, in the game Guitar Hero 5: “Assuming that Activision got [Courtney] Love to sign the proper contracts, it appears that the main potential legal issue (if Ms. Love actually fulfills her threat to sue) is whether having a digital Cobain re-enact songs by other artists in some way damages his image. I am as big a Deadhead as my generation was able to produce (Jerry Garcia died when I was 22, and I had already seen about 90 Grateful Dead concerts and a dozen Jerry Garcia Band shows), so I know what it’s like to be a fan. Hypothetically, would it be weird to see a digital Garcia playing a Jimmy Eat World song? Of course, but after about 15 seconds of shock, I’d find it totally hilarious.”

Help the Duo of He Can Jog & Always Tokyo Fund Their Planned November 2009 Tour (kickstarter.com): As of this writing, they're about 20% of the way there. Funders get great benefits, like downloads of rehearsals sessions, a promotional 7", and more.

The Rare Music Story to Quote DJ Mark Farina and Dream Theater — on the iPod Touch as Instrument (sfgate.com)

Attention, Phonographers: Entomologists Say Cool Nights May Mean Less Insect Chatter (nytimes.com)

Interactive Music App RjDj Holding October 2-4 Workshops in Its London Office (rjdj.me)

Lifehacker Queries Readers on Best "Sounds for Getting Work Done" (lifehacker.com)

The Kohler VibrAcoustic Bath Introduces Sonic Hydrotherapy (kohler.com)

Artist Hugh Livingston Introduces the “Sound Landscaping” Installation: Sonogarden

While We Wait for the Gristleism Box, an Interview with Genesis P-Orridge About Using Plastic Surgery to Look Like His Late Wife (nymag.com)

More online resources at disquiet.com/elsewhere.

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