Last week I ran a story in This Week in Sound (“A Sharp, Short ‘Cheep'”) about an AI trained to identify distressed chickens by their cheeps. A reader (Cam Larios, who does the excellent twitter.com/InstrumentBot account, though we actually corresponded on Mastodon) sent me this anecdote:
A note about chickens and alarm calls: chickens are scoundrels. They’re smart enough to lie to each other.
I never saw her do this as an adult, but when a chicken we named Trouble was a young pullet, she learned that if she gave an alarm call, she could beat the bigger, faster pullets to any treats that were being offered. Trouble was an unusual critter, for sure, but deception has been well established in chickens in lab studies.
I admit to hoping that the chickens somehow find it worthwhile to outwit the emotion monitoring machines.
“What I do is trivial. We’re talking about one of the most ancient deserts on the planet. I’m sort of tinkering with aspects of that.”
Those are the words of Chris Watson, the great British field recording artist, sound artist, and musician (and long ago of Cabaret Voltaire and the Hafler Trio), whom I had the pleasure of interviewing yesterday. The occasion was an installation of his, “Namib,” named for a 2,000-mile stretch of East Africa that he visited repeatedly over the course of nearly a decade. Sounds he documented there have now been shaped into a quadraphonic exhibit, which is being shown at Indexical in Santa Cruz this Friday and Saturday as part of the label Touch’s 40th anniversary. You can read the interview at 48hills.org, which I’m always happy to write for. More details at indexical.org.
An afternoon by a local lake in Golden Gate Park, traffic behind me and filtered through trees, joggers and baby carriages this way and that but not too numerous, the more prominent motors heard here not of street vehicles but of tiny little remote-controlled boats that enthusiasts bring to the manufactured water feature and race around regularly amid geese, turtles, and the occasional surface-breaching fish. The scene this past Saturday afternoon, banh mi and ebook in hand, was much more idyllic in person, I assure you. The birdsong was more prominent and diverse. The sense of space was less constrained. And the growling gusto of those hobbyist machines was significantly reduced in the context of the boats’ minuscule size.
My weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them:
▰ There’s a new album from the late Japanese trumpeter Toshinori Kondo due out next month. It’s two CDs. One CD is all what the label describes as ambient pieces, and here’s a taste:
The second CD is a concert from 2005. Here’s a video of some of it, complete with live painting by Seitaro Kuroda. The band is Kondo (trumpet) + Bill Laswell (bass) + Hideo Yamaki (drums) + Yoshinobu Kojima (keyboards).
▰ Kaori Suzuki’s nearly half-hour “Music for Modified Melodica” exemplifies her penchant for intensity. The overtone overload — the notes note: “Intended for hi-volume listening!” — cycles through like a massive chorus of insects with phenomenal breath control, and I mean that as a high compliment.
▰ With “Transporter,”J Butler reworks a Buddha Machine, singing bowls, and other atmospheric source material along with field recordings into something that sounds like if Brian Eno’s “Apollo” was about a walk in the forest:
Trying to get back in the habit of my weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them:
▰ As of this writing, three tracks currently preview the upcoming (May 6) release of Sanctuary, an atmospheric collection of tracks by Daou (born in Beirut, based in Paris) that all emit the melancholy warble of tape loops set on decay mode.
▰ Isobel Waller-Bridge’s scores (Fleabag, Vanity Fair) are always worth listening to, and just check out the submerged-orchestra wonder of “The Woman Who Ate Photographs,” a cue from season one of Roar.
▰ Google Translate tells me that “lye” is the translation of “灰汁” — that’s the title of the latest snippet of transmogrified field recordings from prolific Japanese noisemaker Corruption, who here bends wind to their will.