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

Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

tag: noise

Sound Bites: Pandemic Playlists, Disliking Dislikes, Martian Noise

Recent reads (etc.) on sound

These are the sort of items I’d usually put in the This Week in Sound email newsletter (tinyletter.com/disquiet), but I’ve been super busy, too busy for a new issue, and so at a friend’s suggestion I am initially noting some here.

It’s good YouTube experiments with hiding dislikes. I’m not sure it’s just about creator ego or hate mobs. The interface is flawed. We’re used (post-Netflix) to dis/liking things to nudge the algorithm. Hiding lets users register taste without offending. (I wrote about this two years ago in “Speaking Privately to the Algorithm.”)
https://www.theverge.com/2021/3/30/22358992/youtube-hiding-dislikes-experiment-creator-review-bomb

“Getting ‘vaxxed at moscone and they’re literally playing Here Comes the Sun on the PA and I’m shaking,'”: Peter Hartlaub quotes local food critic Soleil Ho at the start of this piece about the playlist at Moscone Center, one of the San Francisco Bay Area’s major vaccination centers. Her tweet was the first I’d heard of the music there, as well. I’m still ineligible for vaccination, but have been following along as folks tweet (and otherwise share) their shots. The playlist originated, interesting, not for patients but for administers: “it was initially created for staffers arriving early for their first day of work.” (via Daniel Raffel)
https://www.sfchronicle.com/local/article/Here-s-the-story-behind-the-amazing-Moscone-16061677.php

Robocalls have altered our relationships with phones, both household and mobile. Good news: The FCC has been taking action. Less good: “A fine, even the biggest in the agency’s history, is unlikely to rein in robocalls. In fact, there’s evidence to suggest they haven’t been effective at all.” More good: “If there’s good news, it’s that the FCC isn’t limiting itself to fines. In a separate announcement, the agency detailed its new anti-robocall agenda. Acting Chair Jessica Rosenworcel has established a Robocall Response Team. Made up of 51 FCC members across six offices, the team will coordinate the agency’s anti-robocall efforts and develop new policies for it to put in place.”
https://www.engadget.com/fcc-225-million-fine-194419208.html

We’ve been back on Mars barely a month and already introduced noise pollution: “It’s so noisy that Dave Gruel, the lead engineer for the EDL (entry, descent and landing mic) system, said he’d pull over and call for a tow if he heard these sounds while driving his car.” (And, yes, I first read that as Dave Grohl, too.)
https://www.engadget.com/perseverance-driving-on-mars-sounds-063118359.html

Geeta Dayal surveys the past and future of music at Mills College, which has been home to such musical mavericks as Pauline Oliveros, Darius Milhaud, John Cage, Fred Frith, Steve Reich, Terry Riley, Laetitia Sonami, and Roscoe Mitchell, in light of the institution ceasing to grant degrees.
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/30/arts/music/mills-college-music.html

You know how with each successive generation, ties to ethnic and cultural heritage diminish? It’s true of birds, too. “As the population of the critically endangered regent honeyeater plummeted over the years, some young birds could no longer find older ones to teach them to sing, a new study reports.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/03/17/science/bird-honeyeater-australia.html

The Foghorn’s Lament: The Disappearing Music of the Coast, a new book from Jennifer Lucy Allen, is due out in later this year (May in the U.K., where she is based, and July in the U.S.). Allen received her PhD, with a thesis titled Fog Tropes: The social and cultural history of the foghorn 1853 to the present day.
https://www.hachette.com.au/jennifer-lucy-allan/the-foghorns-lament-the-disappearing-music-of-the-coast

Whale song can be used “to map undiscovered faults through tectonic sound recordings of the sea,” Geoff Manaugh notes from paper in Science. https://www.bldgblog.com/2021/03/cetacean-surroundsound/

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When a Noise Force …

... meets an unsuitable playback medium

20131106-deadwood

Noise music has an indeterminate quality, a quality that defies common conceptions of sonic reproduction. By striving for a level of volume, intensity, and texture that veers toward decay, noise music challenges the listener — especially the listener to recorded noise music — to locate the proper listening environment. When a sound is intended to signal a destructive force, how can its “proper” reproduction be gauged. This live performance by the Scotland-based musician Deadwood, aka Adam Baker, has the unique ability to sound like it is shredding your speaker even when played at a very low volume. If noise music played quietly is a form of ambient music, that is not to say that the sound cannot still do damage.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/dead_wood. More on Deadwood, aka Adam Baker of Edinburgh, Scotland, at blotchcreek.blogspot.com.

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Pachinko Fury

A field recording with a warning label

20131103-pachinko

I’ve regularly said that a multi-floor pachinko parlor in Tokyo is by far the loudest, most aggressive sound I have experienced in person, and I’ve said that as someone who has seen Metallica, Danzig, Fugazi, Slayer, Godflesh, and Napalm Death live in concert, just to name a few bands famed for their volume. The closest I’ve come to the pachinko parlor intensity was probably a Dinosaur Jr. show that was so loud people walked out of the concert hall, though the lack of enthusiasm may also have been because Nirvana was the opening act on that tour, and Nirvana, then still on the rise, was the portrait of a tough act to follow. In any case, as mentioned here recently, Seth S. Horowitz, author of The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind, is currently in Japan and making binaural field recordings of what he witnesses. His latest item from that information-gathering trip is a pachinko parlor, which he tweeted about earlier this evening:

His description of the track, six minutes of white noise so dense with treacly pop music, mechanical fury, and crowd chatter is as follows: “In-ear binaural recording of a soundwalk through 3 floors of the Maruan Pachinko Tower in Shibuya, Tokyo at 11 AM. WARNING: Incredibly LOUD. Use low volume to listen.”

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/universalsense. More on Horowitz at neuropop.com. Image found via wikipedia.org. Image found via wikimedia.org.

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The Ambient Music of Lou Reed (RIP)

From metal machines to a score for tai chi

Lou Reed, cofounder, singer, and songwriter of the Velvet Underground, passed away today at the age of 71. He was a key figure in the pre-punk era of rock’n’roll, which stripped artifice in favor of rudimentary chord progressions and urban narrative. But because contradictions are at the heart of culture, Reed and his band also provided an important bridge between the worlds of rock’n’roll and contemporary art.

Much has been made of Reed having said, “One chord is fine. Two chords is pushing it. Three chords and you’re into jazz.” The comment is often referenced in favor of rock music that has an distinct disinterest in melodic, harmonic, and structural complexity. But one chord, at least in the metaphoric sense, also provided the foundation of some of Reed’s least rock-like recordings, music that aspired to an ambient state: his 1975 noise classic, Metal Machine Music, and his 2007 collection of contemplative soundscapes, Hudson River Wind Meditations.

The latter is a collection of meditative recordings — white noise in contrast with Metal Machine Music’s white heat — that he composed for his own tai chi practice:

The former is one of the most debated albums by a major rock musician. Many see it as a prank, an album of sonic violence that goes beyond merely challenging the ears of its audience. Such dismissal doesn’t explain why Reed returned to the music decades later, or how industrial rock, free improvisation, and noise music made good on the once isolated manifesto. That said, the perception of it as a prank assists in setting Metal Machine Music alongside John Cage’s 4’33”, another perennially reviled work: a wall of impenetrable sound to match Cage’s transparent silence:

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Cues: Deaf Gaming, Twang Bar Noise, Tank Preservation, …

Plus: a 30-part sound documentary on BBC, the history of Celluloid Records, and more

¶ Deaf Gaming: Interesting anecdote from a recent gamasutra.com piece on the late video game creator Kenji Eno, written by Brandon Sheffield. The “Eno” in this is, of course, Kenji (not Brian), and the Saturn is the Sega game console from the mid-1990s:

“For his next game, Sega wanted to make it an exclusive — whatever it was. Eno had recently met with some sight-impaired folks who liked to play action games, and he asked himself, “What if you made a game that the blind and the sighted could play equally?” So he created the game Real Sound, which is an audio-only retail game, and made Sega promise that if he made the game exclusive to them, they would donate 1,000 Saturns to blind people, and he would supply 1,000 copies of the game. Again, this was an unusual idea for 1996, but he felt the stagnancy of the industry, and went to great lengths to shake it up.”

Surround Sound: The Tank is a 60’ x 30′ vessel — a “rusted steel water tank” in the words of its caretaker, Bruce Odland, who has made use of its inherent 40-second reverb since 1976. He’s set up a kickstarter.com campaign to ensure its future use:

The campaign ends March 31, 2013. More on the project at kickstarter.com. (Thanks for the tip go to Joshua Izenberg, whose film Slomo just won the Documentary Short prize among the Short Film Jury Awards at the 2013 SXSW festival. Jeremiah Moore, the sound designer on Slomo, is apparently also involved in this Tank project.)

¶ Electretymologies: There’s a hair’s-breadth matter of word choice in today’s “playlist” by Jon Pareles in the New York Times. In a single column he reviews six records. For SuunsImages du Futur he mentions “the repeating synthesizer tones of early electro.” For How to Destroy AngelsWelcome Oblivion he mentions both “dank electronic sounds” and how “the electronics mostly give way to the acoustic.” And for Draco Rosa’s Vida he mentions “dipping into new wave, Caribbean styles, electronica and, at the end, hard-rock blasts.” The emphasis is mine. Those are four distinct terms, all variations on a core root prefix, all used in close proximity: electro, electronic, electronics, and electronica.

¶ Twang Bar Theory: This is pretty great. Over at youtube.com, Adrian Belew (King Crimson, Talking Heads, Nine Inch Nails) as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival back in 2011, discussing the “history and future of guitar noise”:

The event opened with a guitar solo, to set the tone, as it were, for the event, and there’s a third section as well.

¶ Docusound Platform: Promotional video for the site docusound.org, “a platform for producing and distributing audio documentaries”:

¶ Sonifying Auckland: Sound designer Tim Prebble, along with filmmaker Denise Batchelor, is a 2013 artist in residence of the Auckland regional parks system. Details at scoop.co.nz. Here is description from the announcement: “He’ll record local native birdcalls, slow the recordings to allow notation and then ”˜play with this as the DNA of music’, embellishing and orchestrating it. On completion, his music will be played at a local venue and a CD, tentatively called The Bird Song Preludes, will be available after his residency.” More from Prebble at musicofsound.co.nz.

¶ Celluloid Heroes: The first of two parts of a documentary about Celluloid Records, over at youtube.com, featuring among others Bill Laswell, DXT (formerly Grand Mixer DST), and label founder Jean Karakos:

¶ Re-scanning: Great interview at thequietus.com with Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud, about his range of activities. He goes project by project, talking about his early work with the technology from which he took his name (“The scanner was connected directly into a tape deck the whole time. This was ’91, ’92, this was anticipating an idea of the internet, there was no access to this kind of networked world that we’re so comfortable with today. These voices and accessing them suddenly took you into a very private place that you could never otherwise be in.”), collaborating with filmmaker Derek Jarman and artist Mike Kelley, and “re-soundtrack[ing]” the final two minutes of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’eclisse, and much more.

¶ In Brief: There’s a 30-part audio documentary titled Noise: A Human History being presented starting tomorrow, March 18, on BBC 4 by David Hendy of the School of Media, Film and Music at the University of Sussex: bbc.co.uk (via bl.uk). ¶ The palmsounds.net provides a brief overview of a talk Rob Thomas (of Reality Jockey) gave in London about mobile music. ¶ In the Field: The Art of Field Recording is a new book containing interviews with artists whose work employs field recordings. Among those are Andrea Polli, Christina Kubisch, Francisco López, Hildegard Westerkamp, Jez Riley French, and Lasse-Marc Riek. (Thanks for the tip, John Kannenberg.) ¶ “Why Do People Use ”˜Nope’ Even Though ”˜No’ Is Shorter?” (at slate.com, via Quora). The short version is that “no” may have half as many letters but the hard stop at the end of “nope” arguably makes it more succinct. The author, Marc Ettlinger, has other theories as well, including an informative bit on “sound symbolism.” ¶ Robert Henke, aka Monolake, is coming to the San Francisco Bay Area as a visiting instructor at CCRMA, the computer music department at Stanford University. In a warm-welcome gesture, the department made the page announcing his course look just like a page from Henke’s own monolake.de website. ¶ That White House petition to make unlocking cellphones legal, mentioned here recently, has gained President Obama’s support. ¶ The 62nd Disquiet Junto project had 44 participants, each making music from three sine waves. ¶ Here’s a recording of Steve Reich’s “Radio Rewrite,” his new adaptation of Radiohead’s “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” and “Everything in Its Right Place”: youtube.com. (Note, it’s audio only. Found via the indispensable rgable.typepad.com.)

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