Every pop-culture sound-design element gets its 15 minutes of fame, and sometimes even more. On the 25th anniversary of the Law & Order TV series, the show’s famous “clang,” or “chung chung,” has been stretched to 25 minutes by sound artist John Kannenberg. Kannenberg is pursuing a PhD focusing on the role of sound in the museum, but he’s clearly aware the that the court is just as fertile a bed for audio research as the art gallery. To listen to this stretched to such a length is to go inside the sound and peruse its details. The shimmery lattice of sound is akin to The Matrix‘s bullet time crossed with an electron microscope. You get a sensory experience of every tiny undulation.
The original is archived at Wikipedia.
Here as a bonus is a 20-minute talk Kannenberg gave recently on “Why Listen to Museums?”
Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/johnkannenberg. More from Kannenberg, who also runs the fine Stasisfield label, at johnkannenberg.com.
APHEX ^N: We’re 10 days from the first anniversary of the publication of my book in the 33 1/3 series on Aphex Twin’s landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Volume II. I’m excited that it was one of the five best-selling volumes in the series last year, and I’m also overwhelmed at what a difference a year makes. Aphex Twin was mostly a memory when I researched and wrote the book, and for many months following the book’s release. He hadn’t released a full-length album in well over a decade. Just about everyone I spoke with about him spoke of him in the past tense. And then last fall he — Richard D. James — came, quite suddenly, out of hiding. He announced his reappearance with a blimp over London; released a widely acclaimed album, Syro; and filled a SoundCloud account with dozens of previously unreleased music. Then that account (soundcloud.com/richarddjames) when dark, though two new tracks have recently appeared. The first of those two new tracks announced the arrival of a new post-Syro EP, the excellent downtempo set Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt2. And then came soundcloud.com/user48736353001, where he has been posting dozens upon dozens of previously unreleased tracks. There were 110 tracks attributed to user48736353001 as of a few days ago, and then another 20 popped up today. And as if that weren’t enough, a mysterious new account associated with it, soundcloud.com/somadril, has 15 tracks — so far. (I’ve been informed via a conversation on ello.co that folks deep in the Aphex well are under the impression Somadril is a friend of Aphex, not him.)
GHOST-IN-THE-HOME MACHINES: Geoff Manaugh writes at New Scientist about the ways technology maintains our presence in our absence, for the purposes of home safety: “For example, there are already albums of background noise available to make it sound as if someone is rummaging through the refrigerator or watching TV in the other room. One collection specifically promises ‘hundreds of professionally recorded interior house sounds to give the realistic impression that someone is at home’. It won’t be long before audio effects such as these are integrated directly into a FakeTV-like system, playing deceptive sounds through hidden speakers in an otherwise empty house or apartment.” Once upon a time we might have used simple timers on lamps to do the job, and at more paranoid moments I did hook timers up to radios for the effect that Manaugh describes. The commercialization of such activities makes one wonder what’s ahead. William Gibson tells us the street finds its own uses for things. What uses will the home find? (Thanks, boondesign.com, for the tip.)
PLAYLISTS OF YOUR YOUTH: The new web service http://retroj.am/ — I write out the full URL because “retroj.am” doesn’t immediately announce itself as a web address — provides you with playlists tagged to various moments in your life. You enter your birthday — today, February 3, happens to be my half birthday, and my late paternal grandmother’s birthday — and it pumps out what was playing (in the U.S.) when you were born, and when you entered first grade and second grade, and when you graduated from high school, and so on. Well, not “and so on” for very long. Interestingly, it ends when you graduate from college — the presumption, likely correct, is that once you enter the work force what is playing on the radio is less likely to correspond with your actual life. One demerit: retroj.am only goes back to 1950, which leaves plenty of room for my memories, but not for everyone’s — and not for many curious listeners who might wonder what was a hit before your mother was born.
This first appeared in the February 3, 2015, edition of the free Disquiet email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.
Svetlana MaraÅ¡, who is based in Belgrade, Serbia, has been filling her SoundCloud account with bits and pieces of film scores and sound design projects, some finished, others from efforts that never reached completion, stalled at unforeseen junctures. Five shared fragments of trumpet soundings and quotidian atmospherics are sourced from one of the uncompleted ones, which MaraÅ¡ describes as “a beautiful, experimental film by a Finnish director.” She writes, “Unfortunately, the film never went into the post-production and was never finished. However, the soundtrack remains.” These include two “soundscapes” and three
three spots of trumpet, the latter of which blur the line between soundscape and sound design by emphasizing tone and the slurry space within notes over melody. The room in which the music was played is as much a part of the recording as is the trumpet itself. She lists the constituent elements as “Trumpet, objects, glitch, noise,” and references Nenad MarkoviÄ‡ as the trumpeter. MarkoviÄ‡ plays the trumpet, while MaraÅ¡ plays the room.
MaraÅ¡ is quite active and prolific, and a Vimeo page (vimeo.com/svetlanamaras) tracks some of her efforts, such as this short video of a live improvisation on small electronic devices, including a Korg portable and a Buddha Machine, with the ticking of an alarm clock providing the back beat, such as it is:
Set originally posted at soundcloud.com/svetlanamaras. More from MaraÅ¡ at svetlanamaras.com. More from MarkoviÄ‡ at nenadmarkovic.net.
“The Qwerkwriter has a very unique sound signature, due to its chrome accent as well as the mechanical switch, and the way the key caps are constructed.” That’s the pitch at the start of this video of a three-pound, tablet-friendly keyboard that combines Bluetooth connectivity with an old-school mechanism. It is unlikely anyone who worked in or near a corporate typing pool in the pre-computer, post-war era misses the cacophony, but for personal use the gadget no doubt has its charms. From the tech spec: “Cherry MX Blue switches (a modern switch that emulates the typewriter clicky feel).”
Hosted at vimeo.com and the kickstarter.com campaign, which passed its goal of $90,000 by almost 50 percent. More at qwerkytoys.com. Found via Richard Kadrey.
This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.
A lot of the class that I teach about the role of sound in the media landscape focuses on exploring the sonic aspects of organizations, enterprises, and products. This following bit is a good example of a company doing just that:
How does hot water differ from cold water, sonically. NPR listened in as the British firm Condiment Junkie set out to answer the question, in the service of a Twinings Tea advertisement.
Here is a set of examples of their research:
The marketers wanted to know: Would it be possible to make that noise itself more appealing? Can people hear the difference between a hot cup of tea being poured and, say, a cold beer? And is it possible to make a hot drink sound hotter or a cold drink sound more refreshing?
So they did an experiment. They played sounds of hot and cold water being poured into glasses and asked people to guess: hot or cold? The results were kind of insane. Ninety-six percent of people can tell the difference between hot and cold, just by the sound.
Scott King of Condiment Junkie on the takeaway:
“There tends to be more bubbling in a liquid that’s hot,” he explains. “As you have more bubbling, you tend to get higher frequency sounds from it.”
The firm has also developed “interactive music boxes” for Selfridges and sound design for an Adidas spot. More at condimentjunkie.co.uk.
This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.