This is something they were doing on Facebook — the ’10 albums 10 days’ challenge, where you were supposed to just post the album cover without comment. I’m terrible at following instructions though. I actually did 11, and I took a couple of weeks to finish it. I’m collecting them here as a more coherent way to archive them. No particular order implied.
Beatles “Rubber Soul”
This is the first record I bought with my own money, when I was 9 years old, at the Gemco in San Jose, California. I chose it over Revolver, which was the current record at the time, for reasons I don’t remember, but I still prefer RS to Revolver.
I bought the mono version because it was a buck cheaper, and hearing the stereo version still feels wrong.
This was the record where they hit their stride as a recording band, when their collaboration with George Martin elevated them from their status as pop phenomenon to something more. The quality of the sound on this record always felt mysterious to me, tied in my mind to the title “Norwegian Wood” — like dark wood, with a deeply figured grain. Ironically at the time and now, that song is probably the slightest one on the album; the groove of “The Word”, the melodic and lyrical depth of “In My Life,” the propulsive anger of “I’m Looking Through You” all surpass “Norwegian Wood.”
I had the American version, which followed Capitol’s practice of releasing records with fewer tracks than the original UK release. In this case only, I think the US version is superior, both for leaving off “Drive My Car” and “What Goes On” and for including “I’ve Just Seen A Face” which is a much superior song.
John McLaughlin is a polarizing artist, and kind of a difficult person from all reports. He claims to hate this record based on how it was mixed, which is silly, it has always sounded fantastic, and I have no idea what McLaughlin would do instead, and probably, neither does he.
This record is at an interesting intersection: the drummer, Buddy Miles toured with Jimi Hendrix in the Band of Gypsys. Larry Young, the organist had played with McLaughlin in the Tony Williams Lifetime, and they’d both played with Miles Davis. The bass player, Billy Rich was Buddy Miles’ bass player.
At any rate, this album is McLaughlin’s answer to Jimi Hendrix, with whom McLaughlin had jammed in New York. So there’s some of Hendrix’ blues influence, but combined with McLaughlin’s own compositional style, which is related to Jazz, but is rooted in his own odd chromatic exploratory style.
The key track is “Devotion”, which starts with an almost atonal riff, before opening up into a expansive modal chord progression. It is at once rocking, loud and meditative.
McLaughlin went on to be one of the seminal artists in the jazz rock fusion movement, with his group Mahavishnu Orchestra, but “Devotion” is everything great about his music with none of the annoying things he was prone to.
Wendy Carlos “Sonic Seasonings”
It’s frustrating that Wendy Carlos’ “Sonic Seasonings” is out of print and not available except as pricey second hand CDs. Partly it’s Carlos prickly fussiness about her own work, but I think mostly it’s that she’s always been a better artist than a manager of her own career; it’s quite difficult to find her stuff, aside from the millions of copies of “Switched On Bach” you can still find in thrift stores.
This was my study hour music in High School, though it was not really music by the standards of the day; it was a recreation of natural sounds with synthesizers, and had a curious feel to it. You could go to a rain forest and listen to your surroundings, and it would be like “Sonic Seasons” but it wouldn’t be the same; every second of this dual vinyl record is carefully and obsessively arranged. It was ambient music before Eno had the idea, and it’s still a great achievement of that genre.
The natural world can be engrossing and if you really pay attention, the sound of the natural world can be fantastic, but there’s something special about how a dedicated artist can start with nature and end up with something both artificial and authentic.
Joni Mitchell “For The Roses”
Again, while “Blue” is the obvious choice, this Joni Mitchell album is my favorite. “Blue” was a masterpiece of misery as art. By comparison, “For The Roses” was more an album of adult concerns. The opening song “Banquet” could have been written yesterday; it is always current and outside any moment: “Who let the greedy in/And who left the needy out/Who made this salty soup/Tell him we’re very hungry now/For a sweeter fare.”
Every song has arresting details, from the multitracked chorus of Jonis singing close harmonies in chords of her own invention, and the menace of ‘”Come with me I know the way” she says “It’s down, down, down the dark ladder'”, “when you dig down deep you lose good sleep.”
It continued where she left off with her piano-centric tunes on “Blue” but there’s some of her trademark guitar songs, like “For The Roses”: A meditation on fame that goes deeper than most songwriters go: “Just when you’re getting a taste for worship they start bringing out the hammers and the boards and the nails.”
And always her lyrics are conversational, and conversations with an implied other, “Did you get around rezoning for you way up here?”
I have a long difficult Joni Mitchell essay in my head, but I’ll try and boil down what gets me about her: She is what every artist should be, an observer off to the side, but her self-reflection is endless and uncomfortably sharp, so much so she seems as estranged from herself as she is from others. Her music makes you feel as though she’s shown you her inner self (and the album art includes a long shot of her naked next to the ocean), but this is an artistic construct.
You listen to her music and think you know her, but what you really know about her is her sharp eye for detail, the way she sees things in others, and herself, and the abiding emotion behind every song: loneliness, a yearning to connect that seems impossible to fulfill. She connects with us, her audience, in a way that it seems like her personality and intellect denies her in her own life…
Or maybe that’s a construct as well, but it’s fascinating to dwell in the cloud of uncertainty she creates.
My Bloody Valentine “Isn’t Anything”
“Loveless” is the obvious MBV choice, but I played the hell out of this (and the various EPs that came out pre-Loveless) at the time. It was the synthesis of contemporary influences (Jesus & Mary Chain, Dinosaur Jr) but still sounded completely original.
If there’s a moment on this CD that still slays me, it’s that opening riff of “Feed Me With Your Kiss” that ends with a repeated hammer on the root note of the key. Each time it’s repeated they add another BAM on the tonic. I pointed this out to my kids once, and thence after when it came on the car stereo when we were driving, they’d count out the BAMs at the top of their lungs.
Basic Channel “BCD Vol. 1”
Like a lot of things I learned about Basic Channel from a mixtape by Aran aka DJ Teep, and playing that tape in the janky car stereo was the best way to get up on the music.
Also notable for the Metal Box packaging which invariably destroyed the CD after inserting and removing it a few times.
Now that this kind of music is such an institution it has it’s own category on the Boomkat website, it’s hard to express how odd and otherworldly this music sounded the first time I heard it. I’d heard a lot of techno before hearing this but this was something else. It was music that seemed to bring it’s own abandoned factory with it, barely lit, and filled with fog.
Brian Eno “Before And After Science”
Side one is more up tempo and reflects his antic ideas about lyrics: “Anna with her feelers moving round round round Is sharpening her needles on the wheel.” he sings in “Kurt’s Rejoinder,” an homage to Kurt Schwitter, the 20th Century avant-garde artist, whose “sound poetry” is is the background on this track.
But the authentic substance of this album is Side 2, particularly the sequence beginning with “Julie With” and ending with “Spider and I.” This is ambient music before Eno “invented” ambient music, and it’s slow quiet music built from layers and effects. It culminates with “Spider And I” which is what I want to hear while I’m dying.
Wishbone Ash “Pilgrimage”
Another one from back in the day: Wishbone Ash are a band with remarkable longevity. This album was their peak for me. It’s a player’s album — it was their second album after a lot of live shows, and they’re just plain hot. The album opener “Vas Dis” seems to be played at double speed, but it’s no problem, they an do that and make it look easy.
The peak for me is the second track “The Pilgrim” which starts out with a simple phrase repeated forever as echoey guitar floats in the grid created by repetition. This is eventually crossfaded into extended math-rock-esque riffing.
“Alone” follows a similar pattern, with a 4 measure repeated melodic pattern that transition into interlocking lead guitar solos, but the star is the bass, which defines the rhythmic pocket while still improving.
This kind of mostly-instrumental guitar-led music shows up again decades later with bands like Tortoise, but Wishbone Ash were there first.
An aside: They were on their first big US tour and played a show in Cedar Rapids, after which they invited Cedar Rapids police into their hotel room for some reason, having forgotten there was a suitcase open on the bed with a giant bag of weed sitting on top. They were arrested and sent home to England, and it was a long time before they were back touring in the US.
Gentle Giant “The Power And The Glory”
In this cavalcade of favorite albums, I’ve focused on things that were artifacts of my youth, because they’re the things I’ve live with the longest. In general I don’t feel nostalgic for being young, particularly the run from when I was 13 to about 25, because it was a period of untreated depression, family upheaval, and being completely unprepared for any of the normal growing up/adult business.
So what stands out for me isn’t nostalgia, but rather what music was the most effective escape from the buffeting winds of negativity and despair.
This Gentle Giant album I actually had to mail-order from an import company that advertised in the back of a music magazine. I’d sent something anyone born since about 1980 knows nothing about — a Self-Addressed-Stamped-Envelope (SASE) to the company, in order for them to mail me a paper catalog
I was intrigued by the album art and the brief description, and ordered it. For better or worse, it was music unlike anything I’d heard before.
These British beardos had this unbelievably ambitious idea for a concept album about political power and manipulation. They were the sort of hyper-technical musicians turned out by the British university system, who constructed herky-jerky jigsaw compositions. No melody too atonal, no rhythm too awkward. When they calmed down for a moment (listen to “Aspirations” in the comments) they could make really lovely, heartfelt music.
Mostly, though, they were the kings of making hyper-proggish girl repellant music, the sort of thing that got women to yell “take that shit off! Put on some Earth Wind & Fire!”
And no one did it better.
Sonic Youth “Daydream Nation”
But it can’t be denied, this is a seminal record that does what great art does: Take the the discarded things, the things thought of as ugly, ungainly, misshapen according to current conventions, and make them the center of a new kind of beauty. There are moments of dissonance and thrashing around that at the time this record was released were hard to take, but they serve as frames for sustained passages of great beauty and meditative calm.
They got extra points from me for the references to William Gibson novels. This is the sound equivalent of Gibson’s dead television channel sky.
XTC “Black Sea”
There’s several truly great XTC albums but this one stands out for me. Starting with the hilarious over the top skronk of “Respectable Street” that royally takes the piss out of the British middle class, this is subtle song writing beginning to end, fleshed out with a huge, rude rock production.by Steve Lillywhite.
1. “No Language In Our Lungs,” which is one of the few rock songs that addresses the inadequacy of language directly: “I would have made this instrumental but the words got in the way”
2. “Towers of London” That opening riff is purest XTC. Like “No Language …” it takes as its subject something unexpected. It’s a love song to London and the long dead people who built it: “Pavements of gold leading to the underground, Grenadier Guardsmen walking pretty ladies around, Fog is the sweat of the never never navvies who pound, pound, pound, pound, pound spikes in the rails to their very own heaven ”
The Beatles have much to answer for; XTC’s perfectly distilled British eccentricity is one thing they can be proud of.
Every so often I discover a piece of music software that makes me giddy with the possibilities it presents. That’s what I feel about VCV Rack. It presents the on-screen equivalent of a Eurorack modular. It has a large number of useful modules, some actually based on popular Eurorack hardware modules. It has a community of 3rd Party developers who are constantly adding new modules to the collection. And the application and most of the modules available for it are open source, supported by an enthusiastic developer community.
We don’t really need VCV Rack. There’s Reaktor, Max/MSP, Pure Data, and a number of other tools. Propellerhead Reason also uses a rack & wires visual design, but most of it’s rack devices are higher-level objects than those presented in an actual modular, real or virtual.
What makes VCV Rack fun to work with is that it doesn’t have (as e.g. Max & Reaktor) a distinction between programming and presentation. There’s no “under the hood.” You insert modules and wire them together. There’s nothing wrong with Reaktor and Max, they just require more actually programming and debugging to get something working. I write code for a living, so when I want to make music, I don’t want to think like a programmer any more.
I’ve also found it very stable, though the documentation on using the user interface is lacking. Some tips:
- To wire an output that already has a wire plugged into it, hold down Ctrl (Windows/Linux) or Option(Mac)
- When you right click to add a module there’s a search box at the top of the dialog, something I missed completely.
- To learn different manufacturer’s modules, try making an instance of each of them and play around with them.
A lot of exciting things are happening in the VCV world in the near future. The main developer, Andrew Belt is continually improving the user interface and making new high-quality modules. He’s also hinted at adding a ‘package manager’ so that you don’t have to manually download plugins and unpack them in the Rack directory. That’s the biggest drawback to VCV, that it hasn’t really been ‘productized.’ You can be a computer musician without knowing how to to do manual installs, and Belt is putting some effort into making it more of a polished product.
As a demonstration of the sort of thing one can do with VCV rack here’s an experiment I did today: http://cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/Chaircrusher-VCV6.mp3.
There are two Oscillators driven by JW-Modules GridSeq. The Gridseqs are stepped through randomly (and periodically randomizes the notes), but it more or less adds up because it quantizes the note values to a scale. So the 3 GridSeq instances might be constantly spewing more or less random notes, but they all fit in the same scale and key.
The other technique I use is to use logic modules and comparators such that if a note is playing on one of the oscillators, it won’t start a note on the other. This was an attempt at emulating what I hear in Autechre’s music of late, where there will be 2 or more parts that alternate chaotically, but stay out of each other’s way.
All the notes (and drum hits) are triggered or not triggered based on chance, but they are on a steady 16th note grid. So it wonky but there is a constant pulse in there somewhere. I muck that up a bit by having effects that are not tempo synced, but hey, that’s what the cool kids do these days.
Ziúr is a woman who lives in Berlin who identifies as an “earth citizen,” and Deeform is the first 12″ release on Lara Rix Paradinas‘ Objects Limited label. The label’s mission is to release music by “female identifying/non binary electronic producers.”
Ziúr’s gender identity is orthogonal from her music; the label’s sexual politics matter but her music stands alone. It has prerequisites across the electronic music spectrum. In “Himilaya”, The juxtaposition of distorted electronic beats with africa drums and hand percussion recalls Muzlimgauze. The sustained synthesized voices echo those prevalent in Pardinas’ music as Lux E Tenebris.
At the lighter end of Ziúr’s music “Bud Dallas” builds up a sort of tongue and cheek funk around an E flat 7th chord and a start-stop drum pattern. The bassline’s repeated 16th note patterns flex under the shifting accent of the snare samples. A flute-like lead melody drifts in and out of tune. This piece recalls Muziq’s Jake Slazenger tracks a bit, in that both are at the same time serious and playful.
“noR3gGts” has a staggering break beat pillowed in degraded, noise. About a minute a dog’s bark comes in as the lead sound. It is played in the dog’s natural triplet rhythm, which rubs against the more or less straight programmed beat. The dog sample plays both naturally and artifically — Ziúr’ lets it play out at its recorded pitch, but then repeats it in straight 16th notes, calling notice to the sample’s artificiality.
The tension of Ziúr is this interplay between the real and the virtual. Blatantly ‘fake’ sounds versus minimally processed found sound. Distorted drum synth kicks play off against bells and tambourines. Human voices yell in combination with obviously digital synth sounds. There’s a sense of a natural acoustic space, simulated with digital reverb, but the reverb is sometimes sucked out of the mix to leave the dry sound naked.
Leaving that conceptual tension aside, Ziúr has come up with an original take on electronic music. As with fellow traveller Lotic, she’s no slave to club hedonism or the dance floor, even as her complicated, hocketing drums achieve their own sort of abstract funk. If her music is on Blackdown’s breakbeat continuum, it’s not on the one-dimensional line. It’s out there somewhere on the complex plain, circling around its own obsessions.
Lately there’s been a fair amount of hand-wringing about the racism and anti-semitism of some of Donald Trump’s supporters. Jonathan Weisman of the New York Times tweets out a Washington Post editorial critical of Donald Trump, and is met on twitter with a good old-fashioned two minute hate from Trump supporters.
Republican racism and anti-semitism — at least in the old party of… two years ago? — was a lot more genteel. It was the racist joke told in hushed tones over cocktails at the country club. It was the gentle shake of the head at people who “just aren’t our sort.” The old GOP was all about the established order — the obedient elected officials, carefully gardening the wealthy and powerful’s interests, the police quietly persecuting those too brown or too poor to ‘fit in.’
Donald Trump is only tangentially Republican. He isn’t even implementing a plan; he’s just transferred his self-promotional skills from TV to politics. His initial leverage came out of name recognition, based on a popular TV show. Alex Trebek could have had the same head start, if not for being Canadian.
What has happened is a perfect marriage of an a man of un-reflective intellect and massive ego, meeting with the ecstatic adoration of a mob of disaffected people, nostalgic for a fictional past where their tribe was on top. They knew his name, though most of them couldn’t name 5 US Senators. To them, government is like television, it all happens somewhere else. The difference for them is that nothing ever seems to come from Government.
They instinctively saw Barack Obama as a sinister interloper in their world. He doesn’t look like their idea of an authority figure: an old white guy in a suit. They blame him for everything that is difficult about their lives, even though some of their biggest problems — un- and under-employment, wage stagnation — were the inevitable outcome of Republican policies.
Along comes Trump. He has the common touch. He promises to kick some Washington elite ass. He isn’t going to pussyfoot around with threats foreign and domestic. He reinforces their idea — based on a complete disinterest in how government actually works — that there are simple solutions to the problems we face, but that the people in Washington are too corrupt or pointy-headed to implement them.
Maybe one shouldn’t blame Trump for the way white supremacists and neo-nazis have flocked to him. He’s not really those things, is he? But they see in him what they’ve been looking for: A white guy — German, actually — who is going to make America great again.
That’s a program so vague as to be a sort of universal political solvent. Trump’s natural constituency is everyone who feels like things used to be better for them. It used to be a country they felt at home in. They used to live in Bedford Falls, and now they’re trapped in a scary, unfamiliar Potterville.
It is nostalgia for a past that never happened, a golden age of one’s dreams. When men were like Ayn Rand’s heroes, standing arms-akimbo and fearless in the face of mealy-mouthed grey-area-ism. When women were attractive, not so flat-chested that they couldn’t hope to be 10s. Where foreigners stayed foreign, except for the clever ones who know their place: making delicious take-out food.
And even though he’s a crass, foul-mouthed womanizer, he appeals to conservative Christians, because they don’t care who he is, they care about returning to that magical past, where everyone had a friend in Jesus, where no one wore a hijab, food tasted better, your neighbors spoke the same language as you, and nothing hurt.
P. J. O’Rourke, America’s funniest conservative asshole, once said “God is a Republican. Santa Claus is a Democrat.” He describes God as stern and exacting, and Santa as “giving everyone everything they want.” He then says, “Santa Claus is preferable to God in every way but one: There is no such thing as Santa Claus.”
That is the problem with Trump: He is the Republican Party’s Santa Claus.
Here they are: http://www.cornwarning.com/xfer/MR10.zip
Single Hits of each sound. Sampled the toms at a few different tunings.
One longer wav with all the 4 bar loop patterns.
Mono 24-bit 44.1khz files.
There’s another, more exhaustive set here, but they’re asking money for them: http://www.dubsounds.com/mr-10.htm
And another from the venerable Music Machines collection: http://machines.hyperreal.org/manufacturers/Yamaha/MR-10/samples/index.html
I got the chance to play the regular Mixology night at Gabe’s in Iowa City, and for the past few weeks I’ve been collecting tracks I wanted to play and fiddling around with a DJ setup for them in Live. I had two impulses — play current and current-ish music that I like, and to collect some of my all-time favorite tracks. I was also mercilessly stealing ideas from other DJs. I grabbed the “The It” tracks (actually Larry Heard) on Thomas Cox of Pittsburgh Track Authority’s recommendation, and the Boards of Canada remix I heard in a mix by Aidan O’Doherty.
But tracks like those by Moodymann, DBX, Basic Channel, and DJ Pierre are ones that everyone played fifteen or twenty years ago, and among the first that I got to recognize when other DJs played them. The DJ I opened for, RAfrika wasn’t even born when some of those tracks came out. But I figure if they worked in 1996, they’ll work now and the kids dancing will never have heard them.
One track that always gets me: Patrice Rushen “Haven’t You Heard?” Larry Levan did the edit, but a lot of people first heard its musical DNA in the Daddy’s Favorite track “I Feel Good Things For You.” Always like playing the original of something sampled on a big track.
|Boards of Canada||Olson(Midland Re-Edit)|
|Virgo Four||The Dryer|
|The Black Madonna||Stay|
|Four Tet||Love Cry|
|Stevie Wonder||All I Do (Todd Terje Edit)|
|Luke Hess||Real Life (cv313 Dimensional Space Edit)|
|Larry Heard||Beauty In A Picture|
|Theo Parrish||Cypher Delight|
|Salsoul Orchestra||Ooh I Love It(Love Break)|
|Omar S||Psychotic Photosynthesis|
|Aphex Twin||minipops 67 (1202)[source field mix]|
|Moodymann||I Can’t Kick This Feeling When It Hits|
|The It||Utopian Dream|
|Moodymann||Shades of Jae|
|DJ 3000||Burough & Beer|
|Rick Wilhite||What Do You See (Rick’s Groove Mix)|
|The It||Somebody Somewhere|
|Ron Trent||Blood & Fire|
|Luke Hess||Transform (Marko Furestenberg Remix)|
|Black Coffee feat Siphokazi||Lo Mhlaba|
|Black Coffee feat Zonke||Garden of Eden|
|Martyn & Four Tet||The Air Between Words|
|Rick Wade||Angry Pimp|
|Terrence Dixon||Dark City Of Hope|
|Reggie Dokes||Once Again(Mornign Factory Edit)|
|John Tejada||Two One|
|Patrice Rushen||Haven’t You Heard(Larry Levan Remix)|
|Basic Channel||Phylyps Track II|
|DJ Pierre||Box Energy|
|Jeff Mills||The Dancer|
|DJ Slugo||DJs On The Low|
By now, people who care about the music of Richard D. James, aka Aphex Twin, know about how he dumped 175 (and counting) unreleased songs on Soundcloud. Like everything he’s done its a body of work that is at turns beautiful, frustrating, and obtuse. The majority of the tracks seem to be Aphex-esque techno and acid house, which is to say his unique combination of standard drum patterns with melodic flights of fantasy and piss-takes.
I had the idea of DJing with these tracks, and when I say ‘DJ’ I mean ‘arrange and blend tracks in Ableton Live’ — which isn’t proper DJing, according to many. That controversy aside, that is the easiest way for me to work; by not having to worry about synchronization and beat-matching, one is free to concentrate on the arguably more important parts of DJing, which is song selection and sequencing.
What started as a simple project to select some tracks to play in DJ sets turned into an obession, and I ended up ‘warping’ the entire corpus of tracks — 175 in total. There are only 173 on Soundcloud because 2 were withdrawn.
To make use of my warping efforts is unfortunately a 2 stage process, the first being to go download the music files. These are available on Google Drive. You’ll need a Google account of some sort to download them, but you can just download the “Selected Soundcloud works 1985-2015” folder. https://drive.google.com/folderview?id=0B80j1_axBSvIRWJJMUNvdldmWFk&usp=sharing.
Then, download this zip: http://www.cornwarning.com/xfer/AphexUnreleasedLiveProject.zip. It’s also available in the Google Drive AFX folder as well, in the “Ableton” folder.
There’s a ‘Readme’ file in the project ZIP file explaining how to use the warped files, but the TL;DR instructions are “Unzip the mp3 files, unzip the Project, load the project in Live, and tell Live where to find the mp3s.” It should be self-evident to anyone who regularly uses Ableton Live.
Some observations after working through all those tracks:
1. Tempos are almost all very consistent, making me think that he used accurate clock sources & DAT recordings from very early on. There are a very few with the telltale ‘cassette stretch’ tempo drift.
2. There are several with ‘Sequencer Stop’ pauses where he stops the master clock device, allows the effects to decay, and then restarts the sequence off beat. This blows Ableton Live’s mind. I’ve fixed these as best I can, basically pinning a warp marker on the last beat and then dragging the point where the sequencer restarts to the next measure start.
3. Only a few had ‘intergral’ BPMs, i.e. 130, 140, etc. Meaning that the tempo clock was only accidentally set to an intergral tempo. Or the sequencer device and Ableton Live don’t agree about intergral tempos.
4. A couple of them were unwarpable, and I gave up on those.
5. This set of songs was a torture test for Ableton Live’s automatic warping, and I wasn’t impressed, even by the new 9.2 beta version which supposedly improved automatic warping. It rarely found the downbeat properly, was confused by beatless intros etc. Even though the tracks have a very steady tempo.
The idea of I Hear IC is to gather people from Iowa City to present brief performances in a local coffee house. Peformances were in the range of 10-20 minutes. Other performers on this night included Jazz singers, an improvisation from two Iranian musicians and a small ensemble improvising a new soundtrack for old cartoons.
In that context I knew that it wasn’t like playing an hour-long techno set; no one would be dancing so the kick drum didn’t need to be in the mix the whole time. As it happened I finally brought it in at around 6 minutes; this goes back to early 90s origins of ambient techno, when producers would do long beatless intros to tracks. The rise of ‘popular’ ambient — with the KLF and the Orb being the most famous proponents — grew out of never actually bringing in the beat. Sonically I think this piece has a bit of the Orb about it.
It’s also an instance of not holding anything back. I went back over projects on my studio machine and plundered them for interesting sounds and loaded them all together in one set where I could mix and match stuff that originally went with much different music. I recorded a lot of sounds from my outboard synthesizers, playing loop clips and tweaking knobs to get some movement. The main repeated pad changes chords but it was accidental — I discovered that the JP6 would change the pitch of sounds when I jacked up cross mod. Which is fun because I was playing a slider; the chords were not exactly in tune.
The basic framework was dictated by a tonal center of C Minor. The bassline is straight 16th notes playing C C Eb Eb. That kind of simplistic sequencing reminds me a bit of early Tangerine Dream.
|[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/Chaircrusher-TestPercussionGroove.mp3|titles=test percussion groove|artists=chaircrusher]||http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/Chaircrusher-TestPercussionGroove.mp3|
This is a recording of two loops playing in Ableton Live. One is a percussion drum rack, the second is the U-He Bazille instrument run through several effects.
This loop plays the same notes, but will never actually play the same one bar sounds twice, for two interlocking reasons.
First, both instruments go through a gate effect, which is adjusted so that the threshold is at the point of metastability, meaning that it spends most of it’s time on the cusp of closing and cutting off the sound.
Second, the Bazille patch uses random LFOs to modulate the levels of two oscillators as they modulate each other. On top of that, each of the two random LFOs is modulating the rate of the other, and the cutoff of a low pass filter through which the resulting signal passes. This accounts for the filtered noise sounds continually changing sound.
In addition, the two MIDI clips driving the sounds are modified by two different groove timings.
So the loop never repeats, and yet it also stays the same. The variety of the loop has musical value — in the same way (but not equal to) a human drummer adds vitality and interest to a repeated drum pattern with micro-variations of timing and dynamics. And the repetition of the loop has musical value, in the way a groove can entrain the listener’s mind.
It’s the wisdom of Heraclitus embodied: “No man ever steps in the same river twice.” It’s the same and not the same. Though I’m neither as wise as Heraclitus nor as musically talented as a significant percentage of humanity.
This ad has been carpet-bombed on TV, and vexing me for weeks:
The music is Billy Idol’s cover of Tommy James & The Shondells’ hit Mony Mony:
That they used a cover rather than the original is the first thing that pisses me off. My favorite Billy Idol song is “Dancing With Myself” which, while irresistible, is everything I dislike about him. It’s subject is Idol’s narcissistic male sexuality, which is pretty much his entire persona. He has a face that wants punching, and his half-octave vocal range barely qualifies him as a singer.
By contrast the Tommy James’ version is as stupid a bit of garage rock as “Louie Louie” but it is functionally effective. And Tommy James’ send-up of James Brown is so sincerely cartoonish that you can’t get mad at him. A song from 1968 may seem a bit old-timey, but we musical aesthetes need to maintain standards.
More offensive is the commercial’s scenario. Here’s Mr. Young Guy With New Car, a 20-something white man wearing white sunglasses. Either he’s on a methamphetatime jag, or he’s so deliriously happy about how his new Nissan has filled the yawning emptiness at the center of his soul that he can’t help singing.
As Mr. Sunglasses drives around Los Angeles, he cranks his stereo, and interacts with people in other cars and on sidewalks. Since Sunglasses is a consummate narcissistic, he doesn’t make connection with actual people, he connects with stereotypes.
Since he’s driving around in the objective correlative of White Privilege, he commands those around him to “rock out,” to “party down.” He points at them like a conductor cuing the oboes.
He demands that others share his manic glee, even as he deafens them with his bitchin’ Bose stereo. He knows true joy, through the acquisition of a metal phallic symbol that he’s ramming through traffic. He is the master of all he surveys; other people are only there to reinforce and validate his position at the top of the food chain. He doesn’t ask people if they want to sing along with his crappy Billy Idol song, he assumes that he, his car, and the song are so perfect as to be irresistible.
This is Nissan targeting a specific demographic — young white males — who no longer buy cars the way previous generations did. This group used to be the core of the auto-buying public; their love of ‘hot’ cars began in adolescence and continued to senescence. The young man going into debt to buy a Mustang becomes the retiree trading in his Oldsmobile every other year.
Fair dinkum; if your company exists to sell cars, go ahead and sell the living shit out of them. But this advertisement appeals to the most obnoxious, toxic part of Bro culture: Their overweening confidence that they are the people other people wish they were, and that they were born to be leaders. They feel entitled to share their joy at their own primacy in the world. Other people’s concerns — and eardrums — don’t even occur to a Bro. They’re bitchin’, rockin’ dudes and you need to get with the program or get out of the way.
And that’s why I hate this ad.
The new HBO series “Olive Kitteredge” is great television, and the music, composed by Carter Burwell provides a lot of the moody atmosphere for the show.:
[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/xfer/CarterBurwell-OliveKitteredgeTheme.mp3|titles=Olive Kitteredge Main Theme|artists=Carter Burwell]
But I was sure that I’d heard the main theme music before, or something very similar to it. It nagged me all day and then I remembered: The song “Paradise Circus” by Massive Attack, used for the theme of the British crime drama “Luther.”
This is also, in the form of a Gui Borrato remix, used in a 2011 car commercial in the United States.
This is a really simple chord progression:
F minor, A flat Major, C Major, E minor diminished.
But quite evocative. You can never know for sure whether Burwell had heard the Massive Attack song, and incorporated that core chord sequence, or if he came up with it independently. I’m reminded of the Axis of Awesome’s “40 songs, same chords” performance:
Trailer for “Olive Kitteridge”
- Volca Beats
- Volca Keys
- Jupiter 6
- Meeblip Anode
- Eventide UltraVerb on one send
- Audiodamage Dubstation16 on the second send.
This is straight up tracky. It’s live mixing/tweaking. I actually added effects and the anode while recording. There’s minimal EQ-ing on the Volca Keys and Volca Beats. I did some limiting and EQ on the mix-down and edited out the 16 or so measures where the anode was doing this unpitched farting noise.
Syncing the Volcas to Ableton Live is kind of wonky. It seems to work marginally better if you set the sync mode to pattern. The only way I found to get it tight was to hit the ‘play’ button a few times quickly. If you just hit play once, it always starts out of sync. Somehow resetting the counter to 1:1:0 a few times while Live is playing gets things lined up properly.
About a week ago I liked the sounds I was hearing on the back porch of our hose, so I set my Tascam DR-05 out on the porch to capture a few minutes of sound.
Then I forgot about it. The next morning I went out and the recorder had turn itself off, but it had captured 3 solid hours of sound. The sound is primarily that of insects, tree frogs, and the occasional bird, combined with the drone of Interstate 80 which is about a half mile away as the crow flies.
I’m going to try and play the whole thing at work tomorrow, because it’s a good way to drown out office noise, and I think living with environmental sound like this — especially when one’s attention is focused, e.g. on refactoring C++ template classes — allows it to go into your brain bypassing conscious critique. Maybe you can try it too. It’s like the Ice Bucket Challenge. Without the bucket, or the ice, and you don’t have to donate money to any worthy cause.
[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/Chaircrusher-SeptemberNightSounds.mp3|titles=Night Sounds, Iowa City, September 2014,artists=chaircrusher]
PHOTO BY RICHARD STAN
I’m doing two posts in one day after months of silence?
This just occured to me; I had to share.
1. Get a clip loaded. MIDI or whatever.
2. Click on the Groove hot-swap icon, and choose any groove:
3. Set Timing, Random, and Velocity in the Groove.
4. Set ‘Base’ to 16T.
5. Tweak the quantize control.
This will give your clips an adjustable swing; about 11% sounds pretty good.
For extra points, you can hack your own groove:
1. Make a clip with 16 16th notes — the actual note doesn’t matter. A closed hi-hat will help you get the groove right.
2. mess with the velocity of notes so that it has some ebb and flow type funk.
3. Apply the triplet swing groove, and hit commit.
4. Drag the midi clip into the groove pool. Your own custom groove!
I’m sure I’m not the only person who got their new Korg Volca thing home only to discover that the power jack doesn’t fit any of the AC adapters you have laying around. This is annoying. I for one have a box with about 30 different power adapters to check through. But I have found a good, cheap solution.
First off, what you need is this:
- DC 9V
- Center Positive
- 1.7mm connector
According to this guy, Matthew Zipkin A Volca device never consums more than 80mA, so pretty much any 9V AC adapter has enough juice to power multiple Volcas.
The problem is the plug is an uncommon size, 1.7mm. If you want to try splicing something together look for the yellow-tipped plugs. If I recall correctly, old Sony CD Walkmans used the 1.7mm plug. But another solution is this: Adafruit sells 2.1mm to 1.7mm DC jack adapters for $2.50. They also sell a 9VDC Center-positive 1000MA supply for 6.95.
The Adafruit solution is actually cheaper than the AC adapters I just bought on Amazon.com, with higher power output.
You can also power multiple Volcas from a single supply with guitar effect daisy chain cable, if you buy enough 2.1mm to 1.7mm adapters.
This is the last Noise Radio show of the Spring 2014 Semester. After a break, Vince Woolums will be back for the summer, and we aren’t sure what’s up for the fall. As Vince & Mike & I get busy, we’re having trouble finding other guests to help cover Saturday nights. It’s a tough time to have a radio show if you go out Saturday nights.
But anyhow, this show is a bunch of different tracks I’ve found over the past few months, though it’s almost all in the straight-up Techno and House vein, moreso than my other mixes. Enjoy!
|[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/2014-05-03-Chaircrusher-KRUINoiseRadio.mp3|titles=Noise Radio 2014-05-03,artists=chaircrusher]||http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/2014-05-03-Chaircrusher-KRUINoiseRadio.mp3|
|Mikkel Mayer||Oh Jolly Good|
|Dreissk||The Rising Tide|
|Armeria||Not The Same (Taneli Rmx)|
|Mobb Deep||Shook Ones Pt. II ( Rennie Foster Mobbin Deep Mix)|
|Dens & Pika||Vomee|
|Mikkel Mayer||Clap Your Hands|
|Boo Williams||Real Tekno|
|Disco Nihilist||Late Nights|
|Colin McNeal||Astounding Science Fiction|
|DJ Cheeze||Afro Fever|
|Jon Margulies||Good Religion (Dub Mix)|
|Boo Williams||Joy Ride|
|Maurice||This Is Acid|
|Davor O.||Out Of Reach|
|Hieroglyphic Being||Letters From The Edge|
|Submission||Women Beat Their Men (Cevin’s Peak Hour Dub)|
|Justin Maxwell||The Grind|
|XAmiga||Kermit’s Day Out|
|Disco Nihilist||Money Doesn’t Matter 2 Night|
|Andrew Duke||Geisha (Claude Young RMX)|
|Randolph||Earth 2 God (Mike Banks Remix)|
|K Larm & J Ranine||Over The Space|
|Basic Channel||Phylyps Track 1|
The Tribune article lacks any nuance, and reflects the lazy journalist’s unquestioning faith in surveys and statistics. Maybe it should be excused because it’s in the travel section, but still…
After reading the original Gallup article I noticed one glaring problem with this whole idea. The ‘Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index’ — note that it’s ‘Well-Being’ not happiness — is a zero to 100 score.
Zero isn’t actually defined, though presumably it means “everyone is dead or dying in a blasted, toxic landscape” and 100 means “ideal well-being.” The whole-country index is 66.2, and has oscillated around an average of about 66.5 for the past 5 years.
The highest-scoring state scored 70.4 and the lowest 61.4, meaning to me that the best and worst are actually very close together. Where ‘close’ means the two numbers are close numerically, in a system where the meaning of distance is entirely undefined.
What does this actually mean? You tell me! Would I notice the difference of 2/10th of a something-or-other if I went from Iowa (68.2) to Massachusetts (68.0)? Probably not.
North Dakota’s winning score comes substantially from the increase in jobs and wages due to the boom in the petroleum industry. Just the other day I was reading about the problems arising from the influx of out-of-state workers, rising housing costs, increases in pollution that are happening there. So are they really… err… being weller, or are they just momentarily glad more people have jobs, and in a bit they’ll realize their rural paradise is going to be ruined by high-impact resource extraction?
Bottom line, the happiest people involved in this whole business are Gallup and Healthways, both of whom have something to sell. And, of course, the Tribune, who suckered people into giving page views to a story with exactly zero relevant information.
This week’s mix focuses mostly on 3 new releases: Autechre’s L-system, Estroe’s Comfort And Closure, and FourTet’s Beautiful Rewind.
Autechre is perhaps the most resolutely inacessible group to ever acquire a dedicated fan base; their music challenges listeners to find a new way to hear music. My thought while I was playing on the radio was that there were drunk people riding around Iowa City last night after the football game wondering what had gone wrong with their radio. I love that, but obviously it is an acquired taste.
Estroe (aka Esther Roozendaal) is a Dutch producer and DJ who has a long association with Eevolute/Eevonext Recordings, Stefan Robbers’ seminal Dutch techno label. This new album is a triumph; she has always been a gifted producer, but Confort and Closure manages to be both a great dance floor and a great listening record. FourTet’s Beautiful Rewind is yet another of his releases that finds him exploring his own sonic world; it’s tangent to popular dance music — a DJ can play his tracks out, some of them to devastating effect — but not contained or limited by it. I also include his remix of Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie”. NAW (Neil Wernick)’s new SUB BUS is a remarkable piece of music. Dub techno has an awful lot of tracks that sound the same. Neil finds something new and dramatic with this release — it’s spiky, chaotic and still funky.
Kid606 has been messing with the bounadaries of popular electronic music for over a decade now, and every album has at least something unexpected about it. The new album Happiness does something really strange in taking House Music and slowing it way down (to below 90 BPM from its customary 120 BPM), and employing sunny, naive major chord melodic material. There’s a feeling that each track is a jam, though I’m not sure how exactly he’s jamming; the same sounds or notes collide and bounce off copies of each other.
For some reason, Ableton Live did not record the cross fader for this set, which is really odd; either that or I don’t understand the new-fangled way it manages automation. So the track sequencing was live, but I had to go back and re-draw all the cross fades as best I could. So this is a ‘live’ DJ mix only approximately.
|[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/Chaircrusher-2013-10-26-NoiseRadio.mp3|titles=Noise Radio 2013-10-26|artists=Chaircrusher]||http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/Chaircrusher-2013-10-26-NoiseRadio.mp3|
|Keys N Krates||Dum Dee Dum|
|Autech||Osla for n|
|Kid606||Blood Stevia Sex Magic|
|Kid606||Cute Never Dies|
|Justin Timberlake||Suit & Tie (FourTet Remix)|
|Phaeleh||Make You Feel|
|Kelpe||Monte Verita? (Kevin Reynolds Remix)|
|Estroe||Patiently Awaiting A Miracle|
|Estroe||Comfor In Disguise|
|Estroe||State Of endurance|
|FourTet||Ba Teaches Yoga|
|Estroe||Out of My Comfort Zone|
|Estroe||Beat Box Contest|
|NAW Low Level Transi Movement|
|Four Tet||Our Navigation|
|Douster & Gina Turner||Hush|
|Four Tet||Kool FM|
|Four Tet||Parallel Jalebi|
|Kid606||Coronado Bay Breezin’|
Another semester, another Noise Radio Show. Comprising mostly tracks I’ve been sent, either by the producer themselves or label promos. Plus several of my own productions. Hope it hangs together for y’all.
|[audio:http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/Chaircrusher-2013-10-12-KRUI-Noise-Radio.mp3|artists=Chaircrusher|titles=KRUI Noise Radio 2013/10/12]||http://www.cornwarning.com/chaircrusher/Chaircrusher-2013-10-12-KRUI-Noise-Radio.mp3|
|Arthur Russell||How We Walk On The Moon (Youth Rerub)|
|Art Bleek||June Gloom|
|Deflon||Got To Give It Up Remix|
|Omar S||Be Yourself|
|Art Bleek||Procedure 678|
|Brian Prince||The Accretion Disk|
|Omar S||Money In The D|
|Pittsburgh Track Authority||Omar’s Here|
|Chaircrusher||Song of September|
|Chaircrusher||Birthday Girl||Cut La Roc||Don’t Knock The Roc|
|Chaircrusher||Tosh Der Putz|
|Kerr Knoll||Water World|
|Mekha||Coma (Emmerrichk Rmx)|
|Brian Prince||Mis Mercury|