Category Archives: Music

New Track: Hallucinogens In The Nescafé

In the Herzog film Strozek Bruno S shows a small sculpture of twisted wire and says “this is a schematic model of how it looks inside Bruno. They’re closing all the doors on him.”

So this track goes out to my boy Muammar Gaddafi; it’s a schematic diagram of how it looks inside Muammar. Thug Life 4Ever, Brotherly Leader and Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya!


For those who give a shit about such things:

Drums: Battery3 with tweaked percussion presets.
Funny noises: 2 instances of Reaktor.
High synth: Jupiter6
Bass: FM8
Effects: Audiodamage Dubstation delay, Audiodamage Eos reverb, UAD EMT140 Reverb (on filtered snares), a Reaktor BBD delay simulator, UAD LA2 Compressor on some tracks, Audiodamage RoughRider Compressor on others. UAD Pultec EQ on some percussion sounds.

Sequenced in Live, several passes of live recording of effects tweaks. This was actually a track that came together when I was actually focusing on something else — i.e. it was a scratch track to test something.

Happy New Year, Cooly Style

I like the tracks, but I like her command of Yardie patois as well:

New year… its here again 2 rassclart…kmt bout New Year! Nuttin nuh fuckin New… old debts, old bills, old job, old partner, old mix up, old car, old house, old settee, old frens dat owe u money frm last year, old new year resolutions yuh nuh keep, old fuckry wid di youts pon road, same old tired gyal dem, same old wutless bwoy dem, same old nah wash dread dem weh fraid a water like fire, same old tired weed weh lace wid crack, same old miserable old people, same old excuses from di stinkin baby fada dem weh smell like shit n nah look bout dem pickney, same old attitude from di sour cratches gyal dem, same old tear up draws, same old fem fresh dem nah use,..same old same old. What’s required is a New Vision, New drive, New purpose or a new fuckin planet fi good people like me & u…and this can come at anytime of the raass year!!… Yuh zeeeeeet… :)

Africans Musicians are Killing It

I get e-mails from Akwaaba Music and the latest linked to this DJ mix, Pan African Music Stew

I don’t like all the music in that mix, but skipping through it reminded me of this map showing the relative sizes of Africa vs other continents,which shows the truth: Africa is huge.

It’s also deep, musically.

Consider for example Just A Band from Kenya, who seamlessly integrate Detroit House beats, Daft Punk, R&B and Hip Hop. Those flammed backbeats kill me. Oh and they’re sort of a boy band. A completely badass African boy Band.

Or check this craziness from Angola, on the compilation Akwaaba Sem Transporte. If you’re following the latest dance music trends, this sounds like Chicago Footwork only with guys rapping over it in Portugese.

Vagabonda feat. CocaCola “Sucesso” [audio:|titles=Sucesso|artists=Vagabonda feat. CocaCola]

All I got to say is don’t forget about Africa when it comes to dance music. And a ton of it is for sale cheap on BandCamp.

In Praise of “A Charlie Brown Christmas”

This post has been making the rounds this week and I had to respond. Not so much because it needs defending, but because I believe this post fundamentally misunderstands Peanuts and A Charlie Brown Christmas.

“F*ck You, Charlie Brown.” Poor Charles Schultz would cringe to see that; he was a pretty old fashioned guy for whom outbursts like “Darn it!” were strong language. But these days, when coarseness and vulgarity are the order of the day, Schultz is an anachronism. He grew up in Minnesota after all, where being nice is the state religion.

What Peanuts brought to the funny pages was only rarely more than mildly funny, but the occasional wry chuckle it evoked was just a spoonful of sugar to make the strip’s exploration of human failings more palatable. Charlie Brown was insecure and depressed, a victim of the thoughtless cruelty of his friends and his own self-doubt. Lucy was sadistic, self-centered and vain. Linus was in his own world, clinging to his blanket and sucking his thumb. Peppermint Patty was well-meaning but clueless, oblivious to the embarrassment her misguided, blustery invasion of Charlie Brown’s life caused him. Snoopy was just plain nuts, a chymera of doggish impulses and fantasy. Schroeder was self involved, and the only person whose indifference could wound Lucy emotionally.

These characters were the only ones with any emotional authenticity in the funny pages. Peanuts could be occasionally jokey, but it always had heart. Schulz was a committed Christian — one of the real ones who actually worried about what Jesus would do, instead of wearing a plastic bracelet about it. The Peanuts kids had conflicts, indulged in each of the Seven Deadly Sins, but they each had a saving grace: Linus’ compassion, Lucy’s fearlessness, Charlie Brown’s humility, Sally’s innocence, Peppermint Patty’s good cheer. Moreover, Schulz’ treated his characters with loving kindness, even as he looked directly at their failings.

All of the qualities that made Peanuts special were on display in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Maybe you had to be there, but when this show came out in 1965, it was a revelation. There were kids who were sad, angry, cruel, vain, and silly. If you’d grown up on Frosty The Snowman, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer and even Miracle Of 34th Street, you were used to candy-colored fantasies and, not to put too fine a point on it, being lied to. Peanuts kids were like the children you knew. They felt real, and you could share their point of view.

There was funny bits, like the Snoopy Dance, and oddly touching stuff, like Linus’ long quote from Luke 2. The message of A Charlie Brown Christmas was that people can set aside their differences and baser impulses and join in community, with compassion for each other and shared joy.

As a Thomas Jefferson Christian, I have learned to appreciate what feels like the true Christian spirit of caritas and let all the supernatural stuff slide. Life and history are stories we tell each other, and reality (as Paul told the Corinthians) is essentially unknowable. Peanuts illustrated the uncertainty, loneliness, and anxiety of life, but also the loving kindness that is the only thing (as Paul said) that abides.

Another thing about Drew Magary’s post: he dismisses the work of Vince Guaraldi as “horrible slow Jazz.” Dude, seriously. I’m admittedly biased because my dad commissioned an orchestral arrangement of the Guaraldi’s music for the Peanuts special, called “The Charlie Brown Suite”, which Guaraldi performed with my dad conducting. Guaraldi used to come to parties at our house and play my mom’s Steinway, before climbing underneath and falling asleep.

“Christmastime is Here” is my favorite modern Christmas song, and Guaraldi’s version of “O Tannenbaum” rescues it from a million hideous Muzak rendition. “Linus and Lucy” is as close to perfect as a Jazz pop song can be. His “A Child Is Born” (Greensleeves) extrapolates the traditional chord sequence into something unexpected and exciting. I loved this music as a child, and as an adult I hear a rare emotional depth in it.

As my Grandmother taught me, it’s impolite to say “I don’t like tomatoes.” One should rather say “I don’t care for tomatoes, thank you.” It’s OK to not enjoy the Peanuts TV specials. Frankly they started out strong with the Christmas and Halloween specials and devolved into annoying kicking-a-dead-horse potboilers. But if you can’t appreciate a work of art in the spirit in which it was intended, “F*ck you” seems like a pretty mean way to address it.

2010-12-04 KRUI DJ Set

[audio:|titles=2010-12-05-KRUI DJ Set|artists=Chaircrusher]
I usually have a track listing, but I left it at the studio last night, so you’re going to have to be surprised. Various 80s dance pop obscurities and hits, some house and a lot of Detroit techno, ending up with the Afx remix of 808 State’s “Flow Coma”

Attack of the KRUI DJ Sets

The past 2 Saturday nights I spent in the KRUI studios playing vinyl. I make no great claims for my mixing skills, but I guarantee this is 100% real for better or worse.

Rather than, as I have in the past, manually type in an HTML table, I made my track lists in Google Docs. That, unfortunately, is no way to get clean HTML tables, not only are they formatted for machine eyes only, they have tables nested in tables with annoying breaks. So I embedded the google docs with <iframe>, which has its own formatting annoyances. But it does get the information in this post with a minimum of retyping.

Oh wait, I spent 45 minutes googling around trying to come up with a nicer way to do that, & installed a WordPress plugin that was even fuglier. Oh well…

[audio:|titles=KRUI DJ Set 2010-10-23|artists=Chaircrusher]

[audio:|titles=KRUI DJ Set 2010-10-23|artists=Chaircrusher]

KRUI Noise Radio — DJ Mix

There’s some overlap in tracks played with my September DJ Mix, but this mix is longer, and starts out with a sampling of the many amazing tracks by the recently-departed and deeply missed Aaron Carl Ragland.

The funny thing about Aaron Carl is that I knew him as a person first and as a fan of his music second. When he came out with his WARMTH compilation last year I did a mix using its tracks, and I began chatting with AC on line, and spoke with him a few times on the phone. It was only after that that I started exploring his catalog and began to realize what a rare, original talent he was. It’s sad when anyone dies, but in AC’s case, he was really coming into his own as a producer and label head, and he was full of great plans both for his own music and of ways to give back to his beloved city of Detroit. When he got sick he had to cancel a European tour that I’m sure would have been a triumph. I really loved the guy, and he will be truly missed.

[audio:|titles=2010/10/10 KRUI Noise Radio Show|artists=Chaircrusher]

Aaron Carl Crucified(XDB Edit)
Aaron Carl Faces
ICan Si Se Puede (Aaaron Carl Remix)
Aaron Carl Simply (Extended Original Mix)
Aaron Carl I Refuse
Scan7 feat. Aaron Carl 4 Kinds Of People
Aaron Carl Tears
Aaron Carl Tears(Part 2)
Aaron Carl & Benjamin Hayes The Struggle
Aaron Carl Dance Naked
Aaron Carl Down
Urban Tribe Hostile Takeover
PTA African Sh*T (Unrelease Ruff Mix)
Mount Kimbie Before I Move Off
Falty DL Filthy Divinity
Kowton Hunger
The Godson Analog Love
Hall & Oates Can’t Go For That(Perkowitz Minimal Refix)
Kyle Hall + The Godson Microburst
Ron Hardy & Gene Hunt Indiana
Ultrasound Heavy Roll (Future Funky re-rub)
Midlan Head Down
Urban Tribe ECM
Cooly G Darn DB
Ill Blu Dragon Pop
KidKut I Love04
Kode Nine feat. SpaceApe U Don’t Wash(Martyn Vocal Scrub)
Derek Piotr Cleopatra (Chaircrusher Remix)
Ikonika Dckhdbtch
Svpreme Fervor
Sines Tortelli’s Slave
Scuba 3 Sided Shape
Kito LFO

Chaircrusher September Mix

This is what Google Image Search comes up with if you search for “UK Bass”
Sequenced live in Ableton Live — 45 tracks in 99 minutes. Starts at 100 BPM and ends at 142. I find it hard to stick with one particular beat so there are some hectic transitions.

[audio:|titles=Sepetember Mix|artists=Chaircrusher]

Urban Tribe Hostile Takeover
Falty DL Odyssey
Falty DL Filty Divinity
Kowton Basic Music Knowledge
Hall & Oates Can’t Go For That (Perkowitz Minimal RMX)
Ultrasound Heavy Roll (Future Funky Re-Rub)
Midland Play The Game (Dexter RMX)
Greymatter Raw Root (Klik Remix)
Cooly G Darn DB
Cooly G Full Ah Sensi DB
Cooly G Up In My Head
Ill Blu Bellion
Kid Kut Lit
Kode 9 feat. The Space Ape You Don’t Wash (Martyn Scrub Vocal)
Ikonika DckBtch
Ikonika Ingredients
Donga Blake Detroitus
Chaircrusher 9 16 Beat
Al Tourettes/Applblim Mr Swishy
Donga Blake Small Hours (Geiom Mix)
Greymatter feat. Deize Tigrona Eu Fumo (Altered Natives RMX)
W1bo Dispension Omega
Falty Dl Because You
Erra Getting Happs
Al Tourettes/Applblim Lipsmacker
DJ Rum Emerald The Antidote (chaircrusher edit)
Aslope Close
L-Ow Diver
Malilone Lions And Pearls
Midland Play The Game
Mount Kimbie Before I Move Off
Oriol Memories
Pinch The Boxer
Quest Deep Inside
Sclist Dubx
Sines Distal Stuff Dreams Are Made OF
Svpreme Killer
Synkro Everybody Knows
Synkro Just Say
Throwing Snow Un Vingt
Truth & Dutty Ranks Bombay Sapphire
XXXY Just For Me
The Others Vertigo 909
Urban Tribe EEG
Sines Distal Tortellis Slave

Video of me interviewing Leslie Hall @ the Iowa State Fair!

Leslie Hall is, as far as I know, the biggest wacky internet sensation to ever come from the state of Iowa. Hanging out with Leslie at the Iowa State Fair was quite the experience. The woman who shot the video, Lisa Edwards, edited about 10 minutes of me chatting with Leslie to a pithy 30 seconds. Nicely done Lisa!

On the Leslie/video tip, I’m enamored of this song she did for her “Back 2 Back Palz” project:

The Awl: The Phantom Tollbooth, or The Democratizing Principle of Literature

Maria Bustillos nails it on the Awl Blog

“…I cannot help but think that it is flat wrong to teach anyone that he or she should not read, or love, or identify with, any book he or she pleases.”

George Fox, the founder of Quakerism, originated a great turn of phrase — “”There is one, even Christ Jesus, that can speak to thy condition,” and when I heard it my heart did leap for joy.”

Now unlike friend Fox, I’m not a Christian in the Supernatural Sky Father sense of the term, but I evaluate all art on whether it speaks to my condition. And that means that there are no boundaries: I can dig on Omar Souleyman, The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Burning Spear, and Ferron. Even though I’m not a Syrian Muslim, an oppressed black man, a Rastafarian or a lesbian.

One of the things that makes them each great artists is that they can speak to my condition — their work is about the specifics of their condition, but there’s nothing narrow or specific about their ability to connect with an audience. I’m with Maria Bustillos on The Phantom Tollbooth. That book fired my imagination and I’ve always been an evangelist for it. In fact, when my brother Sean was still in grade school I gave it to him for his birthday twice the second time because I’d forgotten the first.

To paraphrase Norton Juster, our project should be to swim in the sea of knowledge and get wet. If we put blinders on for any reason no matter how well intentioned, we lose.

New Track: Expemsible

All the hootenanny about PaulStretch got me playing with it again, and this is what I came up with. As my vrave buddies used to say ‘very ambient.’


The source material was a couple of samples downloaded from the Internet — a drumloop and a bassline. I added the phaser effect. So the original audio was on the order of 2 seconds long.

Keith Fullerton Whitman/Star City Recorded Live 2010-08-23

[audio:|tracks=Live@White Lightning|artists=Keith Fullerton Whitman]
[audio:|tracks=Live@White Lightning|artists=StarCity]

Forensic Examination of the Slowed Down Justin Bieber “Love U”

This will be my last post on the subject. It’s been fun to get a lot more site visits, but just for perspective, my friend Jerry’s Retarded Ravers Of America site was getting ten times the traffic ten years ago that my blog does today. It also feels a little weird riding Justin Bieber’s coat tails to this new level of web notoriety. As it happens the PaulStretch OS X posts consistently generate more traffic than anything else on this blog, which puts me in my place–doing a port of PaulStretch may be my most enduring Internet legacy, even if I wish I was known more for my own music.

Anyway, as regards the “Love U” stretched version, there was some speculation that it was a hoax, and then some speculation that the ‘group’ claiming they’d made the track themselves was itself a hoax. I decided to investigate, and came to these conclusions:

  • It was, in fact, produced using PaulStretch, perhaps even using my OS X port
  • The actual slowdown was actually on the order of 10x
  • It was pitched down a little more than a half-step.
  • Either it was MP3 encoded at a low quality/bitrate, or slightly lowpass filtered. My version (which is encoded from the raw output of PaulStretch) sounds noticeably brighter.


The original:
J. BIEBZ – U SMILE 800% SLOWER by Shamantis

Paulstretch for OS X — the Justin Bieber Edition


Well, someone may — or may not — have posted a slowed down version of Justin Bieber’s “Love U” and as a result my janky little blog is experiencing a 25-fold bump in traffic. I’m hoping the fine folks at Midphase don’t mind — I have an ‘unlimited bandwidth’ account, but I think it’s only unlimited until you start saturating their net connection.

Anyhow, if you’re here looking for Paulstretch, get it from this post — the new build can actually load MP3 files due to a new version of one of the libraries it needs. If you’re still on a Power Mac, go here.

The build scripts are Here, but don’t even bother unless you are an actual programmer, because I can’t troubleshoot your problems for you. What I wrote worked perfectly from a standing start back when I wrote it, but library versions change, source code archive links get moved, and you may not have all the build tools on your machine.

Let the stretching begin!
EDIT: I listened again to the example I put up back when I first started playing with Paulstretch and I still really dig it. It’s the Bitone Troupe’s cover of Björk’s “All Is Full Of Love.”


Sarah C’s Extra-Pop-Special Mix

One of my wife’s employees at her store, Sarah C gave her a CD of her favorite dance tunes. Now, I’m a dance music snob, who would never normally play most of these tracks in any context, and many of you other dance music afficiandos probably wouldn’t either. I’d go so far as to say I actively hate the Captain & Tenille song, the Wham song, and I’m not so high on the Whitney Houston. But this isn’t for me, it’s for the people who don’t know “Shades of Jae” from “Firestarter.” It’s Pop. And most of these tracks are stupidly great dance pop — who can resist “Smooth Criminal” or “Walk Like An Egyptian?”

I ripped the CD and resequenced them so that I could do a smooth nonstop mix. I’m used to entire genres inhabiting the same 5 BPM range so I had to play some Ableton Live tricks to get things to add up.
[audio:|titles=Sarah C’s Just Dance Mix|artists=Sarah C + Chaircrusher]

The Bangles Walk Like An Egyption
Survivor Eye Of The Tiger
Kajagoogoo Too Shy Shy
Sugarhill Gang Rapper’s Delight
Madonna Vogue
Michael Jackson Smooth Criminal
Whitney Houston Dance With Somebody
Cyndi Lauper Girls Just Wanna Have Fun
Captain & Tenille Love Will Keep Us Together
Bananarama Venus
Eurhythmics Sweet Dreams
The Buggles Video Killed The Radio Star
The Weather Girls It’s Raining Men
Michael Jackson Beat It
Huey Lewis & The News Hip To Be Square
Blondie Call Me
Michael Sembello She’s A Maniac
Eurhythmics Sweet Dreams
Wham Wake Me Up Before You Go
The Vapors Turning Japanese

Cooly G Dub Organizer 7: Review + Minimix

[audio:|titles=Dub Organizer 7 Minimix|artists=Cooly G (mixed by Chaircrusher)]

I’ve been accused of having a crush on Cooly G. Why wouldn’t I? She’s talented, beautiful, and even cursory internet stalking on-line research indicates she’s got a bubbly, charismatic personality.

But my real crush is on Cooly G’s talents as a producer. Along with Roska, she’s one of the most visible faces of UK Funky. And she’s gained her prominence having only a single label release — Narst/Love Dub and a track on the Hyperdub 5 compilations. It’s easy to say why those tracks were great — the combination of her vocals, floating in and around the bass heavy beats — but hard to say how she does what she does. Using the tools all modern dance producers have, she seems to come to completely different conclusions.

UK Funky is marked by beat patterns that vary between traditional House and Soca rhythms. Cooly’s beats seem to fit into that same headspace, but they rarely drop into that same repetetive groove. Most producers get a groove going and then throw in change-ups every 4, 8, or 16 bars. Cooly’s beats seem to be all change-up, without losing their own particular quirky groove.

Alongside Cooly G’s DJ’ing and her Hyperdub releases, she’s also been releasing a series of digital-only “Dub Organizer” EPs. They’re only available only for Paypal purchase and announced at her Myspace and Facebook pages. The Dub Organizer tracks are cut from the same cloth as her Hyperdub release, but are arranged more simply — a spare synth line, maybe a sample and beats. They’re straight-up DJ tools, similar in intent to most of Roska’s releases, but a lot less repetitive.

The latest Dub Organizer, #7 in the series is 4 tracks. “ic db” is a driving rhythm that is a sophisticated, layered cousin of funky’s trademark Soca beat. This is quite literally a ‘riddim’ with the only tonal material being a drum sample being bent up and down. And yet it sounds anything but minimal, with different drums coming in and dropping out; the space in a track normally taken up by pitched melodies or chords is full of relentless percussion variations. “well mi seh db” is similarly spare, with only a very occasional trombone stab joining the percussion. “darn db” is based around a repeated synthesized female chorus loop and novel ‘kick on one & four” rhythm.

The star of the EP for me is “full ah sensi db” which is a brilliant re-imagining of dub reggae built around heavily echoed dub samples. In a sense it’s a dub of Dub — it reconnects the half-stepper beat of Dubstep with the original dub reggae sounds, leaving (if it’s possible) more space for sounds to echo in than in King Tubby’s productions. One of Cooly G’s favorite words is “dramatic” and on “full ah sensi db” the drama arises from a low-fi woodblock ‘clok’ sound reverberating darkly. Compared to the maximalist “echo soup” of the (also brilliant) Echospace album Liumin it amounts to approaching the dub template from the opposite hemisphere.

My minimix hits all tracks in this order: darnn db, ic db, well mi seh db, full ah sensi db. I wanted to give you an idea of how they sounded, but encourage you to follow up and support Cooly G by buying the release. Hence it’s watermarked with a robot voice saying “Cooly G Dub Organizer 7.” If you like what you hear, represent!

Iowa Cicadas

I started my summer DJ mix with a track of sorts I made with my Zoom H4 of insect sounds in the evening here in Iowa City.

Here is the track independent of the mix:

[audio:|titles=Iowa Evening|artists=Chaircrusher]

This is actually done in 4 tracks — 3 different recordings from different spots, mixed with one of them processed with Granite.

If you really are into Cicada sounds, I can also offer this:

Which is 18 minutes from my back yard tonight. It’s a large file but there’s lots of good sound in there.

And speaking of which — a great investment if you do any sort of location recording — a wind muff! I got this one and it made everything I record outside sound better. I even use it indoors, because it seems to damp all air motion around the microphones, with the result of less ‘dead air’ self-noise.