Archive for July, 2014
homage to gummy4
Screenplay for short film. No dialogue, just images and music.
JODY is male, late 20s, reasonably good-looking. He walks down an urban sidewalk.
A series of cuts establishes that he is observing his surroundings as he walks.
He looks at architectural details, birds, clouds in the sky. Close-ups show a twinkle of appreciation in his eye -- that he is enjoying the walk and what he sees.
He passes ordinary people on the sidewalk, all of different ages. They are either standing or moving, but all are looking down, engrossed in smartphones. Soon it becomes clear that not a single person is like JODY, that is, just a person walking along, looking at nothing in particular.
About the sixth person JODY passes suddenly looks up, and does a quick once-over of JODY. He ends the brief examination by looking at JODY's hands, which are swinging and not holding a phone.
JODY passes several more people, all looking down at phones, standing at random intervals along the sidewalk -- cars are passing back and forth on the street, it is a normal day in the city -- and the same inspection occurs. This is beginning to seem ominous. The fourth person he passes, a young woman, ends her perusal of him by returning to her phone keypad, where she is seen urgently typing as he passes.
The next man JODY passes looks up from his phone as if expecting to see JODY, and immediately begins typing. Closeups of JODY's face show bemusement, scorn, then worry.
Halfway down the block, JODY sees a group of four "yuppies" standing together, all looking at phones but also talking to each other. As he approaches, they disperse into a line that will block his passage on the sidewalk. Their body postures are menacing.
The four start moving towards him in tight formation, hate in their eyes, and...
Am pleased, and yet, humbled, to announce a new LP on Bandcamp: Recombinant Youth.
10 tracks, mostly recombinant in the sense that they rework, tighten, and rearrange songs posted during my "free download" era. Not because I'm out of ideas! Songs that seemed complete at the time but regrettably short in duration have been raided for juicy motifs and otherwise treated as mashup fodder in these new, longer tunes.
This is my seventh release in 2014. Your support in the form of buying the LP or songs would be very encouraging, but all the material can be streamed.
Notes for the Recombinant Youth LP on Bandcamp. These are mostly tech jottings so I remember what I did. Any thoughts, questions, etc on the music itself are welcome at the email address on this about page -- the contact form on Bandcamp also works. Most of this LP's tracks consist of reworkings, tightenings, and/or rearrangements of songs posted during my "free download" era. Tunes that seemed complete at the time but regrettably short are raided for motifs and otherwise treated as mashup fodder in these new, longer versions.
1. Kicking Boy 02:54
Features the beginning and ending of "Kicking Boy," with "Double Carbon" beat-synced and sandwiched in the middle.
Kicking Boy notes: 8-bit flavored electro house; most of the sounds are analog synths, multitracked. (I think the main melody is Reaktor Photone with some analog filtering, however.) Normally I write tunes in the MIDI piano roll but the main one here was pecked out on the computer keyboard: D5D3 / D5D3 / D5D3 / DQQQ2 / D5D3 / D5D33 / D5D3 / DQQQ2.
Double Carbon notes: Bluesy (?) micro house. A five note synth riff changes in real time as virtual knobs for its bandwidth and cutoff frequency are slowly turned. At the beginning only two of the notes are heard; the other three are just percussive hiss--the tune emerges gradually. A 4/4 analog kick commences, then three percussion tracks, layered together. Synthesized strings introduce another riff, playing in rough counterpoint to the first. The strings drop out, then most of the percussion, returning us to the beginning, slightly altered because the exact knob positions aren't duplicated.
2. Tripod Shuttle 03:19
Initially, two Reaktor Limelite patches ("Tripod" and "Shuttle") were recorded and mixed down to eight loop files. I wrote a couple of the riffs and kept one in particular "straight up" from Limelite. I moved the loops over to the Octatrack and applied timestretch so I could interweave them into a new tune. For this LP version, new riffs were added, mostly using Native Instruments' Massive synth, in attempt to mask/counterpoint/add interest to the Limelite presets.
3. MSHouse Nation 02:48
This closely follows "MSHouse Nation (FM4 Edit)" but with chunks whacked out to pick up the pace. The rhythm track was done with the Electribe Rmkii groovebox; Reaktor's Carbon 2 and FM4 synths were used for the keyboard parts; some additional bass and percussion was added. The coda is new.
4. Ethereal Serial 02:21
Doepfer mini-synth, Vermona Kick Lancet, and two Reaktor synths (Rhythmmaker and three Titan patches). The hardware devices give the sound a plausible bottom and slight unpredictable lurch. For the LP version I moved the "marimba" section to the beginning and then had it reprise at the end, with some added MIDI echo/arpeggiation effects. Also layered in (because the beats fit perfectly) is the entirety of "Nine Inch Bells (Hardware Version), an older tune re-ordered and played in the Octatrack groovebox. The title "Ethereal Serial" is an in-joke for fans of Robert Downey SENIOR.
5. Plaid Curtains 02:26
This closely follows the previously-posted gratis version but again, with excisions to speed it up. Rhythms are made with the Linplug RMV virtual beatbox, in "loop mode" (pre-sliced beats that can be exported as MIDI files). I have up to seven tracks of these going, with some individual beats from "pads" (not the same as synth pads -- these are digital drumheads) riding on top. I liked the textures but the rhythms seemed naked without some lush synth cake-icing, so I piled on the Absynth, Reaktor Subharmonic, and FM7 patches.
6. Rack Dances 1-2 (Sadly Massive) 03:56
Extensive rearrangement and interpolation of four tunes: "Rack Dance," "Rack Dance 2," "Sadly Massive," and "Robot Jox (Ethnic Forgery)."
Rack Dance 1 notes: Composition for five synth voices on Eurorack modular synth. The only thing non-modular here is some percussion in the background.
Rack Dance 2 notes: Octatrack arrangement of sampled, modular synth recordings. Six 64-step loops (two with beats, four with synth lines), all recorded with sounds from some combination of Eurorack modules. The beat loops are sliced and individual slices are played as added beats, some with reverb and retriggering effects. The beats were originally digital rhythm synth hits, saved at 22.5 KHZ sample rate and played with the ADDAC wav player, with LFO-d analog filtering that varies the pitch and texture.
Robot Jox (Ethnic Forgery) notes: Have been working on Reaktor "sample maps" of previously-used percussion hits and modular synth recordings, which can then be plugged into various Reaktor instruments. This one uses a modular synth map as the sound source in Krypt (a granular ROMpler).
Sadly Massive notes: The drums are the pseudo-tribal congas from "Robot Jox (Ethnic Forgery)" with some additional technoid beats. The melody is a patch I made in Massive, played live on the computer keys (then edited and pitch-shifted to keep time with drums).
7. New Shortcut Medley 02:59
Extensive rearrangement and interpolation of three tunes: "New Shortcut," "Out for a Jaunt," and "Nano Crunchy."
Nano Crunchy notes: For the original tune I wrote "This starts with a sad, chromatic-ish nursery tune and goes all Black Dog about halfway through." For the LP version I added beats to the "Black Dog" part and moved it to the beginning of the medley. The sad tune comes in around the midpoint.
New Shortcut notes: MIDI drums and some FM percussion accompanying "live" Eurorack synth leads. One channel is WMD's Gamma Wave Source wavetable oscillator, with its table of harmonized sine waves swept by an ADSR signal via control voltage. These sweeps themselves change pitch according to simple MIDI sequence. The same sequence is also triggering a synth in the other channel (Tiptop's Z3000, I think) - also a sine with slight FM modulation and heavy tremolo (almost like a "phone off the hook" sound). The nursery room melodies of this and many other recent songs are inspired by the idea of what Carl Orff called "streetsongs" - simple figures anyone can play as an ensemble. In other words, they're almost willfully singsong-y and dumb. I have mixed feelings about this but I think it's intentional. In any case, the timbres of the electronic instruments are the main focus here.
Out for a Jaunt notes: Messing with the Doepfer A-112 sampler module and Reaktor Rhythmaker softsynth (independently of each other; the results are multitracked). Almost nothing in here escapes a tweak or an automation curve. The sampler makes the 8-bit quasi-exotic-bird sounds, some of which are further timestretched in Cubase.
8. Field Whimpers 01:48
Echo-y metallic percussion riffs from the tune "Clangs and Whimpers" were grafted into a later tune "Field Dwellers."
Field Dwellers notes: Samples from Native Instruments' Battery's kit "In the Field." Some orchestral sounds, scratching and glitching combined with basic drums.
Clangs and Whimpers notes: Reaktor's MMMD or minimal morphing machine drum and various Reaktor effects.
9. Shortwave Spectacle (Electropercussion) 03:09
The intro is a riff from "Shortwave Spectacle," consisting of autopanning tremelo sequences piled on top of each other, a "bolero" type rhythm, and a confectionary piano-ish tune. The tempo and mood changes somewhat arbitrarily with the appearance of a second tune, "Electro Percussion Demo Plus 4 Basslines." NI Massive riffs have been added to the latter for the LP version; the basslines are Reaktor Titan and Grobian.
10. Pulsewidth Placeholder 02:20
The intro is a modular/analog "pulsewidth" oscillation riff from the end of "Sonar Death Ray II," with heavy digital effects and a canned beat underneath from Steinberg's Loopmash ROMpler added later. Once again, there is an abrupt change of mood and tempo with the appearance of an earlier tune, "Placeholder." Some of the effects stuff from the beginning is used in the "drum break" of the second tune so there is some continuity.
A popular photo from the NY police department twitter feed is this stolen and pitifully repainted Citibike. OK, that's funny but let's look for a metaphor here.
Citibike, a branded entity that essentially greenwashes a bailed-out megabank, isn't paying for itself and is now asking for a bailout from NYC public moneys.
The designer of the bike is in bankruptcy because of funds withheld by Citibike, allegedly because of software glitches in the platform.
The alleged bike thief is a 68 year old man. What if, like the desperate character in the film The Bicycle Thief, he had his own bike stolen and was absolutely dependent on cycling for a livelihood, in a hardass town where banks and greenwashers get help and regular citizens are kicked into the gutter?
Who is laughing now? Of course, stealing is wrong.
This could also be bad performance art.
Have started reading Jim Thompson novels in earnest, after a false start many years back (not sure why I stopped reading). This Crime Time post has a good rundown on Thompson's life, and recommendations of what it considers the best books:
Nothing More Than Murder (1949)
The Killer Inside Me (1952)
Savage Night (1953)
A Swell-Looking Babe (1954)
A Hell Of A Woman (1954)
After Dark, My Sweet (1955)
The Getaway (1959)
The Grifters (1963)
Never had any interest in seeing the "iconic" film version of The Getaway -- Ali McGraw, yuck -- so was able to read the book without imagining Steve McQueen in the role of "Doc." It's an astounding work -- but to film the hard-boiled action scenes minus Thompson's under-the-radar left-wing subversion and the surreal ending is to gut the work. Make no mistake, this is one of the tightest, meanest critiques of the world Ayn Rand made.
Thompson's politics peek out more abruptly in a scene in Pop. 1280 where the town's early 20th Century small town sheriff "kids" a Pinkerton detective (changed to "Talkington" in the novel):
"So you're with the Talkington Agency," I said. "Why, god-dang if I ain't heard a lot about you people! Let's see now, you broke up that big railroad strike, didn't you?"
"That's right." He showed me the tooth again. "The railroad strike was one of our jobs."
"Now, by golly, that really took nerve," I said. "Them railroad workers throwin' chunks of coal at you an' splashin' you with water, and you fellas without nothin' to defend yourself with except shotguns and automatic rifles! Yes, sir, god-dang it, I really gotta hand it to you!"
"Now, just a moment, Sheriff!" His mouth came together like a buttonhole. "We have never -- "
This passage from Savage Night shows Thompson's skill at tossing off humorous one-liners:
I met Mr. Kendall, the other boarder, on the way down to dinner. He was a dignified, little old guy -- the kind who'd remain dignified if he got locked in a nickel toilet and had to crawl under the door.
Or this one, from the same book:
Ruth served breakfast to us, and the way she kept trying to catch my eye I had a notion to take it out and hand it to her.
Exploded views of Roland TR series drum machines, loosely interpreted into quasi-Constructivist compositions, done with gouache and acrylic on watercolor paper.
Dataisnature says the artist is "Roid" but the Flickr page says "O'Really (harvey human) (ian cognito)" so whatever -- get it straight, people. Mark Zuckerberg wants a unitary identity and you better do it. Roid's graffiti is nice, too, but I saw at least one "sponsored by Vans" in there so am having a Wooster Collective moment of not knowing what's "ad" and what's "criminal mischief in the fourth degree," sorry.
from the tumblr of ckcker
At the risk of spoiling a good joke by analyzing it, this sequence of five found photos encapsulates the tragedy and stupidity of our silicon valley-made, plato's caveman world. The randomness of image search meets clickbait buttonpushing mechanics, hollowing out the already hollowed out. There is a kind of algebra, or set theory, at work here: three images of cheapened sadness (the abashed celebrity at the moment of crisis), fear (the bloody hollywood FX head), and yuks (the parked domain meme reenactment), forming an emotional triad that must be offset by not one, but two, creepy goalie masks in order for layout feng shui to be achieved.