Archive for December, 2014
Electric/eclectic musician Max Tundra offers some gems from his teenage years on Bandcamp: Selected Amiga/BBC Micro Works 85-92
This could be an indulgence but it may actually be his best stuff. You can hear him simultaneously (i) working within the limitations of the "medium" (early desktop computers) and (ii) inventing new musical vocabularies made possible by this previously unavailable device. Most of the songs have a raw, 8-bit, arcade sound but he constantly thwarts your expectations by introducing sampled material, quoting other musical styles, or breaking into runs of fast harmonic brilliance.
Mode 92, for example, starts as simple morse code pattern, introduces discordant counterpoint, morphs into Plaid-like 4/4 rave with sweeping scale riffs, and climaxes with an Emerson, Lake and Palmer quote ("Hoedown" or something like it). Motifs stack and unstack but inexorably build to a crescendo. You feel the underlying grid structure of the computer clock and cookie-cutter 4-bar patterns but there is so much invention going on these musical anchors are welcome.
"Musically precocious teenagers creating Bartok in their bedrooms" is an archetype we should perhaps be aware of and treasure. Sometimes the work product sounds immature or derivative and doesn't develop until later. Sometimes it's gotten right on the first pass and doesn't need any improvement or practice, and that's the case here.
a photo of the "venezuelan poodle moth" is flitting about the meme jungle -- i did a quick sketch of it (the photo)
concept by petrograd; i "tightened" it
For a mail art exhibition, Charles Westerman printed out individual frames of this GIF of mine (and a couple of others) and made a storyboard that he folded accordion-style, taped shut, and sent through the US postal system. Above is a scan I made of the first few frames. Thanks, Charles, it looks good.
As mentioned earlier, a Missouri-based company is still making audiocassettes and they will ship you blank cassettes, labels, "j-cards," and clear plastic shells. The cassettes ship in lots of 100 and up.
For the cassettes I'm making, I opted not to use a j-card (the cassette's equivalent of an LP sleeve or insert) but tried to fit as much relevant info as I could on the front and back labels, without bloating them too much with typography.
The red and grey stripes aren't a template that came from the company -- the labels ship blank white, and I added the color bars for the "small business chic" vibe. They are slightly asymmetrical by design ("art").
If you are printing a sheet of labels you need software that allows you to (i) make your own design and (ii) place multiple identical labels on the same page. NAC's sheets of stick-on labels follow the Avery format, even though Avery no longer manufactures audio cassette labels. Fortunately Avery's software, "Design Pro 5," includes templates for legacy products, including cassettes (Avery 5068 or 5198).
Applying the labels by hand is tricky and takes practice. Will spare you the nerdy details.
To record the cassette, I arrange the tracks in the desired order in my DAW and let the recorder run continuously without hitting stop or pause (which can cause clicks or pops). This hand dubbing is a pain. Levels-wise I aim for 0 db and let peaks go slightly over, to 3db. So far I have had only one song that wasn't accurately recorded. Too much bass frequency was causing bad-sounding distortion. I had to remix it with the lowest frequencies shelved off, otherwise I'd have to re-record all the cassettes at a much lower gain. Am not sure yet if the bass-loss hurt the composition; still thinking about it.
For mailers, ULINE makes a cardboard cassette mailer that is sturdy and easy to assemble.
Have been looking for kindred musical spirits and thought I would check out active audiocassette-releasers. Cassettes played a large role in the ambient/noise scene of the '80s/'90s, which I wasn't participating in as a producer but was certainly aware of via publications such as OP and OPtion. It's amusing to see how cassette "merch" mingles with digital tracks on Bandcamp -- a hint of the "real" in the vapor of streaming audio but also the continuation of a subcultural tradition. My personal taste lies with music that combines piquant, lapidary noise/synthesized timbres with beats, musical structure, and conventional song development, so that's what I'm looking for. Below are tracks (hat tips dpnem and sstage) that have those elements. Most are "electronic" but Washington DC's Talking Points is straight-up jazz, melding a '60s/McCoy Tyner sound with hints of Univers Zero. Lortica's is the most amorphous entry.
demonstration synthesis - simple syrup
nonhealer - the paradox unseen
talking points - garv
lortica - trou de trou
demonstration synthesis - lake sunrise
politesse - natasha
Over 40,000 tumblr notes for this one image of a vintage handheld game (I saw it on Rising Tensions).
Reasons for the popularity of this pic: (i) innocent (ii) "girly"/pink (iii) nostalgia for simpler times and games (iv) for millennials, imagining a world less horrendous than the present one (without having actually lived through, say, Reagan) (v) the anomaly of a game that doesn't appear to be based on violence but rather something pleasant like flower-picking or -arranging (vi) beautiful Japanese woodcut-style design of the LCD graphics.
More images of the game can be found on the sites Handheld Empire and Electronic Plastic. According to the latter, the manufacturer was Morioka Tokei; Liwaco (an acronym of Liebermann, Waelchli & Co.) might have been the European distributor.
Still looking for a narrative describing the gameplay but EP tags it "girls" and "action." Screenshots from Handheld Empire allow us to make a few educated guesses. A Little Red Riding Hood character is picking flowers:
There are some smaller people sitting on top of the mushroom who raise flowers above their heads in joy (after LRRH brings them to them?):
But ah, speaking of Reagan, there is a wolf in this garden! (Just as there was kleptocracy in "Morning in America.") Perhaps the wolf steals the flowers and/or has the little people "treed" atop the mushroom? Any information or guesses about what's actually going on here are welcome.
“We don’t put things up on servers anymore,” she said. “Everything we work on, if we work on computers, we’re not on WiFi, we’re not on the Internet, we don’t work in a way where anybody can access the information.”
The author of the above quote was not some Edward Abbey desert rat cyber-contrarian but rather a privileged mega-insider, who became wealthy thanks to the pre-Internet saturation "push" advertising of one-way TV and radio and is now all freaked about losing market position due to "sharing." Five Arbitron Ratings points if you guessed Madonna.
It's amusing, in a sick way, to see the upper crust behaving like the perpetually cash-strapped, who can't afford phone plans and pay bills with postal money orders. They don't put things up on servers, either!
This leaves a broad middle swath of the population susceptible to cyber spying and pocket picking, from powerful but naive corporations (if Sony had one ounce of Madonna's paranoia the famous recent "hack" wouldn't have happened) to techno worker ants with phones and data in the "cloud."
For those not buying into the phone-and-cloud lifestyle for ethical and aesthetic reasons (which is not mutually exclusive with being cash-strapped) a convenient explanation for non-participation in the new media world order could now be, "no, I'm like Madonna."
hat tips FAUXreal and DoritoWitch