Archive for May, 2016
"Cloud Tenders (Techno Version)" [mp3 removed -- please listen on Bandcamp]
160 bpm minimal techno -- the pad is a chord from a Battery kit and the drums are Ableton's TB-606 kit. The rest is modular synth (especially the Doepfer A-112 sampler) given various effects treatments. I find this kind of a sinister, yet fun.
I mentioned MuLab a few posts back as a low-cost music DAW for, say, a laptop when you are traveling. Version 7 has been released: [YouTube demo] As you can see, it's a sequencer with Reaktor-like modular synths. Easy to learn, fun, reasonably cheap, and the synths sound good!
On the left, random photo-detail-crop of Cally Spooner performance work at the NewMu (hat tip helvetica12); on the right, a clip from Luc Besson's Lucy, depicting Scarlett Johansson telekinetically flinging a mobster into a wall. Caught on the fly, Spooner's work resembles standard Trisha Brown-style gesture art but there's so much more. As the press release tells us, this is "a group of dancers who respond to conflicting choreographic instructions: to stay intimately bound together while remaining fiercely separate." Moreover, "trained by rugby players and a movie director, [their work follows] the logic of a 'stand-up scrum' -- a daily meeting often used in collaborative, responsive practices such as software development." Darn, that's a lot for one work of art.
Scarlett Johansson may or may not have had a rugby coach, but she is definitely guided by a movie director. Cally Spooner perhaps didn't need the theoretical overkill to institutionally legitimize her dancers' movements. In our current critically relaxed state where Laura Poitras and Tim Burton are shown in museums as "artists" it's only fitting to consider Johansson's genetically enhanced superhuman Lucy as form of po-Mo body practitioner. Semioticians may have already noted that the name Lucy is a trans twist on Luc, etc etc.
hat tips deviantart and various dumpers
Miracleman is an Alan Moore-penned series of comics riffing on Marvelman, the 1950s British version of the 1940s American Captain Marvel. The series was Moore's first big hit in the comix biz, predating Watchmen. After the latter's success in the US, the Marvelman stories were anthologized (in 1990) under the name Miracleman, for various boring legal reasons.
In the series, Moore makes fun of the lameness of the original concept, which featured a "Marvelman Family" including Young Marvelman and Kid Marvelman. In Moore's re-telling, Mike Moran is a lugubrious middle aged investigative reporter who, late in life, accidentally discovers he can turn into Miracleman by saying the word "Kimota" (atomik backwards). He also inexplicably inherits a full suite of Miracleman's memories, which he relates to his incredulous wife of 15 years:
She kids him about these memories, causing a reaction that stays in your mind long after you've read the comic:
"You're laughing at my life!" and the floor shatters to matchwood. Miracleman has a number of these overreactions throughout the story, including his response, below, to certain revelations about his career-long foe, Dr. Gargunza (which I won't spoil). The evildoer is not present for this mind-blowing news, the discovery of which causes Miracleman to yell out his nemesis' name in another arc of pure fury...
...followed by destruction of everything in the room. This is at the end of Book One -- I haven't read Books Two or Three (recently reissued by Miracle, I mean, Marvel). Grant Morrison's excellent writing on comics in the book Supergods reminded me of this series -- I haven't gotten to the part yet where he discusses Miracleman but am looking forward to what he writes.
Catchy variation on the matrimonial pledge, circa late 1960s.
Am reading Grant Morrison's Supergods (hat tip SW) and it's sending me to "the internet" to look for screenshots of Silver Age comix. In the perspectivally adventurous example above, the incomparable Inhumans appear in cameo as rings on the tuber-fingered hand of the Mandarin. This is a typical Jack Kirby stylization that shouldn't work but kind of does -- note Mandarin's absence of a thumbnail.
The late '60s abounded with such graphic experiments. Here's another one, a cover illustration by Neal Adams (possibly unused) depicting the X-Men crucified on their own logo:
"Sequence of Sequences" [mp3 removed -- please listen on Bandcamp]
Using a modular (hardware) sequencer to make riffs, internally clocked until ready to record, then clock-synced to Ableton using the Expert Sleepers "SW Sync" software. The recorded chunks of audio are then manicured in Ableton so they mesh together better when multitracked.
"Eight Gates" [mp3 removed -- please listen on Bandcamp]
The tempo for "Sequence of Sequences" is 140 bpm, which made this previously-posted track seem sluggish. So I increased the Octatrack tempo, re-recorded it, and reposted.
Not so long ago the suits fought downloading, even though it was the will of the people. Then they embraced it, after they figured out how to "monetize" it. Now they want to abandon it because the herd, I mean, the people, have embraced the streaming model, supposedly. The various means of delivery are discussed in this blog post from Bandcamp, which still uses the download model to market the work of individual and/or indie artists.
In light of a recent report that Apple will soon abandon music downloads (later denied, but undoubtedly containing a certain amount of inevitability), we thought we’d take a moment to update you on the state of Bandcamp’s business and our plans for the future.
Bandcamp grew by 35% last year. Fans pay artists $4.3 million dollars every month using the site, and they buy about 25,000 records a day, which works out to about one every 4 seconds (you can see a real-time feed of those purchases on our desktop home page). Nearly 6 million fans have bought music through Bandcamp (half of whom are younger than 30), and hundreds of thousands of artists have sold music on Bandcamp. Digital album sales on Bandcamp grew 14% in 2015 while dropping 3% industry-wide, track sales grew 11% while dropping 13% industry-wide, vinyl was up 40%, cassettes 49%… even CD sales grew 10% (down 11% industry-wide). Most importantly of all, Bandcamp has been profitable (in the now-quaint revenues-exceed-expenses sense) since 2012.
Subscription-based music streaming,* on the other hand, has yet to prove itself to be a viable model, even after hundreds of millions of investment dollars raised and spent. For our part, we are committed to offering an alternative that we know works. As long as there are fans who care about the welfare of their favorite artists and want to help them keep making music, we will continue to provide that direct connection. And as long as there are fans who want to own, not rent, their music, that is a service we will continue to provide, and that is a model whose benefits we will continue to champion. We have been here since 2008 and we mean to be here in 2028. Thank you!
*Bandcamp is not a download store, and we very much embrace the convenience of streaming. When you buy music on Bandcamp, whether that’s in digital or physical form (30% of sales on Bandcamp are for vinyl and other merchandise), you not only get the pleasure of knowing you’re supporting the artist in a direct and transparent way, you also get instant, unlimited streaming of that music via our free apps for Android and iOS, as well as an optional, high-quality download. Your purchase is about direct support, ownership and access, whether that access takes the form of a stream, download, or both. So please consider joining us in never using “streaming” as shorthand for “subscription-based music.” The former is an inevitable technological shift, the latter is an unproven business model.
This is a bit incoherent -- 70% of Bandcamp's sales are from downloads, yet it is not a "download store." As for the viability of streaming, it made sense to rent movies back in the day because VHS cassettes and DVDs deteriorate and most people don't watch films over and over, they way they might consume a favorite song or LP. Renting songs is part of the so-called cloud model, which assumes you want to be on corporate sites all day accessing "your" music.
This book will be available in the US in late June:
Social Media Abyss: Critical Internet Culture and the Force of Negation, by Geert Lovink
In this fifth volume of his ongoing investigations, Dutch media theorist and internet critic Geert Lovink plunges into the paradoxical condition of the new digital normal versus a lived state of emergency. There is a heightened, post-Snowden awareness; we know we are under surveillance but we* click, share, rank and remix with a perverse indifference to technologies of capture and cultures of fear. Despite the incursion into privacy by companies like Facebook, Google and Amazon, social media use continues to be a daily habit with shrinking gadgets now an integral part of our busy lives. We are thrown between addiction anxiety and subliminal, obsessive use. Where does art, culture and criticism venture when the digital vanishes into the background?
Geert Lovink examines the symbiotic yet problematic relation between networks and social movements, and further develops the notion of organized networks. Lovink doesn’t just submit to the empty soul of 24/7 communication but rather provides the reader with radical alternatives.
Selfie culture is one of many Lovink’s topics, along with the internet obsession of American writer Jonathan Franzen, the internet in Uganda, the aesthetics of Anonymous and an anatomy of the Bitcoin religion. Will monetization through cybercurrencies and crowdfunding contribute to a redistribution of wealth or further widen the gap between rich and poor? In this age of the free, how can a revenue model of the 99% be collectively designed? Welcome back to the Social Question.
*What do you mean "we," social media man?