Wednesday, February 25, 2009

polygon window - surfing on sine waves

polygon window - surfing on sine waves
ambient-acid techno landmark recorded by richard james aka aphex twin in the early nineties.
intuitive, dissonant, the minimal-psychedelic visions of a rare talent who possesses real creative foresight and a mozartian inclination for melodies seemingly written on nature's own treble clef. techno is alive, it breathes, it hypnotizes and terrorizes.
the experiment does not care about you. experimental media is not interested in entertainment. it does not concern itself with repeating back to you the world as you believe you understand it. electronic music attracts those with an experimental temperment, because technology invites tinkering. a world of technology is governed by exploration, by blind discovery. It's a world of complete control, but also a complete lack of control. Increased technology means increased mastery over the manipulation of sensible information, like sounds and images, but it also means the possibility of withdrawing control, of finding new ways to allow the processes of manipulation to act upon and transfigure the world. 

it's often said that techno music is future music. the simple way to appreciate this is to hear techno sounds as being direct indices of future existence, soundtracks to digital life, with cyborgs and jet packs. the more nuanced way to appreciate this is to understand the future not as a pre-planned fate, the stuff of fifties flying-car advertisements, but a world that can never take place. 
The future as such can never happen. But concentrated slivers of it can explode into the grey calm of the present. Techno is not the future, but through its most experimental moments, it can point to the future. Its experimental instances, like 'surfing on sine waves,' point to the future by incarnating a new musical possibility. When a new possibility is incarnated, it repeats forms and elements that are already familiar, yet at the same time it projects an utterly strange and foreign sensibility. 'surfing on sine waves' sounds like early nineties acid techno on Warp records, but at the same time it sounds like nothing else. James is the quintessential mad-scientist of techno, a onetime engineering student whose machine obsession has long since mutated into an exploratory drive for the inner cosmos of electronic sounds, a haunting, unsettling realm, an inverted mirror world, a phantom space of black-box circuitry and artificial intelligence.

Monday, February 23, 2009

endless grift: real live show

endless grift - thief at your window 

endless grift performs at death by audio this friday, feb 27th. we are joined by our good friends grandma's boy and many others. show begins at 8pm. endless grift is alex & billy & now also heather (au revoir simone). it is a haunting and bombastic sabbathine stomp with a krautrock heart. you will hear furious organ grind and sinister melodies girded by drums of thunder, an elegant whirlwind of doom and psychedelic churn that conjures omens, hallucinations, ghost world visitations.  

hope to see you there!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

songs from the crystalarium: elaste vol 1.

elaste vol 1. - slow motion disco
1. Electric Fling - Rah Band 
2. Mystery Man - Stevens, Clive & Brainchild

3. Dance On The Groove (And Do The Funk) - Love International
4. Crash - Doctor's Cat
5. I'm Your Money - Heaven 17
6. Clash (Chinjyu Of Sun) - Logic System 
7. Basic - MC1
8. Oriental - Peru (1)
9. Horizons - Eloy
10. This Is Me - Chris & Cosey
11. Pop - Chocolate Star

subtitled "originals from the cosmic era," this comp collects tunes played at the Discoteca Cosmic in Italy in the early 80s. DJ Mooner gathers trippy chugging delights, a real eye-opener into the netherworld of psychedelic dancefloor oddities. Changed my whole perspective.
had a blast working with soph & lisa on the vc show, not hard to do when you have the chance to join in on a great idea with two inventive open-minders. As might be gathered from the collection's title, the crystalarium had upbeat, twinkingly ethereality in its heart, new age with low end, so I knew going cosmic would not disappoint.  Plus marisa made a triangular prism filled with shattered, light-refracting CD shards, which looked like something that Superman would have in his living room in the fortress of solitude. 'Horizons' by Eloy, first heard by me on this comp, was a favorite, a splendorous dubby-disco one-off by a random German prog-rock band, with incantatory hippie girl vocals and deep reverb snare-splashes. 

marisa's prism

superman's fortress

vena cava crystalarium playlist

vena cava fall 2009 collection: the crystalarium

music curated by gem hunter
andreas vollenweider, “caverna magica”
amorphous androgynous, “mountain goat”
brian eno, “golden hours”
throbbing gristle, “20 jazz funk greats”
der zyklus, “quasar”
cocteau twins, “beatrix”
kate bush, “the dreaming”

gang gang dance, "bebey"
andy summers and robert fripp, “bewitched”
etienne daho, “arnold layne”
a mountain of one, “can’t be serious”
eloy, “horizons”
oppenheimer analysis, “radiance”
chris & cosey, "walking through heaven"
holger hiller, “das feuer (pilooski edit)”
cerrone, “supernature”
delia gonzalez & gavin russom, “black spring”
tangerine dream, “thru metamorphic rock”
jean-michel jarre, “oxygene part 3”
vangelis, “heaven and hell, Part 1”
claire hamill, “sleep”

more fashion week playlists on the vanity fair blog

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

gem hunter presents: the phantom island


photos by bret pittman 
compilation track list:

1. brian eno & jon hassell - delta rain dream
2. alejandro jodorowsky - 300 conejos
3. bola sete - the lonely gaucho
4. material - the end of words
5. ozo - anambra (long version)
6. ghost note - holy jungle
7. lee frank - safari
8. laurie anderson - white lily
9. b12 - colloid
10. new order - blue monday (jam & spoon andrea mix)
11. andy summer & robert fripp - bewitched
12. seefeel - gatha
13. edward artemyev - station
14. richard pinhas - iceland (part two)
15. wind harp - beginnings
16. this mortal coil - waves become wings
17. arp - the rising sun
18. deuter - life is love
text by william rauscher
Bretly and t'aja were young newlyweds, and in those days they often went to puerto rico where t'aja's parents had built their vacation home, several hours' drive from san juan, on the southwestern corner, where there was only sand and crystal water and puerto ricans. they loved each other very much and were lucky to have found each other so early in life, as you could count on one hand the number of people who could put up with the sort of foul-mouthed, slang-drenched absurdities that served them as love's own secret language. 
In those days they often went to puerto rico, to escape the grey pit of pressurized despair that the city had become. Some neighborhoods in the south bronx had ceased using money altogether, relying instead on an ad-hoc barter system, its currency regulated by the demand for ketamine and bootleg reggaeton. With funding for social services and scientific research gone dry, the bedbug infestation had worsened, in part as the species itself had mutated. Left untreated, the venom in bites from this evolved bedbug could reach the brain, causing paralysis, hallucinations, aggressive dementia. by mayoral decree, staten island had become a borough-sized quarantine-zone for those citizens plagued by the bug. 
Sitting half-upright, bretly could comfortably rest his iphone in his lap to see live webcam footage from the staten riots, where those forceably relocated had begun to stagger out in the streets, accompanied by members of the ACLU, who, protesting "Gitmo-era tactics," had been illegally airlifted onto the island. They could be spotted by their full-body orange ACLU jumpsuits designed to protect from infection. Bretly swallowed a muscle relaxant and a swig of rum and watched his wife swim in the saltwater pool. 
Restless after several days of blissful inactivity, bretly and t'aja decided to take a scenic jaunt to the radar telescope in Arecibo. To their surprise, they learned that the observatory had, deliberately with very little fanfare, been sold by NASA to a private buyer in the past six months. With government funds running scarce, the observatory had gotten the axe. The telescope itself was a ruined marvel, the edge of its basin now overgrown with foliage, its suspended antenna now rickety, with a snapped cable or two, its once-white surface gone piss yellow from the tropical climate. When t'aja stepped to the viewing ledge, she believed she could still hear, somehow, those since-ceased signals, interstellar echoes, white noise-rumblings of cosmic dust. Shards of electric sound, whirlwinds of voices running backwards, lonely pulses of green light that blink across unfathomable blackness. 
The telescope had been sold to a professor doctor wolfgang spiegelman, a shady, spittle-mouthed east German with a glass eye, who told them he had renamed the observatory the Transworld Communications Institute, and that in the next few weeks his small team of devoted followers would begin arriving, in time for the onset of the institute's spring semester. Spiegelman came across as half-guru, half-huckster, as if perpetually on the verge of believing his own bullshit once and for all. Bretly couldn't decide which was worse, the possibility that spiegelman was a remorseless cynic, or a deluded evangelist with an overactive imagination. Bretly had a sinking feeling about the whole set-up, and wanted to get in the car and go back home right away, but he knew better than to leave a lunatic German alone in charge of some piece of gargantuan, semi-abandoned technology in the middle of the Puerto Rican jungle. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

boredoms - ant 10 (lindstrom remix)

I'll be honest with you, if all of music sounded like this I would not be the first to complain. Lindstrom aka "DJ Lindstrom" remixes the Boredoms for Super Roots 10. I know, right? PS, it's really weird. It sounds like someone doing a mix of ten different things rather than making one long track. Which is sort of what Lindstrom's stunning live show amounted to, him making a big mix of himself. The end sounds like Magma, all turgid operatic vocals and wonky chords.  
I chose this picture by googling 'boredom' and found this work, apparently inspired by the effects of a bored state. Despite its obvious visual appeal, it's worth noting that it basically already looks like a boredoms album cover. 
Recently my band members brought it to my attention that my songs are occasionally lacking in firm structure. This is true. I think it comes from enjoying music like this lindstrom remix, that flows and grows rather than moves in discrete repeated chunks. This sounds like a good idea to make use of in your jam-based rock band but it's quite difficult. It's matter of answering the question: how are you going to reckon with your own private language? Are you going to start translating bits and pieces of it into elements that others can understand, or are you going to be schizo-hardliner about it? I choose life. 

white noise / delia derbyshire

white noise - an electric storm

delia derbyshire - unreleased tapes (bbc link)
white noise: late sixties rogue psychedelic-electronic mind-melter, holy grail for avant-weirdo obsessives. the first side keeps to a restrained pop framework, I guess if you consider sound-effect orgy recordings to be pop, while the second grows a beard and gets highly nasty, depicting the inner world of the spectral undead ("Visitations") and then go into a no-holds-barred abyssal freakout called "The Black Mass: An Electric Storm in Hell." There's later white noise records but they're basically solo Vorhaus albums. "An Electric Storm" is an unparalleled cannonball of whiplash studio effects and lysergic lasers. 

delia derbyshire: hicks sent this link, to a post about a batch of unreleased tapes recorded by derbyshire. Today if you are a male guitar player you can impossibly fantasize about nico, if you are a laptop dork you prefer delia. She worked at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and was a groundbreaker in electronic sound experimentation, her claim to fame being the recording of the Dr. Who theme. The tapes at this BBC link are nuts. Orbital's Hartnoll rightly observes that one of them could be coming out on Warp records next week. Delia did a bunch of sound manipulation on "an electric storm" as well, which explains alot. It makes playing with ableton live seem like monkeyshines by comparison. 

Sunday, February 1, 2009

mark lecky - fiorucci made me hardcore

amazing, beautiful and fascinating on many levels. mad props to alainfinkielkrautrock for posting this, which is fine I guess, I mean, it's not like they're hurting for reasons to receive mad props. But it's not like I have a finite props supply and have to be worried about a re-up.


Here's what artforum has to say, and who are you to argue with them?

After what might be read as a promising start--showing his neo-geo-inspired undergraduate works alongside the first medicine-cabinet sculptures of a then little-known Damien Hirst in "New Contemporaries" at London's Institute of Contemporary Art in 1990--Mark Leckey effectively disappeared. At the very moment when the British art scene was beginning to heat up, Leckey dropped off the map. His "comeback," the video essay Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore, 1999, was a revelation, as unexpected as it was disquieting. Compiled from found footage, Fiorucci charts the rise of British youth dance subcultures, from the talcum-powdered, amphetamine-fueled dance floors of '70s Northern Soul all-nighters to the Ecstasy-fueled raves of the late '80s. Described by one commentator as the best thing they'd ever seen in a gallery, Fiorucci Made Me Hardcore is an extended paean to the unadulterated bliss of nocturnal abandon. A documentary of sorts, Leckey's video chronicles the rites of passage experienced by successive generations of British (sub)urban youth. While obviously celebratory, Fiorucci is ultimately concerned with a collective loss of innocence; its subtext, an examination of the ritualistic behavior of heterosexuals on the threshold of adulthood. Leckey's young--ostensibly male--protagonists exist in the tungsten glare of the moment, blissfully unaware of (their) culture's inevitable passing. As one musical genre succeeds the next, so too are fashions consigned to the dustbin of history. Fiorucci revels in its detail: At one point an authoritarian voice-over intones a list of the once-prized sportswear brands favored by Britain's "casuals" (those elite tribes of mid-'80s football hooligans): Ellesse, Cerrutti, Sergio Tacchini, Lacoste, Fila, Kappa, Jordache, Fiorucci, each specific to a particular time and a particular team's supporters. Periodically a shadowy figure appears onscreen, disturbing the narrative flow. A surrogate for the artist, he watches over the rooftops of a twilit cityscape much as Balzac's artist-flaneur might have viewed the Parisian boulevards.

wind harp - song from the hill

wind harp - song from the hill

forgang-foraged, glacial-lakes approved jewel of deep 70s field-recording weirdness. A bunch of cultic flower children built this wind harp on a hill and let nature take its course. look how huge that beast is. It's like ten times the size of a pleasant hippy toddler.

I'm not even going to go into detail about how surprisingly moody and sinister the recording is. I also really like that the album is credited to wind harp like it's alive. There is an excellent blog post already out there about this album which you can read in full here and which I quote:

"It is undoubtedly a spiritual sound, just not in a way that I suspect either the record company nor the hippies were anticipating. Certainly anyone sticking this on to accompany a meditation session or drug trip would get more than they bargained for; bummers, paranoia, bloody noses; all are possibilities. For however much we may be taught to view nature, and atmospheric conditions / weather systems in particular, as an entirely beautiful, harmonious system through which we can gain understanding of ourselves via an impression of dissolution within it’s patterns, it swiftly becomes clear upon dropping the needle that the sounds emerging from this here Wind Harp were REALLY FUCKING MALEVOLENT."

wolf + lamb

Wolf + Lamb are a Brooklyn-based musical duo and label. They especialize in moody, sexy, low-bpm house, like slinky, candelit-cocktail booty-movers. This isn't easy to do because if you set your sonic sights on such a target you can go south into euro-lounge hell real damn quick. Seth Troxler is a musician. Sometimes he has songs on Wolf + Lamb. His 2008 jam "Love Never Sleeps" had a no-contest top 5 slot for me from last year. Troxler's all Wolf + Lamb podcast is extremely good: like whoa. My only compliant is that some of the tracks contained therein are unreleased: WTF. The Wolf + Lamb team also took a totally run-down space near the BQE and turned into their own private musical party universe experience place called the marcy hotel. The website makes it look like it's an actual hotel but I suspect this is not true. Anyway there's a party there late sunday feb 15th.

Oh and PS W+L likes to perform at burning man, for which they have their own futuristic buckminister fuller-style polygonal tent constructed. I'm disappointed they don't sell scaled-down versions at their online store.