Sunday, February 22, 2009

Life Instruction #1: Have Fun

I've been thinking a lot about George Brecht after watching a hilarious performance of his work "Drip Music". He is tuned into the humor in what people consider art. If you don't know much about Brecht, he was a participant in Maciunas' festivals from the early stages of the Fluxus community. He would write these mass produced packages called 'Fluxkits' (1, 2) that would include instructions for fast D.I.Y. Fluxus art activities. Brecht wrote this one:

Consider an object. Call what is not the object "other". Add to the object, from the "other", another object, to form a new object and a new "other". Repeat until there is no more "other". Take a part from the object and add it to the "other", to form a new object and a new "other". Repeat until there is no more object.
-"2 exercises" from Water Yam
I've become increasingly aware of public instructions lately -- the colors of the streetlights, the annoying automated woman that sells me my groceries. I like the play of them. The transaction.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Two Radio Station Reviews

1. offers a large collaboration of artists (visual, audio, and other) that mainly prime radio as a medium. Its a non profit and I hear through the grapevine that one of the founders is from the University of New Mexico. They feature great avante gaurde jazz and noise musicians and are streaming free all day on one of their two stations. They have this pretty dynamic looking pop-out player that, while non-intrusive, has little to no functionability (at least, when I was listening). Beyond that, they have some great DJs and I've have yet to hear a terrible set. They also promote musicians through community events and concerts, as well as the extensive profiles and external links on their website.

2. I don't know much behind the inner working of NOIZ-AETHERICA but I have this station set as one of my go-to's on live 365. If you want your ears to truly bleed, U.K.-er bulkmodulus (who also runs a 'roots dub noise' podcast) is the one who can find the tracks to do it. He plays a lot of breakcore, IDM, and jungle house music.

Deciphering Noise

Here's a list I've compiled of noise music genres. I'm still trying to figure out the histories behind all of these forms, but I feel a list of definitions is the best start. These are the various titles that the noise directory uses to categorize artists. (The noise directory is becoming proficient in recent months, keep checking back to it).

1. Heavy Industrial - This is supposedly a combination of industrial and heavy metal music. Classic band Throbbing Gristle (who are still touring, suprisingly) (1, 2) is claimed as an originator of the genre. Now, it's been reduced to describing musicians like Rob Zombie. Artists have even started to include hip-hop sensibilities, creating wild sounding groups like Kevin Martin's Techno Animal (1, 2).

2. Rhythmic Noise - A.K.A. Power Noise is where noise meets dance. Its been described as post-industrial, but since I'm still not sure what industrial music is or means I don't subscribe to that designation. Combichrist (1, 2, 3) and germans Dulce Liquido (1, 2) are credited as the prime crafters of this form now. Wiki says they use "militaristic 4/4 beats." Mostly, an old modded Roland ( like this pretty one) and a distortion pedal is all you need for this form.

3. Noisecore- I get this confused with mathrock/proggressive/industrial/noise... whathaveyou. This is one of those genres that feels like an SAT prompt. "Alternative is to Rock, as Noisecore is to Experemental."

4. Breakcore- This style is huge and growing in popularity by the second. If you don't take my word for it, ask the guys over at Jungle artists, hardcore fans, and general fast tempo loving dance junkies are jumping on board. My favorite example is the classical music mashing and blippy Venetian Snares (1, 2).

5. IDM- Intelligent Dance Music, that's what the acronymn spells. This was born out the 90's British rave scene. There are a lot of well known artists here, (I know, right? Well known noise musicians? They exist?) Aphex Twin (1) being the most popular in the states. I love machinedrum, given name Travis Stewart (1). He finds the wildest little samples to work into the beats. Who doesn't want to dance to wolves howling?

Bent Not Broken

Bent not broken is a great documentary I ran across this week. Its about why noise musicians tinker around in the circuitry of "instruments" and electronics. Exploring deeper into the ideologies behind the music, most of these musicians can seem out of their minds; but, I'm beginning to see some common threads in their creative processes.

I really love the idea of chaos that these musicians seem to cling to. Music is the production of sound, and these guys are producing intriguing vocabularies of noise. Casey Clark gets to the root of circuit bending from some interesting fellows in Chicago (by the by, if you want to know some of the local Chicago traditions and culture check this out). Clark has made a multitude of documentaries, most of which with music at the core. (1, 2).

Repetition seems to be the key to all the great noise musicians. The tinkering with an oscillation until you've satisfied yourself of the possibilities that exist in that particular short circuit. So, to end on, I went through a bunch of flickr photos and image searches to see if there were any great post-dada or fluxus artists that try to highlight repetition in their visual art. The whole idea behind fluxus is community. Finding those overlapping groups (like fluxus people) of visual artists that have taken to the internet to share their ideas has been satiating. Here's a new one that goenetix has posted. It reminds me greatly of how the repetition in music transforms as it evolves. The snow melting and falling is subtle but the mood alters itself well.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Preparing Pianos

I wandered across this great vid of David Greilsammer (1 2) preparing a tack piano. Screwing into a piano used to seem so savage to me, now its one of my favorite noises.

It defines the tinkering behind noise music. I started to think that the prepared piano was the first circuit board to look for noise. But, I suppose, no one ever did it better than Cage.

The Archive has a great stream of a 1973 KPFA interview with Charles Amirkhanian (1 2) explaining why / how you go about the prepared piano. He plays a few crazy tunes, too. You can check it out here.