Archive for November, 2006

A short post Thanksgiving jam

November 24, 2006

No Panes of Glass

I love doing sloppy recordings. There’s something about recording through your computer speakers and limiting yourself to whatever sounds can be made with or live on your computer. It’s sort of liberating in that it forces you not to really overthink things.

This track was made up from a field recording of rain outside my window, chopped up guitar thunking, computer mic/speaker feedback, and a sample of a castinette I had laying around. As with most of what I have been doing lately, the general vibe of the piece is sleepy. So take a five minute nap and enjoy!

Panes of Glass

Sounds from Egypt

November 23, 2006

For our honeymoon, my wife and I went to Egypt. I hadn’t been outside of the US much, so this was of course an amazing experience for me. We first went on a Nile cruise, where we pretty much toured ruins every day, Then to Sharm el Sheik, where we pretty much lay on beaches all day. It was pretty awesome. I think the part we enjoyed most was probably the ruins. As wonderful as being in the sun on an inexplicably beautiful beach is, it just doesn’t compare to seeing the temples of Egypt.

We pretty much toured constantly that week. The cruise liner went from town to town and there were up to three optional tours a day. I think we only missed one.

Kom Ombo Temple

Out tour guide was a man named Rabbi (pronounced “Robbie”) of Nubian decent. He was one of the best parts of the trip. He basically took us through the temples and explained the history of them and what the major portions of heiroglyps meant. There was something about the way he did it though that took it beyond what one normally experiences.

Maybe it was his odd, but endearing manner of speaking, his willingness to help you learn, or the way he retold the mythology (I hate that word) of the early Egyptians as if he was there. But, hearing Rabbi talk was something we looked forward to every day.

Rabbi Lecturing 1

I of course being as obsessed with sound as I am, brought a minidisc recorder along, and was happy to, on a few occasions, record Rabbi doing his thing. He even took me to a temple for prayer, (I stayed outside of course) so I could record the sounds coming from the Minorettes.

Listening back to these now, transports my mind even more than our photos (all 400 some of them) to the temples and Rabbi’s story telling.

Rabbi Lecturing 2

Here are a few bits of what I recorded while in Egypt. The first is of course Rabbi. This time, telling us the story of creation from the perspective of the early Egyptians, and explaining the sucession of the kings. The second is from outside the mosque where Rabbi brought me to record the minorettes. As you can hear, they are so close to one another that you can hear another one about two blocks away. The third is intoned prayer from the Hanging Church, which is a Coptic church and the oldest in the area. In this one you can hear our latter tour guide who kinda sucked and whom I remember very little about. (ha) Enjoy!

Rabbi on creation and kings

Duelling minorettes

Intoning at the Hanging Church

And of course with such good source matterial, I had to fool with it. This next track is the intoning slowed down and played backwards with delay and reverse reverb. It sounds pretty evil. I hope you enjoy it.

Satan speaks really slow doesn’t he?

One of mine, I hope you enjoy

November 17, 2006

I don’t know what to write to introduce this recording. It is one of mine as the title suggests. It’s only part of a larger group of linked forms of music I am interested in making however.

It is assembled from a series of blind improvisations on various instruments. It is not “free” (improv), because with freedom comes responsibility, and I am very irresponsible.

Essentially, I came up with a loose frameswork i could improvise on, and recorded the first part. Subsequent parts were devised as i listened to the playback, but they were recorded “blind”, meaning without hearing the previous track playing back. On top of that, certain sounds were sequenced to repeat rhythmically, but not to any of the other parts.

So the idea I guess is that this process of randomness with create generative music that is devised and controlled, but sounds free. The objective is to get listeners away from trying to identify with a structure and just listening to see what the hell will happen next.

I hope you enjoy this, there will be more to come.

Happy accidents that turn into rabbit holes

November 15, 2006

As I have written here before, I am a frequent thrift store goer. One of the things I look for from time to time is used cassette tapes. Mix tapes and answering machine tapes specifically. My wife and I have laughed our way home a couple times to the random audio collage of someone elses life. In fact one time the cassette actually told the story of a woman’s life as she left her husband, moved and found someone new all in messages from her friends and relatives. Before we knew it, we were awaiting each new message as if we were watching a heated tv series episodes from the finale.
That however is for another time…

Mix tapes can be amazing too. It is amazing how someone can capture a moment in time so well when they are right in it, without even knowing it. Of course it helps if you like the music, so I buy these fairly infrequently. Recently, I came across a peculiar one that caught my attention immediately. From the gothic printing on the spine, to the Elizabethan painting on the front, I knew this was going to be something different. YOINK!


The mixes consist of medieval music from various periods. Now I have never listened to music like this, but I have an open mind, so I came home and put one on. I was floored! Amazing stuff. Pure audio poetry. It is of course vastly different from me culturally, so listening to it is a sort of documentary experience, but a great one none the less.

It came to mind on hearing certain pieces, that this would make great sampling material for some of the music I make. So I ran downstairs and started running it on to the tape machine in order to manipulate it in certain ways and track it into pro tools.

When I listened back to it, I was struck again, but the sound of it, this time, blaring a rage through my speakers. I had run it in too hot. But it sounded awesome! Why doesn’t anyone make music like this? The beauty of medieval song writing with the power of doom! I think I listened to it ten times more that day, and I have even more since.

Words can’t really pin it down, just listen for yourself. Beware, lots of distortion coming your way! Enjoy!

Distorted Gothic

Hearing this, and slowed down versions of this type of music in general got me excited, so I built a pitch control into a walkman, so I can listen to all of these tapes at whatever speed I deem fitting to the music. So far, it’s been really nice.

Update: Commuted to work with the varispeed walkman for the first time today. It was really exciting. Having the ability to listen to the music and consider speed a function equal to volume or eq is really mind opening. The sounds change so musch in character as they are slowed down. You hear more, and have more time to absorb sounds before they are “gone”. If anyone is interested, I can post a construction guide for the walkman, it is really very simple.

Sounds from today

November 13, 2006

Today I did a bit of recording. Sort of informal, just trying out some ideas I had. I have been thinking a lot about trance enducing music. I have a couple records that pull this off in different ways. Usually it has to do with dislocating the listener from their musical expectaions. Sounds that either repeat ad infinitum, or not at all work best at this it seems. Both examples are used very well on Robert Bearns and Ron Dexter’s, The Golden Voyage Volume I. For the most part the almost non musical minimalism at some points is what really works for me.

I was also thinking about how there are sounds I enjoy that I have reservations about making public. If nothing else, than because they are so simple. For some reason I have the odd need to justify what I call my own music, by making it into something expected. This is true of distortion. I really enjoy the sound of it. I like dialing up a really nasty distortion and playing around with the beat frequencies it generates. But after the initial glow of experimentation, I feel the need to put it in a structure, as if that is the best way to communicate it. Today I realized, that if I just wanted to make a 5 minute song of nothing but droning distortion, that that is what I should do. And really the only honest thing to do.

I hooked everything up and realized there were some interesting crackles resulting from my fingers on the strings. So the first thing I recorded, was an improvisation starting with that. Check it out…


Then of course, the little droning bit I was talking about. This is an interesting first take. I’m not completely satisfied with it, but here it is anyhow.


Turn your annoying neighbors into music using magic

November 13, 2006

I live in a “developing” neighborhood that sits on the fringe of the ghetto. I just recently moved here with my wife, and we like it a lot. For the most part the neighborhood is peaceful, accept for the occasional fight, loud car stereo or carrying on a block over. I generally like the sounds of the city. It’s a constant source of interesting sonic collisions. The church organ next door, mixing with a passing Craig Mack being forced out of a crappy car stereo, etc.

Recently though, a bunch of college kids have moved in to some new appartment buildings behind my house. They are pretty annoying. They blast radio-rap and have loud drunken conversations till the wee hours. I can’t really help hearing them and sometimes find myself actually listening to them. It can be kind of ammusing. The other night I got the brilliant idea to try to record them with this condenser mic I built. Primarilly because it picks up everything and seems to do well with distant sounds, that and I was sure their conversation would be priceless.

Here’s a clip

How awesome are they?!?! I recorded about a half an hour, trying not to get my laughter mixed in with the recording. once I was done, I began to think of ways I could use the recording in music. I have been doing a bunch of field recording over the past couple years. Location things, sonic events, sound walks, etc. and always felt the itch to incorporate them in some larger thing. As I thought about it I came back to something I have been playing with a lot lately… time. Sounds take on completely different lives when they are taken out of their natural habitat in time. I have been experimenting with this a lot, and really enjoing the results. So I took a snippet of this audio in pro-tools and began running the time compression/expansion filter on it to varying degrees and listening to the results.

Time Compression/Expansion in Pro Tools

It’s amazing what goes on inside a sound in such a short time. The following clips are pieces of the previous clip, slowed down to various degrees. I was surprised how musical some of the results were. They almost sound like raging guitar solos. I’m definitely going to have to play with this technique more.

Here they are, enjoy.

Slow 1
Slow 2
Slow 3