one brain, iamb net

I’ve been reading Christopher Scoates’s book on Brian Eno’s work as visual artist, Brian Eno: Visual Music and, inspired by a section describing some of Eno’s process in making his ambient works, thought it might be interesting to work with a similar process in making an abstract sound collage. So I did: the result is called “Styrax.”

To construct this, I “seeded” it by using the first ten digits of pi to cull the first ten concrete nouns from the published version of Eno’s 1992 talk on perfumes (reproduced in Scoates). I chose the 3rd concrete noun, then skipped 1 and chose the next, then skipped 4 and chose the next, and so on, until I had a list of ten nouns. I then used those nouns, rather in the manner of Oblique Strategies prompts, to search for videos on YouTube that might provide usable sound samples. (The list of nouns: collection, aroma, wax, leaves, years, names, styrax, root, unrecognizability, experiments.) Then, having found videos with usable sounds and extracting the audio from them, I found the most suitable segments of each one. The sounds ranged from highly organic (field recordings and the like) to entirely electronic: with one exception, no “music” conventionally produced was used. Then I messed around with each sound: slowing it down, speeding it up, stretching it, adding reverb, etc. I then added a period of silence to the end of each sound sample as a proportion of the sample’s length, according to the source’s particular digit of pi.

To organize it into a piece of music, I again used the first ten digits of pi to determine entrance: I delayed the entrance of the second element by a multiple of 3, the second by a further multiple of 1, and so on. I then looped each sequence with no intervening space: since each segment was of different length, at any one time there would always be a new interaction among each of the ten sounds.

Then I cheated and threw all of that out. Well, not quite, but…I muted several sections of some of the segments, because they felt too familiar…or I cut out bits of the silence to avoid having several seconds of actual silence (sometimes, the silent sections of all ten parts aligned), and did a little more sound processing (mostly in terms of adjusting levels and EQ, although I altered one sound each time it occurred because its very distinctiveness meant that its return ended up feeling too familiar otherwise).

A bit more EQ and level-adjustment, and the addition of a ghost, and I was done.

Celltab “Styrax” (2014)

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cover(t) operations

Here are a bunch of cover songs I ran into during the second half of 2013 that I liked a lot or at least found amusing or weird enough to merit inclusion. (Update: I’ve re-uploaded this to remove a few glitches and alter a segue or two. You might want to re-download if you downloaded before 1/10/14.)

“The Kneeling Bus”: Jeff’s Second Covers Mix of 2013

  1. Crimson Jazz Trio “21st Century Schizoid Man” (King Crimson cover)
  2. Kippington Lodge “Shy Boy” (Tomorrow cover)
  3. Mitch Easter “The Black Angel’s Death Song” (Velvet Underground cover)
  4. Unknown Mortal Orchestra “Swing Lo Magellan” (Dirty Projectors cover)
  5. Helen Shapiro “Please Mr. Postman” (Marvelettes cover)
  6. Of Montreal “All My Sorrows” (Kingston Trio cover)
  7. Matt LeMay “The Only Lesson Learned” (Game Theory cover)
  8. Kid Pyramid and Hidden Noise Ensemble “St. Elmo’s Fire” (Brian Eno cover)
  9. Frank Zappa “I Am the Walrus” (Beatles cover)
  10. Freedy Johnston “Love Grows (Where My Rosemary Goes)” (Edison Lighthouse/Tony Burrows cover)
  11. Avocadoclub “Throwing the Election” (Game Theory cover)
  12. Ken Stringfellow “It’ll Be a Breeze” (Long Winters cover)
  13. Martin Newell “Some Girls Are Bigger Than Others” (Smiths cover)
  14. Gillian Welch “White Rabbit” (Jefferson Airplane/Great Society cover)
  15. Beggars Opera “MacArthur Park” (Jimmy Webb/Richard Harris cover)
  16. Zumpano “The Long and Winding Road” (Beatles cover)
  17. Dead Kennedys “Back in the USSR” (Beatles cover)
  18. Neko Case “The Number of the Beast” (Iron Maiden cover)
  19. Cookin on 3 Burners “Cars” (Gary Numan cover)
  20. The Chap “What’s Love Got to Do with It?” (Tina Turner cover)
  21. Lorde “Everybody Wants to Rule the World” (Tears for Fears cover)
  22. Angelo Badalamenti & David Bowie “A Foggy Day (In London Town)” (George Gershwin cover)
  23. The Moore Brothers “Look at Me” (Bread cover)
  24. Cheer-Accident “Theme from Shaft” (Isaac Hayes cover)
  25. Johnny G “21st Century Schizoid Man” (King Crimson cover)


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Winter songpile!

The “songpile” playlists are songs I like that aren’t on albums I own…so it’s where freelance tracks from singles, EPs, live recordings, god knows what-all, end up compiled.

This batch here what is called Multi-Cavity Production Spiders what do has songs on it what are good to hear. Here:

  1. Piers Faccini “Black Rose”
  2. Grooms “I Think We’re Alone Now”
  3. DTCV “I Was Where Were You”
  4. Swervedriver “Deep Wound”
  5. The Parson Red Heads “To the Sky”
  6. The Can’t Tells “No Television”
  7. The Stargazer Lilies “Del Rey Mar”
  8. Parenthetical Girls “Portrait of a Reputation”
  9. Circuit des Yeux “Lithonia”
  10. Bee Gees “Nobody’s Someone”
  11. One Finger Riot “Lifted Off”
  12. Albert Hammond Jr. “Cooker Ship”
  13. Mount Pressmore “Trampoline”
  14. LA Font “Sharks”
  15. Weekender “Spanish Peaks”
  16. The Visibles “Clarendon Hills”
  17. AAA Battery “Tea Time”
  18. Jacco Gardner “Puppets Dangling”
  19. Midlake “Antiphon”
  20. SWF “Warrior”
  21. Shy Boys “Is This Who You Are?”
  22. Frankie Rose “Sorrow”
  23. Anny Celsi “Christmas in the Pines”
  24. Sky Larkin “Motto”
  25. Peter Batchelder “The Damage I Did” (closing title theme, Modus Operandi)

Tomorrow: Cover mix for the second half of 2013.


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the yearly noise (annex)

So as I noted yesterday, there were a lot of good records in 2013…so much so that the “middle” section of my rankings (not quite the very best, but still very, very good) is quite bulging and difficult to put in any sort of order.

So here’s the next batch of stuff (roughly from 26 to 50), in alphabetical order:

  • Atoms for Peace Amok
  • The Dodos Carrier
  • The Flaming Lips The Terror
  • Guided by Voices English Little League
  • The Joy Formidable Wolf’s Law
  • Brad Laner Nearest Suns
  • Cate Le Bon Mug Museum
  • Leverage Models Leverage Models
  • Laura Marling Once I Was an Eagle
  • Johnny Marr The Messenger
  • Paul McCartney New
  • Medicine To the Happy Few
  • The Moore Brothers California Sister
  • Sean Nelson Make Good Choices
  • Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark English Electric
  • Sam Phillips Push Any Button
  • Robert Pollard Blazing Gentlemen
  • Scud Mountain Boys Do You Love the Sun
  • Superchunk I Hate Music
  • Suuns Images du future
  • Richard Thompson Electric
  • Vampire Weekend Modern Vampires of the City
  • Yo La Tengo Fade
  • Youth Lagoon Wondrous Bughouse

For fun, I made a rough mix from these albums: I just took each album’s first track (except where it clearly was more of an introductory soundscape) and put them in alphabetical order. The results can be heard here on Triskaidekaphonia: 2013 Annex.

Still more good stuff: All Tiny Creatures Dark Clock, Amor de Días The House at Sea, Brendan Benson You Were Right, Chris Stamey Lovesick Blues, Eleanor Friedberger Personal Record, Elvis Costello, the Roots Wise Up Ghost, Light Heat Light Heat, Local Natives Hummingbird, Low The Invisible Way, Mark Eitzel Glory, Mikal Cronin MCII, Minor Alps Get There, Momus-McClymont Momus McClymont, Of Montreal Lousy with Sylvianbriar, Pere Ubu Lady from Shanghai, Statuesque Pop Full Stop, Telekinesis Dormarion, The Prophet Hens Popular People Do Popular People, They Might Be Giants Nanobots.

And still worth listening to: Broadcast Berberian Sound Studio (soundtrack), Chelsea Light Moving Chelsea Light Moving, From a Fountain Milky Mile, Lisa Germano No Elephants, Matthew Sweet & Susanna Hoffs Under the Covers, Vol. 4, Mazzy Star Seasons of Your Day, Momus Bambi, Oneohtrix Point Never R Plus Seven, Photo Ops How to Say Goodbye, Pink Frost Sundowning, Tegan and Sara Heartthrob, The Blank Tapes Vacation, The Fall Re-Mit, The Mantles Long Enough to Leave, The Strokes Comedown Machine, Tommy Keene Excitement at Your Feet: The Tommy Keene Covers Album, White Fence Cyclops Reap.

Cool EPs: David Byrne and St. Vincent Brass Tactics, Destroyer Five Spanish Songs, Girls Against Boys The Ghost List, Guided by Voices Down by the Racetrack, Pixies EP1 (is too), The Joy Formidable Silent Treatment.

Noteworthy stuff that I picked up too recently to have developed an informed opinion on: Arcade Fire Reflektor, Arrington de Dionyso’s Malaikat Dan Singa Open the Crown, Chevy Heston Let Us Be Clear, Henry Plotnick Fields, John Foxx and the Maths Evidence, Los Campesinos! No Blues, Queens of the Stone Age …Like Clockwork, Tal National Kaani, Throwing Muses Purgatory/Paradise (there ya go, Eddie…)

The Pollard Count: 7—two from Circus Devils (My Mind Has Seen the White Trick and When Machines Attack), two under his own name (the above-noted Blazing Gentlemen and Honey Locust Honky Tonk, one under the name “Teenage Guitar” (Force Fields at Home), and from Guided by Voices, one album (English Little League) and Down by the Racetrack, an EP. And some singles and such…

And then there’s all the stuff I haven’t heard at all yet…

(Still to come: Winter “songpile” mix, and second covers mix of 2013…)

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the yearly noise

Here’s a list of my 25 favorite albums of 2013, followed by a playlist of songs from those albums. The year was interesting in that while I’m confident about my top ten or fifteen choices, from there all the way down to 50 or 60 or so, it felt as if there was very close competition: a mix of tracks from the next twenty-five albums would also be very impressive to my ears. Even beyond that: all the way down to 75 or so many albums had moments that made me think they had potential to rank higher. (I’ll address those lower-ranking albums in a separate post.)

For now, here’s a list of the top tier of albums in my 2013 (alpha by artist):

  • The Black Watch  The End of When
  • David Bowie The Next Day
  • The Bye Bye Blackbirds We Need the Rain (album cover of the year)
  • Neko Case The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, the More I Love You
  • My Bloody Valentine MBV (if someone had said that both Bowie and MBV would release new albums within one month of one another, who would have believed them?)
  • Polvo Siberia
  • John Vanderslice Dagger Beach
  • Wire Change Becomes Us

Second tier:

  • Agony Aunts Big Cinnamon
  • Richard Buckner Surrounded
  • Camper Van Beethoven La Costa Perdida
  • Robyn Hitchcock Love from London
  • Kitchens of Distinction Folly
  • The National Trouble Will Find Me
  • The Sadies Internal Sounds
  • Harper Simon Division Street

And, the third tier:

  • Karl Bartos Off the Record
  • Deerhunter Monomania
  • Dutch Uncles Out of Touch in the Wild
  • The Knife Shaking the Habitual
  • Kacey Musgraves Same Trailer, Different Park
  • Okkervil River The Silver Gymnasium
  • The Orange Peels Sun Moon
  • Parquet Courts Light Up Gold
  • Lee Ranaldo and the Dust Last Night on Earth

Here’s the playlist…titled Triskaidekaphobia because 2013 sucked (outside of music):

  1. Parquet Courts “Master of My Craft”
  2. The Sadies “Another Yesterday Again”
  3. The Bye Bye Blackbirds “Don’t Come Back Now”
  4. The Black Watch “Meg”
  5. Kacey Musgraves “Merry Go ‘Round”
  6. Richard Buckner “Foundation”
  7. Camper Van Beethoven “Someday Our Love Will Sell Us Out”
  8. Robyn Hitchcock “Fix You”
  9. Harper Simon “Bonnie Brae”
  10. Neko Case “City Swan”
  11. Lee Ranaldo and the Dust “Lecce, Leaving”
  12. John Vanderslice “Raw Wood”
  13. Okkervil River “Pink Slips”
  14. The National “Sea of Love”
  15. Polvo “Light, Raking”
  16. Agony Aunts “Twenty-Four Mergansers”
  17. The Orange Peels “Your New Heroes”
  18. Dutch Uncles “Godboy”
  19. Wire “Magic Bullet”
  20. Kitchens of Distinction “Japan to Jupiter”
  21. Karl Bartos “Atomium”
  22. Deerhunter “Monomania”
  23. The Knife “Full of Fire”
  24. My Bloody Valentine “Wonder 2″
  25. David Bowie “Where Are We Now?”

When “Where Are We Now?” was released as Bowie’s first new music in nearly a decade, many (including producer Tony Visconti) were careful to note that this was actually an atypical song from the album: it was not primarily quite and reflective. But the combination of overwhelming melancholy with a note of hopefulness at the end so well describes 2013 (and how to deal with it) that there was no other choice for me from this record…and it had to go last, too.

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horse pucky

Corporate naming rights are pretty ridiculous – I mean, when banks get bought out and their names changed every year, no one’s going to call the building or the stadium or the college bowl game by the right name anyway, because who can remember it?

Anyway, apparently, there’s some official name involving the corporate sponsor of the Kentucky Derby that journalists and bloggers are “required” to use.

Oh yeah?

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Let the Songpile Fall!

Here’s my Fall 2013 songpile: a bunch of well-loved tracks that have come my way (in this case from July through September of this year) that aren’t on albums I own… Many of them are new, some of them are not.

This one’s called An Expectant Ferret for the usual lack of any reason at all (except it’s a phrase I ran into somewhere and liked).

  1. Oliver Wilde “Walter Stevens’ Only Daughter
  2. Virginia Wing “Red Sails”
  3. Pixies “Bagboy”
  4. Headsets “My Brother and the Ghost of Ho Chi Minh”
  5. Billy Bragg & Wilco “Be Kind to the Boy on the Road”
  6. Grant Olney “Who You Are for Me”
  7. Villagers “Earthly Pleasure”
  8. Sean Rowe “Horses”
  9. John Cale “All Summer Long”
  10. Beck “I Won’t Be Long”
  11. Blouse “No Shelter”
  12. Zumpano “The Only Reason Under the Sun” (single version)
  13. Tennis System “Such a Drag”
  14. Primal Scream “2013″
  15. Shelby Earl “Swift Arrows”
  16. Cleaners from Venus “Wivenhoe Bells” (1980 version)
  17. Dietrich Gosser “Oh to Begin!”
  18. Yourself and the Air “Home Photo”
  19. Surf City “It’s a Common Life”
  20. Houndstooth “Canary Island”
  21. John Davis “Masoch”
  22. The Band in Heaven “Fairweather Friends”
  23. Stella “L’idole des jaunes”
  24. Sam Amidon “He’s Taken My Feet”
  25. Grapefruit “Elevator”

Fall to!

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