All posts by ben

Circadia Sees the Moon (2006)

In 2005, Dave Hanagan asked me to make some music for his short Circadia Sees the Moon. In this beautiful little film, a young woman is kept from seeing the moon and, it seems, her adulthood. I tried to give childlike quality to the surface but rhythmic chaos underneath. I had just been seduced by the first three records by The Books, and had some of this in mind while building these sounds with Csound and my guitar. The Books taught me to trim the attack off of the note, which was extremely liberating. I began to find all these new ideas in sounds I already had. The film features a repeated shot of the moon, which I supported with this stretched high slide guitar sound you hear here, and later on this disc.

More of Dave’s work at Shenanigan Pictures

The Emergency Pants Collection (2006)

The Emergency Pants Collection is a compendium of short films by my friend William Weiss. I had met him through my brother, and commiserated about so many things audio-related, that it seemed old familiar territory by the time we started wading through the audio of his dozen-or-so short films. I learned a lot in the process, and this collection stands out as one of the most musical of film projects I’ve been involved with.

I gave William a collection of tracks I was mixing for my Alkaline record right before leaving town for a few weeks, only to return to a beaming filmmakers who’d finished our soundtrack with my audio wanderings. This projects also kicked my ass as an audio editor – he really kept my nose to it as I edited the audio for most of the shorts in the colection. I edited, but he steered, and the result was super-educational.

The texture of these pieces brings me back to 1978 or so. I feel like I’m six years old watching these, and nostalgia is sometimes the highest compliment I can pay. These are my favortie excerpts from the collection featuring my music:

The Week In Review

Emergency Pants clip 1 – The Lightbulb Sequence

Emergency Pants clip 2 – Laying Bird to Rest

Shortwave Recording – Greeks received in Ballard

What does it sound like when we fall asleep? Are there hypnagogic sounds to accompany the fleeting images you see as your brain tries to shut down? The closest thing to it in the waking world is shortwave radio.

For those who don’t know, nearly every nation has broadcast signals in the shortwave spectrum for decades. This portion of the radio spectrum lies right beyond your AM radio dial, starting at about 2kHz. These signals do not lose strength over time the same way FM or TV broadcasts do, so if we trawl the waves (especially LATE at night), we are often treated to something broadcast from VERY far away.

I’ve been addicted to my shortwave since I first heard the sounds of WWV – the ‘time signal’ station – in the 70s, and compulsively record transmissions now as a way to.. stay sane.
Time Signal:

Audio MP3

I had a podcast going for a little while in 2006, dedicated to sharing this stuff. Here are two ‘episodes’:
1. Greeks received in Ballard:

Audio MP3

Apparently there was a relay tower in California which repeated a Greek station’s daily broadcast. In Ballard, with a minimal antenna (made from a slinky), I was able to pick up audio as strong as a local AM station. With better music.
2. Short India:
Audio MP3

I have used a number of beats in this clip in films elsewhere. It’s one of the main sources of sound in a short I did by Reed O’Berne, Soul Gold.

Soul Gold from listen faster on Vimeo.

Shag Carpet Sunset (2002)

Having cranked out a few beautiful little numbers for a film he had in mind, my brother Andy hit me with the script for his first feature film, Shag Carpet Sunset and asked me to score it. True adulthood was just beginning to appear on our horizons so the film’s references to our childhood which are strung throughout the plot devices killed me. Bravely made in Seattle as the city too was transitioning from its own sleepy, maritime adolescence.

This music would not exist with out the help of my good friend Neil Wilson. His awesome drumming can be heard throughout the soundtrack.

View Trailer
Buy the DVD
Some I composed for the film:

Audio MP3

Guitar Solos: Alkaline and Nazca Aerial

In 2004, I was invited to participate in the Big Sur Experimental Music Festival’s Sound Shift piece, and had no solo albums to bring. I had group recordings where my out-guitar voice occasionally shone through (DAE mainly) but had nothing to say ‘here’s what I’m doin’. With this gig as goal, I set my mind to channeling my recent software experiments, my film work, and my love of Fred Frith and Hans Reichel into a focused release. I gave a few concerts (audio below), playing improvs crafted with my software I dubbed ‘the glitchy delay’. This software was inspired by Scandinavian minimalist electronic stuff I’d heard on the Komplott and Fukkgod netlabels – I was particularly taken with Tsukimono.

At any rate, the pieces on the album quickly found their way into two scores I was doing: one for Brandon Schmid’s Taos. I pressed a few hundred, sold them, and got on. Still available at Cd Baby, as well as iTunes, and remixed/sold as “Listen Faster – Alkaline” when Wizard Prison opened for Animal Collective.

Have a listen:

..and the followup, Nazca Aerial: