Great talk from Rhizome Seven on Seven

Great points in this talk from Rhizome's Seven on Seven conference. Watch the whole thing, but one highlight for me, is at 7:30: artists were originally valuable to the tech world for their boundless view of the world, technologists the bound thinkers; now it's the reverse: technologists are going crazy, artists bring the discipline and context. It's a beautiful thing to see this wall dissolving as I read the forums on processing.org and elsewhere, and see more folks state both 'artist' and 'technologist' as core strengths. Later in the talk, he rasies the idea of teaching programming as a liberal art at the elementary school level, which is a natural evolution of this mindset.

Ruth Crawford Seeger

Audio MP3
I first listened to Ruth Crawford Seeger's String Quartet (1931) in a class at the University of Washington in the late 90s with Dr. Diane Thome, who would do much to broaden my musical horizons during my stay there. As a Composition major, I was stewing in music from all periods and genres that year, and began to develop an anxiety when I heard rich, dense music like Seeger's. On initial listen to some pieces, there is so much that washes over you initially that it can be difficult to let go and absorb the sound viscerally. My mind would kick in heavy once the needle dropped, and my inner reptile would get to work processing sound objects, looking frantically for connections, so that I'd ultimately have something astute to say about the construction of the piece. I took solace in composers who I could grok on first listen without having to listen and analyse as quickly as possible. This is where I got the name 'Listen Faster' - it's a command I felt was always coming from the Music Dept at UW. Ligeti and Varese were my first blushes at comfort in this context, but I became consciously aware of the issue when I first heard this piece. I had the opportunity to speak on a Music Technology panel this past weekend at the Grammy's MusicTech summit and spoke to the stellar Passenger String Quartet (no site?) afterwards. Asking them if they knew the piece, I realized I'd been let in on a secret (unfortunately) back in Dr. Thome's class. Ruth's music was historically overshadowed by the valuable theoretical and ethnomusicological work of her husband Charles Seeger and their son Pete Seeger. I love this piece - it's allusions to timbre's we'd hear in electronic music 20 years later, it's balance, it's rocking-ness.

4shadows

4Shadows-safety-meeting-rare-LP Brother in art Matt Wainwright has a music project he was showing me last night: 4shadows. I've already got a previous release of their's under the name 'Lightwind' and a cd + book set called something like 'Lets go buy some useless shit' - both awesome. I think it's down at the practice space and not handy for quoting here and now. ANYWAYS:
I get all inspired whenever I see a collection like camera-wielding-4shadows-member Rob Z's site - lots to explore. This was my Saturday morning:

Roundware

I've been an active developer on the open source project Roundware for the past few months, and it's been very exciting. I've gotten the opportunity to pitch in a project used in Sound Artist Halsey Burgund's last few installations, as well as develop a location-based media platform geared towards ART instead of broadcast. From the page: "Roundware is a flexible, open-source interactive audio platform which can be used to create unique participatory audio experiences. Initially developed for sound art installations, Roundware has been used for museum audio tours as well as other educational purposes. Roundware creates a seamless location-sensitive layer of audio comprised of musical elements and participant commentary in any geographic space. Roundware organizes an ever-growing collection of audio information such that it can be accessed in both educational and artistic ways. Roundware serves individualized audio streams to users in a flexible non-linear way based on participant inputs. So you see, Roundware is the foundation that ANYONE can build an audio installation with. Halsey's video for his piece Scapes illustrates the idea well: Scapes Intro from Halsey Burgund on Vimeo. The exciting news of late is that we're being leveraged by the Smithsonian Institute for their recent Stories from Main Street as well! If you have an iPhone, download it and submit a story - it may end up on the Smithsonian's web page!

Werner

You know who I'm talking about. I first saw Werner Herzog in high school German class, and was hooked since. I like Aguirre and Fitzcaraldo etc, but really got hooked when I saw My Best Fiend.

Werner's documentaries have a humor, philosophy and reality that is completely original and weighty. Check Mark Antony out in The White Diamond, a film 'about' the test flight of an experimental dirigible, but really about everything... The end cracks me up.

Henry Kaiser's under-ice photography in Encounters at the End of the World deserve their own post. Amazing starting at about the 7 min mark.

Werner threads his commentary on life and, often, our place in the universe throughout. It's like that's his main instrument, and getting these films together is just a means to end - his excuse to riff on his subjects.

I could go on and on, but I'm sure you people are already hip. Just one more thing: if you get the chance to see Cave of Forgotten Dreams in a real theater in 3D, do it.

Orthrelm, Ocrilim, Mick Barr

I first heard of Mick Barr (and Orthrelm drummer Josh Blair) in a short lived music mag called Sound Collector. The description mentioned a guitarist who played 'like yngwie malmsteen receiving transmissions fom Venus through his teeth.' Yes! It took a little while (the internet was still getting its sh!t together and no one seemed to have a copy of his stuff to share) but i tracked down Iorxhscimtor by Orthrelm.

I hit play, and a brick hit me in face: it was music couched in metal but chanelling Stellar Regions-era Coltrane.  Two insects playing the same thing on drum set and guitar, sharing the same brain. One of those moments where you think 'will anyone ever listen to this with me?' The energy does not let up on these recordings.

(this is side one in it's entirety - 9 brief pieces (if I remember right))

Somewhere along the way, there was a drastic change in mood, and the last Orthrelm recording, OV on Mike Patton's Ipecac label, is more Steve Reich than the speed surgery of the earlier records. It was a sign of things to come...

I hit Amoeba in San Francisco shortly after hearing about them, and find a copy of Ocrilim's (then) new album Anoint. Orthrelm felt outside, this feels like home. The spastic focused duo is now just the guitarist, overdubbing himself maybe... 7 layers deep? The frenetic grace in the Orthrelm pieces is now, relatively speaking, a sustained OM. Lines still continue without repeat, but theres a flow to it that makes me think of noh theatre or darker japanese and vietnamese folk music.

Mick's drawings appearing on each album are a personal notation of sorts, though more guideline than literal if i understand what he says in John Zorn's Arcana 2 correctly. He's one of those musicians, for me, who make me censor myself less. I'm always excited to hear the next thing he puts out. I was really psyched to score vinyl of the 3-lp Purging Trilogy recently - it's awesome:

Seattle-based musician and programmer