RECOMMENDED READING: Maximal Nation by Simon Reynolds


Simon Reynolds (author of Retromania) writes a long essay considering "maximalism" in electronic music starting with the "awake" sounds of Rustie's Glass Swords: "The overall effect of pulling from all these different phases in the evolution of electronic music technology is a fiesta of retro-futures: as if flashing back simultaneously to all the moments when a bunch of new machines changed the sound of music could somehow redeliver that original shock of the now. But there's no melancholy for a "lost future," just delirious reiteration, thrilling overkill."

Compared with the analog hardware that underpinned early house and techno, the digital software used by the vast majority of dance producers today has an inherent tendency towards maximalism. In an article for Loops, Matthew Ingram (who records as Woebot) wrote about how digital audio workstations like Ableton Live and FL Studio encourage "interminable layering" and how the graphic interface insidiously inculcates a view of music as "a giant sandwich of vertically arranged elements stacked upon one another." Meanwhile, the software's scope for tweaking the parameters of  any given sonic event  opens up a potential "bad infinity" abyss of fiddly fine-tuning. When digital software meshes with the minimalist aesthetic you get what Ingram calls "audio trickle": a finicky focus on sound-design, intricate fluctuations in rhythm, and other minutiae that will be awfully familiar to anyone who has followed mnml or post-dubstep during the last decade. But now that same digital technology is getting deployed to opposite purposes: rococo-florid riffs, eruptions of digitally-enhanced virtuosity, skyscraping solos, and other "maxutiae," all daubed from a palette of fluorescent primary colors. Audio trickle has given way to audio torrent-- the frothing extravagance of fountain gardens in the Versailles style


I got quite a long way into this piece before discovering that the term "digital ...


A Crash Course in Post-Punk


It should come as no surprise that under-recognized post-punk band Crash Course in Science met while attending art school in Philadelphia in 1979. Band members Dale Feliciello, Mallory Yago, and Michael Zodorozny experimented with the then-burgeoning musical genre by replacing the jangular and distorted guitars, rhythmic drums, and synthesizer beats with childhood toys and common kitchen appliances. Their choice of instruments was born out of curiosity as much as necessity: How could they create the music they wanted with their limited student resources?

Thankfully, their choices resulted in a sound uniquely their own: peculiarly original minimalism vocals mixed with danceable and downright catchy beats. Coupled with a need to express and explore their interest in performance art and music, their final product in such songs as “Cakes in the Home,” and “Cardboard Lamb” resonated for years after. The band is frequently regarded as an influential force in the electro sound and the techno industrial genres.

I recently spoke with Zodorozny about their initial interest in performance art and how it influenced everything from their live shows to the creation of their Frankenstein-like instruments.



You've been classified as a post-punk band. Would you consider that to be an accurate term for your sound and aesthetics?

Crash Course in Science was formed in 1979 so we would consider being referred to as post-punk band accurate. We were inspired by punk-rock music and we we’re all big fans of the genre. We were also inspired by the work of Brian Eno prior to the punk explosion. As artists and songwriters, Crash Course in Science became a format for our expression.


Can you tell me a little more about the performance art aspect tied to the band? What was/is your history with performance art?

The three of us performed personal performance ...


Oramics to Electronica: Revealing Histories of Electronic Music at London Science Museum


Oramics to Electronica: Revealing Histories of Electronic Music, opens tomorrow at the London Science Museum.


The Oramics machine is a device of great importance to the development of British electronic music,” says Mick Grierson, Director of the Daphne Oram Collection at Goldsmiths. “It’s a great shame that Daphne’s contribution has never been fully recognised, but now that we have the machine at the Science Museum, it’s clear for all to see that she knew exactly how music was going to be made in the future, and created the machine to do it.”

Rare archive footage and an interactive version of The Oramics Machine feature in the exhibition. Sound and Music and Goldsmith’s have also created an iPhone app that recreates the sound of The Oramics Machine.

Oramics To Electronica enters its second phase on October 10, when it will be showcasing a wide array of electronic music and sound reproduction equipment with help from employees of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop and Electronic Music Studio (EMS), who produced the first commercial British synthesizer, the VCS3 (rocked by everyone from Brian Eno to Life On Earth composer Edward Williams). In October and November, a programme of “Electronica, Radiophonics and Oramics associated events, workshops and performances” will run alongside the exhibition; details to follow. -  FACT magazine



Info Mining: A Look at George Tzanetakis' Innovations in Music Classification



Printed scores were once necessary for music listening.  Until the 20th century, each musician playing a symphony would need his own notated sheet music in order to play a piece for every performance.  Today, the bulk of music listening happens through recordings.  Musicians only need to play a song correctly once in order for anybody to hear it anytime, anywhere.

But with the streamlined dissemination of digital music on the Internet, today’s listeners need guidelines for how to consume music just as badly as musicians once needed scores to produce new music.  There is simply too much recorded music for any one person to keep track.  Accordingly, “music discovery services”, which guide listeners through huge libraries of music, are beginning to emerge as a genuine growth industry.

Pandora, a leading music discovery service, famously began its Music Genome Project about a decade ago, a music classification method that numerically rates songs according to a long list of criteria and sorts songs by these “genetic” similarities.  Pandora’s website generates playlist suggestions based on a minimal amount of input from listeners.  Ideally, Pandora automatically can create personally tailored playlists that a listener didn’t have the knowledge or time to create.

Shortly before the Music Genome Project commenced, George Tzanetakis made Marsyas, an open-source toolkit for automatically classifying songs and entire libraries of music, among other applications.  Pandora and Marsyas had similar aims - to intelligently sort music libraries to give listeners a way to find new artists and retrieve other qualitative information about music.  Working at Princeton as a grad student with professor Perry Cook, who wanted to find a way of automatically sorting radio stations, Tzanetakis developed various library-browsing visualizations within Marsyas, including Genre Meter, which can respond live to sound sources and classify them (video demo.)

Pandora has taken off as a large-scale commercial venture, with more competitors like Spotify and Slacker in its wake.  Tzanetakis’ Marsyas has remained known mostly only by academics and computer scientists.  Regardless, Tzanetakis’ work addresses issues of music classification in a more radical and even prophetic way than Pandora: all of Marsyas’ “genes” are completely determined by computer automation.  Tzanetakis’ contributions to the field of Music Information Retrieval (MIR, for short) have helped to push computers toward increasingly delicate interpretations of one of man’s most elusive forms of expression.  Marsyas is available for free download and even has a free user manual.

Though songs in the Pandora database are weighed and sorted by algorithms, a board of experts determines the value of each “gene”.  Recently, a New York Times reporter sat in with a group of Pandora’s experts listening to songs and then opining about how high a song scored in criteria like “emotional delivery”, “exoticism” and “riskiness”; as well as more concrete judgements on tempo, instrumentation and harmony.

By contrast, George Tzanetakis’ approach to music classification is completely automated.  It needs no panel of experts or crowdsourced participants to complete an intelligently made, intuitively browsable library of music.  It works based entirely on the audio signals themselves.  Given merely a library of digital song files, George Tzanetakis’ automated classification techniques algorithmically organize songs according to a variety of criteria and present fun interactive ways to browse and compare music.



Fatima Al Qadiri's Global .Wav Channel


Global .Wav is a "weekly presentation by Fatima Al Qadiri of attention-worthy music videos from around the world." Among recent findings, a Tanzanian heartthrob, a "tween trance act from Iran," a Kazakh boy band, a Moroccan pop singer Snooki doppelganger and a "super-hot" Mongolian rapper ("all the machinations of an obvious gangsta rap video: a cage containing an agitated (jailed?) homeboy, gang signs/tattoos, appropriated hood styling via bandana and XXXX-L tees, etc. On closer inspection, however, the beat and the melody are actually sick.")

Tanzania - Pasha - Ni Soo

Farsi=Tajiki=Dari (Dj negor)

Silhouette Khorshid Khanoom

Gee- Sanaa tavi


Comment: There’s No Such Thing as a Compulsory License for a Photo


My friend Andy has a terrific post up about his ordeal settling with the photographer Jay Maisel over the threat of a copyright lawsuit. Chances are if, you’re reading this, you know about that. If you haven’t ready Andy’s story, go and read it and then come back.

There’s one pointed question I’ve seen crop up in a number of conversations about the settlement:

Isn’t it wrong that Andy chose to pay the licensing fees for the music but not for the photograph?

This question makes the assumption that Andy could have paid the licensing fees to Maisel like he did for the music. He couldn’t have. This is because Jay Maisel refused to license the image and there’s no compulsory license for photography like there is for musical compositions.

A compulsory license is what it sounds like: the owner of the underlying musical composition is required, by law, to license it to anyone who wants to use it at a predetermined rate. This prohibits song writers from picking and choosing who gets to perform their works. It also allows Andy to license, at a fair rate, the underlying song compositions from a Miles Davis album to make a new album of original recordings (remember, copyrights to recordings are different from copyrights to the compositions of a song).

The copyright of photographic works, unlike works of music composition, is not subject to a compulsory license.


Julian Lynch - "Ground" (2011)- Zahid Jiwa and Miko Revereza


Zahid Jiwa and Miko Revereza, Julian Lynch - "Ground" (2011)


Yung Jake - Datamosh


(shout out to david o'rielly) (i got a max beat behind me) (im doing me, making .gifs) (on the web. Ryder Ripps) (It's cool cause its nerdyyy) (yeah)

datamoshing cool datamoshing great. justin bieber i'l move him with my face. then use it for an art show. use it for a piece projected on a apple projected on a peach find me on the internet, i'm making gifs...


Lia Ices' Webcam Travelogue Music Video "Grown Unknown"


Lia Ices’ video for “Grown Unknown” is a visual performance diary documenting modern dancer Ruby MacDougall’s three week voyage across the Pacific from Long Beach, California to Shanghai, China...The footage was shot from a laptop camera, and edited by Joanna Bovay



Blipfest 2011


Blipfest co-founder Nullsleep, performing to a Saturday crowd

Over the weekend Eyebeam Art & Technology Center hosted the fifth annual Blip Festival. The three day concert series is a hub for the chiptune scene, an international community of musicians composing, arranging, and performing music for vintage computer and game systems such as Gameboy, NES, Commodore 64, and Amiga. For a sound that is left one-dimensional on record and is conflated with gamer culture, Blip provides the optimal conditions for absorbing the scene's depth and diversity. While the genre obviously draws influence from video game soundtracks, this is due in part to the parametric limitations of the medium and its composition environment. Stylistically, the weekend's oeuvre ranged from super posi 8bit pop-punk, to the darker more aggressive corners of electronic music and noise.

On display throughout the three evenings was the Blip Festival Gallery curated by Lindsay Howard. Three video monitors featured works from Sterling Crispin, Alexandra Gorczynski, and Nicolas Sassoon. This rotating exhibition was limited though to a small peripheral area by the entrance, and would have benefited greatly by expanding into the main gallery space. Instead the corners of Eyebeam's main gallery were occupied by vendors offering goods such as Makerbots, Gameboy accessories, and cupcakes. Among the festival's standout performances were: Tristan Perich (2010 Rhizome Commission recipient), offering a performance drawing from his 1 bit symphonies and 4mat, a veteran of the demoscene, and composer of music for the Amiga, presenting his debut public appearance (accompanied by stunning visuals from Enso). Unsurprisingly though co-organizers, and scene veterans Bit Shifter and Nullsleep stole the show (Nullsleep's visuals provided by Tabor Robak), both exuding pure energy with unstudied stage presence.