Archive for February, 2008

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 2/23/08

February 23, 2008

Update: Here’s a recording of this week’s broadcast! Sorry it took all the way until Sunday night to get it posted, but As Kurtis Blow said, “those are the breaks!” Be sure to support the artists and labels listed below– and by “support” I mean, give them some money. We all like polite e-mails, but it is hard to convince one’s electric company to accept a polite e-mail in lieu of cash. Don’t like it? Please refer to the italicized portion of this paragraph.

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I’m back! Last week was a complete nightmare. In addition to having a terrible bout with the flu, (punctuated by a week-long ice storm and subsequent power loss) my wife took a fall on the ice and hit her head. In doing so, she lost nearly a week’s worth of memories in trade for a nasty concussion. With my son suffering from the same flu, broadcasting was definitely OUT. Luckily, I hear Sweet Action Radio turned in a nice long program with some freeform mixing– there is supposed to be a recording– if I get a copy, I’ll be sure to share.

Let’s talk about this week’s show now! I started off with an extract from an untitled Zipperspy Rrrecycled cassette, which actually led quite well into one of my new favorites, Mutablemusic label’s “New Music for Baritone & Chamber Ensemble” featuring Thomas Buckner. I’m really impressed with the Annea Lockwood composition “Luminescence,” which sets an Etel Adnan text to the timing of ocean waves alongside sparse offerings from the SEM Ensemble.

The obvious vocal component of “Luminescence” led me to continue in this vein, so I followed with some of Bob Marsh’s “Viovox” disc, a new release from Public Eyesore Records. I’ve noticed a small explosion of Marsh material pinging my radar lately, so expect to hear more from him in March.

Right now, I’m playing “Zyklus” from Maurizio Bianchi’s “Zyklusters” album on Lona Records— while it isn’t technically a vocal work, there’s a vocal quality to it that I hear in the rounded phrasing and breathy flutters of this work. It may be a bit too quiet for radio in parts, though… I wish I knew if listeners could hear some sections adequately. Well, that’s just another point towards purchasing the actual album, eh?

Now playing from Matthew Welch and Craig Colorusso’s “Rusted Breath Quiet Hands” disc on Muud Records. After all, there’s only two weeks until Colorusso does a live set here on “It’s Too Damn Early”! For locals, be sure to keep any eye on the Nightlife— there may be a small writeup to remind you of the March 8th date.

Yes, I’m very excited to be playing new material from Brekekekexkoaxkoax— which I have since learned is the sound made by frogs in an Euripedes Aristophanes play. (Thanks, Xfon!) The disc (not the play) is called “I manage to get out by a secret door,” and is now available on Eh? Records. So far, this has been an impressive release. Josh Ronsen is reaching for some serious territory here, and clearly inspires those around him to give their best.

Zipperspy — Untitled, Rrrecycled tape
Thomas Buckner, Annea Lockwood, Etel Adnan — Luminescence
Bob Marsh — Voice of America
Bob Marsh — Indian Summer
Mystified — Strange Traffic
Maurizio Bianchi — Zyklus
Matthew Welch, Craig Colorusso — Rusted Breath, Quiet Hands
Brekekekexkoaxkoax — Art brings a tiny gleam, swamped by garrulousness
Brekekekexkoaxkoax — These are mere words, powerless, useless
Marina Hardy — It Ain’t Necessarily So
Frederique Bruyas — Jack Kerouac
Frederique Bruyas — Christophe Tarkos
George Korein — Singsong Corpse III
George Korein — Pulsing Corpse
George Korein — Rotodrone Encroaching!
George Korein — Squawking Corpse Rotodrone
George Korein — Squawking Sinking
Eddie the Rat — Metabolized
Eddie the Rat — Waiting for (Aint’ Never Gonna Get)
Eddie the Rat — Food for the Moon Too Soon pt.1
Eddie the Rat — Cannibal

Everything went south

February 14, 2008

I won’t be blogging this week… or hosting tomorrow’s radio show. I’ll catch you all up on my absolutely insane week when things settle. But for now, let’s just say that it involves lots of ice, lots of falling down, lots of vomit, lots of hospital visits, a house in mid-explosion, and amnesia.


Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 2/9/08

February 9, 2008

This week’s broadcast got off to a bit of an unexpected start– just chose odd selections, but it has somehow worked. I guess there is a little leftover feeling from last week’s “Unrelated” episode remaining…


Right now, I’m playing from Box Deserter’s Edgetone Records release “Two Revolutions.” I’m looking forward to listening to this again with my new headphones. Since I got them, I’ve been re-visiting quite a few recordings– it’s amazing what you can hear with a nice set of headphones! My wife wasn’t too convinced of this until she heard them… now I imagine I’m going to have to share.I’m very tired today, and should probably be home asleep. I’ll get the playlist linkified later, and make the download available as soon as possible. Just don’t hold your breath, ’cause I’m ready to pass out!

A_dontigny — Aufbau
Vialka — Umfall
Vialka — Shitty Monkeys
The Stumps — Untitled (from “The Black Wood”)
Chica X — Kickin’ the Kittens
Emil Beaulieau, Fe-Mail and Friends — Call Me (extract)
Dr. Mint — First Light
Dr. Mint — Gathering
Dr. Mint — Fire Flight
Dr. Mint — Submerge
Box Deserter — One At Home
Tomas Krakowiak — Bal
Tomas Krakowiak — La Ciutat ets Tu
Tomas Krakowiak — Drgacze
Tomas Krakowiak — Sink
The Haters — Noise as the Blank Banner of an Untitled Ideology
Pleco — Life Everlasting
Mor Monsen — Vangsasa
Mor Monsen — Ramah
Mor Monsen — Kanutten
Mor Monsen — Trass
Mor Monsen — Mimre

Burning in pink noise!

February 5, 2008

I’ve returned from the frontier, where sound and music meet the gullible enthusiast— yes, I’ve spent time in the audiophile trenches today, attempting to find useful information about my next headphone purchase.

Apparently, I live in an area of the country deemed unfit for the sale of anything greater than colorful earbuds, whereas I am hoping to pick up a set of full-size around-ear headphones. I didn’t think this was too big of a task, but it looks like I’m going to have to visit St. Louis to find anything worthwhile.

Even though I didn’t come away with much useful information about my intended purchase, I did find out about the rather humorous practice of “burning in” headphones.

Essentially, “burning in” a set of headphones is supposed to be like breaking in a new pair of shoes or a baseball glove– given appropriate time and volume, the headphone diaphragms can “settle” into place. Audiophiles naturally claim that this is very important, and have come up with a wide variety of methods for the “burning in” process.

Incredibly, the most accepted method seems to be playing 100 to 200 hours of pink noise through each new pair of headphones! Others use white noise, sine wave sweeps, or ordinary music… but it’s pink noise that seems to have captured the audiophile imagination.

Unfortunately, there’s the question of how to OBTAIN pink noise…

“Well i guess i’ve bought into burn-in… and I was wondering if anyone knew where you can get it [pink noise] for free? Is it complex enough that you need 15 minutes or can you use one minute or less just on a loop? Does anyone have a small file that they could share?”rwest1389

Glancing at my shelves full of Merzbow, Emil Beaulieu, KK Null, Masonna, Praew Jik, etc is making me feel like a drug dealer given free access to the junior high playground. “You want pink noise? Shiiiiit… try some of THIS, it’ll blow your mind….”

The kiddies crack me up:

“so i just got some air cushions and i want to burn them in but not sure where to get pink noise?”xenochimera

“Is there some sort of ISO (I got a cable modem) I can download and burn so I can break in my V6s (when I get em)?” –massappeal85

“I’m not quite sure what pink noise is…but I hear its good for burning in headphones. If so, what is it, and more importantly how do I acquire it so that I may use it?” –DavidMahler

Even more hilarious was the file poor David was directed to– 200 megabytes of pink noise! But it was a FLAC… my money says Massappeal85’s ISO sounded better, haha.

And it keeps going! This is a topic of Great Concern to the audiophiles!

“I keep seeing pink noise being recommended for breaking-in phones. Just what is pink noise and how do I get me some?” –vaper

“I’ve been researching and reading and came across something called: “Pink noise” as a means to breaking in a pair of headphones. I’m writing now, for the prime purpose of asking what this is “pink noise,” how to produce it and how to make use of it with a new pair of headphones?” –Dr.J

“Does anyone have a mp3 or AIFF file of pink noise they can send me? It would be greatly appreciated.” –Phraxos

The real fun is where the audiophiles start showing off their pathological aversion to noise….

“I read up on pinknoise yet I’m not sure how to set the volume of it on my headphone. How loud should it be? I’ve read it should be a little above or at normal listening level, but usualy I dont listen to static that much so I can’t tell what normal listening level is. Does that meen just play some play it at the same volume I usualy play my music at?” –weste47

“i’ve been suggested from my dealer not to burn in with pink noise, i’m wondering if pink noise put stress on the PK1 driver” –Bozz_Keren

“Is pink noise supposed to sound like ocean waves? I mean it sounds horrible but is the tone similar b/c I’m not sure if there’s “different types” or if I got a good one.” –SBD

As Yoda once mentioned, “Fear leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering…” With this in mind, I present you with the dark side of audiophile-noise relations:

“I hate noise! Two of my sacds, Kind of Blue and Getz/Gilberto, have noticeable crackling or sizzling noises accompanying the instruments. On various Kind of Blue tracks, I can hear subtle crackling along with the musical tone coming out of the horns. On Getz/Gilberto, I hear loud crackling accompanying the bass notes for the most of the length of the fourth track. Also, I can hear the buzzing of what sounds like an overly sensitive mic on Astrud Gilberto’s vocal line in “Girl from Ipanema”. I generally like the fact that my sr325s are detailed phones, but I find such recording artifacts quite annoying. For those who have heard these popular recordings, would I benefit from slightly less detailed phones, or are these noises something I’ll have to get used to?” –Dimitri

” I found a strange noise evey time I play the female voice in the music every time when the singer sing a word there is a “hass, hass” noise accomplish with singers voice… is my e3c defect ?? or my setting problem??” –miaofat

“You can hear literally all electronical interferences, including the fan, hard drive, dvd-rom(thats loud as hell!), and even mouse movement! It just drives me insane…” –ahdat

“does an external plugin device exist to cancel out the noise?” –pchong

“The SA5000 is a scary monster; hearing pulsing static at 1 second intervals… I then suspected my ears were messed up. Nope, I never hear the pulses when I don’t have headpones on. What exactly was the problem? Then I noticed something. The pulses of static buzz happened on an average of 1 second intervals and actually varied somewhat over time. This is absolutely abnormal. Whoa. Was it picking up my… hearbeat… my pulse? I placed my fingers against my neck to test my pulse just a few minutes ago with my headphones on. My goodness. They were in synch. What the hell is with these headphones? :veryevil:” –Veniogenesis

From a BANNED USER: “on a side note, I love listening actively to shortwave radio distortion. It’s a very complex and to me, beautiful sound.” –aaroncort

Almost immediately afterward: “Man, you in a league all by yourself — lean back in your SR325i, listen to some pink noise, and sip some scotch. Um, who needs music?” –stereophile

The Great Interview Experiment!

February 3, 2008

As part of my involvement with Citizen of the Month’s “Great Interview Experiment,” I have interviewed Lauren Elkin, author of “Maitresse.” Her blog is the height of class, due as much to Elkin’s extensive travels as it is to her fine taste in literature. Although my French-lit experience is confined to translations of Rimbaud and Baudelaire, I’ll be continuing to read Maitresse. It is just one more reason I’ve had lately to start learning a new language.

In the meantime, enjoy the interview!

DAVE X: You split time between New York City and Paris, and apparently have some rather long stopovers in Tokyo and Venice. How much of your day do you spend grinning from ear to ear?

MAITRESSE: Correction: I live in Paris, and from time to time have to go live in other
places. The time I spend grinning is inversely proportionate to the time I am away from Paris.

DX: I enjoyed your series of entries, “On Books as Sweaters.” As a host of a radio program featuring avant-garde music, the feeling that many fine works are passing the general public unnoticed is not an unfamiliar one to me. Complain as we may, it seems strategies must be formed to engage the readers (and listeners!)… What actions have you taken in
this regard? What have been your successes?

M: Well– I’m no activist, but I am a literature professor. Every time I go into the classroom I’m bringing my enthusiasms about reading and spending much of my energy throwing it out to the students and creating activities that will hopefully allow them to catch some of it and harness it to their own reading. I feel I’ve done at least part of my job right when I’ve turned a few kids on to a new writer, or made the kid with the bad attitude kind of like something he’s read, or lit up the kids who liked to read before they got there but just had their reading placed into a whole new framework.

And judging from the comments that I get on my blog, to a small extent I’m also turning that audience on to writers they didn’t know, didn’t get, or didn’t like. So between the teaching and the writing, I hope I’m helping in some way.

DX: I have to ask an American on the ground in France– and hopefully, you saw the film– how much of Michael Moore’s “Sicko” documentary was true in regards to France? I’m having trouble reconciling his portrayal of a magnificent health care system with the nation that allowed over 14,000 people to die from heat back in 2003.

M: I didn’t see the film but I live with the French health care system and am very grateful for it, especially as a graduate student and freelance writer. In the States I had pathetic coverage and I paid an inordinate amount of money for prescription drugs. In France, however, a certain monthly prescription of mine costs only 2€50. I don’t think it’s an ideal system, I just think it’s so much better than the American system that it looks great in comparison.

I can’t say much about the heat wave in 2003– I believe it was mostly elderly people without air conditioning who died– but I think it’s more a reflection of the government’s failure to adequately respond to a natural disaster (sounds familiar, no?) rather than a failure of the health system to care for those people.

DX: At the popular level, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of love between the France and the United States. In my experience, this is usually due to simple misunderstandings, or different ways of looking at the same thing. What have you discovered that Americans would be surprised to learn? What have you been able to teach the French you encounter?

M: Both countries have preconceived notions about the other country’s relationship to work, pleasure, and morality. Perhaps Americans would be surprised to learn that France has a corporate culture in which people work far more than 35 hours a week. And the French need reminding that not all Americans are nationalistic undereducated Puritans. More than once when I’ve met a new French person, they say to me “Mais vous êtes très cultivée pour une Américaine!” (“You’re very cultured, for an American!”) I tell them there are plenty more like me back home, but that doesn’t do anything to destabilize their prejudices.

DX: In the same way that I don’t QUITE understand an English lit student studying so many French texts, I feel that I’m missing some key understanding of your Catholic/Jewish existence. Just when I think I’ve got a handle on it, another entry will appear contrary. Are you just sort of dabbling in both?

M: What can I say, I’m impossible to pin down… When I had to choose a PhD program I hesitated between English, French, or Comparative Literature. My advisors at the time advised me against Comp Lit, because jobs are apparently scarce in that discipline, and then I figured since I wanted to live in France I’d probably have more luck finding work teaching English to the French than teaching French to the French. But really, academic
departments are much more interdisciplinary than you might think, and no one thinks it odd that I do comparative work. My doctoral advisor is appointed to the English, French, and Comp Lit departments of my school and she never remembers which department I’m enrolled in. I have masters degrees in both English and French literature. In addition to the French orals list you see on my blog, I am doing lists on British Modernism and Gender Theory. My dissertation is on both English and French texts.

As for my religious background– my mother is Catholic and my father is Jewish, but his father was Jewish and his mother born Catholic (she converted to Judaism). My sister and I were raised Catholic with Judaism always at hand, and I was never much interested in either. Then in college, I began to study Judaism more formally, and by the time I graduated I considered myself to be Jewish, and I still feel that way.

Looking back over the blog now, I see it’s chronicled a few years in my life when I’ve learned how unimportant it is to define yourself by a religion, and I’ve come to terms with the ambiguity of my religious background, to the extent that I’m comfortable forgetting it’s Chanukah, dating a goy, and all the while hosting yearly passover seders. If I make it to shul for the High Holidays, or don’t, it doesn’t make me more or less Jewish, it makes me more or less observant.

DX: How about some more Dada to fill out that category? ; )

M: Ok! This one is from an article in the Financial Times. It’s called “Opening
enthusiasm cools down at close.”

US trading of amid staged
off siasm of broad-based enthu-
as higher nasty nomic although
led markets about close rally
Japan no Asian cuts surprises
recession optimism a buying the drew
eco- interest investors sprang figures
already further Tokyo region a possibility
in early about the nervous on rate stock
batch yesterday trailed to a as a

DaveX gets interviewed!

February 2, 2008

“Through the Looking Glass” author Annika Barranti interviews me here for the ongoing interview onslaught touched off at “Citizen of the Month”… you’ll definitely want to check it out. For more fun, add yourself on the still-growing list of interviewers/interviewees!

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 2/1/08

February 2, 2008

Update! This show is now available for download. Be a good person and support the artists and labels linked below– don’t just download the file and think you’re getting over on anyone! 

Tonight’s show started off really well– just feeling very much in the swing of things, and seemingly can do no wrong with my transitions and layering. Confidence! It feels good. I got going a bit early, with Sweet Action Radio needing to bop off to a sledding party. For fun, I’m picturing toboggans, caroling, and hot cocoa… but I’m fairly sure it will be more like car hoods, snowy face plants, and someone coming home with one shoe.


For today’s broadcast, I am going to play with the theme of “Unrelated”. The last couple weeks have been full of unrelated sound works suddenly making themselves known in some fashion. Mystified popped up with a radio installation, Kingo found a Halaka recording intended for me from a few years back, my old EKV disc revealed itself in a Southern Illinois closet, and a presumed-victim of Homeland Security (“50/50” from HarS and Van Alebeek) arrived from Amsterdam after a month of floating in the postal tide.

Sound very often has its own life– every now and then, its good to step back and see where it wants to take us.

I’ve just started the aforementioned radio installation, “ASP,” by Mystified. The instructions call for the three identical discs of 12 tracks apiece to be aired simultaneously on shuffle– I’m letting this happen for a while before I up the ante– I’ve always wondered what a massively-layed Mystified creation might sound like, so I’m going to see how far I can take it before I bring out the next surprise.

At present, I have 10 virtual instances of “ASP” playing right now, along with the discs… and in addition, re-routing our webcast back into the mix, for a total of 26 layers at the onset. As time progresses, my theory is that the “tail” of the webcast will become shorter and more apparent. I had a single alert sound during all this, and it has been cropping up regularly since, at smaller intervals. Interesting!

Surprise #2! I’m now playing from Halaka’s untitled recording that was originally intended to be sent to me a few years back. Having created the audio discs myself from Kingo’s original files, I accidentally allowed my burning software to insert a 2-second gap between each “track,” duh. Fortunately, this is the “Unrelated” show– this is just the sort of mistake that can be followed to its extreme conclusion, without reprisal. Interestingly, I also had to create two discs, because of the overall length of the full recording. My solution to the 2-second gap? Let’s put both discs on at once! What you are hearing is track markers 1-14, layered with track markers 15-24.

It not only covers those dopey gaps, but works surprisingly well. I was tempted to go even further out, but I’ve had enough shuffle mode for one day.

More commands from the music, which I had to follow: “Mr. DJ. At this point, you’ll want to turn down the record, in a minute it’s going to get sloppy.” DONE AND DONE. Marina Hardy and Bob Marsh are filling the void of silence underneath all radio broadcasts at the moment… gotta dig this cut.

And now on to the third main “unrelated” recording– “50/50,” from HarS and Rinus van Alebeek. Mine came in a stylish European walkman knockoff, burgandy with silver accents. Promises “X-BASS,” which I’m confident it can deliver best through the de-foamed earbuds. Put together 50 of your favorite currency, and get yourself a copy of this before they’re all gone!

I will linkify everything later on today, and hopefully, be able to have a download of the show available as well. Thanks for listening, –DaveX

Sissy Spacek — Untitled (from Helicopter 9)
Merzbow — Minka pt.1
Robert Inhuman — Savage Groping Until Dizzy & Euphorically Cumming
Burning Star Core — Let’s Name Her Snowy Because It’s Snowy Outside
Insect Joy — Twin Seraphs
Breed the Circus — Demo no. 6
Big Sugar Victorious — Dada 1963 (Oh, What a Mess)
Na — Na is Nice
Kim Cascone — Dust Theories 2
Yuko Nexus6 — Journal de Tokyo #1
Yuko Nexus6 — Voici le temps de lecture
Yuko Nexus6 — J’aime beaucoup la cassette #1
Yuko Nexus6 — Journal de Tokyo #2
Yuko Nexus6 — Phonographe #1
Yuko Nexus6 — J’adore la boucle #1
Yuko Nexus6 — Berlin 1936
Yuko Nexus6 — Mes voisins jouent de la musique
Ophibre — Shattered CD (extract)
Mystified — ASP
Halaka — Introducing the Microphones
Halaka — The Point in Anything
Halaka — Dying for Somebody to do Anything to
Halaka — His Own Silly Putty
Halaka — The Part Where I Talk Right Into the Thing
Halaka — Untitled
Halaka — Huh? / Nobody Listens to Me
Halaka — A Very Limited Area
Halaka — Meditation
Halaka — Kundalini Yogurt (we are doing nothing)
Halaka — Rock Back and Forth On Your Ass (Mister DJ)
Halaka — In the Back of my Microphone
Halaka — I Love You Really High Up (The Bottles of Milk Aren’t Even Sour)
Halaka — I Don’t Like Covers
Halaka — Please Stop Feeling Me That Way
Halaka — Sorry (Helicopters) / Please Come to Dallas
Halaka — Do You Have Jesus?
Halaka — Windows Catholic P
Halaka — Like Sweaty Life In Here
Marina Hardy — Trumpet (extract)
Marina Hardy, Bob Marsh — The Marina and the Marsh
HarS, Rinus van Alebeek — 50/50 (Side A)
HarS, Rinus van Alebeek — 50/50 (Side B)
Alfredo Costa Monteir0 — Epicycle