Archive for April, 2009

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 4/25/09

April 25, 2009

Things seem awfully calm here after last week’s Noise Summit, that’s about all I can say so far. Karthik Kakarala has a set worked up that he’ll be performing later in the show– apparently I’ll be doing some reading, though I haven’t been briefed fully yet.

I’m starting off today’s show with some Edgetone Records material, all Thollem McDonas-centric stuff. The first, from self-titled disc from Bloom: Rent Romus, Steven Baker, McDonas, Jon Brumit… then a duo of Baker and McDonas, “Lunar Etudes Time Differentials”… and why not? A Romus/McDonas outing, “Sudden Aurora,” as well! There’s a rather striking instrument photographed on the rear of the second disc– a metal ball, with a protruding, cylindrical neck strung in the round, culminating in something like a mushroom-ish headstock. I’d guess it is played with a bow. Neat stuff!

As for McDonas, I can’t help but think he uses every part of the piano– reminds me of the old Far Side gag with the guy holding up some mangled buffalo organ– “except this, we have no idea what it’s for.”

I’m digging this new Pogus Productions release, “Shadow Machine,” by Tom Hamilton and Bruce Eisenbeil. Kinda reminds me of Na’s “Na Is Nice” disc on Pax Recordings from a few years back. It’s rather random, but in a pleasant way. I could definitely see this becoming one of my long-range favorites… it’s going to merit many, many entertaining listens.

I’m now playing from “The Passage Between,” a fine collection of Randall Hall’s saxophone improvisations out now on the Innova label. I’m happy to learn that Hall hails from Augustana College– I wonder if it might be possible to get him down here for a performance? Regardless, there’s a lot of fine playing on this disc. I’m especially taken with Hall’s interactions with Jonathon Kirk as Pendulum, with Kirk processing Hall’s saxophone in intriguing ways. I appreciate Kirk’s light touch here; he doesn’t mangle Hall out of existence, but he’s still very much central to what’s going on. There are interesting “control” issues present in an improvisation situation such as this, it takes a special bond between performers to make it work.

Karthik Kakarala is performing his live set now. It has a theme– my birthday! I have introduced the concept of the “continuous birthday,” so I hope you’re tuned in, and taking notes.

Now I’m playing Frank Rothkamm’s “Frank Genius Is Star Struck,” one of my most favorite albums of this year. It’s gloriously Rothkamm, and that’s probably the best way to explain it, too.

Oh! Before I finish– let me know if you want a copy of the Noise Summit 2009 CDR. I have 9 copies remaining, though some may end up at the local record store for free distro. In other words, get your claim in early. If you live far away, give me a few days to get the download together.

Bloom — Stamen
Bloom — Chandelier
Steven Baker, Thollem McDonas — Perigee Dirge
Steven Baker, Thollem McDonas — Radio Below
Rent Romus, Thollem McDonas — Intimation Dusk
Rent Romus, Thollem McDonas — Of Reflection Veil
Tom Hamilton, Bruce Eisenbeil — Dusting Off Dada
Tom Hamilton, Bruce Eisenbeil — Dryer Mouth
Tom Hamilton, Bruce Eisenbeil — Shadow Machine
Tom Hamilton, Bruce Eisenbeil — Dot Dot Dot
Tom Hamilton, Bruce Eisenbeil — Mars Fell on Alabama
Randall Hall, Jonathon Kirk — Three Reflections on Eternity: Awakening
Randall Hall, Jonathon Kirk — Three Reflections on Eternity: Loss
Randall Hall, Jonathon Kirk — Three Reflections on Eternity: Apocalypse
Karthik Kakarala — Live @ WDBX-FM
Frank Rothkamm — Atari
Frank Rothkamm — Chelsea Girl
Frank Rothkamm — La Vie
Frank Rothkamm — Black in the Sky
Frank Rothkamm — Q
Frank Rothkamm — Roll X Tones
Frank Rothkamm — Vast
Frank Rothkamm — Elvis

I wasn’t always so badass

April 24, 2009

Apparently, I’m lame enough to merit my own category in the Dork Yearbook– welcome to “Dweeb Wednesday.”

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 4/18/09

April 18, 2009

It has begun– the 1st Annual IlliNOISE Summit! And the Spring Membership Drive!


Yes, it’s true. I somehow scheduled the Noise Summit for Membership Drive time. There’s no real harm, it just makes everything that much more chaotic. After arriving at 2:30 a.m., and nearly being scared to death by the quiet-footed station manager Brian, I got everything more or less set up on my end; cables, mics, my own performance gear, etc.

Cosmic Twilight Pimps are the first to show up– it’s 3:15 am, and I’m in the middle of the pre-Summit midwestern noise warmup– so they’re getting their mountain of gear ready to go. With a bit of luck, everything will be able to kick off at 4am. If not, I guess I’m going first, ack!

You may listen LIVE here: “Yes, I’d like my eardums blown out.

Two Glass Pyramid members have arrived, along with 2/3 of the Cloud Cuckoo Band. Numerous cables have exploded across the front room/studio/Hi-Life Room… I can’t imagine what things will look like with everyone present!

Nathan and Justin (Cloud Cuckoo) are almost finished with their set– gotta find some time for the next Membership Drive schpiel– if you want to donate, feel free to give a call in 681-457-3691…

Okay, in the last hour or so… I did my set, a quick harsh blast of photovoltaic feedback and scree, followed by the entire front room (11 people!) moving from my version of Cock ESP to their version of Acid Mothers Temple– i.e., LONG AND LOUD!

This is definitely getting people’s attention. The owner of Global Gourmet (or maybe an employee?) stopped by to see if I was lying about having so many folks playing live. Ah, I wish I’d had money riding on that.

Karthik is playing his set now– he’s got this amazing alien-looking PA system… weird, like those electrostatic speaker systems that generate enormous sounds despite the flat shape. This looks like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Anyways, he has 20 seconds left in his set.

Karthik is 5 minutes into his second set now. Banging away at a helpless guitar. Everyone else has decided to break into smaller improv combos for the next portion of the broadcast– there’s simply no way to go about this broadcast other than to be highly flexible about who plays when, etc. With five microphones in service, I’ve been running back and forth, tracing wires from here to there, monitoring transient spikes in the signal, and doing my best to get a decent set of recordings to document this historical event.I’m fully convinced that the Noise Summit is the point that music fans will point to later down the road as a major turning point for experimental music in Southern Illinois. What do you think?

We’ve got a five-person combo set up and playing in the front room– drums, horns, guitar, synth, bass– sounds great, even though I’m sure I don’t have the mics perfect. I’m doing my best, but this little studio just isn’t insulated enough for me to hear the mix without a significant portion of their actual sound bleeding through. Hopefully, you’re enjoying it– I know I am.

We’re nearing up on 6am now. Just 30 minutes to go before this year’s Noise Summit is finished. But hey– it’s Record Store Day!

Playlist for “Midwestern Noise Warmup”
John Cage — HPSCHD (recorded at University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign)
Miss High Heel — The Family’s Hot Daughter
Rabbit Girls — The Lifelong Journey Into Nonexistence

MORE noise at the Summit!

April 17, 2009

I’ve confirmed three additional musicians for the 1st Annual IlliNOISE Summit–

Brandon Beachum – Bassist for Glass Pyramid and Gorilla Heritage.

John McCowen – Organ and Sax for Gods on Safari, also a member of Glass Pyramid

Aaron Jones – Member of Maggotapplewonderland. (I received word that one of Jones’ former bandmates from Carbondale, WILT, will be listening in.)

UPDATE: James McKain (Glass Pyramid, Swamp-monger) has tossed his beardless self in the ring. I didn’t forget you, James, blame Karthik for counting you as a “maybe”.

REMEMBER TO LISTEN THIS SATURDAY MORNING, FROM 3-6:30 AM, CST @ WDBX 91.1 FM. (or stream it online here)

DJ Search, Day 24

April 16, 2009

I got some good news today! WDBX-FM might have someone to fill an overnight slot soon, as the DJ-to-be has scheduled one of the “Random Show” spots (basically an on-air tryout) for May 12th. No telling what timeslot might be offered, but the applicant informs me she’s considering an “80s New Wave/Electronic” theme.

This is going to be my first request:

A side trip– Julie Andrews!

April 14, 2009

For this year’s Beaster celebration (Beaster being my family’s version of the holiday held– you guessed it– Before Easter) my wife gave me a copy of Julie Andrew’s recent autobiography, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years. I’m a big fan of Julie Andrews, having had a crush on her since forever, so it wasn’t a complete surprise to me that I’ve been enjoying the book. It is a bit more dark in parts than I would have expected, but her frank rendering keeps things out of Oprah territory, thankfully.

In between making calls to line up performers and press for the 1st Annual Southern IlliNOISE Summit (and a door-to-door vacuum salesperson who just interrupted me, how old-fashioned!) I’ve been taking time to make some headway through this fascinating book. I wasn’t expecting to find this:

“In 1957 I made two record albums. One was for Angel Records, and was called “Tell It Again,” a collection of unusual children’s songs composed and arranged by a blind eccentric named “Moondog.” He was the equivalent of an English “busker,” playing various instruments on the corner of 54th Street, near Broadway. He was brilliant, funny, and a little daunting– for he sported a long beard and dressed in loose robes, open toed sandals, and a Viking’s helmet. He also carried a spear. He was definitely not crazy, but certainly unique. is music was sophisticated and original. Some of his rhythms were in five-fourths and seven-eights, which I found challenging, having never sung them.”

OMG. It’s stuff like this that just makes me lose my shit. Julie Andrews and Moondog? How awesome is that?! Anyways, this has now rocketed to the top of my birthday wish list, so if you’re feeling wonderful… the album’s original contents are available on this compilation. Hint, hint. Better add quick shipping, I’m not getting any younger here.

1st Annual Southern IlliNOISE Summit

April 14, 2009

With a huge assist from local music gadabout Karthik Kakarala, I’ve been putting together what’s shaping up to be a fantastic noise free-for-all this April 18th, to be held during “It’s Too Damn Early.” Not a huge concept here– gather noise, rinse, repeat– but this is a big step for Southern Illinois, which is why I’m giving it a big name: The 1st Annual Southern IlliNOISE Summit!

Besides myself, here’s the lineup thus far:

Karthik Kakarala – Definitely a shining light in the Southern Illinois music scene. Kakarala has distinguished himself as an avid experimentalist, juggling more interesting projects than most folks would suspect.

Rick Leipold – Featured in the previously-posted “Nonexistent” documentary, also a member of Gorilla Heritage.

Tom Vasilj – Also featured in “Nonexistent,” Vasilj is half of Cosmic Twilight Pimps, and a frequent archivist of live performances at “It’s Too Damn Early.”
Andrew Crook – During Karthik’s April performance at WDBX-FM, I handed Crook a guitar. He just looked at me. Should I have labeled it “monkey wrench”? Perhaps.

Matthew Lee Lind – Drummer for Gorilla Heritage. Looking forward to hearing him again!

Nathan Staley, Justin Rodig – Members of the Cloud Cuckoo Band, organizers of Improv Noise Night. (More info on this later!)

Alex Ryterski – Recently, Ryterski told me that he’s interested in running a microphone into a blender. This is what happens when “There Will Be Blood” and “Will It Blend?” have a baby. Regular listeners will also remember his raw data > audio compilation as Chaos Kit from 3/14/09.

I’ll be working this week to round up more players, so keep checking back for updates!

Again, everything will be broadcast on “It’s Too Damn Early,” from 4-6:30 a.m., on WDBX-FM.

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 4/11/09

April 11, 2009

Well, I’ve gone and done it– I’ve placed two microphones on either side of WDBX-FM, and am currently listening to a strange mixture– perfectly-rendered birdcalls AND a rushing freight train. Normally, one would drown the other out… this may be more interesting than I thought!

I have also inserted the station’s streaming broadcast into the mix– I don’t think I can hear the effect just yet, but I imagine it will be more apparent when things quiet down a bit outdoors.

Ah yes, the “train” is leaving again. Hooray for time-lagged webstreams, I get to hear it twice!

I’ve decided to play a bit with one of my microcasstte recorders, taking samples of the indoor and outdoor sounds from one mic to the next, then re-recording the results as they lag through the station monitors later on. I just heard myself advancing the tape, playing microcassette recordings of birdsounds originally made indoors… many generations are at work right now.

Lots of birds. Lots of tape.

I’ve decided to leave this place, and take listeners to a San Diego canyon. Abassador birds from Southern Illinois have made the proper introductions to the local wildlife, please watch your head, this is under a flight path for aircraft.

Miya Masaoka, Joan Jeanrenaud — For Birds, Planes & Cello
Valerio Cosi, Enzo Franchini — Conference of the Aquarians, pt. 1
Valerio Cosi, Enzo Franchini — Conference of the Aquarians, pt. 2
Malcolm Goldstein — The Seasons: Vermont, Summer
Revolutionary Ensemble — Le-Si-Jer
Revolutionary Ensemble — Improvisation I
Revolutionary Ensemble — Improvisation II

Voted most likely to link you to a stupid photo

April 10, 2009

I’m in the Dork Yearbook. Does this mean I’m one degree from Woz?


April 8, 2009

Underground taping phenomenon Hal McGee is curating a microcassette-only compilation, and has opened a blog, Dictaphonia, to lay the process out for the public:

“One of the emphases of this project is to highlight the microcassette as a unique audio art format with its own unique properties. Participants are urged to bear in mind the particular and peculiar characteristics of the microcassette format, such as limited dynamic range (usually 400-4000Hz), low fidelity, and tape noise and hiss.”

This is something I like to hear– rather than coming up with a work-around for microcassette format limitations, embrace them! I’ve got a decent history with these machines, starting way back with my ~Ore~ radio broadcasts, which often featured multiple microcassette players/recorders in constant use. Two of my compositions specifically for microcassette recorders ended up on a Sounds From the Pocket comp, and most recently, my two Naked Arrival releases featured heavy use of microcassette recording (and indeed, were partially released on in this format as well!)

Anyhow, I sent in my submission yesterday. “Keeping My Hand In” features my first underwater microcassette recordings, using struck bowls as a sound source. It was a lot of fun, and is sort of a blatant nod to the “underwater” sound a lot of microcassettes end up having by the first or second generation anyway. By the time Hal is through (my tape > main master > dub) I expect these floating chimes will sound more like primitve dinosaur spacecraft!

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 4/4/09

April 4, 2009

Last night to the flicks. All war films. One very good one of a DJ attempting to bring a modicum of creativity to a disinterested, careless population inhabiting some sleepy town. Audience much amused by shots of this great fat man wallowing about in the ether, then you saw the gunsights…

Postscript: Today’s show went very well. Although I’ve taken shows through some strange territory before, I will admit that I was surprised to make it all the way from Arcane Device to a live field recording of downtown Carbondale, Illinois. My musical thoughts have been partly concerned with bringing the external inside lately, but it was only during the last few minutes of the broadcast that I got the idea to switch from streaming bird sounds to the live ones outdoors– mind you, I wasn’t certain I had a mic at the studio sensitive enough for the job– but I’m very happy with the end result. I think there is a germ for a future show in this experience; it will be interesting to see where this leads! Oddly enough, I found a Folkways birdsong LP this morning, at a yard sale following the show. I’m going to take that as some minor confirmation that I’m on the right track.

Arcane Device — Seventeen Ambiguous Figures
Pillars of Heaven — The Old Ways
Asmus Tietchens — D3
Guilty Connector — Rainforest of Equilibrium
Maja S.K. Ratkje and Lasse Marhaug – Music For Faking
Arcane Device — Improvisations for Feedback, Studio (C-side)
Arcane Device — Improvisations for Feedback, Studio (D-side)
Philip Samartzis, Michael Vorfeld — Schaube
Malcolm Goldstein — The Seasons: Vermont (1980-82), Summer
Malcolm Goldstein — The Seasons: Vermont (1980-82), Autumn
Malcolm Goldstein — The Seasons: Vermont (1980-82), Winter
Malcolm Goldstein — The Seasons: Vermont (1980-82), Spring
Birdsong Radio — Live Dawn Chorus Birdsong Stream
DaveX — Field Recording, Downtown Carbondale, 224 N. Washington 6:20 a.m.

But none of these cats are ELECTRIC!

April 2, 2009

Kittens vomiting. ‘Nuff said.

…and now, the truth

April 1, 2009

First off, April Fools! My previous post about the Performing Musicians Licensing Act was a bit of a joke on my part…

…But only a bit.

The sad thing is that a lot of it is actually true, and I’m not kidding this time around. Chicago really does have a stupid plan to force all promoters to carry ridiculous amounts of insurance AND apply for a license in their new, non-publicly-released ordinance. How this plays out will truly have a major effect on the Windy City. You can read about how to fight for your right to party here.

As for licensing American musicians, I made it up. As much as dumbasses like Illinois Rep. John Shimkus would probably love to see all underground art and expression forcibly removed from the face of the Earth, he’s too busy making ludicrous statements about global warming to care. That works out okay for American musicians…

…but if you’re Serbian, you’re fucked. The Serbian government has actually PASSED a musicians’ licensing act, which actually DOES have a jurored performance and musician’s exam. For the low cost of about 150 euros, Serbians can apply for a musicians’ license allowing them freedom to perform their music– music approved of by Serbian officials, of course! You can find more information about the Serbian music license at Terror Noise Audio, as well as at the following translated webpages here and here.