Archive for December, 2009

WDBX History, pt.1

December 12, 2009

I did a little recycling this morning, and claimed a large stack of WDBX volunteer questionnaires from the rubbish bin. Although I’ve no doubt that these were taking up valuable office space, I couldn’t help but wonder what historical interest they might contain. I’ve decided to create a recurring feature here at STARTLING MONIKER to feature some of the strange, funny, and interesting things that pop up as I sift through the pile. I’ll do my best to redact personal contact information, but this may or may not include names. I have also chosen to redact the optional demographic information, a section that appears on some older forms.

I’ll kick things off with a weird one– did WDBX dodge a bullet here? Did we once willingly broadcast a two-hour Wyndham Hill show, interspersed with “cheapskate tips,” Broadway musicals, nursing home oral histories, and a call-in swap meet for stay-at-home moms?! Rounding out this utterly bizarre pitch is the applicant’s skill set, which I have circled in red. I hope my readers can help me with determining if this show existed outside of my nightmares! (click image to embiggen)

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 12/12/09

December 12, 2009

I’ve got so much great stuff to play this week that I’m really having fun seeing where the broadcast will take me. If you caught the review, you’ll know how excited I am about this new Matt Weston disc, “Seasick Blackout.” I’ll be playing more of it later on for sure. Right now, I’m knee-deep in Rinaldi’s very strange “We Shall Overtone,” out on Last Visible Dog. I’m DJing without a net on this one, seeing if I can get from point A to point Q in two tracks. We’ll see if it works…

Today’s broadcast went really well. At the end of a rough week, it’s nice to be able to see so many great recordings get out on the air. Sounds like GX Jupitter-Larsen is still keeping the Zelphabet compilation quality high, so go pick up a copy of the “I” volume, eh?! Also, new material from label The Land Of is here, “Sunlight & Water,” from artist Ryonkt. We’ll definitely be hearing more of it in the next broadcast… December 19th, which is my last before 2010!

BKPR — Burden
Matt Weston — This October, All Octobers
Hans Grusel — Quarintimes (here’s a review, too)
Renato Rinaldi — We Shall Overtone, pt. 3
Renato Rinaldi — We Shall Overtone, pt. 4
Chefkirk & Ironing — Hold Me
Ralph White & The Horaflora Sound System — A Space Between a Chimney and a Swift
Ralph White & The Horaflora Sound System — Wildflower Face, Insect Eyes
Matt Weston — I Just Saw Fog and Dust
Neil Rolnick — The Economic Engine: Traffic
Neil Rolnick — The Economic Engine: Farm to Factory
Neil Rolnick — The Economic Engine: Opaque Air
Neil Rolnick — The Economic Engine: Hutong to Highrise
Incapacitants — Live at 20000V – 20000819 (from “Zelphabet volume i
Irene Moon — Centrifuge Heart Sonicator (also from Zelphabet)
IDX1274 — Live on KWVA-FM (again, from Zelphabet)
If, Bwana — Men Age At 3
Ryonkt — Sunlight & Water, pt. 1

DaveX, roaming the internet

December 10, 2009

At the urging of Dan Godston, I’ve written an entry for the Fire Music Consortium blog describing my recent experience of performing the world premiere of John Cage and Lejaren Hiller’s “KNOBS.”

In other words, I’m not reviewing anything today!

Reviews for 12/10/09

December 10, 2009

Neil Rolnick – “The Economic Engine” – Innova

Rolnick’s third album for Innova Recordings, “The Economic Engine” is currently top of my listening/dissection pile. Although I’ve never been a formal student of music, I’ve been having a very good time formulating ideas about the juxtaposition of Eastern and Western instrumentation in Rolnick’s China-inspired titular four-part suite. Complicating matters is the electronic processing of the instruments, sometimes yielding a boldly distorted call-and-response, or sometimes subtly making a tweak in pitch. I especially enjoy the second movement, “Farm to Factory” which is as fine a musical setting for the range of human experience in Chinese society as I can imagine– from the slow, cyclical days known to farmers the world over; to the headlong rush towards modernity witnessed by so many during this past Olympics. Also included is “Hammer & Hair,” which utilizes the acoustic sounds of a violin bow and piano hammers, creating an interesting blend of jazz and more abstract sounds.

Ralph White & The Horaflora Sound System – s/t – Resipiscent

Three multi-layered improvisations with kalimba, fiddle and banjo piped through a prepared speaker array recall Ross Bolleter’s work with playing decayed pianos, with an additional patina of electronic clatter throughout. The first track, “Buzzard and Rattlesnake Share a Meal of Honeycomb,” is by far the most raw. Recorded with binaural microphones, it sounds better with a good set of headphones, where the buzzing kalimba really has a chance to emerge from the general froth of distortion. “A Space Between a Chimney and a Swift” continues the instrument abuse, albeit in what seems to be a more controlled manner. Often, the effect is lovely, with bludgeoned echoes ringing in agreement with the melody. Don’t listen to anyone who compares this to Konono no. 1, by the way– though I’m sure the comparison will be made by any number of writers searching their pretty little heads for thumb piano players, this album has very little to do with “Congrotronics” beat-driven tunes save instrumentation. If anything, White’s far more like the fellow in my next review…

R.P. Collier – “Let Them Eat Flarn” – Self-release

I’m not for certain that this is an official release just yet, but seeing as how it’s in my stereo, I’m going to make mention of it here. Combining futuristic synth-work and handmade kalimbas, Collier sketches a weird universe of glassine forms moving about on unknown business. “Deploy” is a hoot– a good number of more recognizable synth samples (whistle, cowbell, hi-hat) jumble about, forming temporary rhythms before re-assembling in a series of new ways over time. As this disc was Collier’s response to my recent call for “future music,” I guess he figures the cowbell has some life in it yet. “Mang” closes the album with a hectoring cloud of synth chirps, burbles, and imperfectly-received transmissions from 20th century Earth’s island culture. It’s a strange existence for our descendants, sorting through the cosmic flotsam of our radio existence… but send R.P. a message and you might get to hear it today!

Otolathe, at Dictaphonia Fest

December 9, 2009

Live at Dictaphonia Fest, a microcassette-themed audio art and noise show produced by Hal McGee in association with 355 Noise, 11/7/09 at the Laboratory, Gainesville, FL.

Filmed by Hal McGee.

Black Beast of Arrrghhh, at Dictaphonia Fest

December 9, 2009

Live at Dictaphonia Fest, a microcassette-themed audio art and noise show produced by Hal McGee in association with 355 Noise, 11/7/09 at the Laboratory, Gainesville, FL.

Filmed by Hal McGee.

Krysten Davis, at Dictaphonia Fest

December 9, 2009

Live at Dictaphonia Fest, a microcassette-themed audio art and noise show produced by Hal McGee in association with 355 Noise, 11/7/09 at the Laboratory, Gainesville, FL.

Filmed by Christopher Miller.

Hal McGee, at Dictaphonia Fest

December 9, 2009

Live at Dictaphonia Fest, a microcassette-themed audio art and noise show produced by Hal McGee in association with 355 Noise, 11/7/09 at the Laboratory, Gainesville, FL.

Filmed by Mark McGee.

Ironing, at Dictaphonia Fest

December 9, 2009

Live at Dictaphonia Fest, a microcassette-themed audio art and noise show produced by Hal McGee in association with 355 Noise, 11/7/09 at the Laboratory, Gainesville, FL.

Filmed by Hal McGee.

Floating Point – Forest

December 9, 2009

Installation – Shige Moriya
Sound – Grundik Kasyansky

Cave Gallery, Brooklyn, 2004

See more of Igor Kasyansky’s video at Vimeo.

Reviews for 12/9/09

December 9, 2009

Renato Rinaldi – “We Shall Overtone” – Last Visible Dog

You may recall that I really liked Rinaldi’s “Hoarse Frenzy” ( if you were listening to me back in 2005) and since I missed “Oreledigneur” on the Bowindo label, you’d guess correctly that I was a bit keyed-up at popping this one in the stereo. I took my usual place at the kitchen sink, and fell into the rhythm of work, cheerfully expecting another trip to the back porch with Rinaldi. This is the point in the review where I’m picturing Rinaldi laughing at me; he knows where this setup is going. Let’s just say that somewhere in the middle of the fourth untitled track, following a series of lovely guitar and organ figures and some brass that wouldn’t be out of place in a good spaghetti western, Rinaldi takes things right off the drone-y rails into something totally unexpected. Harsh electronic noise, bursts of overdriven wailings, distorted voices chanting Italian poetry amidst playfully improvised guitar… This is one of those experiments that could have done dreadfully wrong, but miraculously works. LVD fans should note that “We Shall Overtone” is an oddity among other offerings from the label, but hopefully not for long.

Chefkirk & Ironing – “Notorious” – Hymns

Andrew Chadwick’s Hymns label is something of a staple ingredient for my broadcasts; his microcassette work and general enthusiasm for cut-up radio bacchanalia is always a joy to hear. This time around Ironing’s tapes get some no-input mixer and sampler material from Chefkirk to co-exist with, a combination that reminds me of Hollydrift’s radio/electronic drone experiments, but with less of a dark mood. The partnership also allows both a bit more ability to explore more nuanced sounds, from barely-there high end tones to drawn-out tape washes. Fans of Grundik Kasyansky’s “Light and Roundchair” will definitely dig this disc as well– although “Notorious” approaches these sounds from a very different angle, it is fascinating to see convergent ideas emerge.

Tomoko Sauvage & André Gonçalves

December 8, 2009

Live at Cultures Electronik, Hôtel de ville, Rennes, 21/10/2009

Reviews for 12/8/09

December 8, 2009

Matt Weston – “Seasick Blackout” – 7272 Music

This is not an EP. It’s a three-track, sixteen-minute treasure, filled to the brim with Weston’s signature percussion and electronics. If Tom Waits was an orca (a drunken orca, natch) then he’d make music like “You’re Not That’s Right,” which opens the disc. Off-kilter, sobbing kettle drum noises issue mournful wails amongst the careless clattering of tin. “I Just Saw Fog and Dust” brings us to a clearing in an electronic cuckoo forest, where Weston is a one-man Arkestra. Amazingly, this doesn’t seem too hyperbolic as I listen to it for the umpteenth time today. But really, nothing compares to the final act, which I have described poorly as sounding like an ocean liner AND a freight train capsizing in the Arctic. “This October, All Octobers” is Weston’s opus– an arresting and majestic work of musique concrète that not only evokes nostalgic disaster and sci-fi film, but simultaneously re-awakens listeners to the immense power of sound. Most highly recommended.

Tomoko Sauvage – “Ombrophilia” – and/OAR

I’ve a special love of water music. Recently, I fashioned a weighted multi-ziploc bag enclosure in which to sink my microcassette recorder in the tub. I floated a few Corelle salad dishes about, dripping water inside them, while gently tapping their sides with a pair of homemade superball/chopstick mallets. I ended up with about 10 minutes of ethereal, globular beauty captured roughly in a tiny tape. Turns out that Sauvage did something similar, substituting wooden spoons for my mallets, and hydrophones in place of my sunken tape recorder. I might be a little jealous to find something so close to home making its way to and/OAR, but who wouldn’t be? However, Sauvage has done it properly– exploring many angles of her setup, from a calming refractive series of chimes to a frenetic clashing of dishware; and making a full-length study of the possible sounds that could be achieved. And of course, it all sounds great. Every soft stroke of wood upon porcelain is perfect, and the reflection of sounds from off one another audible as well. Lovely stuff.

Beth Laurin – “1984” – Firework Editions

Here’s a strange one… multi-media artist Beth Laurin curates an assemblage of tape recordings made in 1984, creating low-key creations to no apparent purpose. Occasionally, something drifts out of this slow-motion hodgepodge to get your attention, but mostly, its just one aimless cut after another. “What do you say about eating?” she asks in one track. Later– “This is so dangerous. It could go on forever.” Yeah, it seems that way.

Charles Cohen at the Buchla Music Easel

December 7, 2009

This video features sound artist Charles Cohen improvising on a 1970’s Buchla Music Easel. This extremely rare instrument is one of Don Buchla‘s 200 series. Buchla (a pioneer of audio synthesis) only manufactured 14 of these units. The entire film was edited from an hour-long set of free improvisation, with audio was taken directly from Charles’ mixing board.

All of the photography and editing was produced by Alex Tyson, a sound and video artist from Pennsylvania. The film was shot in 16:9 720p using the Letus35 Extreme and a 35mm Lensbaby Composer.

RIP, Jack Rose

December 7, 2009

Click to see more of Dan Cohoon’s photos of Jack Rose.

Reviews for 12/7/09

December 7, 2009

Various Artists – “Crows of the World, Volume 2” – Last Visible Dog

It took an extra year, but economics being what they are, I’m still happy to see Volume 2 of this set make it out of the gate. As nearly as I can tell this is an entirely new group of artists for this compilation, though it’s still well within what you’d expect from Last Visible Dog. Excepting “Skull Death Dive,” the opening burnt-out garage jam from Bury My Heart, this is a rather subtle disc. Ashtray Navigations and RST evince a heavier end of drone; but selections like Juppala Kaapio’s “Kagami Hebi” and Renato Rinaldi’s “The Bite” are gentle tours through an aural wonderland of unexpected sounds and odd direction. Basically, a lot to recommend already– but in truth, the highlight of the disc is “Movements Under Water” by Bosch’s With You. I was hanging Christmas lights outdoors while listening to it, and didn’t notice until much later that I had been mentally comparing the sounds of its slow-motion ringing to how I expected the twinkling lights to look. Strange thoughts for an afternoon here in Smallsville. Thanks, LVD!

Various Artists – “Serge Modular Users 2009” – Resipiscent

Go fig– a totally geeky compilation devoted to a synth I’ve never previously heard of, and it still manages to be completely enjoyable. This is synth how I like it: fifteen tracks of analog exploration, soundscapes, gut-shaking bass, and general weirdness. John DuVal’s “Distress Call” and Cebec’s “Transformer Substation” take a fairly understandable direction (alternately evoking a plaintive signal from deep space, and electrical mayhem), but others’ contributions are far more abstract. Still, if I drop the title of Carlos Giffoni’s “All the Mistakes I Made During the Caribbean Winter;” I have no problem getting into his bumpy, meandering series of increasingly hectic bleeps and buzzes. Most importantly, everyone involved seems happy to let their synths be synths without attempting to simulate trumpets, pianos, etc. A good set of liner notes (including complex directions for using one’s own Serge as a vocoder) complete this disc; which I recommend for fans of vintage electronics, Louis and Bebe Barron, and banana plugs.

Markus Jones – “Send & Receive” – Con-V

The Serge Modular compilation got me thinking about this free netlabel release, from May of this year. Markus Jones took what might have been an opportunity for some IT workplace phonography, and turned it into something much better– a chance to record actual sound transferred across a network, utilizing some 16 servers and 1200 ports for the sound data. The result is a highly-varied pulsing cloud of sound events, oddly seeming to have some internal structure that occasionally comes across to the listener. This isn’t a straight recording, Jones does mention some real-time manipulation of the sounds, but “Send & Receive” retains an exotic quality nonetheless.

Raymond Dijkstra

December 5, 2009

Attention, Startling Moniker readers– please begin pooling your resources– this is what I want for my next birthday!

For more information about Dijkstra’s music, or to buy me one of his records, visit the Le Souffler website.

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 12/5/09

December 5, 2009

I’ve got many cool things coming up for today’s broadcast– an interview with Tristan Perich, a live phone-in performance with Craig Colorusso, and an improvisational set featuring Karthik Kakarala. It’s a lot to fit in, so I’m typing quickly!

Update: Today’s show went very well. The Perich interview was fascinating. I could have talked with him a lot longer, so there’s definitely room for a “part two” sometime in the future. Colorusso was joined by Diving Bell collaborator Joel Westerdale, who provided drums for what turned out to be one of the sketchiest phone connections ever. This should be a real trip to hear again; or to catch for the first time if you missed it. Finally, Karthik Kakarala and I got around to the “small sounds” improvisation that I have been after for the past couple weeks. I’m incredibly happy with how it went, and am looking forward to exploring more of these ideas soon. When I have downloads for this show available, you’ll be the first to know!

T.D. Skatchit & Company — Voodoo Skatch
T.D. Skatchit & Company — Aurora Rising
T.D. Skatchit & Company — Carnival of Skatch
T.D. Skatchit & Company — From beyond (for Toyoji)
T.D. Skatchit & Company — Popcorn Skatch
T.D. Skatchit & Company — Gargoyle
Interview with Tristan Perich
Tristan Perich1-bit Symphony (excerpt)
Tristan Perich — Active Field
Craig Colorusso, Joel Westerdale — LIVE phone-in performance for WDBX-FM, 12/5/09
Interview with Craig Colorusso
Juppala Kaapio — Kagami Hebi (Mirror Snake) (this and next two tracks from “Crows of the World, vol.2” on Last Visible Dog Records)
Renato Rinaldi — The Bite
Bosch’s With You — Movements Under Water
DaveX, Karthik Kakarala — LIVE performance at WDBX-FM, 12/5/09
Noertker’s Moxie — Whirligig
Noertker’s Moxie — What the Water Gave Me


December 4, 2009

Butoh improvisation by Corinna Hiller Brown and Craig Colorusso, performed May 31, 2003 in Brooklyn, New York.

Music: “Naug Val Tech Com Col” by Diving Bell (Craig Colorusso and Joel Westerdale).

Lighting (Mini MagLite), video (Sony NightShot), and editing by Fred Hatt

Reviews for 12/4/09

December 4, 2009

Tom Nunn and David Michalak – “T.D. Skatchit & Company” – Edgetone Records

Nunn and Michalak form the core duo for this remarkable series of improvisational pieces featuring Nunn’s latest soundmaker– the Skatchbox, which basically amounts to the world’s first cardboard synthesizer at this pair’s more-than-capable hands. I don’t doubt that these two could carry the disc on their own, but happily, they invite some friends along. I particularly enjoyed Aurora’s guest vox (she apparently being of the mono-monikered people of Cher Town) on “Gargoyle,” where alarmingly videogame-like Skatchbox sounds burble alongside the sing-song of what I’ll describe as Littlest Pet Shop jacuzzi erotica. Everything I’ve heard from Nunn so far has been pure genius; but this album is his best yet. Pick it up and hear why I’ve been letting all my electronics languish in the garage!

Noertker’s Moxie – “druidh lacunae” – Edgetone Records

A nice collection of quartet and quintet semi-improvised pieces featuring Bill Noertker on contrabass. Not the sort of thing I’d personally consider essential, but I’m qualifying that by adding that my jazz background is rather slim. But, for every piece like “L’Elephant Blanc” that was a bit too in the groove to capture my interest, there tended to be another– “Whirligig,” for instance– that pulled me back. The repeated theme of “What the Water Gave Me” is also quite pleasant, and wouldn’t feel too out-of-place on the next disc, either…

Eddie the Rat – “Food for the Moon Too Soon” – Edgetone Records

I’ve actually had a work copy of this one for nearly a year, but I’m still finding new life in it with every play. Hard to believe that an album this utterly luxuriant was recorded in a public access television space! Blessedly weird, cyclical structures form sort of a rib cage which the ensemble populates with all the usual biological ephemera– drunken chimes, ringing guitar… it’s the land of forms, as brought to you by the nightmare circus metaphor division. As odd as “Food for the Moon Too Soon” can be, I still find a positive (and sizable) listener response every time I’ve played it on my show. Recommended, especially for persons who need to wring a lot of listens from a single purchase.

Go-Go Fightmaster – “Sound 1” – Edgetone Records

Here’s one I just can’t seem to get into. I think the problem is the inclusion of a bit too much all-purpose free jazz skronk in the mix, even if it is usually doled out in miniature half-minute tracks scattered across the disc. At other times, a martial linearity gets me down. If “The Cosmic Cogitator” reminds you of anything but some of Tolkein’s Uruk-Hai marching off to war, I’d be surprised.