Archive for the ‘art’ Category

Koit H. Püss (1929-?)

November 17, 2015

Today, I was a library beast. I went over to Morris Library on the SIUC campus, as I have been meaning to do for some time now, and did some digging for a book of Soviet poster art I had come across back in the 90s. I’m happy to say that my elementary school library training came in handy, and I was about to locate it! Check out Morris Library’s badass Diagon Alley bookshelves, and tell me they’re not goddamn magical.

According to “The Soviet Political Poster: 1917-1980,” Koit Hansovich Püss was born in 1929, and lived the later part of his life in Moscow. In 1954, he graduated from the Estonian Art Institute in Tallinn. From the early 1950s onwards, he was active as a poster designer, graphic artist and monumental painter.

The internet is little help in finding more detail about him, so I’ve gathered pictures of the four posters I’ve learned about so far. As you can see, one of them is rather special to STARTLING MONIKER, for what would we do without our little cow mascot, Malty?

koit 1koit 2koit 3

From left to right, the posters are from 1963, 1965, and 1966. The first says “MORE!” and the last says “Children all over the world need peace.” The fourth poster says “Wait ’til I grow up!” and is from 1963. After discovering the artist’s name, I was able to find one image of it online, at Getty Images. Apparently, Getty Images thinks they can just take a picture of someone else’s art, and license it for hundreds of dollars, go fig. I think Getty can go fuck themselves, because I took my own photo of his art, and I’ll let you do whatever you want with it, at least until Mr. Püss asks us to stop.




Now that you’ve heard “Music For Swimmers”…

April 15, 2012

Perhaps you could let a friend know about it? I’ve made a flyer for you, to print and use as you see fit. Enjoy!

Early example of noise art in literature!

January 5, 2011

This is the kind of stuff I absolutely love– a song (which basically amounts to a fun bit of dada/noise– comprised of Washington state town names. I found this in “Free Air,” by Sinclair Lewis. This was far too long for Twitter, but if you like this sort of thing, be sure to check out my “Litnoise” page.

“…Claire combined the town-names in a lyric so emotion-stirring that it ought, perhaps, to be the national anthem. It ran:

Humptulips, Tum Tum, Moclips, Yelm,
Satsop, Bucoda, Omak, Enumclaw,
Tillicum, Bossburg, Chettlo, Chattaroy,
Zillah, Selah, Cowiche, Keechelus,
Bluestem, Bluelight, Onion Creek, Sockeye,
Antwine, Chopaka, Startup, Kapowsin,
Skamokawa, Sixprong, Pysht!

Klickitat, Kittitas, Spangle, Cedonia,
Pe Ell, Cle Elum, Sallal, Chimacum,
Index, Taholah, Synarep, Puyallup,
Wallula, Wawawai, Wauconda, Washougal,
Walla Walla, Washtucna, Wahluke,
Solkulk, Newaukum, Wahkiakus,
Penawawa, Ohop, Ladd!

Harrah, Olalla, Umtanum, Chuckanut,
Soap Lake, Loon Lake, Addy, Ace, Usk,
Chillowist, Moxee City, Yellepit, Cashup,
Moonax, Mabton, Tolt, Mukilteo,
Poulsbo, Toppenish, Whetstone, Inchelium,
Fishtrap, Carnation, Shine, Monte Cristo,
Conconully, Roza, Maud!

China Bend, Zumwalt, Sapolil, Riffle,
Touchet, Chesaw, Chew, Klum, Bly,
Humorist, Hammer, Nooksack, Oso,
Samamish, Dusty, Tiger, Turk, Dot,
Scenic, Tekoa, Nellita, Attalia,
Steilacoom, Tweedle, Ruff, Lisabeula,
Latah, Peola, Towal, Eltopia,
Steptoe, Pluvius, Sol Duc, Twisp!”

Wouldn’t this be a great basis for a 7″ record? I might just do it!


October 21, 2010

I’ve got a lot of cool stuff coming up this weekend, so here’s your guide:

1) New broadcasts of “It’s Too Damn Early” and “Sounds Like Radio.” In case you’ve been living under a rock, “It’s Too Damn Early” airs Saturday mornings on WDBX-FM from 4-6:30 a.m. “Sounds Like Radio airs twice a week Sundays on WSIU-FM, from 3-5 a.m., and from 10 p.m. to midnight. Both episodes are going to be amazing.

2) I’m hosting a soundwalk of the SIUC campus. If you’re interested, meet outside the Student Center on the North end at 10:30 a.m. this Saturday. The soundwalk is free, and takes about an hour.

3) I’m performing in Nashville, as part of the Circuit Benders’ Ball. I’ll be employing “Lawrence Welk’s Secret Shame” for this show, which I have recently re-modified to include even more champagne secrets. The Circuit Benders’ Ball will feature performances by Tim Kaiser, Thriftstore Boratorium, CMKT4, Ben Marcantel, and others. There are also instrument-building workshops, visual art, and video projections. This is an all-ages event with tickets starting at $15 for general admittance, $30 including both workshops. For other ticketing information and a complete list of performers and workshops, visit Theatre Intangible.

4) I’ve got a new release out! “Free Air” is a CDR documentation featuring sound installations I originally created for multi-speaker through-home environments. Each copy comes with a sealed unicorn woodblock print, and is part of a limited and numbered edition of 10. These will be available first at the Circuit Benders’ Ball.

Style City limited edition CDR– out now!

January 23, 2010

Style City’s “The Happening” CDR is out now, available in a trades-only limited edition of 10. Some are already in the mail, so don’t sleep on this!

The artwork is great– each comes packaged in a vintage elementary school reading lab book; with handmade rubbings decorating the outer ribbon. A black-and-white insert and color collage interior round out this nifty-looking debut

Entirely the work of a 10-year-old girl and a synth nearly three times her age; “The Happening” features minimal drones, surprisingly morbid lyrics, and an ode to giant robots. Highly recommended for fans of The Shaggs, Chica X, and outsider art.

Download a free copy here, or send a message to: for availability.

~ORE~ History, pt.2

December 18, 2009

If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you’ll know that my first radio show was ~ORE~, which I co-hosted for two years with Tony Youngblood. Lately, I’ve been exploring the history of WDBX-FM, but Tony’s most THEATRE INTANGIBLE entry got me thinking about digging back into the history of ~ORE~. You’ll want to read the sister entry (fact: like ships, all blogs are female) before continuing here.

I’ve been with ~ORE~ in one fashion or another since it got started, at Southern Illinois University’s WIDB radio in 1998. By that time, I was a confirmed music obsessive, but I had yet to do anything with radio. Tony’s on-air collages caught my ear, and I started helping him compile raw material each week, which we would sift through during the live broadcasts. More often than not, the results were something of a trainwreck– but I gradually began to realize that I was building my listening skills, learning to improvise in a sound environment, and getting a serious education in composition as well. In effect, ~ORE~ was like experimental music bootcamp. The grind of producing a new episode each week with zero budget, amidst a full college workload was often intense. But ~ORE~ opened my mind to the possibilities of radio and music in ways that I hadn’t thought possible. I distinctly remember pitching one show idea to Tony that would take place entirely in engineering, re-routing cables and signals to see what would happen to the broadcast signal. Although we didn’t ever go through with this (admittedly rather hazardous) idea, the concept of multi-layered improvisation existing at all levels of the radio chain stuck with me– we could alter the music, we could alter the broadcast, we could alter the radios receiving it, we could alter the listeners… and they could alter us. The possibilities were simply staggering.

Tony and I had apparently soaked up Wu-Tang Clan’s greatest lesson, too– make it a franchise. Thus, the original ~ORE~ was endowed with “Prefab Audio Extrapolations” as a tagline. Even while fighting to keep up with a one-hour weekly broadcast, we were thinking of the future! At times, it seemed like anyone who was listening was actually AT the broadcasts, or helping make them. Although we were doing something amazingly different on the SIU campus, we didn’t exist in a bubble. Flyers and chalk were our outreach. Wednesday nights, we’d gather under the dim yellow lights of Faner Hall, and begin our amazingly huge chalk runs. We got our friends and family into it with us, making teams to cover as much of the 900-foot length of the breezeway as possible before the chalk bucket ran out. By morning, Faner was a pastel mess of dogs and cows spouting absurdist essays extolling the virtues of experimental radio, mixed with the inevitable Xeroxed flyers cooked up special for the occasion. Although the flyers rarely made much sense, we knew that they would reach others like us– weirdos, makers, noise-enthusiasts, record collector scum, freaks… our people.

When Tony graduated, I tried to carry on with ~ORE~ as best as I could. Now having found myself in the somewhat ironic position of being a more senior member of WIDB (I found this funny, because I had never officially joined), I made some effort to have a positive effect on the greater course of the station. But WIDB was floundering and directionless– and worse yet, it was splitting into two “factions”. On one side, WIDB had a core group of specialty-show DJs and music fans who were happy to continue WIDB’s long tradition of broadcasting in an oddball college radio format. They recognized that the freedom we were allowed for selecting our music brought with it a responsibility to showcase recordings and artists outside the mainstream, something that a commercial station cannot often do. On the other side, there were those who wished to emulate these same commercial stations, rendering WIDB little more than a warm-up “practice” space for those seeking jobs in corporate broadcasting. Worse yet, they wanted to cede more and more time to the automated programming, and were removing the specialty shows one by one.

The climate was rough, to say the least. WIDB had re-branded itself as “The Revolution,” an insipid and hollow slogan ironically describing whole days filled with nothing but a computer playing mp3 files in the back room for the bored, captive audience in the Student Center. I took to showing up at random times, shutting the PC off, and broadcasting miniature shows for anyone who would listen. Other DJs also stepped up to the plate– I heard others interrupting the automation as well, discussing the change over the air, or refusing to play the nonsense dictated by new programming rules.

But eventually, it got to be too much. I was tired, and ~ORE~ was beaten. I’d seen the new programming schedule, which literally crowned the station manager victorious by awarding him my old time slot. It reduced specialty shows by more than half, pushing them entirely to the weekends. The “Quiet Storm” broadcasting, which was arguably our most popular offering, was slashed dramatically. This was bizarro-world WIDB, and I wanted no part of it. On the night of the last ~ORE~ broadcast, the senior staff of WIDB was taking part in a pep rally on campus, attempting to out-shout other student organizations to show their spirit. I couldn’t think of a more fitting end to my days with the station– playing my favorite tunes to a dark student union, while the staff screamed about how amazing we were. After my last record was over, I posted some flyers to announce the occasion… and ~ORE~ Prefab Audio Extrapolations was dead.

Here’s some early flyer art for ~ORE~, and a bunch of other photos besides. I’ll do my best to explain them:

This was the core of the ~ORE~ family. I always liked this flyer, and felt that it represented us all well. Our “Mysterious DJ” was Will Bernel, AKA DJ Shad, AKA Willie Dynamite. I owe him a lot as a fellow DJ, and would love to chat with him again sometime!

This flyer is one of our “stealth” postings. Our flyers were often torn down by a campus Christian group, so I’d try to hide them in plain view for longer shelf life.

I love this one– “who gives a shit about our soundless room?!” Be sure to click these to see them large, okay?

On the surface, this one makes no sense whatsoever. In actuality, it describes the exact plot of “Doug’s Party,” our most infamous episode.

I re-worked the dialogue in this flyer many, many times, even employing it later at WDBX-FM.

I made this flyer in January of 1999, long before Franz Ferdinand would rip me off, lol.

Open these windows in a new tab– here, heeere, and heeeeeeeere— to see more of my flyer art!

Here’s Matty Smith, the station manager who was intent on turning WIDB into a total shitpile. As you can see, he was a complete tool. I got him to pose with a sign that had been posted at WIDB since I arrived, allowing me to subtly alter the content for greater veracity. Also present– a very young DJ Mo!

Here was Matty’s proposed schedule. See all the “pre-programmed” stuff? YIKES!

Long Live ~ORE~

I’ve got to imagine that WIDB is a different place now. New DJs, new ideas, and a couple solid webstreams have seen to that. Do yourself a favor and check them out— tell them DaveX said “hi”.

“All Together Now” Festival line-up

November 16, 2009

If you somehow missed it, I’m performing the world premiere of John Cage and Lejaren Hiller’s “KNOBS” this Wednesday, as part of the “All Together Now” inter-arts festival. So far, I’ve been quiet about other activities happening (and this IS a HAPPENING) so check out the schedule:

WEDNESDAY is our kickoff. Like the start of a roller coaster ride after being secretly slipped some psychedelics; get pumped and hold tight.

4:30 – 6:15: ALL TOGETHER NOW takes over the INTERNATIONAL LOUNGE, showcasing Photography, 2-D and more by Jason Wonnell, John McCowen, Bridget Ryan, Kaley Venable, Photogenesis and more!
6:30-7:00: we will break into the student center auditorium for the OPENING RECEPTION/PERFORMANCE:
7:15-7:25: AMBER GIRADO reading/DRAMATIC INTERPRETATION of EPIPHANY FERREL’S “Last Person on Earth” with zombie mashup PROJECTION


8:00-8:25 Back to the AUDITORIUM as DAVE X orchestrates WORLD PREMIERE OF JOHN CAGE score KNOBS
8:45-9:05: PREGNANT TONGUES (formerly cloud cuckoo) performing to LIVE PAINTING
9:15-9:40: BLACK ON BROWN performs to PROJECTION

is AUDIENCE PARTICIPATION day. YOU bring it, we BLAST it for all to see and hear!

3:00-5:00: BALLROOM D- GALLERY TIME! Wednesdays favorites and NEW PIECES. BYO ART! Have it displayed! No Rules except No Pricetags! For the love of the game!
5:00-6:30: head back to the AUDITORIUM 4 SIU’s FILM ALTERNATIVES curated STUDENT SCREENINGS! and HOUR and a HALF of SIU auteurs. AGAIN, bringing your own work is ENCOURAGED!


7:45-8:15: DUENDE ENTENDTRE (sound art/poetry)

8:30-10:30: BALLROOM D becomes a forum for LIVE ART MAKING and TUTORIALS on STENCIL MAKING and CIRCUIT BENDING, with lessons by graffiti artist GABE GOWER and sound artist DAVE X. Materials for creating your own stencils/circuit bent toys will be provided, but interested parties are encouraged to bring their own.

will be the end of the party.

6:00-9:00: BALLROOM D will again become a gallery presenting the best work from the three days.
SIUiu will be performing along with MATT and SAM,
PREGNANT TOUNGUES will play a set to live art,
and as a FINALE SIUiu will perform with an experimental film by DERON WILLIAMS accompanied by JOHN MCCOWEN

Dear DaveX, what’s new with you?

October 26, 2009

I’ve got a few different entries worth of stuff to share with you all, but I’m going to try cramming it all into one post.

To begin with, the first Mystery Tapes are now in the wild. Some of these will be much easier to find than others, as I have been taking my usual absurdist approach to placing them. I nearly put #3 under a few dozen tons of concrete I watched being poured the other day… the paleontological ramifications of this were exciting, but even I had a hard time picturing anyone actually finding the tape in the future. Keep an eye out, and maybe you’ll find one!

I’m also working hard on my upcoming performance of John Cage and Lejaren Hiller’s “KNOBS” composition. This will be the world-premiere performance of the piece, so I’m taking it very seriously, and hoping to do a great job with it. The premiere will be helping to kick off the three-day “All Together Now” inter-arts festival at SIUC’s Student Center. I really hope that all my local readers can make some time on the evening of November 18th to come down to the Student Center Auditorium and check it out. It’s at 7:30, and will be free. Bring your kids, your friends, and your friends’ kids.

Getting ready for the performance has been interesting so far. I’ve never worked this in-depth with an actual score, so this is a new experience for me. The score is very precise, so I’ve been developing a method for keeping exact time during the performance, as everything occurs in five-second intervals. Making matters more complex is the addition of a troupe of modern dancers to the mix. Normally I’d avoid this sort of thing, but I think it’s in the spirit of the festival itself (which is a cooperative and improvisational event) and with John Cage, whose life-long partnership with Merce Cunningham often resulted in such collaborations.

At the same time, I’m literally “gearing up” for teaching a circuit bending workshop on the second day of the festival. The Create-A-Smile Thrift Shop was nice enough to donate a good amount of electronic toys for me to work on, so there will be more than enough interesting possibilities presenting themselves throughout the workshop. If you’ve got any interest in circuit bending, this is a free chance for you to give it a shot– just get up to the Student Center “E” Ballroom on November 19th in the evening time and check it out.

WDBX is having trouble AGAIN with the webstream, it’s just not working for Mac users. I talked with Brian about it, who assures me that he’s trying to find a new host for our stream– if you know someone reliable and technically-proficient who is not a total dumbf**k, not the sort of person who will let our stream be down every other day or encode it in a Microsoft-user-only format, or insist that 64kbps sounds great, please put them in touch with us. That would be AWESOME.

Finally, I’m pushing the re-vamp of STARTLING MONIKER back a bit to December. Getting back to reviewing music is a goal of mine, but I’ve got a couple health-related goals that are going to need to be accomplished before I feel good about dedicating more time to sit at the computer. Winter is coming, and with it, my usual sense of dread and depression. I’m going to see if I can get ahead of it this time around, so bear with me. In the meantime, keep listening, keep commenting, and keep your head up. –DaveX

My life as a Humannequin

August 12, 2009

As part of London College of Communication’s “This Is Why We Meet” series of installations; Catarina Chaby, Daniel Camacho, Eleonora D’Acci and Yana Naidenov have created a set of interactive “humannequins” currently living outside an office in London.

Callers to the installation’s Skype address inhabit a humannequin, which allows them to see and hear passers-by with full audio and video feeds in real time. For my part, I chatted with Eleonora (unfortunately butchering her name a couple times before settling on Elly, sorry!) and playing some music as well– The Very Best’s “Warm Heart of Africa,” which is quite high in my personal playlist at the moment. I suggested that we should get a conference call going between the Humannequins and the Telemegaphone Dale, an installation located on top of the Jøtulshaugen mountain overlooking the idyllic Dalsfjord in Western Norway which broadcasts callers from a seven-meter tall loudspeaker array to the village below. It’s not often that a Humannequin can shout from a mountain, is it?

We also discussed the curious ability of so many Londoners to be able to walk right past, without any notice, the unlikely sight of people having a conversation (or a dance, as it were) with a mannequin. I’m guessing this is a big-city phenomenon. Still, I spotted my first English hoodie in the wild; and met “Emma,” my temporary Humannequin spouse. I offered her my umbrella, but she appeared comfortable with her blanket despite the rain, making no effort whatsoever to meet my gaze. We did, however, have a bit of conversation amongst ourselves– possibly our first since meeting, haha.

Calls to the Humannequins are taken between 11 a.m. and 6 p.m., until Sunday, August 16th. Skype to: getalife.thisiswhywemeet to become a Humannequin yourself!


Upcoming broadcasts

July 31, 2009

Tomorrow’s broadcast continues to reflect my good fortune with booking interesting phone-in guests– St. Louis-based drone king Mystified has worked up something brand-new for those tuning in. You won’t want to miss a minute of it; Mystified is VERY good at what he does… and what better way to inaugurate the station’s new Skype setup?

I’ll also be playing a terrific release from Neil Rolnick on the Innova label, going cassette-crazy, and maybe even showing off some new Merzbow! You can listen this Saturday morning, from 4-6:30 a.m. CST right here. (BTW, I have made the station manager aware of our compatibility problems with the VLC player, so be a trooper and use Windows Media Player until we get it worked out.)

Can’t get enough DaveX? You may want to check me out this Monday, Aug. 3rd, from 6-8 p.m. (YEAH, IN THE EVENING!) when I cover WDBX’s esteemed “Camp Festus Radio Hour”. Imagine the hijinks a fully-awake DaveX will be up to when given an unsuspecting audience. Epic broadcasting awaits you!

…and hey, since you’re here, check out my growing list of upcoming guests!

8/1 — Mystified (St. Louis, MO)

8/8 –  Su Sous Toulouse En Rouge (Treasure Island, FL)

8/15 — Ernesto Diaz Infante (San Francisco, CA) – AND – Mike Khoury (Detroit, MI)

8/22 — Ironing (Gainesville, FL)

8/29 — Black Beast of Arrrghhh (St. Petersburg, FL)


9/12 — Harold Schellinx (Paris, France)

9/19 — Randall Hall (Rock Island, IL)

9/26 — Novasak (Denver, CO)

10/3 — Kim Cascone (San Francisco, CA)

10/10 — Matt Weston (Northampton, MA)

10/24 — Sabrina Siegel (Eugene, OR)

JC Superstar, shroom mistake, bendy antennae

July 18, 2009

Got a lovely promo package today– or rather, a lovely bunch of promo packages. Hell, let’s just call it Awesome Day: eleven CDs, 4 DVDs, 3 cassettes, and a VHS tape. Lots of included artwork, posters, etc… and hey! One of them had a ink stamping of John Cage on the envelope. How dorky, that’s where my attention goes.

I decided to make a quickie flyer out of it, photocopying and enlarging the original to the proper size. Here’s the result:


Obviously, it’s a bit flippant– and I mean no disrespect whatsoever– but this is the sort of work I’m capable of at 5 in the morning. I had to add in some little Cage references/factoids, too. I didn’t think about it much, but I’m guessing the whole mushroom thing isn’t going to go over quite the way I envisioned… now I’m going to have folks envisioning me with a great love of psychedelics, haha! I may re-work this one, and do some sort of amateur R. Crumb musician trading card with it, who knows?

I also got nice photo of the station’s antennae, as reflected in the roof of my car. No Photoshop! I dig the various scratches criss-crossing the image– evidence of my propensity to toss my keys on the roof as I approach the vehicle.


Bent Rhythmer

June 26, 2009

I was fortunate to pick up a Kay R-12 “Rhythmer” at a yard sale last week. It’s not every day that I have the opportunity to pick up a vintage drum machine for a buck! Upon trying it out at home, I discovered that it functioned, albeit with an additional high-pitched whining sound occurring throughout the chosen rhythm. This had to go, but I wasn’t at all sure what was causing it.

The next day, I cracked open the Rhythmer, figuring that I might get lucky and spot some sort of loose connection; basically, I hoped that my extremely limited electronics repair abilities wouldn’t be too severely called-upon. It’s true– I’m less truly knowledgeable about electronics than I am a helpful combination of lucky and willing to experiment. After all, I only spent a dollar, right?

bent rhythmer

I didn’t spy any obvious broken parts, so I employed my next “technique”… start poking wires in there! Now, before I continue, let me bring you a short announcement from Reed Ghazala, father of circuit-bending:

“Trying to circuit-bend any device operating on the “house-current” of your wall outlet is OUT OF THE QUESTION!!! This holds true even in the instance of AC adapters. Circuit-bending is for BATTERY-POWERED CIRCUITS ONLY.”

There’s a reason Ghazala says this– it’s so you don’t set your instrument on fire, send blinding blue sparks into your eyes, or perform an act of auto-electrocution. It’s serious!

I did it anyway.

My first poke with my little wire tester miraculously cleared up the whining noise problem, go fig. Things were going well! Being somewhat excited now, I decided to get my bending tools (i.e. miscellaneous junk) together and approach the Rhythmer the next morning with the intent to fully bend the bejeezus out of it. This is generally where a commentator says “he’s going ALL… THE… WAY!” but I’m going to save that for later.

I started off by cracking open the Rhythmer open again. At the time, I failed to appreciate how difficult it would be to type the word “Rhythmer” over and over again. I wish I had photos of it’s guts, because they’re a bender’s dream– rows and rows of resistors, neatly spaced with huge gaps practically screaming for a molten solder jizz-baptism. The Kay company wasn’t interested in compact design, apparently! After prodding around for a while with my tester, I found seven good bends. I decided to stop there, frankly, because I’m not exactly hot with a soldering iron AND because I only had seven switches that I had rescued from some sort of Rat Shack TV switcher device earlier.

The switches looked really nice! Three-position toggles, fluid movement… but unfortunately, the pins were all pretty mangled from the de-soldering/yanking/cursing/poking my fingers process of removing them from their original board. I still managed to get all my wires soldered on, but it was a huge time-sink and a pain in the ass. I’m sure you’ve already noticed that these aren’t in the photo, right? That’s because of those dang pins! No matter how I tried, I couldn’t get the solder joints as strong as I wanted them to be. I didn’t relish the thought of cracking open the Rhythmer every time a bit of solder decided to flake out on me, so I junked them and rewired the whole mess to the bank of RCA jacks you see at the top of the photo.

Each top/bottom pair of jacks completes a bent circuit when connected by a cable. Rows 2-8 are the original seven bends, with the first row being reserved for the left-hand assignable trim pot. That means that I can “turn on” any of the bends by connecting the top/bottom jacks directly, or control that particular bend by running the cable from the top position of the pair (say, number 7) to the top position of number 1, then from bottom 1 to bottom 7… putting the pot in series with the bend. Naturally, this more open arrangement of jacks also means that I can explore some of the fun sounds that arise from connecting different circuits in series as well. There’s a lot more possibilities than seven now!

I also added the right-hand trim pot, hard-wiring it to the 8th position, which speeds up the rate of the selected rhythm. In fact, the rhythm speeds up enough to easily demonstrate John Cage’s rhythmic fact about the underlying rhythmic nature of sound– drum beats become tones. It’s great, and definitely my favorite bend so far. Adding the left-hand trim pot into the mix gives me an incredible amount of control over the precision of this bend. Another great quality of the Rhythmer is how different many of the rhythms are from one another. Because they make use of different sounds to build the actual rhythms, the same bend will often have unique results depending on what rhythm is selected from the front panel.

I also discovered the possibility of body contacts on the Rhythmer, something I’d assumed would result in me being fried.

“He’s going ALL… THE… WAY!”

Yep, body contacts. I’d forgotten that touching any ONE of the RCA cables wouldn’t be completing the circuit. Of course, I wouldn’t want to grab TWO…. but one at a time is enough to get some fun sounds going. You can hear the results in my sound sample, I’m using my thumb to create part of the beat at the beginning. The sound sample is about 11 megabytes, so give it a listen.

If you happen to come up with a better name for this thing than “Rhythmer,” leave it in the comments section! The best suggestion will get engraved front and center on the Rhythmer panel. Come on folks– you can do better than “Rhythmer,” right?!

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.

Inexplicable photos, pt. 2

January 30, 2009

On the way back home this evening, I noticed this sign had been “translated” somewhat… Dr. John is actually fairly cool– and besides, it’s bad form to leave so much nonsense throughout the remainder of the sign. Next time, I suggest “DAILY ASS LEACHING / I CUT YA BUTT / USE PENIS WISELY!”

At any rate, it sure beats spray paint.


Next up– look what I’m getting in the mail! St. Louis ambient/drone-master Mystified took pity on a poor DJ and has mailed one of his BRAND-SPANKIN’ NEW vinyl copies of “Pulse Ringer Pieces” in my direction. He wrote to hip me to his gift, and also to warn me that he’d forgotten the insert. With his attached track listing, some watercolors, and my inkjet printer; I decided to whip up my own. Obviously, I am NOT talented with a paintbrush. No doubt you’ll be insanely jealous and want your own copy– if you order one in the next 2 weeks, I’ll make and mail you a custom insert myself, no kidding. I MAY EVEN PUT SOME ACTUAL TIME INTO IT!


This is the Nutone intercom/radio/phonograph unit that came with my house. Obviously, it’s a rather vintage item– no FM receiver here! The satellite speakers are scattered about the house. Although I have yet to source parts for the actual head unit amplifier, I was able to connect the speakers to my own amplifier for throughout-house “surround” sound by toggling a “remote” switch. At present, I can control each satellite speaker’s volume at it’s own control panel; I plan to upgrade this soon to enable individual volume control at the master panel. I’ll also be working on the talk/listen function, which I don’t fully understand yet.


“Vietnam” flyer controversy, pt. 2

January 25, 2009

Remember my “Vietnam” flyer that created a tiff around WDBX? It was getting more page views than my blog, so I took it down out of jealousy– but seriously, it was the flyer that refused to die, and my Negativland-lovin’ heart couldn’t let something this absurd go to waste without a decent response.

But first, here’s the terrible flyer that started it all. I can’t remember who sent me this art, as I receive a good number of promotional mailers filled with all sorts of odd enclosed items.

I know, it’s awful. You can see where the devil himself put colored Sharpie markers in my hand to brighten things up and encode my foul message at the bottom. And the graphic depiction of violence! It truly brings home the reality of war, and the terror of conflict. Then again, I’ve seen worse on Tom & Jerry cartoons.

I already told you about the inital response to this, but here’s a snapshot of the final commentary. I think it’s an interesting text-portrait of the diversity of opinion around the station. Be sure to view it full-size.


But as I mentioned, I wanted to whip up a response. I’ve always believed that silly nonsense should be fought with equally silly nonsense. It puts such arguments in their rightful place, and can be fairly humorous besides. Here’s my final comment on the subject, a parody of the famous Alfred Eisenstaedt photo taken on V-Day. I’m not sure if Malty looks like a willing participant, though!


Potpie vs. Krzysztof – “Appalachia”

January 22, 2009

Backporch Revolution label mainstay Mike Karnowski contrasts two of his aliases with each other, on this bluegrass-themed experimental EP. It’s certainly not a combination you see very often, but Karnowski holds it together with his Potpie persona churning bluegrass sound files into an increasingly complex ball, and his Krzysztof side doing more of what I expected from Potpie– agile sine wave manipulation “inspired by” bluegrass music itself.

Don’t ask me how the Krzysztof track, “Descending Moonshine” is anything like bluegrass, though. Living in Southern Illinois, I thought I’d had my fill of the stuff. Apparently, Karnowski hears some untapped elements there, and it is refreshing to hear an artist visiting older territory to see what might be created anew. The Potpie track “Cold Mountain Breakdown” is a nice result– part Steve Reich, and part abstract electronica– but really a bit too stripped-down for either. “Cold Mountain Breakdown” lets the sound snippets speak for themselves to create a somewhat disorienting mixture of familiar fiddle lines, banjo licks, chords, etc. In their new context, they dart amongst one another playfully, less constrained than in their traditional support roles within songs.

Not a lot more can be said about this disc without ruining it; after all, it’s a limited edition EP clocking in just under 20 minutes. The cover art is a bit of wonderful illustration in a Russian or Polish folk style, and the whole thing comes in a decent heavy cardstock folding slipcase.

“Appalachia” is available through Backporch Revolution as [bpr-035].

Experimental music on video Friday

August 8, 2008

I need a more catchy name for this feature, if it’s going to be a regular Friday thing… got any suggestions?

Here’s a few videos, pre-washed, and ready for consumption. The first is Sabrina Meyer, in a 2007 performance of a John Cage work. Fun use of editing, too.

Here’s the first half of Christian Marclay’s “Guitar Drag,” which I played at least a couple times on my first radio show:

This video should have been longer… the organ had some more to say.

I like Nam June Paik’s work, or what I’ve seen of it, at any rate. It’s sad that I’d never have been able to see many of his videos if it was not for services like YouTube.

Assigned reading material

July 30, 2008

Josh Ronsen’s latest issue of Monk Mink Pink Punk— this being number 15– is yet another fantastic collection of reviews and thoughts about new music for literate-minded folks. I love Ronsen’s admission about a particular Kenneth Gaburo album, “I am overjoyed that it is now easy to get: I’ve only seen the original CRI release in libraries.”

Libraries, motherfuckers!

But seriously, I encourage you to go check it out, especially the panel question feature: “What is the nature of Avant-Garde Music today (2007-2008)?” I’m throwing my lot in with Bernhard Günter’s response.

Copyright = 5 years?

July 23, 2008

Andrew Dubber, New Music Strategies blogger, has a lot of folks riled up about copyright— including me. I’d be remiss if I didn’t send some readers his way; the conversation has been fantastically interesting. His idea? Make copyright an opt-in process, with a 5-year timeout, followed by the option to renew. Dubber hopes the renewal process will lead to a greater percentage of works entering the public domain… I just think its going to result in another enormous bureaucratic clusterfuck mis-managing artists’ rights.

I found this hanging outside WDBX. Either the tree lost its pants, or someone lynched a member of Dokken.

I found this hanging outside WDBX. Either the tree lost its pants, or someone lynched a member of Dokken.

In truth, I’m still not exactly certain where I stand with copyright. It seems to me that copyright and art don’t really go together all that well anyway– art and commerce ultimately have very different goals. If I was a businessman, I could definitely understand the value in hoarding everything of any possible use forever. As an artist, I’ve often given things away for free, or at least encouraged their dissemination. Can these be reconciled?

The fear underlying most copyright decisions (or so it seems to me) is that if a big-name artist’s work wasn’t protected, it could be sold out from under their noses by unscrupulous businessmen, de-valuing their work by making it more freely and cheaply available. But hey, isn’t this already happening? As I type this, a quick torrent search reveals more than one Radiohead discography available right now. One has 33 separate albums, in lossless format, and even features scans of some booklets and liner notes!

Yet Radiohead carries on. I’ve yet to see Johnny Greenwood flipping burgers.

Granted, they might have made a lot of their money before such widespread filesharing came into practice. What about newer artists? Honestly, I have no idea. In some ways, I’m just sort of waiting to see how it plays out. My hope is that the ubiquitous availability of any sort of information, at any time, will de-value ownership itself. I know that I have downloaded songs just to avoid the walk downstairs to retrieve the actual record. I’ve downloaded albums I already own to more easily make a copy for my daughter– the de-valuation of ownership is underway.

Auto-art with Wordle

July 2, 2008

I can’t seem to leave Wordle alone, it’s just way too much fun. I have now discovered a really fun way to make automatic art with Wordle– I’m re-entering my old Wordles back into the generator!

To accomplish the process, I start with one of my prior Wordles, captured as a jpeg. For my first, I used the multi-year playlist Wordle I posted in my last entry. Then I uploaded this Wordle-become-jpeg to an ASCII art generator online, and copied the resulting mess of text. This is what I got:

Obviously, I was pleased as punch. Damn, it looks like an undiscovered John Cage score! As you may have guessed, I then decided to turn the process into a loop, capturing this Wordle as a jpeg and re-upping it to the ASCII art generator. Then– back into the Wordle generator! Here are the next four generations of my auto-art, which Wordle creator Jonathan Feinberg, has pronounced “insane.” Given his obvious love of typefaces, I think that’s a compliment.

You’ll definitely want to click these for the full-size versions.