Posts Tagged ‘noise’

Interview with Karthik Kakarala

April 22, 2008

Karthik Kakarala, currently a Carbondale-based student and musician, will be this week’s live guest on “It’s Too Damn Early.” Naturally, I’m encouraging everyone to tune in. In the meantime, here’s a short e-mail interview in which Kakarala spills the beans about the habits of underground artists, the relationship of noise to Peking opera, and future recordings.

STARTLING MONIKER: How do you approach explaining noise to an interested (but otherwise uninvolved) party?

KARTHIK KAKARALA: This is the ongoing trick, isn’t it? Well, I’m not going to trivialize it by suggesting I’ve solved how to do so, nor insist that it’s impossible due to how many different ways there need to be in order to fit with the types of listeners that exist. Of course, these explanations depend entirely upon the listening experiences of the individual(s) in the conversation, and that must be determined first.

Rock ‘n roll: I’d say this is perhaps easiest, in terms of an inherent thirst for excitement that is obviously there, even in the oldest fossil who’s still into rock music. Old-school rock music (the popular edge of which is actually far less controlled in sheer percentages due to the advent of sophisticated compressors that can, with a couple of clicks, successfully steal all heart out of a track now) flagrantly is reachable via blues, and in any case blatantly points to Hendrix. Anyone worth their salt knows that it’s more than the basic “note” sounds that make him so damned interesting in his time, and focusing the person’s attention on the compositional possibilities of those non-note sounds for expressing fuzzier, more abstract concepts. I go back that far because not everyone gets into Radiohead (as a band that has almost always required multiple listens to form an opinion of, whether or not the particular album was up to snuff), not everyone ends up listening to the ambitious steps of The Who or Pink Floyd, and most people don’t hear Sonic Youth’s “Confusion is Sex” when they’re eleven years old, even though the latter’s not the end-all reason as to why I’m here typing this.

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What would you miss?

December 10, 2007

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about taking a vacation, just tossing around a variety of ideas with my family. In the front-runner position is taking a cruise; it’s pretty laid back, the weather is nice, and having a warm beach to fall asleep on sounds particularly nice.

An interesting sound-related thought occurred to me today, though– what would it sound like? Specifically, what sounds would be missing?

Original photography by DaveX

I realized that I am quite accustomed to paying attention to new sounds when I travel, but the opportunity to spend a significant portion of my life off land made me realize that there is a very real possibility some sounds I regularly hear will be entirely absent.My first thought was that probably wouldn’t hear cars. I’d be on the water, right? Still, I don’t always hear automobiles now. For some of my childhood, I grew up in a rural setting; the sound of a car was uncommon enough to be more cause for concern than to be any sort of normal background noise. Hearing a car usually meant someone was lost, or that family was returning home.

Clearly, the loss of automobile-related sounds wouldn’t be too interesting.

Any cruise ship will obviously be full of people, bringing with them all the associated sound-baggage. From what I understand, birds are well-represented, with pelicans doing their usual bit of beggary.

Wondering if I might find reprieve from an otherwise-omnipresent sound was such a compelling conceit that I was growing disappointed that I was unable to figure out what such a sound could be.

Finally, the answer occurred to me– insects! Unless I’m mistaken, there shouldn’t be a significant insect population on the open waters of the ocean. For at least a couple nights out to sea, the perpetual companionship of insect call will fade from my life.

In my experience, insect sounds are part of the “silence” John Cage experienced in his famous anechoic chamber. Whether I choose to recognize them or not, insects are always present. Scientific estimates of the sheer number of insects are staggering– with an estimate of eight quintillion (1018) individuals in existence at any given time! Surely, there can be no escape from their sound on land… and maybe not even on the ocean.

Regardless, it’s an interesting concept. In the places you’ve been, what sounds did you miss?

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 12/1/07

December 1, 2007

So far, today’s broadcast has been a lot of fun. I was surprised to learn that yet another DJ has been given the killer timeslot just before “It’s Too Damn Early,” this being “Sweet Action Radio Hour,” with Nick. Of course, I say “killer” because this timeslot seems to feed on the blood of DJs– between being trainwrecks of one show following another (remember when I came on after hip-hop and before vintage cowboy songs?) and the late hour, a lot of otherwise-fine shows have gasped their last in the early hours before ‘ITDE.”

I’ll admit, I hope “Sweet Action Radio Hour” makes it. I had a nice drive in to the station while listening to David Bowie, and got turned on to a new solo track from Radiohead guitarist Johnny Greenwood, who was apparently turned on by Penderecki.

Listening to this track, I knew I had to follow with Stockhausen’s “Helicopter Quartet,” having recently heard an excerpt of this at the master’s site. Just for kicks, I let the Greenwood track come back in afterward, and play to a close. Nice!

What was most interesting was how open Nick and company (he had a couple guests) were to experimental music and methods. As I’ve noted before, circuit bending seems to be reaching more and more people now, and Southern Illinois is apparently no different. We discussed noise a little bit, and Stockhausen, and netlabels

It’s nice to find new people willing to check these sorts of things out, so naturally, I’m inspired to continue bringing these sounds into the area– and yes, for you too. (link to more below pic)

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Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 11/24/07

November 24, 2007

Update: This broadcast is now available for download. As always, I ask that you do not use this as a substitute for the actual recordings– instead, I encourage you to seek out the artists and labels linked throughout this commentary and playlist. Thanks for listening! –DaveX

I started today’s broadcast about 15 minutes early. With three hours of sleep, I’m actually feeling better than you’d think– of course, I did little yesterday except eat leftover tofurky and watch “The Office”…

I kicked everything off with Hong Chulki’s “Turntable” double 3″ set from Seoul-based label Balloon & Needle. I played from the “no cartridge” disc last week, so I aired the “with cartridge” disc this time around. I have a tremendous soft spot for experimental turntable work, and Chulki’s generous and straightforward recordings certainly fit the bill. Currently, I’m playing from “Hum and Rattle,” featuring more of Chulki’s turntable, as well as Choi Joonyong’s work with manipulated CD player.

Like Otomo Yoshihide‘s turntable recordings, these are both noisy without being “noise” recordings, and are seemingly quite interested in many of the smaller sounds able to be generated with such sources as well as the more obvious louder ones. As a side note, I’m also really impressed with the design of both releases– “Turntable” features a subtle set of triangles to help listeners match the otherwise-featureless discs to their respective sides; “Hum and Rattle” is displayed nicely in a bit of folding cardstock that cleverly grasps the disc on both sides.

How’s this for a cool release? Uton and Valerio Cosi! I’m playing from their Fire Museum Records release “Kaarmeenkaantopiiri,” which I have no hope of pronouncing correctly on-air. This disc isn’t nearly as mysterious as previous Uton recordings I have encountered, with a much stronger musical bond between the two musicians than I would have guessed. This ends up sounding quite a bit like a more dramatically-layered My Cat is an Alien, very cool!

Moving to the Last Visible Dog release “Hum Hum Hum” from Vapaa… the track “Varjoista,” so we’ll have some time to get into Keijo Virtanen and company’s mindset– not always the easiest thing to do on radio.

It’s been a while since I last played an Ernesto Diaz-Infante/Chris Forsyth collaboratition– “Wires and Wooden Boxes” is actually among the first I heard from either artist, so I’m happy to be able to play from this one, “(As Is Stated… Before Known)” on Pax Recordings and Evolving Ear. I’m planning to do some new reviews this coming week, so look for some more information about this disc in upcoming blog entries.

Also new this week from Pax is another album from The Abstractions! Truthfully, this is a split-label effort, with help from Edgetone Records as well… so it’s a real pastiche of Bay-area improvisers and sound artists– Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Rent Romus, Bob Marsh, Marjorie Sturm, Matt Davignon… you see where I’m going with this!

There’s a lot of left-wing political lyrics here, which sort of turns me off– not that I don’t agree that Bush is a complete moron, I just don’t like mixing politics and music… it’s like putting dirt in a grilled cheese or something. On the other hand, for those of you who don’t mind a bit more fearsome gnashing at the bit of straight society, (and dig strange flavorings of music) The Abstractions’ “Novo Navigatio” might be just the thing for you.

I ended up playing a lot more of Frank Rothkamm’s “LAX” disc than I thought I would have– this is a real infectious release, and I’ll definitely have more of it for you next week. Don’t be surprised if some Rothkamm makes its way into my “It’s Too Damn Startling!” contribution to tonight’s broadcast of WRVU-FM’s “~Ore Theatre Intangible”

“Hey! You got Rothkamm in my podcast!” Sorry, I had to do it.

I also played a long selection from Gianluca Becuzzi and Fabio Orsi’s “Wildflowers Under the Sofa,” which is available through Last Visible Dog Records. This is a really enjoyable disc– a great blend of the drone and avant-garde elements LVD is known for.

Hong Chulki — With Cartridge 1
Hong Chulki — With Cartridge 2
Hong Chulki, Choi Joonyong — hr
Hong Chulki, Choi Joonyong — ua
Uton, Valerio Cosi — Silmaympyrakolmio
Vapaa — Varjoista
Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Chris Forsyth — The Sun is Shining
Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Chris Forsyth — How Little Observed… Half a Mile Distant
Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Chris Forsyth — Tomorrow
Ernesto Diaz-Infante, Chris Forsyth — Some Years Since (The Moon, Supposing It To Be Uninhabited)
The Abstractions — Lament the Fallen
The Abstractions — Take Off Leave Now Never Come Back
The Abstractions — Christian Bush
The Abstractions — Take Yourself Seriously
Frank Rothkamm — Temporarily Unavailable OR Descent into LAX
Frank Rothkamm — Los Angeles OR LATV
Frank Rothkamm — Beehive OR Focal Point of Masonic Meditation
Frank Rothkamm — Digital Signal Processor OR Earthquake
Frank Rothkamm — Still Random OR Burial of Music
Frank Rothkamm — Digital Feedback OR Highland
Gianluca Becuzzi, Fabio Orsi — No Flower
Gianluca Becuzzi, Fabio Orsi — Last Flower

Liveblogging! Commentary for “ITDE” 11/10/07

November 10, 2007

I’m getting off to a tiny bit of a late start this week, as I was trying to sleep as much as possible before I came in for the show. I’ve been a bit under-the-weather, and had to debate with myself whether I would come in at all. That’s the peril of such an odd-timed broadcast, so I hope this week is worth it!

I’m not in much of a writing mood this morning– I’m a bit worried about one of my dogs, who injured her eye somehow yesterday. First thing on today’s agenda is getting over to the vet… until then, my heart’s just not in the blogging. I’ll keep up the playlist, but don’t look for anything fantastic to happen otherwise.

Update: My dog’s eye is doing a bit better– the vet says its a simple eye infection, and not injured. Some meds should clear everything up. As for the downloadable mp3 of the show, it didn’t come through quite as well; it starts midway through Sabrina Siegel’s “Flutter: Embodiments,” though I’m not exactly sure in exactly which track. Enjoy it, and be sure to support the artists and labels listed below! –DaveX

Bob Marsh, Theresa WongLive at the Luggage Gallery
Sabrina Siegel – Flutter (no.1)
Sabrina Siegel – Flutter (no.2)
Sabrina Siegel – Flutter (no.3)
Sabrina Siegel – Flutter (no.4)
Eddie the Rat — Lip-synching At Zero Gravity
Eddie the Rat — Calling Mr. Stratosphere
Bitrate — Disinformation

–following tracks taken from Public Guilt / Epicene Sound Systems / Underadar release “Untitled,” a 3-CD set–

Guilty Connector — H0wling at the Moon 39.2 As Emerges From the Depths of Ikoma Yama First Ikoma Attack
Teeth Collection – 1 Untitled Track
Wether — Sting & Sweat
Thurston Moore — dickraymakerz

–END “Untitled” 3-CD set–

Scott R. Looney — Rumination
Scott R. Looney — Janus
Scott R. Looney — Intermittent
Scott R. Looney — IuxtasEnTempore
Jess Rowland — The Waves Sound Sometimes Close and Sometimes Far Away