[Update: Due to the nerd blog media explosion (which is great!), I've had to buy Bandcamp download credits so I can keep giving away my music. If you've enjoyed the videos and music and you'd like to support the creation of future r0b0 beats, you can buy Vio for iPhone and iPad. It's $2.99 and makes your ears feel really good. I use it for the vocals on my EP The Human Element]
A year and a half ago I decided I had to abandon my horn claw MIDI controller. It was a tough decision because there was a lot to like about the controller: gestural control of rhythmic density and beater velocity, zebra wood, and of course, horns. That controller is the first, and as far as I know, only device to put dead springbok into the service of beat-making, a distinction that has earned it pride of place on my bookshelf of discarded electronics. But in the end, what mattered was making music live, and the horn claw made that difficult. It monopolized my right hand and didn’t have enough buttons to trigger pitched instruments. Enter the Meganome. (more…)
When I started playing with Propellerheads’ Figure app recently, I had a case of rhythmic déjà vu. I heard highly syncopated rhythms somewhat like the bell and clave patterns of African and Latin music but also some stranger and more modern timelines. Figure is an electronic music making app, so the patterns were rendered in the sonic vocabulary of techno and house music, but the spiraling, endlessly-forward-falling clave rhythms were unmistakable. The Aka pygmies of Central Africa were in the club. (more…)
One of my favorite memories of listening to Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew is reading the stream-of-consciousness liner notes by Ralph J. Gleason. They’re very much of the era, with their run-on sentences, digs at the man, and confidence in the incipient unfolding of some glorious electric new age, but to me the first paragraph still stands as a timeless description of what I love in a lot of music.
… so much flashes through my mind when i hear the tapes of this album that if i could i would write a novel about it full of life and scenes and people and blood and sweat and love.
Ecology and narrative: those are the qualities in Bitches Brew that left me awestruck. The sensation that you’ve been sucked into a wormhole and deposited into an alien place with half-familiar beings who move about their lives–that impressed me and seemed so much grander than just expressing emotions. (more…)
…is out. Four years after I left academic music and started building machines that play drums, my debut EP, The Human Element, is available for free digital download. Visit Bandcamp to grab the whole thing. I’m going to do a longer, liner-notes-style post soon, but for now, enjoy the video of the in-studio performance of track 2, Quick Minute.
The first track on The Human Element is getting a video treatment with thousands and thousands of particles rendered in Processing. This is a still from one of the clips I’ve generated today, which is a bit more subdued than the others. Most of the clips have a psychedelic, cortex-melting flair, but this one had a cooler, impressionist look that I like.
The result of two years of blood, sweat, and coffee hit the app store last night. It’s called Vio, and it’s based on the voice processor I use with Jazari. One year ago, I began collaborating with Audiofile Engineering on incorporating my audio code into an app that lets everyone explore fantastical sonic spaces derived from their own voice and gives musicians and producers a powerful voice-processing tool that goes beyond existing technology. That process deserves its own blog post. But for now, I’m going to post the amazing artist videos we recorded with Carnage The Executioner, Aby Wolf, OSO, and myself. You can learn more about the app at transformyourvoice.com.
I haven’t put up a performance video in some time, and this is the first one that shows the MegaNome controller in action.
Minneapolis-based vocalist Aby Wolf is riding a wave of success with her Wolf Lords project with Grant Cutler. The sound of her voice pitch corrected to just intonation with the Sitar Hero preset is one the most beautiful sounds I’ve heard from the app.
“Interesting” is both the go-to faint praise for managing a conversation about someone’s mediocre art (“I thought it was really, um, interesting”) and the highest value to which contemporary creative work aspires. Beauty could never hold that dual responsibility. You can’t bullshit someone by telling him his terrible modern dance piece with spasms of sexualized coughing fits was “really, um, beautiful.” Interestingness is not a passing trend. The German social theorist Niklas Luhmann argued that every social system has its own binary code (in law, it’s legal/illegal, in business it’s profitable/unprofitable), and art’s has been interesting/uninteresting since the advent of modernism. It used to be beauty, but beauty got kicked to the curb just like moral instruction several centuries prior, according to Luhman. That would come as news to fans of Andrew Wyeth paintings or the crowds who throng to André Rieu concerts, but to anyone who has seen the inside of a seminar room in an art or music department, the primacy of interestingness is axiomatic.
What makes something interesting is open to debate, which is exactly the point. (more…)
I’m giving a talk about custom MIDI controllers with Arduino at Code 42 today at 6 PM. Late notice, I know, but I’ll put my slides up tomorrow. For now, you can check out the Arduino code for the MegaNome here: https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B_KTeGhE8i6HUW9DajNGZ1Vrd2c
Here’s the slideshow for the talk: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1o2I8dQnhTKCgiakCF5px4p4KY_yonwDm-MazNML9Qq0/edit
I’m really looking forward to this gig. The Future Music Summit is an experimental music concert series and conference at the Round Top Institute near Austin Texas. On May 12th, I’ll be talking about cyborg musicality and opening for Mari Kimura and DJ Spooky, who is playing Steve Reich remixes with the Telos Ensemble. More info at http://futuremusicsummit.com/