Posts tagged: Music
Vice reports on algorave music — algorithmically generated electronic dance music:
“I’m a live coder, and over the last ten years I’ve been writing code to try to make people dance. That’s my aim,” Alex said. Writing code to make music has been a decade-long interest for Alex and Nick, but the epiphany to transport it into a club environment didn’t come along until a couple of years back. “Nick and I were driving up to Nottingham for an event, and we tuned into a pirate radio station called Rogue FM,” Alex said. “DJ Jigsaw was on, playing loads of happy hardcore, and that sort of influenced our set that night. At that point, it became algorave.”
By their own description, “Algoraves embrace the alien sounds of raves from the past, and introduce alien, futuristic rhythms and beats made through strange, algorithm-aided processes.” Alex attempted to breakdown the function of live coding in simplistic terms: “It’s a bit like making a knitting pattern or something; you come up with this usually quite simple way of describing patterns—this is my approach—and then use this as a sort of language for describing your music.”
I wonder what’s typically used for this — SuperCollider?
See also: Songs in the Key of F12
The Quietus just published a long piece by Peter Bebergal on Coil, John Coltrane, LSD and consciousness. Peter takes a contrarian point of view on LSD and consciousness. He doesn’t condemn drug users, and acknowledges its role in art, but is skeptical about its role in understanding consciousness:
[Hoffman] immediately recognised the possibilities for psychology, medicine, and maybe even religion. What he could never have known was that he changed the world. The amount that has been written on Hofmann, on LSD, and on the nature of the LSD experience, could seemingly fill the universe that one often imagines is in their fingernail when tripping on the very same drug. Certainly important work has been done, and the recent collapse of fearful prohibitions on research of psychedelic drugs could prove beneficial in exactly the ways Dr. Hofmann had hoped. But psychedelic drugs, despite their contribution to the spiritual revolution of the 1960s – a revolution that essentially changed the course of American culture and beyond – have become something of a drag on any attempt to understand altered consciousness.
It started with Aldous Huxley, who had once understood mystical-oriented experiences as being rare, requiring spiritual exercises, philosophical introspection, and maybe even a little bit of luck. In his writing on the mescaline experience in his now infamous but slight manifesto The Doors Of Perception, he became a kind of mystic turncoat, arguing that the experience was available to anyone. More damning, however, was his view on the primacy art once held to be the key to transformative experiences. After his own night sitting comfortably in his drawing room grooving on the patterns in the curtains, Huxley came to see art as a pretender to the throne of direct experience, calling it the method for “beginners”.
This reminds me of a piece by Erik Davis from a year ago. He who wrote:
And now there is a new competing narrative. Studies recently carried out at Yale, and published last month in the journal Science, have confirmed earlier reports that ketamine offers remarkable, nearly instantaneous relief for people who suffer from forms of major depression impervious to other treatment methods. Interpreting depression as a hardware problem largely caused by the loss of synaptic connections, the researchers argue that ketamine works by encouraging sprightly neural growth in brain regions correlated with memory and mood. Journalistic reports also linked this research with the development of a new vein of antidepressants, including Naurex’s GLYX-13, that have the neurone-fertilising power of ketamine without, as one report describes them, the ‘schizophrenia-like effects’.
Rarely has the new neuro-reductionism been so naked in its repackaging of human experience. Nowhere in the research or the journalism does anyone suggest that heavily depressed people feel better because ketamine sends them on a first-person voyage through profound, sometimes ecstatic, and certainly mind-bending modes of transpersonal consciousness whose subjective power might itself boot the mind out of its most mirthless ruts.
But I think the opposite is true as well: the psychedelic community needs to prepare for the possibility that hallucinogens are just drugs. That any therapeutic role they play can be replicated through less mind-warping means. Or, put another way: what if the “neuro-reductionists,” as Davis calls them, are right? What if they can succeed in creating an effective anti-depression drug without the disassociative properties of ketamine?
Part of the problem with banning hallucinogenic research for so long is that it’s allowed a community of pseudo-scientists to dominate the conversation about what the meaning these drugs are, raising expectations and creating dogmas about their effectiveness.
For example, you’ll run into people in the counter culture (such that it is) that believe ibogaine a 100% effective wonder drug for treating all types of addiction. But many ibogaine patients do relapse — which, to their credit, people who are actually involved in the ibogaine therapy community do openly admit. The truth there’s a dearth of scientific research on the substance and its efficacy. MAPS is trying to solve that problem. It might turn out that it doesn’t actually work. It could also turn out that it’s only effective for opiate withdrawal because it acts on opiate receptors, reducing withdrawal symptoms, and that the psychological effects of the 48 hour trip are not actually all that important. Or it could turn out that it works wonders for exactly the reason that psychonauts expect.
The point is, we don’t know, and that once rigorous, peer reviewed science gets back to work in the field, the come down may be harsh.
Torben Sangild writes:
Apollo represents appearance, form, individuality, beauty and dream; the Apollonian aesthetics is an embellishment of suffering, a self-conscious lie, a veiling of cruelty by use of form and elegance, a semblance of beauty. Dionysus, on the other hand, represents ecstasy, being, will, intoxication and unity; the Dionysian aesthetics is a direct confrontation with the terrible foundation of being, an absurd will driving us all in our meaningless lives. In the Dionysian ecstasy individuality is transgressed6 in favor of identification with the universal will – a frightening yet blissful experience. Frightening, that is, because it is a death-like giving up of the Ego, if only for a few seconds; blissful in letting go of the responsibilities of being a subject. The Dionysian experience is a “metaphysical comfort”, knowing that suffering is a necessary part of the effects of the eternal will – the destruction of things in order to create anew. In the Dionysian ecstasy one is no longer concerned with one’s individual suffering, seeing instead things from the universal point of view.
In music, the ecstasy of noise is undoubtedly a Dionysian effect, as opposed to the Apollonian melody and form.7 As mentioned above, the German words Rausch (ecstasy) and Geräusch (noise) are related, pointing towards this fact. The Dionysian is that which is not totally controlled or formed, e.g. screams and noises. The Apollonian elements are seductive, inciting the listener to enter the ecstatic bliss of the Dionysian, enabling the listener to dare the confrontation with the dreadfulness of existence. Therefore, Nietzsche says, the Dionysian needs the Apollonian.
Merzbow is so demanding exactly because he refuses this; he does not soften the harshness of noise with any Apollonian elements. Listening to Merzbow is thus a very different experience from the Sonic Youth maelstrom.
One of the reasons for the ecstatic effect of noise is its sublime character. The sublime is that which exceeds the limits of the senses, perceived as chaos or vastness. Despite our ability to put these words to it, the sublime goes beyond making sense – we never really understand it. The complexity of noise (in the acoustic sense) overloads the ears and the nervous system and is perceived as an amorphous mass, incomprehensible yet stirring. The delight of the sublime is the satisfaction of confronting the unfathomable.
Full Story: Ubu Web: The Aesthetics of Noise
(Thanks Adam and Ryan!)
I wrote for Intonarumoron:
The first two Ministry albums I heard were With Sympathy and Filth Pig. I can’t remember which one I got first, but they sounded completely different not just from each other, but from what I expected Ministry to sound like — something like Skinny Puppy or Nine Inch Nails.
How did Ministry begin with such pop roots and emerge as a heavy metal band? Jourgensen has claimed he was forced by the record company and his producers to create a pop album. Others have speculated that he discovered hardcore punk later in life and was converted.
“The singer has been accused of punk posturing on the video for ‘Stigmata,’ which has him decked out in skinhead garb and wallowing in a pile of trash,” the Phoenix Times wrote in 1988, following the release of The Land of Rape and Honey.
Neither version of the story is true. And while skipping straight from “Revenge” to “No W” would be quite a shock, there’s actually a steady progression in the sound over the years. This evolution has been a fascination of mine for a long time, and may be the thing I like most about his work.
On their own, most of Ministry’s albums aren’t great. There’s a forgettable synthpop album, a poppy EBM album that’s OK if you like that sort of thing, two rather confused industrial rock albums with a few good tracks, one excellent alternative metal album, a below average sludge metal album and a bunch of above average speed metal albums.
But considered as a whole — as a single continuum instead of several discrete works — Jourgensen’s albums are much more interesting.
His authorized biography, Ministry: The Lost Gospels According to Al Jourgensen by Jon Wiederhorn, provides some insight into how all of this came to be, but it’s often at odds with contemporaneous interviews he gave. I’m not interested in proving whether Jourgensen is being entirely truthful in his account of what transpired at Arista records, but in gaining more understanding in how and why Jourgensen’s music changed over the years.
Warning, this is long (4,500 words) and self-indulgent.
Michael Connor writes:
seemingly impossible music can be found today in a group of musicians who use MIDI files (which store musical notes and timings, not unlike player piano rolls) to create compositions that feature staggering numbers of notes. They’re calling this kind of music “black MIDI,” which basically means that when you look at the music in the form of standard notation, it looks like almost solid black:
Blackers take these MIDI files and run them through software such as Synesthesia, which is kind of an educational version of Guitar Hero for the piano, and bills itself as “piano for everyone.” It’s kind of brilliant to imagine a novice piano player looking for some online tutorials and stumbling across, say, this video of the song Bad Apple, which reportedly includes 8.49 million separate notes.
Full Story: Rhizome: The Impossible Music of Black MIDI
More info: Impossible Music: Blacked musical notation
This reminds me, for some reason, of the old Amiga demo scene.
David Tibet of Psychic TV and Current 93 shared his life story recently with Dazed & Confused magazine:
I was born in Malaysia in 1960. Paradise gained. In 1970, I left for England, where I attended an all-boys boarding school. Paradise not only lost but then packed with the sex of ghosts and kicked into the bonefire. Welcome to NeverLand.
What drove me on then: I loved CS Lewis, Tolkien, Taoist temples, the New Testament, MR James1, Christian apocalyptic, the apocryphal gospels, Aleister Crowley and Qabalah. All this before my balls dropped. I discovered the apocryphal gospels through MR James. I discovered Crowley through buying his Diary of a Drug Fiend at Kuala Lumpur airport when I was 11. The other boys at the school were frightened by my reading matter. Crowley wasn’t big with corduroy boys. My post was opened by the headmaster there; he was later sacked for playing a little too freely with his wards. Hop and skip into the Bad PicNic, made worse by the school being extensively haunted. Welcome to Old England.
After leaving university, I had a brief dalliance with the often dysfunctional family (sic) of Psychic TV2, which was briefly fun and then not. I was impelled to create a music that would channel all my obsessions. So HeyHo, Current 933.
Full Story: Dazed Digital: Your History: David Tibet
(via Ales Kot)
What do you see as the main strengths and weaknesses of the medium you work in?
The allure of wordplay, yum yum. There’s that delicious brainmeat frission that happens when you read or craft just the right turn of phrase. But the medium has its weaknesses, too, in that words… well, they fail. A lot. Words fail me every day. All the time. Because they put me at a remove from more atavistic sensations, connections, communications. Which is why I love music so much– the ribcage-expanding, gut-and-capillary level reaction it can trigger. Music is my magick. Also, the visual resonance of art and design: when I lean both my body and my brain into a piece of music… I see landscapes and I feel textures. And then that’s when the most unfailing words come– stories that have steeped in sounds and images.
How has technology impacted upon the work you do?
Immensely. In too many ways to count. Coilhouse Magazine couldn’t have existed without the global network we all built together online, and the kinship that sprang up from it. More generally, I’d say that many of the most wonderful collaborators I’ve worked with, across multiple mediums, are thanks to BBSs and chat rooms, and later on, social networking sites like Livejournal, Twitter, Tumblr. Every day, no matter where I am in the world, I can interface with authors, fashion photographers, editors, musicians, and filmmakers… all thousands of miles away. With a good pair of headphones and an Apogee One, I can (and have) recorded full-length film scores on my laptop in the midst of traveling internationally. I’m about to email this interview to you while I’m at ten-thousand feet in an airplane. I have cherished loved ones that I’ve never met face to face, and it’s a non-issue, because we’ve found ways to share our art. This world, and my subsequent work, is largely post-geographical, and I find that miraculous.
Full Story: In To Views: Meredith Yayanos
I hadn’t realized it, but the new Parlour Trick album is available on Bandcamp.
Above: The KLF’s The White Room movie
J.M.R. Higgs writes:
Drummond and Cauty claimed that their solicitor was sent…
…a contract with an organization or individual calling themselves ‘Eternity’. The wording of this contract was that of standard music business legal speak, but the terms discussed and the rights required and granted were of a far stranger kind.
“Whether The Contract was a very clever and intricate prank by a legal minded JAMS fan was of little concern to Drummond and Cauty,” Information Sheet 8 continues.…
For them it was as good a marker as anything as to what direction their free style career should take next.… In the first term of The Contract they, Drummond and Cauty, were required to make an artistic representation of themselves on a journey to a place called THE WHITE ROOM. The medium they chose to make this representation was up to them. Where or what THE WHITE ROOM was, was never clearly defined. Interpretation was left to their own creativity. The remuneration they are to receive on completion of this work of art was supposed to be access to THE “real” WHITE ROOM.
The pair claim that they went on to sign this contract, despite the advice of their solicitor to have nothing to do with it. It is worth noting at this juncture that Cauty and Drummond were ignorant of Operation Mindf**k. Their sole knowledge of Discordianism came from Illuminatus!, which Cauty had never read and which Drummond had not, at that time, ever finished. By signing any such contract they were not simply ‘playing along’, for they would have had no context for what the contract was, or where it had come from.
In this reading of events, Drummond and Cauty appear to have taken a Discordian Operation Mindf**k prank letter at face value, and spent hundreds of thousands of pounds making a piece of work that would fulfil their part of a hoax contract that they chose to sign.
As to what the ‘real’ White Room which the contract alluded to was, Drummond and Cauty were typically candid: “Your guess is as good as anybody’s.” In Discordian terms, however, the meaning is relatively clear. The White Room refers to illumination, or enlightenment. The word ‘room,’ however, is interesting. The use of a spatial metaphor defines enlightenment as a place that can be travelled to, or sought in a quest. The search for the White Room becomes a pilgrimage, with the White Room itself taking on the character of the Holy Grail. Drummond and Cauty’s film, when seen in this light, becomes a means to an end. The White Room was not intended as a film that would make money or enhance their careers. It was, instead, a step along the path in a search for enlightenment.
Full Story: The Daily Grail: The Strange Journey of the KLF
I bought Higgs’ e-book KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money but haven’t read it yet.
So are you willing to talk anymore about the reasons behind the split or do you want to leave it at that?
Yeah, why not. There has been no argument or bad spirit or anything like that. It’s just that after, we’ve been doing this for over 15 years, it’s time to stop and concentrate on our own solo things.
The record business has been going through a lot of transitions lately through music piracy through the Internet and there’s also the economic crash that makes it harder for people who might want to pay for music to actually pay for music. Has than been affecting you at all? Do you have any thoughts on that?
No it’s not affecting me that much, I think it’s only a problem of the record labels and big major artists. But for smaller artists and people like me we get very little money from the record sales altogether. The main source is playing live, that’s where the income is coming from. And I possibly think the music is available on the net because there are a lot of people, for example in South America, who could not afford to buy any CDs but this way they can hear the music, the music is available.
Full Story: Pan Sonic’s Mika Vainio – Technoccult interview