Nov 12, 2009

Sound Structure/Sculpture: Felix's Machine

Felix’s Machines are music making sculptures. They were constructed in his bedroom and exist to facilitate music by translating rhythmic audio structures into a three-dimensional visual show.

They function as musical instruments as well as kinetic sculptures. The Machines are a performance device, but can be well suited to act as an art installation, theatre accompaniment, or standalone sculpture.

The Machines invite an audience to share the experience of their creator. He aims to exploit the complexity found behind the workings of most digital music and present it as a more accessible equivalent. These Machines do not intend to match human potential. Instead they exist to test the advantages of mechanical instruments alone.

Winter 2007: early stage of development

Winter 2008: Extract from composition: 'Glide' recorded and filmed at Gasworks

Machines: Felix Thorn
DOP: Tom Swindell
Editor: Chris Barnet
Director: Tom Mansfield

Nov 6, 2009

Emergency Broadcast Network: EBN VHS copies is back!

Emergency Broadcast Network is the name of a multimedia performance group formed in 1991 that took its name from the Emergency Broadcast System. The founders were Rhode island school of Design graduates Joshua Pearson, Gardner Post and Brian Kane (author of the Vujak VJ software).
Kane left EBN in 1992. The EBN Live Team included DJ Ron O'Donnell, video artist/technologist Greg Deocampo (founder of Company of Science and Art (Cosa)), artist/designer Tracy Brown and technologist Mark Marinello.
Josh Pearson, EBN's charismatic front man and principal performance artist, was also EBN's music composer and main video editor. The music and video editing techniques he personally developed and refined have been hugely influential on a generation of advertising and music video editors.

The first EBN video project was a musical remix of the Gulf War, created in 1991 as the war was still ongoing. The VHS tape of the remix project, which contained the George H.W. Bush "We Will Rock You" cover, became a viral underground hit, and was distributed widely by fans as bootleg copies. In the summer of 1991, EBN traveled with the first Lollapalooza tour, distributing tapes and showing their videos on a modified station wagon with TVs on the roof. The group also became well known for their media sculptures and stage props which were created by Gardner Post.

The EBN modus operandi was to take cable television broadcasts and remix them with a funky beat, often having the lyrics "sung" not by a singer but by half-second sound clips from TV, spliced together. For example, the lyric "electronic behavior control system" would be created with a clip of Ross Perot saying "electronic", followed by a clip of Georges H. W. Bush saying "behavior", then Ted Koppel saying "control", and finally a clip of Bill Clinton saying "system". This technique has been named Video scratching (Not to be confused with the British video art movement).
Among their videos are "Get Down" and "Electronic Behavior Control System" from their 1995 album Telecommunication Breakdown, which mocks the way television controls our lives. Another was a cover of "We Will Rock You " by Queen, with a vocal track made up of remixed clips of Georges W. Bush making announcements about the Gulf War. Bono of U2 took notice of their work and hired them to provide visuals for their Zoo Tv Tour. EBN's video work featured prominently into the show, and their "We Will Rock You" cover was played at the beginning of each show. EBN also produced visuals for The Edge's performance of "Numb" on the 1993 MTV Video Music Awards. In addition to the visuals, audio from those clips were featured in the live performance to create rhythmic effects.
Here is one of the clearest versions I have ever found. I have seen an original VHS tape in the early 90s, and to my memory this seems like it, however short it was. Is also very hard to find any EBN video material since most of it was contained on VHS and those tapes never last after many years of use. So if you own an original VHS of Any EBN work, please rip it and upload for the community, thanks a lot!
Take it here, here and here

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Nov 5, 2009

Bästard - radiant, discharged, crossed off

Following in the hyper-underground-shamefully-too-unknown-noise-bands-from-the-last-decade, Born from the ashes of Lyon's hardcore band Deity Guns, Bästard is now considered as a very important band in the nowadays music's landscape. During the early 90's, those pioneers have reached to an uncommon sound inspired by Sonic Youth and others Einsturzende Neubauten. From their beginning, they kept in their music that kind of fury, but used it 'til the end masterfully and always with some more inventiveness. Once became Bästard, they progressively abandon their noisy way of playing, to better include new sounds : samples and violin appear on the eponym album "Bästard" and this was only a beginning. Always looking after exciting sounds, they came to collaborate with jazz-clarinettist Denis Colin or experimental musician Erik Minkinnen (also famous for his Sister Iodine project). Many songs will be released on Ep's and all those will be compiled on "Side Stuff" Lp. It's in 1996 that the band peaked. "Radiant, Discharged, crossed off…" is still saluted by the whole press critics, as an essential post-rock work. Recorded by Andy Briant (member of Tortoise), this LP remains a classical advanced on his time, that pushed back the frontiers of music. Including the open minded attitude of jazz and industrial soundscapes, the result is still astounding.

I listen to this album again and again and again..

/link in cover/

Nov 4, 2009

Sound Design: Berna

Between the 1950s and the mid 1960s, long before Robert Moog and Wendy Carlos injected electronics into pop-music (with a few exceptions like the Barrons and Raymond Scott), electroacoustic music was pioneered by european radio laboratories and US universities. Composing with tapes and electronics was a serious painstaking and expensive affair, prerogative of a restricted elite of contemporary music composers and adventurous sound engineers. At that time there wasn’t any electronic musical instruments market, as a matter of fact, most of the equipment was adapted from scientific tools belonging to radio engineering departments. Sometimes the equipment was built from scratch cannibalizing anything that had wires, tubes and pots, more rarely, the studios used the few commercial instruments available in those days, such as the Melchord, the Trautonium and the Theremin. Contrarily to what happens today, electronic music then was everything but fast and easy to create. A few minutes of electronic composition could take more than one year of work. Everything was handmade, from complex timbres with multiple sine oscillators bounces to tape editing with scissors and scotch-tape. Even sound envelopes were manually built by cutting tapes’ edgdes at different degrees of inclination. Ussachevsky’s ADSR was yet to be invented!

Berna is a software simulation of a late 1950s electroacoustic music studio. Oscillators, filters, modulators, tape recorders, mixers, are all packed in a easy-to-use interface with historical accuracy.

Explore serial, concrete and tape music or create strange new sonic worlds with instruments inspired by the greatest studios of the early days of electronic music. Are you ready to meet the grandfather of the synthesizer?
from Tobor Experiment