the original soundtrack

a new career in a new town.
I'm off to Berlin for a few months. I have a job at Die Tageszeitung, which is sort of like the German Village Voice; I'll be working with Tobias Rapp, the music editor at the paper. Tobias is a great editor with incredible taste in music. So I am very, very psyched. Expect frequent updates.

07.31.05 @ 11:30 PM EST [link]

Favorite recent analogy: "Isolee is to techno what Keiji Haino is to rock" (courtesy Silverdollarcircle)

07.22.05 @ 04:19 PM EST [link]

There's this treatment that's sometimes given to insomniacs and sleepwalkers. When nothing else works--sleeping pills, meditation, deep breathing techniques, sheep-counting, whatever--some 'natural' doctors will recommend that the patient walks around in grass, barefoot, for 15 minutes right before bed. The goofy theory behind this is that people walking around in shoes with rubber soles all day build up huge amounts of static electricity, which is then discharged when the patient walks around barefoot in the grass. This is mostly hooey, of course, but the treatment somehow works, if for no other reason than it helps people to relax. Some somnambulists report that the only way they can get to sleep at all is by using this method every night. Anyway, I was thinking about this in relation to music--after spending several days listening to mp3s, and mostly music made on computers and for listening to on computers, I felt this horrible amphetamine-like buzz, pulsing waves of overstimulation running through my body, and a 'nnnnrrrrr' sound swarming all around me like angry bees. All of this compounded by the excessive heat and positively deranged amounts of humidity. These feelings of deep unrest were instantly cured when I turned off all the lights in my room, lay on the wooden floor, and listened to a Fairport Convention LP on a belt-drive record player. I'm not sure what any of this means, except to tune out, turn off, and drop out, maybe. Tomorrow it's back to techno.

07.22.05 @ 01:38 AM EST [link]

Got my mitts on the new Autechre/Hafler Trio collaboration, with the rather obvious title ae03/3hae. Ah, what jokesters, Autechre. I've never been a big fan of CD packaging, no matter how it's done--digipak, boxed sets, 64-page full color booklets, etc--give me vinyl any day. But I really did gasp when I opened this double-CD set. It's so delicate, so graceful, like a wedding invitation meant for kings and queens. A pearlescent white cardboard case, wrapped in a golden sash, opens like a portfolio to reveal an enclosed book made of thick, beautiful paper--the kind you use to paint watercolors with--which is embossed with gleaming rows of elegant golden script. Then you open that book and you see three panels--two have CDs in them, wrapped in sleeves made of luxe paper that has tendrils of silky fibers snaking through it; the center panel holds eight prints, abstract black and white images, each on a separate square of translucent paper. I practically expected jewel-colored sashimi to fall out of the little parcel, perfectly formed and ready to eat.

The music? It's alright, I guess--sort of what you'd expect from the words "Autechre/Hafler Trio collaboration." But oh, the packaging!

07.21.05 @ 02:21 AM EST [link]

synthesizer potluck.
Hey, does anyone want to be my date to a synthesizer potluck in Brooklyn on Saturday? There's a catch to win my eternal love. You need to be the owner of an unwieldy old-school analog synthesizer, and you need to bring it along with you to the potluck. Unfortunately I only have a digital synth with analog filters, which doesn't count, so I want to go along with someone who is all analog, all the way. We're talking Moog Modulars, ARP 2600s, and the like.

And here is an awesome gear blog: Music Thing. Read all about Roland's new 404, the digital mellotron (why?), the history of the Hohner Guitaret, singing robots, and more. Music Thing's sister weblog Video Thing is great as well. If you need proof that a higher power exists, look no further than the video keytar. I swooned!

07.20.05 @ 12:19 AM EST [link]

Comments fixed! There's now a little security word you have to spell to leave a comment, but it should be obvious!

07.18.05 @ 03:45 AM EST [link]

Alex in NYC has a blog. Honor the fire!

07.17.05 @ 02:26 AM EST [link]

Man oh man did I underrate that new Ferenc record. It's very, very nice.

07.14.05 @ 12:43 AM EST [link]

I've been on a '90s Wolfgang Voigt a.k.a. Mike Ink back-catalog trip, which is a good distraction, since he's recorded under about ten trillion different aliases and has a sprawling, massive, and mind-bending list of esoteric and rare releases. These days, I've been distracting myself by wending my way through the Kreisel 99s, which you can read about here; it was this wacky Wolfgang Voigt-helmed project in 1999 that released a 7" every week for a year for a total of 52 releases. (How's that for shadowy, mysterious, single-minded obsession? Take that, Aphex Twin! You're only up to #11 with Analord, ha ha!) Right now I'm big into the acid workout that was Kreisel 99 #9, which is "Box Energy" by Crocker (a.k.a. Wolfgang), and "Silbersee (Remix)," also by Crocker. As Wolfgang Voigt aliases go, Crocker is not the best name of the bunch. You would not expect to be rocked by somebody named Crocker. Then again, Crocker is "Rocker" with a C.

I think it's time to go to bed.

07.13.05 @ 02:14 AM EST [link]

Brother's out of the hospital and recovering, but now my dad's in the hospital, for different reasons. Send good vibes through the electronic ether if you can. Cosmic tones for mental therapy...

07.10.05 @ 04:15 AM EST [link]

If I was feelin' better I'd be out seeing Hans-Peter Lindstrom and Prins Thomas, two dudes out of Oslo who are rocking it on this label Feedelity. They are playing at PS1 in Queens right now. Sigh. They do this really psychedelic, warped sounding techno--including a tune a few months ago called "I Feel Space" that mashed my brain.

07.09.05 @ 04:30 PM EST [link]

Apologies for the lack of updates this week. I have been massively unwell these past few days, so I've been spending much of my time in bed. Things that I've been doing: collecting Brian Eno quotes for an article I'm (theoretically) writing about food, and researching a theory I have that the brains of people who listen and respond positively to highly repetitive electronic music might be slightly different from the brains of people who don't. The former has me sifting through Eno interviews from the '70s; the latter has me reading neuroscience journal articles from the past few years. In my fevered head, these two strands of inquiry are merging, leading to some bizarre conclusions. Everything merges with the night, as they say.

This is what I've been listening to, through all the neurobiological murk and tape hiss:

07.07.05 @ 09:20 PM EST [link]

To anyone who might be from or in London: I hope that you are okay. My little brother, who's in London right now, checked in earlier and is okay. There's also this ILE thread.

07.07.05 @ 02:39 PM EST [link]

Book review by me in the Voice

07.05.05 @ 06:03 PM EST [link]

There's an interview with Isolee on this blog Shake Appeal. A little inscrutable at times, but worth reading.

07.01.05 @ 08:57 PM EST [link]

Sandra Day O'Connor resigned from the Supreme Court, and Luther Vandross is dead. America is going to hell.

07.01.05 @ 07:07 PM EST [link]

Cool piece by Rod Smith in the Seattle Weekly this week on sub-bass frequencies and the military. This subject always makes me think of Throbbing Gristle. When I was working for Simon R. as the research assistant for his post-punk book, I interviewed the legendary Monte Cazazza on a trip to California. Monte worked a lot with Throbbing Gristle in their early days, and was the one who coined the term "industrial music" when he made an accidental crack about "industrial music for industrial people." I asked him to talk about TG's experiments with infrasound (very low-frequency sounds) and with ultrasound (very high frequency sounds)--most notably the time that TG tried to force a band of transients off their property in Hackney with the power of sonics. Monte was tantalizingly vague, but offered a few pearls of wisdom. (Pick up the book for more details.)

Rod discusses a lot of the bodily correlates of infrasound--that very low frequencies might cause unfortunate gastrointestinal effects and worse. He doesn't really have the room to get into the neurological correlates of infrasound. What's happening on the level of the brain when you're exposed to very low frequencies?

There was a cool scientific study published in the journal Physiological Behavior in the year 1978, or on the TG timeline, between Second Annual Report and 20 Jazz Funk Greats. Researchers exposed rats to infrasound, and found that the levels of a neurotransmitter called norepinephrine had been altered. That's not too surprising, because your body releases norepinephrine when it's under stress. But the study gave early credence to the idea that your brain chemistry could possibly be altered--temporarily, at least--in response to very low frequencies. Norepinephrine's interesting because it's not only involved in stress, but it's also involved in creating new memories. (Another study two years later gave rats tranquilizers, and then exposed them to infrasound.)

Animal behavior is one area where infrasound gets studied a lot. In 1990, researchers in Frankfurt found that there were actually special infrasound-sensitive neurons in pigeons that respond to frequencies below 20 hertz, in a region called the cochlear ganglion. And one explanation why a tiger's roar is so scary for other animals (including humans) to hear is that part of the sound of the roar lies in the netherworld of infrasound, below 20 hertz; parts of a tiger's growl can be 18 hertz and lower. This was only substantiated pretty recently, in a 2000 study by a group of bioacousticians who measured the sounds that 24 tigers made over a period of time.

Another interesting thing: there's a gender difference in how people respond to these sounds. Women are apparently more attuned to these sounds than men are. There could be evolutionary reasons why this might be so.

07.01.05 @ 02:08 PM EST [link]

email me

stuff i've written

freaky trigger
simon reynolds
matt ingram
douglas wolk
michaelangelo matos
sasha frere-jones
mark sinker
gareth lee
jon dale
josh kortbein
tim finney
mark fisher
philip sherburne
simon silverdollarcircle
ronan fitzgerald
john darnielle
lauren klein
daphne carr
maura johnston
joshua tree in every pot
anthony miccio
scott somedisco
andy kellman
nick gutterbreakz
dave queen
jody beth rosen
other side of life
grievous angel
barbara flaska
the rambler
mike daddino
pete scholtes
the rambler
86400 seconds
dj martian
scott seward
julianne shepherd
poplife blog
david stubbs
anthony easton rockcritics daily
no rock n roll fun
wax banks
andy battaglia
ian penman

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.