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Adventures of a Shoegaze Cellist

Archive for the ‘Noise’ Category

The JAMC story

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Ugh, another link to bitchfork? I apologize in advance. But I thought this was a great read:

Heaven and Hell: The Jesus and Mary Chain story.

Written by Ted

March 19th, 2009 at 11:40 am

Posted in Noise,Shoegazer

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Atsuhiro Ito: Coolest Walkman Commercial Ever?

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I don’t really give a crap about the fact that this is a walkman commercial, I’m just super into Atsuhiro Ito‘s noise. Evidently he utilizes the flickering of a contact mic’d fluorescent bulb through various guitar pedals (a setup he calls the Optron) to achieve this effect. Wild.

Here’s another with his drummer as the band Optrum:

[via CreateDigitalMusic]

Written by Ted

March 1st, 2009 at 12:52 am

Posted in Noise,video

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Ben Burtt on Wall-E

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Wonderful, inspiring talk by Ben Burtt on how he did the sound design for Wall-E (thanks jdg).

Written by Ted

February 25th, 2009 at 6:44 pm

RIP Max Neuhaus

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Max Neuhaus died today, incredible percussionist and ‘audio sculptor’.

Max was one of the pioneers of sound installations, including his droning ‘Times Square’ piece which was permanently installed at a pedestrian island at 46th and Broadway. This piece was never officially announced, as he preferred to have people discover it on their own. So attuned to differences in timbres, he was known to travel with 1000 kilos of percussion tools when he performed.

Dronesters and sound installers owe a lot to him. He will be missed.

See a video about ‘Times Square’ here.

Written by Ted

February 5th, 2009 at 12:00 pm

WSJ + Fennesz??!??

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Via disquiet: An interview with Christian Fennesz by the Wall Street Journal.

Also: Popmatters interviews Yo-Yo Ma (though not very well).

Written by Ted

February 2nd, 2009 at 10:22 am

Posted in Cello,Noise

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Aidan Baker & Tim Hecker: Wow

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Aidan Baker (of Nadja fame) is a very prolific musician, and his doom-laden drones can be absolutely emotionally devastating. Imagine my surprise and pleasure when it was announced that the fruits of his collaboration with shoegazer Tim Hecker were going to be released on Alien 8 recordings.

Fantasma Parastasie is an epic journey of 8 tracks that wed’s Baker’s expansive recording style to Hecker’s distinctive musical structures, and is wonderfully successful. Standout tracks are “auditory spirits”, where softly chiming guitar gives way to tick-tock rhythms settling the reader into a fugue state, and the mini epic “Gallery of the Invisible Woman,” which pulses with stately bass organ underneath Baker’s layers of crusty distortion.

One thing I really like about Alien 8 is the ability to preview full tracks before you buy…so definitely check it out.

Also on the playlist: Jesus and Mary Chain’s monumental box set of singles and b-sides The Power of Negative Thinking.

Written by Ted

November 3rd, 2008 at 2:55 pm

Phantom Channel Compilation

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Phantom Channel is a new (and promising) ambient netlabel. I’ve been listening to their first compilation and it’s surprisingly great. Well sequenced and equal parts ambience and noise, it definitely takes you on a journey. Featuring Engine7, Parhelion, Adam Trainer, and Mosca.

In the words of the netlabel: “Part 1 features nine predominantly ambient-based compositions that explore texture, emotion and resonance framed in a cosmopolitan mix of untapped sanguine beauty…” Couldn’t really say it better myself.

Phantom Channel Compilation Part 1

Phantom Channel Compilation Part 2

Written by Ted

September 22nd, 2008 at 11:31 am

Posted in Drones,mp3s,Noise

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TOTM: Live Set 5-21-08


Thanks all to everyone who came to see us play last night! I had a great time playing solo and with Unrecognizable Now. And Clue to Kalo were awesome – I loved their harmonies and their songs.

Warts and all, here is my live set from last night for this month’s track of the month. I feel it’s a big improvement over my previous live sets – I have been working to vary my textures and playing much more, and I think my bowing has improved a lot.


Download (23 Mb, about 23 minutes)

As always, this set is pretty much completely improvised on the fly. No prerendered loops, no nothing. Just me and my looper. Part of the challenge is organizing the material in an interesting way so the set has an overall shape. Here is a list of concepts that I came up with before I performed (sort of my own mini oblique strategies):

*Slow development
*Joy when possible (but earned)
*Detuning = confusion & ecstasy
*Darkness and Noise
*Channel Emotions and frustrations out
*Subvert Expectations
*Trust yourself to let go
*Tension & Release
*Beautiful -> noisy -> chaotic -> relief

If you’d like to link to this set, please link to this post and not directly to the mp3. Thanks!

Written by Ted

May 22nd, 2008 at 2:03 pm

RIP Bebe Barron

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Bebe Barron, half of the Electronic Music composing team of Louis and Bebe Barron, died today. They were most well known for composing the “Forbidden Planet” soundtrack, for which Louis built various analog feedback circuits and literally recorded the sounds of them dying/overloading. Interestingly, they built circuits for each character, each with sonic properties they felt highlighted that character. Sadly, this was one of their last soundtracks for Hollywood after being blackballed by the Musician’s Union.

When I first heard this soundtrack, I was blown away at how organic these sounds were – these are the sounds of overloaded circuits, circuits slowly melting, producing otherworldly sounds we still consider sci-fi. In their mastering of circuit feedback, one could say the Barrons were one of the original founders of noise music and we know and love it.

Like most pioneering woman electronic music composers (another being Delia Derbyshire, arranger of the Dr. Who theme), Bebe’s contribution was not recognized until much later. Louis Barron may have built and recorded the circuits, but it was Bebe’s editorial voice who managed to cull and cut these electronic improvisations into recognizable pieces. In her later years, after Louis Barron’s death, she continued as a solo composer, including a piece called “Mixed Emotions”. An early leader of the Society for Electroacoustical Music, she also knew John Cage well, and it was actually Cage who encouraged the Barrons to think of their “Electronic Tonalities” as music.

The Barron’s legacy is quite large and amazing, and I’m glad to see they are finally getting their due as electronic music pioneers.

Anyway, more info about Bebe here: Louis and Bebe Barron

Matrixsynth obituary of Bebe Barron, probably the most comprehensive one.

Another obituary here: Obituary for Bebe Barron

A great NPR piece about the Barrons here: The Barrons: Forgotten Pioneers of Electronic Music

And here is the Forbidden Planet Soundtrack.

Written by Ted

April 21st, 2008 at 2:17 pm

Posted in Creativity,Drones,Noise

CelloMachine [edit1]

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I’m intrigued with Ulrich Maiss. He purports to do a solo cello recreation of Lou Reed’s Noise Album “Metal Machine Music”, the album where Lou basically recorded two guitars feeding back on themselves for 60 minutes. Of course, he combines two great loves: noise music and cello, so how can’t I be intrigued?

Unfortunately, the recording doesn’t seem to be available yet. But, you can hear a little bit of it at CelloMachine. More press information about it available here (pdf).

Here’s a description from an Ulrich Performance from Brooklyn Rail:

To finish the evening, San Francisco based audio instigator Naut Humon challenged Berlin’s Ulrich Maiss to a “duel” (laptop vs. electric cello) in order to “sort out” an “auditory misunderstanding” regarding Maiss’ “CelloMachine” project in which he had sought to recreate Lou Reed’s noise composition “Metal Machine Music.” Smoke seemed to fill the room as Humon laid the groundwork for this unlikely encounter. The simply constructed computer-generated drone grew quickly into an undulating texture over which Maiss softly highlighted certain pitches, easing the audience into the sound, the atmosphere of an imminent storm. After this long opening, the flood of noise appeared suddenly as Maiss burst into a violent tremolo—an attempt to match the tremendous volume of the swarming drones. The sound became a living entity as I even thought I heard the audience screaming. In creating such an inviting atmosphere with pleasant though at times dissonant harmonies, the duo was able to introduce noise in an emotionally charged and meaningful way.

Nice to hear I’m not the only noise cellist out there. :)

Edit. Found Ulrich’s Podcast, which has some samples of him playing CelloMachine (a little past halfway in): Podcast. Sweet.

Written by Ted

June 26th, 2007 at 1:52 pm

Posted in Cello,Drones,Noise