June 30, 2004

Polly Want... SATAN !!! : Death Metal By Animals

Parrot Death Metal?.. Pitbull Grindcore?... In a genre of music where the vocals bear next to no resemblance to anything that might actually emerge from a human throat, the idea of satanic squawks and gutturals being supplied by animals doesn’t seem that unusual…

Hatebeak are the first death metal band to use a parrot for a vocalist. Here’s a lo-fi mp3 of God Of Empty Nest off their debut album Beak of Putrefaction. Meanwhile, from the land-borne mammal kingdom, comes Locking Jaws from Caninus, a grindcore act with two pitbulls on the mic. (via Boing Boing)

Posted by Warren at 09:14 PM

Sublime Frequencies II : Syrian Homosexuals and Burmese Pop

Another couple of releases from the very wonderful Sublime Frequencies label… I Remember Syria is a double CD of field recordings from a country that only ever gets international exposure when its being tarred as a terrorist haven by Western media. The recordings were made by Mark Gergis (of Monopause and Neung Phak fame) during visits to Syria in 1998 and 2000. Unlike other releases on the label, it incorporates interviews with locals, including a mujahadeen, a man who riffs on fictitious meetings with Bill Clinton, and a homosexual from the port city of Aleppo.

Princess Nicotine is one of the first wide-release CDs of pop music from Burma. And it’s a true revelation! Burmese pop is one of the most unrestrained, anarchic mélanges of musical influences ever conceived… Songs open with manic fanfares and juxtapose sultry chanteuses with distorted male vocals; mellow ballads are underscored with ear-piercing instrumental arrangements; and the music echoes everything from Bollywood and free-jazz to Appalachian folk and Edith Piaf… Want a sample of these hyperactive aural confections? Check out My Love’s Darling Arrow by Ni Ni Win Shwe.

Posted by Warren at 07:57 PM

June 28, 2004

Sublime Frequencies I : The Global Radio Collage Revolution
(Originally Aired 16th Feb 2004)

Back in 1983, while holidaying in a Morocco, American musician Alan Bishop found himself captivated by the local music pouring out of his transistor radio. From this scratchy little receiver, he heard not only traditional fare but wildly imaginative hybrids that blended Arabic music with Euro-pop, be-bop and heavy rock. He avidly recorded everything he heard and edited into a series of radio collages that mixed the music with sporadic blasts of news and advertising… It was an activity that he would repeat during his later travels elsewhere in the Middle East and in Indonesia.

Originally, of course, they were designed to be little more than souvenirs of his travels (although they probably had a big influence on the faux-ethnic outsider sound of his band Sun City Girls). Recently, however, they have been re-mastered and released on Bishop's world music label, Sublime Frequencies.

So far, his private collection has been the source of three radio collage CDs, Radio Java, Radio Morocco, and Radio Palestine… The results give you a sense of what its like to actually be in a completely foreign country; bombarded by sounds that flood the senses and – even though they might resemble sounds from home – still seem incomprehensibly alien…

The first of these releases, Radio Java, was originally featured on the show back in February. To give you a taste, here’s the remix we played. And from Radio Morocco, here is a piece from track 5 on the CD which fuses classical Arabic music with the sort of 60’s beat music beloved by the Turks (featured on the show on June 26th)

Posted by Warren at 08:46 PM

June 27, 2004

365 Days Is Back !!!

This is wonderful news indeed... 365 Days now has a permanent home; in the outsider section of the revamped Ubuweb site.
This legendary online mp3 project which delivered one mp3 of interesting, obscure (and often out-of-print) music per day for the whole of 2003, was originally taken off-line a couple weeks after the end of last year. Now, anyone who missed out on a track first time round has a second chance to download it... and no time limit to do so!

Posted by Warren at 07:27 PM

June 25, 2004

Playable Wearables: Sonic Fabric

As a child, Alyce Santoro was fascinated by the flapping pieces of cassette tape used as wind indicators on her family’s sailing boat. She imagined that if the wind hit them the right way, she’d be able to hear the Beatles, or Beethoven, or whatever else was recorded on the tape…
Years later, these childhood musings would serve as the inspiration for Sonic Fabric, a polyester cloth with strips of pre-recorded 1/8” audio tape woven into it. The recordings on the tapes are sounds/music that have had a significant impact on Alyce’s life – crickets outside a bedroom window, the slap of sailboat rigging, Revolution #9 by the Beatles, Pachebel's Canon in D, the jam sessions of her high school punk band, readings by Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac, Laurie Anderson's O Superman, Beethoven's 6th…

Originally designed for conceptual art wall hangings that would merely be looked at, it was discovered that the fabric could actually be “played” by running a tape head over it. This has lead to its first use as a “musical instrument” by 90’s answer to The Grateful Dead, Phish. A video of a gig at which the band's percussionist plays a Sonic Fabric dress can be downloaded from here.

When you consider the sound sources that have made their way into the fabric, the basic glitch and squiggle rhythms that Phish extract from it are a wee bit disappointing… Early days, I suppose. I look forward to what happens when a truly talented avant-garde muso gets their hands on it.

Posted by Warren at 07:20 AM

June 17, 2004

Subsonics at Mu-Meson Archives... Possibly Featuring The Thai Elephant Orchestra

Tomorrow night, there will be a Q&A session at the Mu-Meson Archives with the people behind Subsonics, an SBS series from last year, which was devoted to experimental music and featured such international luminaries as Faust, Harry Partch, Sun Ra, Otomo Yoshihide, Masonna, Phil Niblock, Sachiko M, Voice Crack, and Reynols (along with local heroes like Jim Denley, Greg Kingston and Curse ov Dialect). In addition to answering questions, the makers will screen a couple of episodes from the series and a raft of previously unseen footage.

To get you in the mood, here’s two pieces from one of the groups who were featured in the first episode of the series – The Thai Elephant Orchestra. As the name suggests, they’re an orchestra comprised entirely of elephants (performing on instruments especially designed for them)… who actually compose all the music they perform...
The members of the orchestra are residents of the Thai Elephant Conservation Center, which does invaluable work rescuing elephants from punishing domestic servitude… Ideally, these rescued elephants should be released into the wild, but thanks to human encroachment on their former environments, this is supposedly not a viable option. (If I’m wrong on that point, I’d welcome correction.) So, as it stands, they have what orchestra facilitator, Richard Lair, characterises as the cushiest job in elephant captivity (and one that raises valuable money for the Centre) – being in the prison band… What’s your opinion on the whole set-up?

In any case, I recommend you get along to the Subsonics screening at the Archives on the corner of Parramatta Rd & Trafalgar St, Annandale, 8 pm Friday 18th. And if you want hear more of the Thai Elephant Orchestra, you can purchase their CD from Mulatta Records.

Posted by Warren at 11:26 PM

Taboo Tunes: A History of Banned Bands & Censored Songs

Taboo Tunes is an entertaining little tome about the history of music censorship (primarily in America). Starting from the early 20th century, it charts the various attempts by US governments and media concerns to ban music which supposedly contained drug references, encouragements to sexual licentiousness, calls to “murder”, satanic worship, or plain old radical politics. In the process, the book exposes ludicrous excesses (like the obsession with back-masking, and the attempt to ban Louie Louie because of its obscene lyrics – even though those lyrics were completely indecipherable), knee-jerk responses (banning Louis Armstrong's “What A Wonderful World” in the aftermath of 9/11…?) and the fact that many of the campaigners rely on tired-old mantras that were once applied to music that they regard as uncontroversially acceptable. (The standard invective about the lascivious “jungle rhythms” of the latest form of black music was being used to demonise ragtime back in the 1910's.)

If you want to find out more about it, check out the website. The book itself can be purchased through Amazon or, if you’re a Sydneysider, you can pick up a copy from Berkelouw Books in Paddington

Posted by Warren at 08:54 PM

John Kerry: Presidential Candidate & Garage Rocker

John Kerry, electric bass, is a resident of Oslo, Norway, and the producer of a pulsating rhythm that lends tremendous force to all the members...

As a former bass player in an indie band, I was rather chuffed to learn that John Kerry, the man who will hopefully oust George W, was once a four string plucker as well. Back in the early 60’s, he was part of the rhythm section of a prom dance circuit band called the Electras, who actually released an album on RCA. (This puts him one up on Bill Clinton who only ever played the saxophone as a hobby.) Naturally, this album has recently been reissued.
For more info, go to Kerry Rocks (a gushing little fan-site which has an mp3 medley from the Electras’ album along with photos of Mr Kerry kiteboarding and hanging out with John Lennon.) (via Sharpeworld)

Posted by Warren at 06:53 PM

PSA: Movies For Music

Attention film-makers and animators! Wanna get involved in the fight against Big Music’s draconian assaults on file-sharing? Well, here’s your chance…
Downhill Battle and p2pnet are offering the prize of a ZVue handheld video player (and a T-shirt) to the activist auteur who can come up with the best 30 second TVC-style video about music business bad behaviour. (Alternatively, you can do a 5-minute short in any style about some aspect of the recording industry.) Entries close July 21st. For all the details, go to Movies For Music. (Thanks to Anthony for this link.)

Posted by Warren at 05:02 PM

June 13, 2004

The Dark Side of Jim Henson

As a sort of follow-on from the recent posting about Muppet-themed metal band Cookie Mongoloid, he’s a piece of creepy experimental work from the early career of Muppet mastermind, Jim Henson.
In the late 60’s, Henson’s lovable puppets were already a regular fixture on the variety/talk show circuit. They hadn’t yet acquired the level of universal popularity that would come with The Muppet Show, but Muppets Inc was doing well enough to give Henson a little time off to pursue his other great interest – experimental filmmaking. One of his collaborators in these side projects was pioneer electronic composer, Raymond Scott. Together, they produced Limbo: The Organized Mind – the story of a foam-rubber-faced character who takes us inside his mind to show how things are “organized”. Very dark and unsettling… and not what you’d immediately expect from the man who did the voice for Kermit the Frog…

The soundtrack to this film (and other Henson-Scott collaborations) can be found on the wonderful collection of Scott’s 50’s – 60’s electronic works called Manhattan Research Inc, which can be purchased through Amazon.

Posted by Warren at 01:17 AM

June 12, 2004

William Shatner's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds: The Fan Video

If you’re yet to experience the histrionic un-singing style of Star Trek's Captain Kirk, then this amusing Quicktime animation of his version of Lucy In the Sky With Diamonds is a great place to start. (If you’re already familiar with Shatner’s oeuvre then, it will add another “dimension” to your enjoyment of it.) The song was originally part of his 1968 album Transformed Man, which was apparently inspired by a life-saving encounter with a UFO in the Mojave Desert.

About a year or so before recording the disc, Shatner crashed while motorcycling in the desert. After being unconscious for a while, he awoke and sensed the presence of a “shadowy phantom” that gave him the energy to right his bike and drag it through the wilderness. Following the directions of a “mysterious dark figure” on the horizon, he eventually found his way to a petrol station were he saw a flying saucer…

The album (which also includes butcherings of "Tambourine Man" and "Rocket Man") can be downloaded in its entirety from Star Trek geek site, Farpoint Station… Those aliens have a lot to answer for…

Posted by Warren at 07:18 PM

June 07, 2004

SMS Clash Lyrics; Become A Terror Suspect

This was an SMS message sent by mild-mannered Bristol tech worker, Mike Devine… When the police got wind of it (ie intercepted it via some Echelon type system with “suspect” phrase recognition), they immediately went to his workplace and pulled him in as a suspected terrorist. A few questions were asked and it was established that, in fact, these were the lyrics to the Clash song, “Tommy Gun”. Devine was in a tribute band and had sent these lyrics to its lead singer because he had forgotten them…

Posted by Warren at 01:42 AM

June 06, 2004

Great Moments in Music Industry Paranoia: Finger-Scan Copy Protection

If the record industry’s hyper-paranoia over piracy wasn’t so well-established, then it would be tempting to dismiss the following “innovation” as some discarded out-take from the Minority Report futurism think-tank… But it’s all very real…
Back in January, Swedish design firm Thinking Materials developed a media player with fingerprint-based file security. And now, the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America are seriously considering the player as a means of stopping mp3/movie piracy

Surely they aren’t serious?… Don’t they realise that P2P pirates are the sort of proto-terrorists who would cut off a person’s fingers to get at their legally-acquired music collection?... Far better to look beyond flimsy external biometrics and go for the chip implants already used as membership cards by Spanish clubbers... To guard against extraction, we could embed them in the brain and equip them with DNA-based DRM… The possibilities are endless… I await my APRA commission with much anticipation…

Posted by Warren at 08:16 PM

June 03, 2004

Sweeter Dreams Through Balloon Music

Most artists would be pretty pissed off if the audience slept through one of their performances. Luke Jerram and Dan Jones, however, actively encourage it. This is because they compose music which is scientifically designed to promote pleasant dreams... And the stage on which they perform it... is the sky.

Riding in hot air balloons with specially fitted PA systems, they drift over city centres in the early hours of the morning (the time when most people are in an REM-sleep state) and broadcast their dream-music to the sleeping populace below. This Sky Orchestra (which was inspired by the sound of muezzins' calls to prayer that Jerram hear while on holiday in Tunisia) has had two outings so far. One last year, over Bristol (pdf), and the other, a fortnight ago, over Birmingham. (The Birmingham fly-over was done as part of that city's annual performance art festival, Fierce. This leads me to hope that it might be commissioned for some future Sydney Festival. It would make an interesting change from looking up to see the usual orgy of pyrotechnics that seem to accompany any "event" in the Emerald City.)

To give you an idea of what it all sounds like, here's an audio sample from their press kit (there's also a video that can be downloaded from here). To be honest, it seems like bog standard ambient music to me, but then... I was awake when I listened to it. If you're planning to fall asleep at the computer today, it might be the perfect accompaniment. Download and doze.

Posted by Warren at 10:01 PM

That Thar, That's Not Mee-eee... Yee Haw!

Rodeohead is a foot stompin’ bluegrass medley of Radiohead faves like “Everything In Its Right Place”, “2 + 2 = 5” and “Paranoid Android”. Truly, this is music worth dropping your goddamn britches for! (via Boing Boing)

Posted by Warren at 09:25 PM

PSA: Fahrenheit 911 Trailer Is Now On-Line

OK, this isn't a music-related posting but this film is cranking up to be one of THE media events of the year, and the fact that the film in question is a political documentary (and not a sword-skirt-n-sandal epic, or a kids-fantasy-book adaptation, or a disaster schlocker) is pretty damn notable. Trailer can be viewed here. (Expect slow download due to bandwidth hammering.)

STOP PRESS: 6 meg wmv file of trailer can be downloaded here (Right-click on link).

Posted by Warren at 09:03 PM

Russo-Ukrainian Skank: Red Army Favourites
(Originally aired 12th March 2004)

Oddio Overplay is another one of those high-minded net labels who release entire albums of mp3s on-line for free. In addition to work by individual artists, they have a series of compilations that include such diverse fare as 30’s jazz and blues, traditional music from Asia, and Red Army Favorites; a collection of songs from the former Soviet Union. This last compilation includes old Soviet republic anthems, traditional balalaika bands, cheesy pop, emo rock, dub, electronica, and something, which if it had a name, might be called Slavic folk-punk-ska. Here are a few examples…

Iva Nova - Aunt Marussya (Tyotya Marussya) - This track is from St Petersburg all-female band, Iva Nova. (Their claim to fame?... Their drummer was once invited to play with Kraut-rock legends Faust.) It starts off sounding like a plaintive ode to the Motherland but quickly transforms into an accordion and surf-guitar-fuelled stomp.
Leningrad - Crucified (Raspezdyai) - Leningrad write songs about “the important things in life – vodka and women”, occasionally perform nude, frequently get banned from performing mid-tour, and are one of the most popular underground bands in Russia.
Vopli Vidopliassova - Pidmanula - This is the most traditional sounding of the three and comes complete with keening female vocals typical of Ukrainian folk music. Once again, though, its given the full ska-punk treatment…

(And if you want to hear more of this, you might want to check out Russendisko, a compilation of contemporary Russian music on the Trikont label)

Posted by Warren at 12:09 AM

June 02, 2004

Dear Mistress Louise, I Am A Pervert: Dirty Fan Male
(Originally aired 5th March 2003)

Dirty Fan Male is a CD of recordings of fan letters sent to porn stars and Page 3 girls. The letters are from the private collection of Johnny Trunk, the eponymous head of Trunk Records, a British label that specializes in cheesy vintage erotica and zombie biker film soundtracks; and the recordings themselves were done in single takes by a man named Wisbey, who seems to be blessed with a collection of accents that would rival even the late Peter Sellers.

The results of all this prurient documentation are frequently bizarre, LOL hilarious and downright disturbing, but occasionally, they are also rather poignant… Revealing desperately lonely men who imagine that they can forge some deeper emotional connections with images of women served up to them as wank fodder. (For the most part though, these guys are just unashamed perverts!)

The album can be purchased from the Trunk Records site, which also has a selection of amusing audio samples.

Posted by Warren at 11:36 PM