I feel somehow culturally deprived in that I’ve only just found out about GetLofi, a blog devoted to circuit-bending which set up shop back in July last year. (I’m a big fan of circuit-bending but have never quite mastered the art. I once tried the relatively simple task of putting an output jack in a barnyard animal soundboard and killed it; much to the chagrin of Daz, who had started writing compositions for it. She even came up with her own “musical notation” for the toy. If she ever unearths one of the old "manuscripts", I must convince her to do a scan…)
In the midst of its wonderful assortment of postings on DIY synth/pedal projects, glitched-up Teletubbies and the like, GetLofi has recently put up links to a couple of memorable videos. First up is Pathways to Music, a two part history of electronic music that was made in 1971. (The first part was posted back in August, the second [MP4] went up a week ago.) The videos – which take us from the time of Pythagoras through to the era of Moog, Buchla, Stockhausen and Subotnick (sadly no Raymond Scott, though) – are actually pretty informative. They include sound samples from the works/instruments that are featured, and have that dry style of narration that seems to have been mandatory for every educational film produced between 1945 and 1975.
Once you’ve digested them, though, you may feel like something a bit lighter. If so, check out this TV appearance by uber-geckoid Dan Deacon which aired on the morning show of a Savannah-based NBC affiliate. Dan, who looks like he should have had a walk-on in Napoleon Dynamite, is interviewed by the avuncular local version of Willard Scott, then proceeds to warble and bob like a crazy thing behind a desk filled with hot-wired synth detritus… If only Australian brekkie telly were graced by weirdos like this rather than Alex Lloyd and Shannon Noll…
(FOOTNOTE: If you feel that the preceding video isn’t quite OTT enough for you, you might want to check out this guitarist or this violinist [QT]. Two fine exponents of extreme instrumental wankery that appeared on Music Thing. The latter was posted in the comments sections for the former.)
Another winner from those fine purveyors of global vernacular pop compilations, Sublime Frequencies. This time Mark Gergis, who was responsible for I Remember Syria and Cambodian Cassette Archives, has scoured the markets of Syria and the Iraqi neighbourhoods in Detroit to find tapes that represent the various types of folk and pop music that have been recorded in Iraq in the past three decades. For the most part, the tracks on the album were produced during the period of Saddam’s rule. (The one exception being the three cuts by Ja’afar Hassan, a soulful folk-rock crooner who was a prominent voice in the pre-Saddam Iraqi Socialist movement.) Apart from this, the emphasis is on frenzied folk styles like Choubi, which is characterised by frenetically trilling double-reed, strings and keyboards, and machine-gun-speed rhythms smacked out on taut-skinned hand drums called Zanbour (Arabic for wasp). Its seriously in-your-face stuff which sounds in places like an Arabic answer to drill’n’bass. Here are two prime examples of it from the album:
Oh Mother, The Handsome Man Tortures Me (And what a great title is that!)
The album can be purchased from the Sublime Frequencies website.
(FOOTNOTE: For those who tuned into the show, here's the Ja'afar Hassan track that was played, They Taught Me... Dear me, that's 3 mp3 postings. Promise me you'll buy the album..)
As a companion piece to the earlier posting of livestock auctioneers, here’s an album of recordings of pitches and grinds* delivered by sideshow spruikers, which have been posted on the WFMU blog. The pitches on the album include entreaties to gawp at freaks, squint at fleas, gasp in awe at motorcycling daredevils, and partake of libations that will rid your body of the “filth, mucus, fecal matter, maggots, and even worms” that lurk within. What in the world are waiting for! Crowd up there!
(* : A "grind" is like a faster, more rhythmic and repetitive version of the standard sideshow pitch.)
Welcome back. Whatcha all been up to while I was away? This is going to be a fairly modest return (I’m back from an O.S. trip that drained the finances pretty badly, so I won’t be buying too much new music in the coming weeks. Instead, it’ll just be sporadic cannibalizations of postings on other much cooler sites.) And speaking of cool sites, I am overjoyed to hear of the return, during my absence, of two of the brightest stars in the interweb firmament – the venerable Ubuweb, and the whimsical but inspired Dictionaraoke.
For the past nine years, Ubuweb has been the pre-eminent online repository of avant-garde, outsider and ethnopoetic writings and recordings. In its ever-expanding archives, you can find works representing ever major modern artist/composer from Antonin Artaud to La Monte Young; the complete 365 Days Project and the rantings of Francis E Dec; and field recordings of Inuit throat singers, Indonesian ketjak chanters, and Oklahomans “speaking in tongues”. In the June this year, Ubuweb called it a day. Thankfully, though, this turned out be only temporary, and its return was announced less than a fortnight ago.
Although it may never acquire the high cultural significance of a site like Ubuweb, Dictionaraoke deserves a permanent place in the roving smorgasbord of inspired silliness that constitutes the vast bulk of the Web because, well… it is a pretty inspired piece of silliness. The idea behind it is simple enough: starting back in 2001, members and acquaintances of the Negativland mailing list fed the lyrics of popular songs into online audio pronunciation guides, spliced together the output, and mixed it with cheesy karaoke backing tracks to produce the sorts of covers that might be assembled by nostalgic future robots a century or so after their complete eradication of the human menace… So if you want to hear what will be all the rage with the art-admin-bots in 2205, go check out this version of Cameo's "Word Up". (via Music For Maniacs.)