November 18, 2005

One... Zero... Nine... Now Lock...

Number.jpgIf you are a drug dealer or the agent of a national security group or of some kind of watchdog group or human rights organization or if you are a practicing socialist/communist spy, you are in the wrong place. You will be disappointed and should leave now...

From sonic renderings of sleep-deprived hallucinations, we now move to visually-enhanced tributes to Cold War espionage ephemera... Net Pirate Number Station is an updated version of the intelligence community shortwave stations that used to broadcast blandly intoned sequences of numbers during the height of the Cold War; stations that were documented and immortalised by the Conet Project. In the NPNS version, the numeric sequences are generated from text that is scraped from random porn and gambling sites, and we actually get to see the announcers who reel off the numbers in appropriately robotic fashion.

As a form of online entertainment, it may not set the pulse racing, but if you're looking for hypnotic mental disengagement with subliminally sinister undertones, then its just the ticket. (via Metafilter)

Posted by Warren at 11:53 PM

Shipwreck Radio: Seven Sonic Sculptures From Utvaer

Shipwreck.jpgIts taken a while for me to get my hands on this double CD but the wait has well and truly been worth it… Shipwreck Radio is a series of seven manipulated-sound radio broadcasts that were produced by Stephen Stapleton and Colin Potter of Nurse With Wound as part of a two month marooning-for-arts-sake in a tiny fishing village on the Lofoten Islands, just off the coast of far-northern Norway.

They arrived there in June 2004 with minimal equipment and were instructed to produce three programmes a week on the local radio station using only sounds recorded in their wanderings around the islands. And so they ventured out, capturing the sounds you might expect to find in an arctic fishing village – ships, seabirds, the mutterings of fishermen, the cracking of receding ice. But in their travels they also encountered the unexpected – a festival of marching bands called “Codstock”, locals enthusing over the Grateful Dead, and a community of Namibian refugees.

Back in the studio, these sounds were treated and layered to produce slow-burn digitised soundscapes (and the occasional slab of strident breakbeat) that became increasingly mangled and malformed as the never-setting sun began to take its toll on the circadian rhythms of Stapleton and Potter…

On the show today, we featured this condensed remix of the “breakbeat” broadcast from June 15. Its fairly atypical of the album so I’ll also post this remix of the sleep-deprived-hallucination cum audio-travelogue that was broadcast on June 17. It really doesn’t do it justice – but I don’t have the space to post the complete 30 minute version…

If you like what you hear, you might still be able to pick up a copy from Aquarius Records, or you can visit the site of distributor, ICR Distibution. They don’t have any copies of the CDs available for sale on their own, but you can pick it up as part of a double set which features Volume 2 of Shipwreck Radio (which has only just been released)

Posted by Warren at 11:09 PM

November 10, 2005

Where The Klezmer Things Are: Pincus And The Pig

Pig.jpg“A delightfully entertaining romp for the entire family” is not the sort of description you expect to find gracing the cover of a CD released by Tzadik; the experimental music label set up by NY avant-supremo John Zorn, which is famous for championing extreme Japanese artists and Zorn’s own radical interpretations of film music… But this description fits Pincus and the Pig: A Klezmer Tale perfectly.

Released in 2004, as part of Tzadik’s Radical Jewish Culture series, it is a very droll, very Jewish reworking of Peter and the Wolf by none other than Maurice Sendak, the artist/writer behind the children’s classic, Where The Wild Things Are. On the CD, Sendak narrates, in fine histrionic fashion, the story of a boy who leaves a gate open and does battle with a monstrous cudgel-wielding pig. The story comes complete with kvetching farm animals and is accompanied by the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra, who swagger and cavort their way through a klezmerised version of Prokofiev’s "Peter and the Wolf" score. Here are a couple of samples:

Did You Hear Of Boychick Pincus?

No Sooner Had They Disappeared Inside...

The CD, which comes with an illustrated booklet, Yiddish glossary, and bonus sheet of collectible stickers, can be purchased from the Tzadik website.

Posted by Warren at 10:34 PM

November 09, 2005

80's Video Arcade Field Recordings

Arcade.jpgIn 1982, two kids with a Sony Walkman recorder became obsessed with recording the sounds of the their local video arcade in Ithaca, NY. The obsession continued for the next six years, resulting in fourteen tapes worth of bleeps, blasts and cheesy eight-bit game music. At the time, the idea of recording this stuff probably would have earned the pair tragic nerd status, but now, with the all the rampant nostalgia for the eight-bit eighties, these recordings can proudly take their place on the web as a important audio document of the “good old days” of arcade gaming. (via Metafilter)

(FOOTNOTE: Not only is there a great assortment of ambient game sounds to wallow in, but on their recording of Defender you get this priceless response to an attendant asking if they were recording the machine: “Yeah…Not for reproductive purposes…”)

Posted by Warren at 08:45 PM

November 02, 2005

Taiwan. Beyond Your Expectations.

LTK.jpgThis was the slogan I saw splashed across the side of a bus on the way home from work today. Apparently, it’s being used to promote Taiwan to the world as a tourist destination, and this rendering of it was accompanied by images of cute kids in traditional costume, a temple, and mist-shrouded mountains – exactly the sort of thing you'd expect to see in a tourist campaign plugging a north-east Asian country... If the Taiwan Tourist Commission (or whatever they’re called) was really serious about confounding our expectations, maybe they might consider enlisting domestic shock-rockers Loh Tsui Kweh Commune into their campaign.

Apparently, they have one of the wildest stage acts on the Taiwanese indie scene and, if this video (39 Mb QT) is anything to go by, then I’m inclined to believe it. It consists of a series of slickly produced live action versions of imaginary newspaper ads, which start off with the band members engaged in stage-diving, instrument smashing, and martial arts inspired keyboard stroking, then quickly moves on to demonstrations of rectal chainsaw penetration, rejuvenating testicles grabs, cowboy bondage, foot powder bong hits, male lactation, and straight-out gay sex (with appropriately pixilated “parts”)… And if all of this sounds unbelievably sordid, the way its presented is anything but. The clip manages to make this rampant grab-bag of perversity seem (almost) like good clean fun… (It is nonetheless unequivocally NOT SAFE FOR WORK.)

I remember being rather perplexed the first time I heard about ice-cream-van-music-playing garbage trucks in Taipei. Henceforth, I will be surprised by nothing that comes out of Taiwan...
(via the WFMU blog)

Posted by Warren at 12:51 AM