December 13, 2005

Unsilent Night Comes To Sydney: Bring Your Boomboxes To Town Hall On Saturday

BoomBox2.jpgUnsilent Night is, to quote its founder Phil Kline, an "outdoor ambient music piece for an INFINITE number of boom box tape players. It's like a Christmas carolling party except that we don't sing, but rather carry boom boxes, each playing a separate tape which is part of the piece. In effect, we become a city block long stereo system!"
Since its first performance in New York in 1992, its become an annual event that has spread to Vancouver, San Francisco, San Diego, Philadelphia, Middlesborough… and this year, it makes its debut in Sydney!

If you want to take part in this very special event, bring a boombox or portable stereo and rock up to Sydney Town Hall Steps at 8pm on Saturday Dec 17th. When you get there, you’ll be given a tape/CD, we’ll all press play, then go on a pleasant 40-minute stroll through the city and surrounding suburbs.

Please come along if you can. Everyone is welcome.

Posted by Warren at 09:25 PM

December 07, 2005

Christmas Mash-Ups & Sleazy Promos

Stocking stuffer time… With a couple of collections of downloadable treats recently featured on the ever-fabulous Music For Maniacs. One of them has a festive theme, the other is just seedy schlock from the golden age of exploitation cinema.

Santastic.jpgFirst up is Santastic, the mash-up community’s contribution to the spirit of the season. Included in it are 18 tracks of mangled festive tunes with titles like Santa’s Acid Hawaiian Space Disco, The Nutbreaker, and Turbo Sleigh Ride. The perfect antidote to the annual onslaught of Bing-drones and muzak choirs.
(And if you want more of this sort of thing, check out this Christmas cut-up compendium by Wayne Butane from the WFMU monthly download site.)

Mandingo.jpgHaving nothing whatsoever to do with Christmas (unless you want to draw a tenuous link between commercial exploitation of a Christo-pagan festival and exploitation cinema) is this assortment of ‘70’s radio spots for sleaze-n-schlock flicks like The Naughty Stewardesses, Females For Hire and Dr Tarr’s Torture Dungeon, which have been ripped from their original 7-inch records and given a home of the web by blogger and trash movie aficionado, toestubber. (The image on the left comes from the cover of the token big studio release in the collection, Mandingo.)

Posted by Warren at 10:05 PM

December 24, 2004

The Place of Xmas-Carolling Dogs In The History Of Sample-Based Music

Danish field recordist Carl Weismann was one of the pioneers of wildlife sound recording. His great passion was birds… and his great nemesis was dogs. Back in the 50’s, while attempting to recorded clear uninterrupted birdsong, he found his efforts continually hampered by the interjections of barking canines. As they would wouldn’t go away when the tape was rolling, he was forced to get around this by becoming a master at locating these barks on the recorded tape then cutting them out with a scalpel. This naturally left him with a whole library of snippets of recorded dog barks. Instead of throwing them out, Carl decided to have some fun with them.
He took one of the simplest melodies ever composed, “Jingle Bells”, found dog barks whose tones approximated to each of the notes, and assembled it all into a festive novelty record. Originally, it was intended only for broadcast on Danish children’s radio, but in 1955, it found its way on to a single that got world wide release and it became a hit (selling 500,000 copies in the US).
And thus it became one of the more significant pieces of early sample-based music. There were experiments in tape manipulation by the likes of John Cage and Pierre Schaffer well before Weismann’s corny efforts, but only the elite were privy to these. In contrast, Weismann’s singing dogs were lapped up by the punters and arguably paved the way for popular music based on cutting and splicing, and sampling and sequencing.
If you’d like to hear the doggy bird-botherers in reassembled action, here’s an mp3. A reasonably priced 1971 vinyl repressing of Jingle Bells and Oh Susanna by the Singing Dogs can be purchased through Classic 45’s. (Weismann info plucked from Haunted Weather by David Toop)

Posted by Warren at 01:57 AM

Santa Came On A Nuclear Missile

Back when I started doing Rummage on air in July 2003, my first ever segment was devoted to song poems – recordings that came out of “music industry looking for new songwriter” ads that were once common in the back pages of many trashy magazines. (For more background on song poems, go to this earlier posting.) So this Christmas, I’ve decided to revisit them and on tomorrow’s show, I will be featuring the opening track from The American Song Poem Christmas album, Santa Came On A Nuclear Missile (mp3).
Lyrically, this song represents the most nihilistic Christmas narrative ever conceived. In it, Santa is transformed into a malevolent, hairless and militaristic alien who arrives on a weapon of mass destruction, and presents the terrified narrator with a laser gun… Unlike previous assaults on Christmas by easily neutralized bah-humbugging outsiders like Scrooge and the Grinch, this "destruction from within" is absolute and irresistible, and it leaves the narrator with little to do but lament the disappearance of all his/her “hopeful dreams”…
Faced with such a grim vision, what did the session musos hired to record it do? Well, they attempted to nullify it by coming up with the most upbeat arrangement possible. The recording opens with the sound of an exploding bomb, but after that, its all breezy organ and lively vocals with only a vague hint of melancholy… Christmas never sounded so gear-grindingly cognitively dissonant…

Posted by Warren at 12:16 AM

December 18, 2004

Unsilent Night: The Ultimate Festive Boombox Sound System

Unsilent Night is, to quote its founder Phil Kline, an "outdoor ambient music piece for an INFINITE number of boom box tape players. It's like a Christmas carolling party except that we don't sing, but rather carry boom boxes, each playing a separate tape which is part of the piece. In effect, we become a city block long stereo system!"
The first of these festive boombox performances was presented in New York back in 1992 and since then, it has become an annual 100-boombox-strong event, which is replicated in cities throughout North America. (This year it went even further afield and was performed in Middlesborough, England.) To give you an idea of what it might sound like, there is a CD of some of the pieces used in past performances which can be purchased through Cantaloupe Music. (They also have mp3 samples of these pieces on the site.) (via web zen)

So, anyone interested in setting up a Sydney version of this for 2005?

Posted by Warren at 11:16 PM

December 16, 2004

Weapon Of Mass Affection: Ad Agency Attempts To Write Worst Boy Band Song Ever... And Succeeds

Ahh, Christmas… The time when creatives in ad agencies attempt to show how creatively “out there” they are by coming up with humorous animated/video Xmas cards for their clients. And this is one of the better ones I’ve seen in recent years... It’s a music video by a phenomenally bad faux boy band called Boy O Boy, who are “hung like mistletoe” and whose answer to the troubled state of the world is a weapon that is “not for enemies you want to take out/its for people you want to see make out”. (via Metafilter)

Posted by Warren at 07:04 PM

December 15, 2004

Beatles Xmas Mp3s

Sci Fi Hi have posted a series of mp3s of Christmas recordings by the Beatles; one for each year from 1963 to 1969. In addition to being good festive fun; it provides an odd little snapshot of the band's evolution. They start out with silly impromptu renditions of Christmas songs and jokey banter, but over time the recordings become increasingly elaborate; incorporating specially written tracks and fleshed-out sketches. Then, towards the end of the decade, the musical arrangments start getting a lot more surreal, John inserts some barbed references about friction between the rest of the band and Yoko Ono, and finally in 1969, Yoko appears on a recording predicting that the 70's will be a decade in which everything will be a lot more peaceful and people will start "flying around".

(FOOTNOTE: The recordings are ripped from vinyl and have a fair bit of background noise. If you want something more pristine, try this bit-torrent.)

And while we're on the subject of Xmas songs, Senor Tonto has concocted an extreme kitsch-overload rendition of the theme song to Santa Conquers The Martians for your downloading pleasure. This version gleefully incorporates banjo, kazoo and Speak and Spell. (via Boing Boing yet again)

Posted by Warren at 10:29 PM