Curiouser and Curiouser

Haven’t written anything here in a while, but things have been very busy. The biggest news is that ukuphambana will be performing at the Voidstar Productions 25th Anniversary Festival! Hit the link for more info and to purchase tickets and/or contribute to the advance crowdfunding campaign.

The fact that Voidstar Productions (co-founded by close friend, long time collaborator, and like-minded artist Deftly-D) has been producing uncompromising art and performances for nearly a quarter century now blows my mind. To be involved in celebrating that is an honor and a privilege. I’m also very excited about the lineup … nobody else puts together events like this, and this one is going to be the biggest and best yet.

In connection with the festival and long-overdue are some other ukuphambana activities that I am going to keep hush hush for now, but I’m also very pleased about. More news on that as events transpire.

2015 is going to be an amazing year, though.

New Tracks: Zebulon Micro Simplex, Ordinary Time

Been busy lately, but terrible about updating this blog. There are two as-yet unmentioned tracks in the player. Other things have been happening too, of course, but I haven’t found the time to write about any of it coherently. So, about the new tracks …

The first one, Zebulon Micro Simplex, is the most complex algorithmic piece I’ve done so far in Nodal: everything other than a few effects tweaks and final mastering were written in Nodal, then captured and rendered in Live, including the beats. I’m particularly proud of the beats, because they don’t sound algorithmic to me … they’re complex and a bit weird, but I could have written them by hand. I probably wouldn’t have spent the time (that’s what algorithms are for), but there’s nothing about them that particularly screams out “automated.”

At least, not to me. But I have weird ears that way, too. Who knows?

The second track, Ordinary Time, is the most straight-forward and listener friendly thing I’ve written in a long while. No odd time signatures, no algorithmic stuff, not even any seriously noisy bits. Just a tune I enjoyed writing and hope a few folks will enjoy listening to.

Going just to link to my soundcloud page here rather than deep-link to the tracks, because lazy:

Click here for auditory stimulation

New Track: Dissipate Solidity

New track in the player on Soundcloud. I have a few other things in the pipeline that are more melodic, but I had a day off this week and decided to bang together a music concrete / collage thing instead.

[Note: track no longer on Soundcloud]

New Track: Doxastic Charge

Nearly eight years in the making, the latest track is now finished and up for listening. Relentless hypnotic glitch bassline, chunky beats and aleatoric bleeps serve as the backdrop for sub, super, and transliminal sounds.

This track samples Milgram compliance experiment, Penn & Teller, and Elton John. It all seemed to make sense at the time. It was a bit of a throw-everything-and-see-what sticks effort, but I’m really pleased with the way it turned out in the end.

[Note: track no longer on Soundcloud]

New Tracks: Nif Ithin Abo Ithin, Bolshy Slovos

After a bit of a winter break, I recently uploaded two new tracks to my featured playlist on SoundCloud. Hit the link to bring the noise.

[Note: tracks no longer on Soundcloud]

Two Videos: Electronic Music For Kids

Recently had the pleasure of stumbling across two separate, intensely weird videos demonstrating just how much weirder and more wonderful childhood was in the late 60’s. First there is this fantastic video of Mr. Rogers paying a visit to Bruce Haack and children’s dance teacher Esther Nelson:

“It’s warming up.”
“It surely is!”

Then there was this amazing documentary about an experimental music program for children, in Shoreditch UK, where children compose “a sound picture based on ideas associated with heat, radiation, relentlessness, intensity, stillness …”:

Archive Track: VideoDrome

It’s amazing what a little ego-search can dredge up. Apparently a file sharing / streaming service called Grooveshark has a copy of an ukuphambana track that is so rare that I don’t even have it.

So, some context: this track was made as part of a live on-air performance at WJUL’s High Voltage Circumcision show. Possibly the first time I’d attempted doing anything live as ukuphambana? My personal recollection of the timing is hazy, but the performance log has two such events, in February of 1999 and 2000, so it would have been one of those. In either case, it’s been easily a decade since I last heard this track.

Technical notes: most of the track was constructed from samples of Atari 2600 games, loaded into an Akai S950 sampler. The sampler was sequenced from a TR505 drum machine’s MIDI outs. Some of the Akai’s outputs are run through various guitar pedals for effects. HR16 drum machine might be in there too, low in the mix? But I’m not sure.

It goes on long — if I had a clean copy of the original, I would edit it mercilessly — but I love that beat! And it has a rawness that I find endearing rather than embarrassing, now that some time has gotten between me and it. Everything was beautiful and nothing hurt.

Enjoy: Ukuphambana – Videodrome

New Tracks: World Below, Ahamkara Kaleidoscope

This month, I completed two new ukuphambana tracks. The first, World Below, is a beat-driven with glitch elements, a dark and eerie slow-builder. The name, like most of my tracks’ names, was chosen only after the music work was finished, but I think it fits the completed track nicely.

[Note: track no longer on Soundcloud]

The second track, Ahamkara Kaleidoscope, is my first completed experiment using an obscure, but incredibly creative and unique, MIDI sequencer called Nodal. No beats, just weirdly interlocking polyphonic melodies that splinter and recombine, always returning to a core and yet never quite repeating the same thing twice. I really look forward to doing some more work along these lines, and combining it with other styles and ideas:

[Note: track no longer on Soundcloud]


Interview: Morton Subotnick

If you can get past the irritating opening, this is a fantastic interview with Morton Subotnick on the early days of electronic music at the San Francisco Tape Music Center, the design of the earliest sequencers and the Buchla Music Easel, and his amazement at living in the (technical) future he envisioned in his earliest days. If I have half the creativity and energy as Subotnick does in this video when I reach his age, I will consider myself a very, very lucky man.

Roger Linn + Carl Craig

I’ve always been a sucker for drum machines of all kinds — something like my first three or four hardware purchases were drum machines, just because I’m drawn so strongly to rhythm, I suppose. So I absolutely loved this lecture / interview with two giants of electronic music history.

I sort of wish Carl Craig had gotten more time to talk, but a guided tour of drum machine history with one of the giants of synthesizer design is still not too bad.

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