Archive for January, 2004

Making music with conductive jelly

Saturday, January 31st, 2004

As I was trawling for links related to my review of MatmosThe Civil War, I came across a great page with track-by-track notes on the album - where inspirations came from, how the duo created some of the sounds on the record. A couple of the most interesting bits; first this one regarding “The Struggle Against Unreality Begins” (and answering a question I posed in my review):

This song began when our friend Keenan Lawler sent us a recording he had made of himself playing a steel guitar in a sewer pipe underneath Louisville, Kentucky. We liked the idea of “sound in a tube” so we paired Keenan’s noises with the sound of blood in Martin’s carotid artery. To gather that sound we borrowed an ultrasonic doppler flow detector from the Exploratorium, rubbed conductive jelly on Martin’s neck and then angled the flow detector against his skin, picking up the blood flow as interference which sounded rather like a 70’s modular synth.

And this, about “Y.T.T.E.”, one of the centerpieces of the album -

The freaky guitar solo was made through an elaborately layered process: Mark Lightcap played a screaming psychedelic distorted guitar line through a rack of pedals and wahs and whammies, which was then burned as a soundfile on a CD, which was then physically scratched; the resulting skipping CD was recorded and then further chopped up in SoundEdit16 and then re-edited and manipulated in Digital Performer.

“(c)rap” is not a valid criticism of rap

Tuesday, January 27th, 2004

I cannot abide listening to progressive rock fans babble on about rap and hip-hop. The extent of the vapid, self-righteous closed-mindedness of fans of what should ideally be an open-minded genre is disgusting.

Swooning over The Art Box

Saturday, January 17th, 2004

My copy of The Art Box, a 6-CD box set of Art Bears material (their three original albums released in 1978-9 as well as three full CD’s of remixes and reworkings by various high-profile avant-prog figures), came in today. Let’s see. I own a fair number of box sets. I recently got Miles DavisThe Complete In a Silent Way Sessions and The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions, both of which are beautiful works of art in terms of the packaging. But this box nearly takes the cake. While it can’t quite compete with the metal Bitches Brew package, The Art Box is one of the most beautiful CD packages I’ve ever laid eyes on. The box itself is tastefully simplistic, each CD comes digipacked separately, the CD artwork appears to be new, and the original album art is preserved. The original albums are remastered by Bob Drake, and I’ve only just begun to listen to them, but they sound fantastic.

Perfectly timed for the band’s 25th anniversary, this box is a fitting tribute to one of the great early avant-rock pioneers. It remains to be seen whether the three discs of reworkings will make it worth shelling out $70 for the box if you already own the three original albums - but I would say any big-time fan of this group should be drooling over it.