Playing to the demographic that actually has money.

April 11th, 2014 by David Gerard
Rock

Pete Farnan of Boom Crash Opera writes about playing A Day On The Green, to the most irony-free audience possible. “The Hunters and Collectors recently did a tea towel which apparently sold out.” He’s still whinging about rock critics, though. Dude, the internet killed us too. Talk about yer disintermediation.

New Wu-Tang Clan album available only as no copies at all.

April 2nd, 2014 by David Gerard
R'n'B

JOHN CAGE MATCH, Praxis, Wednesday (NTN) — The Wu-Tang Clan has announced the nonrelease of their new album Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, to be made available in an edition of no copies.

(Read more …)

New Spotify stratagem: get your fans to stream your silence.

March 19th, 2014 by David Gerard
Industry

Mashing together public domain audio to get cash out of Spotify is too much like work. Vulfpeck, a funk band from Ann Arbor, have released an album consisting of ten 31-second segments of silence; they have asked their fans to stream it continuously on repeat so they can fund their next tour. That’s about $5 from each person for seven hours’ streaming. Spotify know about it, but don’t yet appear to have pulled the plug. This would be why Pandora and Netflix have the “I’m still listening/watching” button.

You didn’t know you wanted a robot J. G. Ballard until this moment.

March 18th, 2014 by David Gerard
Writing

Courtesy Mike Bonsall on the jgb list. “It took months to painstakingly analyse 7,000 answers JG Ballard made in over 300 interviews and turn the result into 50,000 lines of AIML code. Now you decide if it was worth it — the artificial intelligence that is the Ballard-bot is now online.”

Subscribe using an email function that works!

March 17th, 2014 by David Gerard
Rocknerd

We’ve previously sent out email via the Subscribe2 plugin, but it keeps ending up in spam filters. The Jetpack plugin (turn your blog into a vassal state of wordpress.com!) includes email that gets through, so use that little box on the right of the front page and you’ll get new posts straight away.

Industrial Soundtrack for the Urban Decay: documentary film later this year.

March 16th, 2014 by David Gerard
Industrial

Now this is an interesting thing. Amélie Ravalec and Travis Collins (the one from RTR) track down the conceptual origins of 1970s and 1980s industrial music, interviewing a pile of the original participants. The trailer is marvellous. They’ve put up mixtapes. There’s a Twitter and Facebook too. I’m looking forward to this one.

Why we love repetition in music.

March 14th, 2014 by David Gerard
Esoterica

Why do we listen to our favourite music over and over again? Because repeated sounds work magic in our brains. Do anything repeatedly and it is music. And even if you consciously avoid repetition, listeners in studies consistently rate the same piece with a bit of repetition inserted higher than the version without.

Daniel Miller from Mute’s top five German prog rock albums.

March 12th, 2014 by David Gerard
Industrial

Miller is not quite comfortable with the term “Krautrock”, and neither am I. But this is a delight for any decent record nerd, and particularly any record nerd who likes their bleep. I’m surprised he rated Radioactivity above Trans-Europe Express, but given it’s Daniel Miller I’m not going to quibble.

As a bonus, here’s Daniel Miller’s Modular Synth Masterclass at LEAF 2013 (including lack of fandom for Switched-On Bach — any bleep fan needs to watch this) and the BBC documentary Krautrock: The Rebirth of Germany.

Neil Young launches new music player based on magic beans and unicorn poop.

March 10th, 2014 by David Gerard
Audio

Neil Young has unveiled at SXSW a new $400 pocket music player that only plays one specific file type, encoded at “high resolution”. The file type will only be sold through a single proprietary store.

Look at these bloody things.

Just look at this bloody thing.

Quite apart from the bit where the triangle edge sticks into your thigh — I think Jony Ive is losing no sleep here — just imagine how much of your expensive high-resolution audio will make it through your earbuds. Or your Beats by Dre. This is like bringing Betamax to the market in 1994.

The actual sound format appears entirely made of audiophile woo. Dig this from Friday’s press release:

Ayre’s custom designed and implemented digital filter. It is minimum phase, with no unnatural (digital sounding) pre-ringing. All sounds made always have reflections and/or echoes after the initial sound. There is no sound in nature that has any echo or reflection before the sound, which is what conventional linear-phase digital filters do. This is one reason that digital sound has a reputation for sounding “unnatural”.

Or, from today’s press release:

PonoMusic is a revolutionary movement conceived and founded by Neil Young with a mission to restore the soul of music – bringing the highest-quality digital music to discerning, passionate consumers, who hunger to hear music the way its creators intended, with the emotion, detail, and power intact.

I can play FLACs — including 24-bit ones — on my phone. Bit-perfect copies of my CDs. And it’s also a phone.

If Neil Young, age 68, who’s played feedback-drenched noise on stage for the past forty-odd years, can reliably tell a Pomo file from a FLAC prepared from said Pomo file in A/B/X testing, I will give you a lollipop. Two lollipops.

(HT Daniel Lopez on the RationalWiki Facebook group.)

That Tyson guy? Eh, I could take him.

February 28th, 2014 by David Gerard
Your rights

Liberation Music really don’t like people using their music on YouTube. So when some guy used a recording they owned, they got it taken down. Then he claimed fair use. But they decided no, they weren’t putting up with that shit.

As it happened, the guy in question was Larry Lessig. Gentleman, scholar … copyright lawyer … founding member of Creative Commons … argues copyright cases to the US Supreme Court … former board member of the Free Software Foundation, Software Freedom Law Center, Electronic Frontier Foundation …

So it turns out that calling Mike Tyson a cunt may be bad for your facial integrity. And Lessig has proceeded to paint the canvas with their blood. Liberation Music has had to admit wrongdoing in issuing the takedown notice, apologise and pay Lessig compensation for the privilege. Really, we expect a better choice of battles from Mr Gudinski.

The levels of musical appreciation.

February 5th, 2014 by David Gerard
Esoterica

From The Dark Side Of The Room. I’ll note that Rocknerd has already reached the later levels. HT Ms45.

How a major record deal works in the 2010s.

February 4th, 2014 by David Gerard
Industry

From Cracked, one-hit wonder rapper Spose describes his major label career trajectory. Thankfully his story had a happy ending and he’s now making a living selling directly.

Deaf from birth, Austin Chapman hears music for the first time.

January 13th, 2014 by David Gerard
Audio

Filmmaker Austin Chapman was largely deaf from birth until, a year or so ago, he finally got hearing aids that didn’t suck. “It was like seeing the world through a pair of high definition 3D goggles, when he’d previously only witnessed monochromatic pixelated visuals.” See also his initial musical explorations on Reddit. The worst music he’s heard in this time? “‘Call Me Maybe’, Bieber, and ‘What Does The Fox Say’.”

Renaissance by the Village People: the Highlander 2 of disco.

January 12th, 2014 by David Gerard
Record

It’s 1981. The disco empire has fallen. The Casablanca label has been bought by PolyGram and all the disco artists have been dumped. You are the Village People. What to do? Why not … a New Wave comeback!

Figure 1: What the shitting Christ.

Figure 1: What the shitting Christ.

Despite the Visage makeup, the sound dumped all danceability, taking its cue from the AOR of the time. Here’s the terrible single, which is probably the least-worst song on the record.

There exists a torrent. Pray for a lack of seeds.

A year later they went back to disco with the slightly less terrible Fox On The Box, a.k.a. In The Street, and the world was slightly safer.

HT Brad Coleman for bringing the existence of this thing to my attention. Thanks, I think.

Kim Jong-Il was the North Korean Roger Ebert.

January 9th, 2014 by David Gerard
Film

Amongst his stupendously many literary achievements, Dear Leader Kim Jong-Il was an accomplished film critic. LET US CREATE MORE REVOLUTIONARY FILMS BASED ON SOCIALIST LIFE. And opera, too.

The trouble with actually learning how to write.

January 7th, 2014 by David Gerard
Writing

This is entirely and horrifyingly accurate. Chris Bucholz, Cracked: 4 weird side effects of learning how to write.

If only you could collect this well.

December 21st, 2013 by David Gerard
Record

How a working-class couple amassed a literally priceless art collection. “They were artists, and the collection was their work of art.” If only I could believe anyone would care this much about my record collection.

Macaulay Culkin has formed a pizza-related Velvet Underground tribute band.

December 10th, 2013 by David Gerard
Esoterica

That is all. Available on Bandcamp.

Don’t be this embittered ex-rock star.

December 5th, 2013 by David Gerard
Industry

There’s a lotta David Lowerys out there.

A real-time Internet radio search engine, from the creator of mp3.com.

November 16th, 2013 by David Gerard
mp3

Michael Robertson, original founder of mp3.com, has come up with an interesting new toy: the world’s first real-time radio search engine. It takes the RSS feed from thousands of Internet radio stations and can find a favourite band playing on one for you — including the bands whose stuff isn’t on the other streaming services. The question now is how the majors attempt to sue this one out of existence.

The completely recyclable LP record.

November 7th, 2013 by David Gerard
Audio

And if her 3D-printed records made of petrochemicals are too icky and modern, Amanda Ghassaei has followed up with a wooden record. Cut with a laser. The resolution is slightly better (1200dpi instead of 600dpi) but it still sounds like a late-night AM radio station hundreds of miles away, and that’s the important thing. That and being able to set on fire much more easily if it sucks. Full how-to. (Hat-tip to Ian Wadley.)

Problemem muzyki nie jest piractwo, a sama ekonomia życia kulturalnego.

November 5th, 2013 by David Gerard
Rocknerd

The hit ramble Culture is not about aesthetics. Punk rock is now enforced by law is now available in Polish, translated by Kuba Danecki, on the copyright reform blog Co nas uwiera w prawie autorskim (“What’s bugging us in copyright”). Cheers!

Do the ostrich.

November 2nd, 2013 by David Gerard
Drugs

Hat-tip Lawrence Miles. “I still prefer to remember him this way.”

lou reed in bird suit

From “Modern Dance” from Ecstasy.

Do-it-yourself payola on Spotify.

October 31st, 2013 by David Gerard
Industry

In the olden days, you needed to bribe DJs or just buy a bootload of copies of your record yourself. These days, you can rent $30 worth of time on Amazon and make $1000 in royalties, as security researcher Peter Fillmore did with his album Kim Jong Christmas, mashed together from public domain audio. Spotify lacks automatic detection of click fraud, relying on listener reports; this offers the possibility of DDOSing your competitor off the chart for $30 of computer time and then reporting them.

Black MIDI is not as cool as it sounds, but is still pretty cool.

October 30th, 2013 by David Gerard
Esoterica

When presented with a new musical technology, the first question that occurs to a certain sort of mind is “what happens if I press all the buttons?” People used to do this with pianola rolls (particularly Conlon Nancarrow and his studies for player piano); now they do it with piano-sound synthesizers, controlled by hand-tweaked MIDI files. “Black” because that’s what the manuscript rendering looks like.

The current wave was started by kakakakaito1998 on YouTube; now it’s a scene. Unfortunately, much of what you hear in the result is artifacts of synthesis; it would be interesting to hear some of these on a physical player piano.

Update: Of course, some are not fans.

Blagger’s guide: Winny Puhh.

October 26th, 2013 by David Gerard
Metal

This video (warning: strobe lighting and cuts) is circulating in social media today tagged “what the fuck did I just watch?” It’s Estonian metal band Winny Puhh coming third in the local Eurovision final with “Meiecundimees üks Korsakov läks eile Lätti.” Here’s the take from the previous week, and here’s a slower, ten-minute version of the same song for a fashion parade. And they’re huge in Estonia. Of course.

A questionable timeline of the evolution of Western dance music.

October 21st, 2013 by David Gerard
Techno

Thomson Package Holidays have a blog in which they attempted to tell people about music. Despite having perpetuated the stuff myself, I find myself increasingly sceptical of anything that smacks of a narrative in describing the spread of music — musicians steal everything they possibly can from everywhere, and for every traceable influence there’s countless ambient factors that make the difference. And occasionally history actually acknowledges them. But the chart is a lovely piece of graphics with nice animation. The commenters get on their case, of course.

“Twitter had a music app?”

October 21st, 2013 by David Gerard
Industry

Is the universal refrain of those hearing that Twitter is killing its music app. I live on Twitter and I hadn’t heard of this thing. It was apparently a nice thing called We Are Hunted which they bought, crippled and just killed off.

A review of the DSM-5 as a dystopian novel.

October 20th, 2013 by David Gerard
Writing

Nothing to do with music, but this review of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition pushed my Ballard buttons. “If the novel has an overbearing literary influence, it’s undoubtedly Jorge Luis Borges. The American Psychiatric Association takes his technique of lifting quotes from or writing faux-serious reviews for entirely imagined books and pushes it to the limit: Here, we have an entire book, something that purports to be a kind of encyclopedia of madness, a Library of Babel for the mind, containing everything that can possibly be wrong with a human being. “

BandHub: The Internet recording studio.

October 9th, 2013 by David Gerard
Musician

Remember Res Rocket Surfer and Google Jam? This one is a new thing to collaborate with people over the Internet. (If you sell your soul to a Mac-only application.) Technical discussion (for computer geeks). If this doesn’t suck, expect a clone that won’t gouge you down the line.