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Entries in music (11)


Sonify... your package's journey

There’s different ways of sonifying data, and it’s often hard to strike a balance between making it musical or “listenable”, and translating the data into sound in a correct manner. We’ve seen different ways of sonifying data before in this “Sonify…”-series. With FedEx’s SoundTrack, they very clearly went for music. Which seems logical considering SoundTrack is a marketing gimmick.
FedEx Soundtrack takes a tracking number, or asks you to create a fictional package, and then sonifies this. Everything from the route, delivery type, package’s weight and dimension will influence the composition. A heavier package will for example create a track with a more intense bass track. For a multinational courier company, it is quite a fun feature that will certainly get them some attention.

The Automatic Trio

Tom Moore is a musician playing traditional music, contemporary acoustic music and sound art. He’s primarily a violinist, but also plays other instruments and works with assorted electronics and hardware.

For his latest performance “Automatic Trio”, Tom performs with simple “kinetic” or animatronic instruments which play themselves. By attaching a bow to a simple bicycle wheel, he’s able to simulate the bowing of a violin or cello, making for some automated accompanyment to Tom’s playing. The set-up is quite simple, but really works with the ambient string loops and improvisation that he’s playing over the droning of the mechanical instruments. The fact that it’s part “installation piece”, part performance makes for something that is also visually compelling.


Play the Road

There’s some music I associate with traveling by car. I don’t own a car and travel by public transport most of the time, so it’s mostly based around memories of sitting in the back of my parents’ car, listening to Phil Collins, Crowded House and the like. But I do ‘get’ what people call “driving music”. Some music’s just better suited to drive to.

Volkswagen played on this concept, taking driving music further. Collaborating with dance music artists Underworld and audio specialist Nick Ryan, maybe best known for his 3D audio game Papa Sangre, they created an app which reads different data streams from a smartphone which are then used to generate the music. So when you’re slowly driving along a country road on a rainy thursday morning, the music’s going to sound a whole lot different than if you’re speeding down the motorway on your way home that night.

I think it’s good to see technologies like this that have been around in more open-source efforts like MobMuPlat being used by R&D departments of bigger companies to bring new experiences like these to a broader audience. The app isn’t commercially available yet, but they are inviting people to “play the road” themselves.


Inanimate Life by Mark Peter Wright

I like making field recordings, recording and archiving a moment in time, to travel back to while listening to it on some later day. The field recordings Mark Peter Wright made for his album Inanimate Life are not the same though. They take the listener a little closer to their sources. 

Mark Peter Wright made his field recordings along the North East coast of England, inspired by the voice of the coastal winds. Other than what you might expect from field recordings, it is never really clear what I am listening to. While listening to Inanimate Life on my headphones the sounds rumble through my head, evoking images in my mind of what might be the source of those haunting soundscapes.

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Song Review: Jónsi & Alex - Atlas Song

Only after listening to Jónsi’s solo album Go, I discovered last year’s Riceboy Sleeps by Jónsi and Alex, a collection of mesmerizing songs. Let’s listen to the second track on the album, Atlas Song and see where it brings me.
Atlas Song begins with subtle sound flakes made of high piano notes. A pizzicato violin appears in the distance and slowly the patterns start melting together in a dreamy field of sounds. Suddenly there is room for Jónsi’s voice, repeating the same melody over and over again.
This music does not have a clear beginning or end. It takes me to a place of dreams and memories. It creates one state, one atmosphere, without the ambition to surprise too much. And it feels good. Gentle crackles roughen up the texture of the smooth layers of sound. Towards the end the vocals become distorted and rusty. I am slowly moving away, back into my own world. 
As many of you know, Jónsi is the lead singer of Sigur Rós. Also be sure to check out his new solo album Go. Visit the Jónsi & Alex website

Classic: One Apartment and Six Drummers

Today we will watch a classic many of you will have seen before, but as it was made long before Everyday Listening was born, and I really like this to be part of my archives, here we go once again. Music for One Apartment and Six Drummers (2001) shows us a surreal situation in which six musicians ‘play’ the apartment of an unsuspecting couple while they walk their dog. 

I still love watching these smartly dressed drummers leave their Volvo for a well-planned guerilla performance. It is a wonderful and inspiring idea. The whole world can be our instrument, all we need is great musicians to play it!


The Mystery Of Grey Matters: a Polyalbum

I normally do not write album reviews on Everyday Listening, but this is a special case. It is not an album, it is a Polyalbum. A what? Well, to be honest, until I heard about this project I had no idea what that word meant. It is an album consisting of three discs. The first and the second can be played apart from each other, but the work comes together when they are played simultaneously. The third disk is for lazy people or people with only one CD player and contains a pre-mixed version of disks one and two. 

The Mystery Of Grey Matters is a project by Charlie McCarron. It tells the story of Gregory (Grey) Matters, who is suffering from strange hallucinations. He starts living in two separate worlds, almost without being able to tell which one is real and which one is dreamt. People start to think he is going crazy. The polyalbum allows us to listen to these two worlds separately, or combined.

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The vertical movement of the fishes in these five aquariums is captured by a video camera and this data is used to influence the sounds we hear. So in this sound installations it is the fishes who conduct the music.

Quintetto is an installation by Quiet Ensemble in collaboration with Aesop Studio. They attempt to reveal what they call "invisible concerts of everyday life". As the fishes (most probably) do not know what their movement results in, the live concert they create will never be exactly the same.


Prepared turntable by Yuri Suzuki

Yuri Suzuki, born in Tokyo and now working in London, created the 'prepared turntable'. We could call it an analog looping machine, with great looks! This is a good example of a sound installation with a great visual aspect to it, yet still what you see is totally functional.

On the sonic side I don't find the prepared turntable particularly interesting, but of course there only so much you can do with a two-second loop. I like how Suzuki reminds us of the physical side of sound, a side we almost forget in these days of digital files and the internet.


Leafcutter John remix competition

I've seen Leafcutter John play live twice. The first time was amazing. It was a perfect performance combining the sounds of the guitar, cello and vocals with funny sounds, like from blowing on a straw in a glass of water, live processed with his handwritten software.

The second time was not good at all. He sung loud and uncontrolled like a drunkard, and the whole performance totally missed the nuance and intimicy of the first one. While this left a bad taste in my mouth I have to say I still like his music, and his way of melting together instruments and everyday sounds.

Now you can remix Leafcutter John. There's a competition ending at the end of this month, so you have about two weeks left. There already is a good amount of remixes to be heard on his website, including a very nice one by Sunken Foal. Click on the image for details.