Sunday, November 17, 2013

Saturday, November 9, 2013

VCDC Album Review from All About Jazz

VCDC: Insult (2013)

By  Published: November 6, 2013
VCDC: InsultThe sophomore release of the Norwegian-American free improvisation quartet VCDC (following the self-titled album, Hispid, 2011) features the quartet as a highly inventive and playful unit. Clarinetist Frode Gjerstad, one of the forefathers of the Norwegian free jazz and free improvisation scene; cellistFred Lonberg-Holm, who in the last years collaborate regularly with Scandinavian musicians as Gjerstad on other projects or the Swedish-American quintet Seval; drummer Ståle Liavik Solberg and vocal artist Stine Janvin Motland, who work together as the duo MotSol—recorded two extended improvisations at the Galleri Sult in Stavanger, Gjerstad's hometown. 

Both improvisations are anarchistic and eccentric in its spirit. The only rules oblige careful listening to the other musicians uncompromising attempt to expand the sonic envelope with inventive nuances and unconventional usage of the instruments, and maintaining an arresting level of intensity. The parts where Motland sets the tone challenge the other players to accommodate with her imaginative vocalizations, full of humor, drama and emotion with a stunning range of voices. She has a unique approach of using her voice as an instrument, different from other fellow Norwegian vocal artists as Sidsel Endresen or Eldbjorg Raknes, at times closer to Maja S.K. Ratkje noisy, experimental employing of the voice as raw sound. Gjerstad uses extended breath techniques to answer her and to push further the sonic palette, while Lonberg-Holm and Solberg enrich the thick sonic stew with surprising colors, strange, subtle sounds and changing pulse. 

The two improvisations progress patiently. The second one in particular, "Sultan For Seitan," is more theatrical and uplifting. Motland begins with chirping and later ecstatic vocal utterances, Gjerstad joins with brief, poetic blows on the clarinet and unhurriedly the quartet even manages to articulate a fragile rhythmic outline through this chaotic interplay. This improvisation unfolds slowly as a detailed dadaist story, told as by four creative storytellers. 

Masterful and arresting.

Track Listing: Glutton For Insults; Sultan For Seitan.
Personnel: Fred Lonberg-Holm: cello, electronics; Frode Gjerstad: clarinet; Ståle Liavik Solberg: drums, percussion; Stine Janvin Motland: voice..
Record Label: FMR Records

Friday, November 1, 2013

Crystal "Paintings" Made from Swan Lake Music Vibrations

You ever see those pictures of water and how it crystallizes when different words are spoken to it? Well, Japanese artist Tokujin Yoshioka took this one step further - and to spectacular effect.Using musical vibrations from Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake as a catalyst, Yoshioka  creates  crystal paintings and sculptures.
See them here:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Produce Percussion

Since the venerable Vegetable Orchestra was featured on this blog, there have been others working to incorporate the botanical into their music. MaKey MaKey, a  DIY site for inventors of all ages, have used simple circuits to create percussion instruments out of produce. By interfacing a simple circuit system with a computer, wonderful piano-esque instruments can be made out of forks and apple halves. Great stuff, people. You can find out more and listen to a delicious performance at

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Birthday Card Out of Season

Happy birthday to John Cage from Sympathies Enlarged

"Artists talk a lot about freedom. So, recalling the expression "free as a bird," Morton Feldman went to a park one day and spent some time watching our feathered friends. When he came back, he said, "You know? They're not free: they're fighting over bits of food."   John Cage


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Tree Ring Music

Ever notice how a cross-section of a tree trunk looks like a vinyl record? No? Well, artist Bartholomäus Traubeck did. His latest project, “Years,” plays the rings of a tree by mapping to a scale the lightness and darkness of color in the tree cross-section. You can listen here:

Thursday, May 16, 2013

The sound of hearing loss

I remember being in 6th grade and learning about Claude Monet. I was fascinated by how he continued painting after beginning to lose his sight, and it was then that I first began to contemplate what the actual sensation of losing one's sight would feel like. Later, I ended up needing glasses, and so figured I might have some idea.
Now, speech researcher Arthur Boothroyd has simulated sensorineural hearing loss, to give people an idea of the experience of this unique condition in which sounds are not only harder to hear (quieter), but may also become jumbled, garbled, and other wise incomprehensible.

You can have a listen here.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Celebrating birdsong: The colour and complexity of avian airs - News and features -

“I doubt that one can find in any human music, however inspired, melodies and rhythms that have the sovereign freedom of bird song,”  Olivier Messiaen

Celebrating birdsong: The colour and complexity of avian airs - News and features -

Monday, April 29, 2013

The world sends them garbage...

Children from Paraguay are taking the world's garbage and giving back music. Paraguay accepts landfill waste from other nations; a lucrative business deal, but usually detrimental to its own ecology and citizens' well-being. Children from the villages near these garbage sites have fashioned musical instruments from the refuse, turning the world's refuse into music. You can watch a video on their harmonic exploits here:

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Sea Lion Keeps the Beat

A California sea lion names Ronan is now becoming known as the first non-human mammal that can keep the beat while rocking out to music -which is better than some human mammals I know!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Singing Stairs

Washington D.C.
Here's a wonderful piece on the "Accidental Music of Imperfect Escalators." I have to agree that they sometimes do remind me of a jazz saxophone's squeak.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Sonic Feng Shui

    In an article he wrote for The Atlantic, author Toby Lester details how he has mapped all of the ambient sounds in his day-to-day world. Waking to the unfamiliar silence of his new apartment, Lester describes just how hyper-aware he became to the sounds. He says that "without recourse to radio, tapes, CDs, or television, I suddenly found myself aware of -- no, listening to -- a sort of secondhand music emanating from the machines and appliances nearby." As Cage pointed out with 4:33, we live in a world on constant sounds of some sort. They're inescapable. And in today's world of modern appliances, central heating/air, refrigerators, computers, televisions, etc. we're in the presence of an incessant hum, a drone of electrical appliances and modern conveniences. After Toby Lester began noticing the sounds that he lived with in his home and office, he took to examining, them. What exactly was he listening to day in and day out? "My alarm clock woke me [...], as it does every working day, on a distinctly musical note (B natural, to be precise). I shuffled sleepily to the refrigerator, which kept up a stoic hum (B-flat) as I reached into its guts for a frozen bagel. The bagel I subjected to the resolute drone (E) of the microwave, which concluded its efforts with a ding! (the B-flat an octave above the refrigerator hum) just as my teakettle began to whistle (A). Later that morning my subway train pulled me into town with a weary whine (F), and the office elevator deposited me on my floor with a relieved bleep (C-sharp). I entered the code (C) of the security system with a staccato flourish and was at work." As I read Lester's descriptions of the music he lives with, I muse on the effects of music on mood, of various notes on the emotions, and then can't help but ask: If our appliances contribute a minor chord to our lives, can we subconsciously be put into a depressed mood? If our office sounds hum in a major chord, can we be made more cheerful workers? I see the potential for some sort of harmonic Feng Shui, an analysis and alteration of the sounds that you live with in order to make you a happier/more relaxed/more productive etc. person.

 You can read Toby Lester's article here.