Resonance and Harmonies

While driving around yesterday I caught a show on PRI called The Next Big Thing, a weekly exploration of New York…sort of. I caught the tail end of the show, just in from the beginning of an essay by Bruce Odland on a project he and partner Sam Auinger have been working on for almost fifteen years: turning cities into musical instruments.

The tool they use is an aluminum pipe of a specific length – similar to an organ pipe – which resonates at a specific frequency; in this instance, a low B-flat. Microphones are mounted at specific distances along the inside of the pipe. They pick up the overtones generated by the vibration of the pipe. This data is sent to concrete speakers which feed the note and overtones back into the environment.

The result is something extraordinary.

Traffic becomes a chorus of Tibetan and Franciscan monks backed by cello and didgeridoo. Rough edges are smoothed and the crude instruments of industry become bellows in a gigantic pipe-organ.

There is a sample .mp3 at the bottom of this page .

The audio from The Next Big Thing is here . The Odlund piece is at the end of the hour.

A little digging at the O+A site uncovered a link to some more audio clips of their experiments in Germany (German site).

A Concert and a Conspiracy

Last night I saw Peter Gabriel in concert at DTE Energy Center Pine Knob. Pete puts on a hell of a show.

The set was an exercise in minimalism; just the band and equipment with a half-dozen screen behind, on which was projected different colored light. Overhead was a large circular screen. Everyone was dressed in black.

The concert covered pretty much all of Gabriel’s career from So to Up , with everything in between. My favorite bit was when Gabriel and his daughter wheeled themselves around the stage on Segways to Games Without Frontiers . I gotta get me one of those things!

Only microscopically less nifty was Growing Up , with PG inside a twelve-foot inflated sphere, bouncing in synch with the music. Actually, that might have been slightly cooler than the Segways. Other songs: The Tower (from Ovo ), Steam, Shock the Monkey, Digging in the Dirt – PG wearing a head-mounted camera focused in extreme close-up on different parts of his face, Sledgehammer – PG wearing the spotlight shirt, Salsbury Hill – in which PG and the band did a walkabout through the crowd, and a wondrous nifty encore of In Your Eyes , accompanied by opening singer Sevara Nazarkhan from Uzbeckistan, whose voice is without compare.

I apologize: My usually poetic tongue is dulled with fatigue and awe.

After listening to Peter Gabriel for over fifteen years, seeing him in concert was…extraordinary.

In other news…

A week ago I bought This is Spinal Tap . Great movie. During my post-movie shower I realized something: In Spinal Tap, Christopher Guest, as Nigel, has an amp that “goes to eleven” (watch the movie). In The Princess Bride , Christopher Guest plays Count Rugen, a.k.a. the Six Fingered Man. Six fingers plus five fingers equals (you guessed it!) ELEVEN! Coincidence? I don’t think so !

I’m on to something. I can feel it in my spleen.

Soulful Tunes

I have just learned that Potato Moon and the Conklin Ceili Band will be at Billy’s on Wednesday, June 11, starting at 8pm. A better show is not to be had in all the world.

As a warm-up for that folk/Irish music evening Styx, (yes, Styx) will be at Schuler Books and Music on 28th Street at noon promoting their newest album, Cyclorama . This event earns the “What the…?” award for June 2003.

Music!!! Again

In the interest of promoting both music and Music, I have a few things to share with you.

First, there is an excellent Intellectual Property Weblog over at Berkeley, which is much more interesting than the name implies. As you can imagine, many of the articles involve the baby-eating fascists RIAA.

Second, I just received my first package from CD Baby . If you have not heard of them, they are an online music distributor, unaffiliated with the apocalyptic scumbags RIAA. They stock only independent artists, or the work of more “known” artists (eg. Thomas Dolby) who want to do personal projects. Over the past week I have spend many many hours browsing through their catalog, and I now have two wondrous new CDs.

The first I cannot easily categorize. A little blues, a little rock, a little jazz, and maybe a little tiny bit of surf-punk. The artist is the late, great Tom Pomposello, the album is [Once Were] The Pastures of Plenty . I have not yet removed it from the CD player.

The second is a fusion-celtic-rock band called the Rogues. If you are familiar with the Drovers (Chicago) or Fonnmhor (West Michigan), then these people will not fail to impress. Actually, they are probably closer in sound to Wolfstone. The album is called The Rogues 5.0 , and it Kicketh Much Ass.

Also while browsing around I found that three local bands have their amazing stuff for sale at CD Baby: Fonnmhor , Blue Nebula , and Potato Moon – who have two albums available, Stancil Martin Weber Brown and Midnight Water .

So with that as a starting point, you will never again have to pay another dime to the asshats at the RIAA .

More Calm

Just uploaded a new page of photographs. River Ice . This is what I do at lunch.

Right now I am listening to the CD American Gypsy by the amazing Tony Furtado. The first track, Oh Berta, Berta gets a lot of play at WYCE . Based on that one track, I ordered the CD. I was not mistaken. Furtado’s stuff is kind of bluegrass, kind of blues, and all kinds of beautiful.

This past Saturday I caught the Conklin Ceili Band (website in production) at Pete Brown’s Office . I have known of them for some time, and have met the lead singer Mick, but this is the first time I have actually heard them. They put on a hell of a show. They have a new fiddle player, Natalie – lately of Fonnmhor – who plays as well as ever. A splendid time was had by all.


And Jesus was a sailor
When he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching
From his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain
Only drowning men could see him
He said “All men will be sailors then
Until the sea shall free them”

“Suzanne”, Leonard Cohen

Until the sea shall free them.

The Tuva Appreciation Post

So I have spent all of this week listening to the extraordinary music of two bands from Tuva, deep in the steppes of Russia: Huun Huur Tu and Ya-Kha. Of the two, Yat-Kha is my favorite, they bill themselves as “Tuvan punk” … sort of. Imagine the polytonal throat-singing generally associated with Tibetan Buddhist chanting, then add traditional east European music, with the occasional electric guitar or synthesizer. But heck: Don’t just take my word for it; you can hear it at CDNOW .

In other news, I have learned some more things about XSLT which will make the maintenance of this site even easier than I thought. This may allow for breaking the XML into individual pieces, one per journal entry, thus making it possible to bookmark, save, and send each individual entry.

I am nearly finished with Blood Meridian . The writing is beautiful, but the subject is so terribly ugly. I feel a sustained sense of awe while reading it.