Floating with Hank Lazer in a Drunken Boat

I had the privilege of working with poet Hank Lazer this summer on three sonic realizations on his poem “N27P51” that are now available in issue 22 of the literary journal Drunken Boat.

These works began last spring with recordings of Hank’s students reading phrases from his poem. This summer I edited the recordings, processed them beyond recognition, added more sounds, used the shape of each line from the poem to guide electronic improvisations, and otherwise had a great time designing sounds in the studio. Hank reigned it all in and helped me shape the material into three sections.

Check out the journal for a reproduction of Hank’s visual poetry, or listen to all the audio from the issue below (including a piece by Pauline Oliveros).

Parkside Radicans Recordings

Here are live recordings from this spring’s Parkside performance with John Wiese, Steve Jansen and Brad Davis. This is from my buzzy, noisy Radicans project which uses small motors and soundbug transducers (audio speakers without cones) to transform ordinary objects in the performance space into speakers.

Spin/Wind/Up/Down

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Windowed Pulses

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Suspended Sounds

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Here are the sounds of a suspension bridge I recorded on a recent trip to Camp McDowell in Nauvoo AL. I used two contact mics, one on each set of main cables. The bridge was surprisingly quiet during normal use and even when I bounced and jostled it a bit, so I tapped and scraped on the structure with a few sticks. Sounds best on headphones!

Sonic Frontiers Presents Holland Hopson and Justin Peake

I’m excited to perform next week as part of the Sonic Frontiers season. I plan to play a set of pieces for banjo and electronics drawing from the material on Post & Beam, adding a few new twists, and hopefully including one or two “sound bug” pieces from my Radicans project.

Also on the bill is Justin Peake, a New Orleans based percussionist/composer known for his work as Beautiful Bells. Justin is a Tuscaloosa native, so this will be a homecoming performance for him.

I think it’s going to be a great night!

Thursday March 7 2013 at 7:30pm
Bama Theatre Greensboro Room
600 Greensboro Ave.
Tuscaloosa AL
Admission is Free.

Justin Peake – Workshop at Badabum Atelier from Michelle Ettlin on Vimeo.

Cage/Gould

Cage’s Inlets will be performed using his original shells

Saturday’s Cage/Gould concert at RPI’s EMPAC in Troy NY is the next in a long line of John Cage centenary tributes happening this year. Featuring the Rensselaer Contemporary Music Ensemble directed by Michael Century, the program includes works by John Cage juxtaposed with a recreation of part of Glenn Gould’s final piano concert.

Saturday, November 17 8pm
EMPAC Theater
Rensselaer Contemporary Music Ensemble
Cage Gould
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Troy NY

The french philosopher Elie During knits it all together in a pre-performance lecture (5pm) with the help of a vacuum cleaner (no kidding!) or at least the metaphor of a vacuum cleaner or the memory of the sound of a vacuum cleaner or the memory of the experience of the obliteration of all other sounds thanks to a vacuum cleaner… I guess we’ll have to go to the lecture to find out for sure.

I’ll be providing some electronic dialogues in the concert between Cage and Gould using recordings of their voices. I put together a Max patch to trigger the cues and quickly found that my old-school use of Max’s “coll” object wasn’t quite cutting it. I looked into Max’s new “dict” object as a replacement but hit a limit recalling nested hierarchical statements. So I delved into SQLite and Javascript to put together a relational database of cues and associated tags. Now I’m able to query and sort the cues at will. I can also change the content of the database (add cues, edit tags, etc.) without munging up the patch itself. Lovely!

ASAC Videos: Pump Organ and No Mule

Thanks to Eric Hardiman for shooting and posting videos from Saturday’s Albany Sonic Arts Collective show.

This is the premiere of a soon-to-be-titled work built around the idea of treating a fader box as a set of pump organ pedals, rather than simple position sensors. Using Cycling ’74’s Max I can control the organ sounds with a variety of gestures: “pumping” the faders makes the sounds louder, rhythmic motion creates harmonics, sudden and abrupt changes add distortion and bite. The samples that appear at 5:30 are from a 2010 recording session with choreographer Jill Sigman (previous story here).

(Start at 1:32 to skip the embarrassing banter and the hopeless yet obligatory banjo tuning…)

“No Mule” is another brand-new tune. The rhythmic chopping effect is a kind of slow-motion walk through a live sample of the banjo. I add a few more live samples beginning at about 4:00 and get into full-on Steve Reich mode by 6:00.

Wind Whistling in Overhead Wires: Soundtrack Companion to The Observers

Wind Whistling in Overhead Wires is a collection of field recordings and outtakes from my work on Jacqueline Goss’s film The Observers.

This is a pay-what-you-wish (starting at free!), digital download release on Bandcamp. I made the field recordings during our two amazing shoots at the top of Mt. Washington in New Hampshire (see these previous posts). I processed some of the sounds using custom effects developed with Cycling 74’s Max software and added a few instruments in the studio. I chose my favorite sounds and sketches that didn’t make it into the final film and sequenced them to create a continuous 20-minute piece (though some of the tracks work well on their own, particularly Downslope Flow). Enjoy!

The Observers at Anthlogy Film Archives: Soundtrack Coming Soon

Jacqueline Goss’s film The Observers has a one-week run at Anthology Film Archives. Thursday May 10 – Wednesday May 16, at 7:00PM and 8:45PM each night. It’s paired with Jesse Cain’s short film The Lakes.

I did the sound and score for The Observers and am excited to see it again on the big screen. I’ll be releasing the soundtrack for the film very very soon. Stay tuned!

Location Ensemble: Release, Review, Perform, Repeat…

I failed to mark the release of the Location Ensemble’s debut disc on Tape Drift (td49). Luckily it didn’t escape the attention of Andrew White at The Upstate Soundscape who posted a review of the release. He rightfully singles out drummer Matt Weston as “the unsung hero in this guitar ensemble”. Andrew describes my Six Chords Every Rock Guitarist Should Know as “…a dizzying sound that spirals up with sheets of sound whipping around, building up and then falling apart.” Sounds good to me.

Listen to Eric Hardiman’s Diversion #3 from the release here.

Location Ensemble will perform at Valentine’s on April 18, opening for Disappears (Steve Shelley of Sonic Youth and Brian Case of The Ponys) and Lotus Plaza (Lockett Pundt of Deerhunter). I’m unable to play with the group that night–but what’s one less electric guitar in a group of eight or nine?

Location Ensemble Catch-Up

Here’s the latest on all things Location Ensemble:

  • Read a review of our recent show at Saratoga Arts in Nippertown.
  • Listen to the recording of my piece Six Chords Every Rock Guitarist Should Know from the Saratoga Arts performance.

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  • Listen to an Upstate Soundscape broadcast featuring Eric Hardiman’s Diversion #3.