Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Jana Winderen : The Noisiest Guys On The Planet

Jana Winderen's The Noisiest Guys On The Planet is a limited-run cassette-only release on the Touch-affiliated label Ash International (catalogue number 8.1). Winderen provides a fascinating audio glimpse into the mysterious undersea world of sea crustaceas :

“An ongoing investigation into the use and production of sound by decapods...
When a recording is made underwater, you will definitely hear the crackling noise of what might be a creature from the order of Decapods.
When recording on the coast of Norway, for example, this sound is what you are very likely to hear as soon as the ferries and motorboats have parked for the night. They seem to be everywhere, whoever it is making this sound. When you go for a swim and listen underwater you can even hear them. But who are they?
The pistol shrimp, or snapping shrimp, make this kind of sound, but they are not found in waters as far north as the Norwegian coast. In Thailand the same sounds can be heard in the freshwater River Ping.
To get more of an understanding of this phenomenon, I called various Professors of Marine Biology in Norway who specialise in shrimp. I asked whether they knew what kind of shrimp it could be making these sounds. One of them sent a question to his world-wide shrimp network because he did not know that shrimp made these sounds. The replies came that the sounds are probably produced when they are feeding. I know that pistol shrimp make sounds when they snap they claws to paralyse their prey, but do others in the same family do the same? No one seemes to know. Underwater there is very little known about the soundscapes created by living creatures, and few understand the details of variations between the various grunts, knocking sounds and rumbling sounds that cod, haddock, pollock, other fish and crustaceas produce, and how they experience and orientate themselves through the use of sound.” (Essay by Jana Winderen to coincide with the release of her Ash International cassette.)

Jana Winderen : http://www.janawinderen.com.

Stephen Cornford : Two Works For Turntables

Released in August 2009 by Brighton's Permanent Gallery, to coincide with an exhibition of artist Stephen Cornford's turntable-based kinetic sound sculptures, is a 250-edition seven-inch single (Permanent 01) featuring compositions constructed from recordings of the eight exhibits, which comes with a commissioned essay by The Wire's Anne Hilde Neset : http://www.scrawn.co.uk/current.html.

Permanent Gallery link : http://www.permanentgallery.com/?p=424.
Stephen Cornford link : http://www.scrawn.co.uk/12.html.

Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville : Au Clair De La Lune

Already one of my all-time favourite seven-inch singles, even though only released on 15th September 2009, by the wonderful Dust-To-Digital's new vinyl subsiduary Parlortone (PT-1001) : a twenty-second piece from 1860, the earliest known intelligible recording of the human voice - that of Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville, inventor of the phonautograph, predating Thomas Alva Edison's phonograph by seventeen years. The label design is exquisite, like that of an old 78, and the B side is etched. The sleeve reproduces the Au Clair De La Lune phonautogram.

Link : http://dust-digital.com/newsletters/09-08.htm.
Flickr set : http://www.flickr.com/photos/dusttodigital/sets/72157621903891773.

Leroy Stevens : Favorite Recorded Scream

Artist Leroy Stevens asked Manhattan record store personnel to name their favourite scream on record, then compiled their responses into a three-and-a-half-minute piece, placing the screams in the order in which he received them.
The B side of his 500-edition twelve-inch release Favorite Recorded Scream (Small World LS001) features each of the seventy-four screams individually, separated by ten seconds of silence. The screams' sources are named, along with the staff members who selected them. Some crop up several times - for instance those on The Who's Won't Get Fooled Again (four) and Led Zeppelin's Immigrant Song (three). The Stooges' T.V. Eye receives three votes, and Wylde Ratttz' cover version from the Velvet Goldmine movie is included too. Ari Up's classic lengthy effort on The Slits' Shoplifting appears (chosen by Mikey IQ Jones), and is probably my personal favourite along with one by Art Bears' Dagmar Krause and an amazer from Bunker Hill's incredible The Girl Can't Dance. There's quite a bit of rock/metal, from artists otherwise absent from my collection (e.g. Kiss); whilst a few screams come from classical sources - Bartok; Richard Strauss; Puccini. Rahsaan Roland Kirk is present too, as are the great Dennis Alcapone; Gal Costa; De La Soul; the inevitable James Brown and Plastic Ono Band; Buddy Holly; Michael Jackson; The Sonics (Psycho); The Undisputed Truth; and Black Flag and Minor Threat. The theme being screaming, Mr. Jay Hawkins is represented twice, by I Put A Spell On You and his infamous Constipation Blues. No sign of his British counterpart Lord Sutch, alas.
Several names are completely new to me : Asif; At The Gates; Katie Cercone (http://www.zhibit.org/cercone); Kroumata Ensemble (Swedish percussionists whose repertoire includes works by John Cage, Lou Harrison, György Ligeti and Steve Reich); Meshuggah; Nicky Rap And Scratch Go Rambo; Ralph Nielsen And The Chancellors (their most famous track is - appropriately - Scream); Prurient; Sevendust; Tragedy Freturing Craig C; Wylde Ratttz (who turn out to have been a supergroup comprised of members of The Stooges, Sonic Youth, Gumball, Mudhoney and The Minutemen); and Geino Yamashirogumi (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geinoh_Yamashirogumi).
A locked groove for each scream would have been fantastic, had Stevens thought to do it, but, I imagine that this would have proved prohibitively expensive.
A map indicating the location of each record store is included with the record.

Link : http://leroystevens.info/index.php?/projects/favorite-recorded-scream.
New York Times article : http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/18/arts/music/18scream.html.