The craziest thing I ever heard about Oren Ambarchi is that apparently someone from the Red Hot Chili Peppers is a big fan of this dude, and that apparently he jammed with them during an encore of theirs in New Zealand, and it bummed out an stadium full of their fans. That sounds like internet apocrypha, but I believe it anyway.
I think Grapes from the Estate is probably the most perfect record I have ever heard. It is mostly sparsely arranged tones and sine waves and such. But at times it gets impossibly complicated even if it still sounds sparse to someone who isn’t paying any attention. It all comes together for me on “Girl With the Silver Eyes”, which is the second track, but I have the double LP with one track per side, so I have maximum flexibility with my listening experience of this album, and I usually let that track serve as a conclusion.
You can’t really listen to this album on a computer; there is nothing to hear on a computer speaker. I heard an anecdote once that the key to selling expensive cars was a great stereo system. So how come no one tries the same thing with computers? Or homes? You could plug your computer or record player directly into your house, and the walls would be speakers. Or why even plug anything in? We have wireless internet connections, and wireless guitars, how come nothing like that for our audio sources? Everyone I talk to seems to agree that you can’t make money anymore from music. There was never much money to be made in the first place, and now there isn’t anything really. They are probably right, but it could also be that people are just waiting for a new way of experiencing music to buy into. I see lots of arguments about the ethics of downloading music. I won’t get into that because I don’t find it that interesting. I like talking economics – like in the Wire, the forces beyond any one actor’s control. The economics are that music is a surplus commodity, and that the fiction of intellectual property that made it profitable has become impossible to rigorously enforce. Ultimately I think people are going to need not new things to listen to, but new ways to listen to music if anyone is going to make money again.
Thanks to the Soundway’s Panama! comps we know about how much amazing music has come out of this tiny (but geographically fascinating) country. Chief Boima (SF heads can catch him spin, among other places, at Little Baobab) has posted an amazing remix of You’re A Jerk. There’s also a Nigerian remix, but I have to agree with Boima on this one, the Panama version kills it.
Also, of somewhat related interest, although I have a basic familiarity with Jerkin’ and the culture that it entails for over a year now thanks to the internet, it was only this month that I actually personally witnessed a black teenager in skinny jeans. I sometimes like to think about how science fiction was once the stuff people would write about concerning the future, but these days science fiction mostly consists of stuff going on in the present, but perhaps we will soon be entering a phase where science fiction is the stuff that we are writing about from the past that we are only now fully aware of.
This Economist article about biohacking got me wondering about what possibilities this developing new class of geeks might create for musicians? After all, if the field is undergoing a revolution comparable to the computer revolution from 30 years ago it stands to reason that this will eventually have a big impact on our culture as well. Think the “I’m T-Pain” iPhone app is cool? Wait until you consume a bacterial culture that alters the properties of your voice to make you sound like Diamanda Galas. You could design clouds of invisible spores to change the tonal properties of sound waves in a given area, thereby improving the acoustics of a room and creating a much better overall soundsystem culture. Micro-orchestras of organisms that produce alien clicks, buzzes, chirps, etc. could be produced in a vat, which Villalobos would use to produce the first micro-house radio hit as a curious public started listening to strange, subtle sounds in a different context. People would start pumping these organisms full of drugs to produce stranger and stranger melodies, and the genre of field recordings would enter into a golden era as the biohacks permeated every inch of our social spaces.