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Archive of the category 'Electronica'

Brief Notes on Janneke Adema’s “Schyzophonia. On Remix, Hybridization and Fluidity”

Walter Benjamin

Image source: Open Reflection

Critical Note: Janneke Adema recently wrote a long post on her blog Open Reflections about remix culture, titled “Schyzophonia. On Remix, Hybridization and Fluidity.” Aderna cites parts of my essay “Remix The Bond of Repetition and Representation” in order to extend her own views on remix culture. One thing that caught my attention is the concept of the “work in progress” which she entertains when citing an interview with Joe Farbrook. Farbrook’s propositions are parallel to my own views on constant updating, about which I wrote a couple of years ago in another essay titled “Regressive and Reflexive Mashups in Sampling Culture.” Adema interestingly enough considers knowledge remixable, and she cites my own position on history to support her argument. While I don’t think knowledge itself is necessarily remixable in terms of Remix proper, I am compelled by Adema’s argument. On this regard, the following question recurs: When should one stop calling cultural hybridity a form of remix? On her part, I think Adema does a good job in entertaining this preoccupation, ending with a reference to none other than Walter Benjamin. The article is worth a careful read. Other great resources are mentioned as well.

I read Lawrence Lessig’s Remix a few months ago, a great book with a stimulating positive approach to the whole piracy and copyright problema, focusing on finding solutions which cater to the increasingly prevailing remixed and remediated forms of digital art and culture, in which the hybrid has become common ground. Lessig discusses new musical ‘innovators’ like Girl Talk, who creates elaborate and eclectic remixes of current pop sounds and anthems, creating a new musical discourse which reflects, winks, ironizes and mocks, while still standing firmly on its own. These kind of adaptations, versionings or reinterpretations have been part of music since its beginnings, coming to the forefront mostly in dub, hiphop, turntablism and the use of samples in electronic music. Just think about all the beats, breaks, loops and glitches that have made a career for themselves and their derivative offspring in musical history.

Read the entire article at Open Reflections

Notes on Deeves’s “Beats of Boredom,” by Eduardo Navas

Image still of “Beats of Boredom” by Adams Deeves

The music video “Beats of Boredom” by Adams Deeves has been circulating among online video sites for some time now. Some sites where it can viewed include I-am-bored, Vimeo, and Youtube.

The video was created with clips of a man who finds himself at home with nothing to do. He does what most people who are bored would do: watch TV, eat a not so healthy snack, and then do some cleaning. The originality of “Beats of Boredom” is in the way the sequences are edited, which are built on top of each other rhythmically as new moments of the boring afternoon are introduced. The end result is a music video of an instrumental song clearly influenced by hip hop and variations of house that ordinarily would go unnoticed, were it not for the fact that the sounds were produced with household items.

The video starts with a series of water drops, then the man plays with a small radio, cut to the sound of a tea kettle, then the man scrapes a toast, sits and eats in front of the TV, wondering what to do; then he slaps his right hand on his right leg: once, twice–then hits his chest with his fist, and snaps his fingers; then he opens and closes the zipper of a sofa pillow to mimic the sound of a record being scratched, then he slaps the pillow, creating a similar sound to a base drum; and repeats the whole process. At this point we have the basic rhythmic structure of the music composition in place, and it is a matter of adding other elements on top.

Other activities include placing a CD player in a stereo system, turning on a printer, scratching a jacket’s sleeve with his index finger, going to the refrigerator to look for something to eat, then opening what appears to be a beer bottle; then flipping the pages of a closed note book with his thumb–and turning on and off a vacuum to make the sound of a DJ quickly cutting the sound level on a mixer.

At the end he is asked by a woman who comes into the apartment “What are you doing?” He replies “what?” she repeats, “what are you doing?” he replies, “nothing.”

This video shows how material activities attain value, which in this case consists of careful repetition of sound recordings from an uneventful day. A slap does not mean much if performed once, but when repeated it becomes a vehicle of representation. When this is recognized as a creative possibility, a second, third and fourth slap could follow, and this is the basis of rhythm. Repetition of activities, whether in music or other areas of culture, is necessary to create value–or more simply meaning. Repetition becomes even more stable and efficient when recording technology is used to preserve image and sound for replay.

What we encounter in “Beats of Boredom,” then, are all the necessary elements for any activity to become and be repeated as a mix, and eventually a remix. Most importantly, the video is already a remix because it is composed of samples from a boring day, and in order to understand it as a composition, it is necessary to not only listen to the sound, but also view the video clips as the sound samples are added on top of each other. “Beat of Boredom” gives equal weight to, both, image and sound, something not always accomplished successfully by either music or video artists. Nevertheless, “Beats of Boredom” is primarily a video, which shows how with recording technology one has the power to take representation and manipulate it, mix it and remix it. And once “Beats of Boredom” is repeated enough and becomes recognizable it will enter the realm of the spectacle, and will be prone to becoming remixed or simply consumed passively, not because of its innovation, but because of its recognition as a popular composition.

Thanks to Greg J. Smith for turning me to this work.

Lee “Scratch” Perry and Mad Professor: Twisting the dial to twist the music, by Todd Dominey

Image source: Music Club

Text source: Rootsworld

Original publication date: unknown

Popular music has a long history of aural innovators, from Brian Wilson and his downward spiral to Phil Spector’s wall of sound. They are often romanticized as shadowy knob-twiddling visionaries who through mixing boards and miles of cable added new worlds to stereophonic sound. Reggae music, with an admittedly limited rhythm structure, has been propelled forward by it’s own pioneers, with Lee “Scratch” Perry and the Mad Professor holding top rank. In their own unique ways, both have created indelible catalogs of hit reggae albums, sonic experiments, and plenty of wicked bass heavy dub, traditionally the instrumental B-side or “version” of a popular song spliced and diced into a teeth-rattling art form all its own.

The two are from different generations and continents, yet both Professor and Perry walk the same twisted line. Both are passionate for electronics (Professor built his own mixing board as a teenager while Perry pushed four track recorders beyond comprehension), both built their own record company from the ground up (Ariwa / Black Ark), and both have produced music for a surprising range of artists including Massive Attack, U-Roy and the
Orb (Professor) to The Skatalites, The Clash and the Beastie Boys (Perry).

Read the entire article at Rootsworld

Drum n’ Bass History. Article originally written in 1997 by VN’s Kingsley Marshall

Image source: dfloor.net

Text source: trugroovez.com


Drum and bass music (drum n bass, DnB) is an electronic music style. Drum and bass, originally an offshoot of the United Kingdom breakbeat hardcore and rave scene, came into existence when people mixed reggae basslines with sped-up hip hop breakbeats and influences from techno . Pioneers such as raggamuffin DJ General Levy and other DJs quickly became the stars of Drum and bass, then still called jungle . Producers such as Goldie and 4 Hero transformed the current art and turned drum and bass in more instrumental direction, spawning sub-genres like techstep and moving the genre closer to techno. Some of the more popular and defining artists include Shy FX, Ed Rush & Optical, LTJ Bukem, Goldie, and Roni Size.

Jungle music, ORIGINS:

Based almost entirely in England, Drum’n’Bass (then called ‘jungle’ ) emerged in the early ’90s. It is one of the most rhythmically complex of all forms of dance music, relying on extremely fast polyrhythms and breakbeats . Usually, it’s entirely instrumental — consisting of nothing but fast drum machines and deep bass.
As its name implies, jungle does have more overt reggae, dub, and R&B influences than most hardcore — and that is why some critics claimed that the music was the sound of black techno musicians and DJs reclaiming it from the white musicians and DJs who dominated the hardcore scene. Nevertheless, jungle never slows down to develop a groove — it just speeds along. Like most dance music genres, jungle is primarily a ‘twelve inch’ genre designed for a small, dedicated audience, although the crossover success of Goldie and his 1995 debut Timeless suggested a broader appeal.
Dozens of respected artists started fusing breakbeats with influences lifted from jazz , film music, ambient, and trip-hop. — allmusic.com


Early custom Kraftwerk vocoder on the auction block, by Ryan Block

Image and text soure: Engadget

Jun 29th 2006

You wax faux-nostalgic about the heyday of early robo-Kraut-rock, your early signed pressing of Radio-Activity is rivaled only by your original Neu! Super / Neuschnee 7-inch, and you got a belly laugh at that one scene about the record the nihilists once cut in The Big Lebowski. Kraftwerk fans, today is your lucky day. The original one-of-a-kind prototype vocoder Kraftwerk pictured on the rear cover art of and used to record “Ananas Symphonie” and “Kristallo” on their 1973 release Ralf & Florian. As of the time of this writing it’s already up to five grand, so if you want yourself an extremely expensive piece of history for electronics and electronic music, you’d better get a move on, schnell.

Note: the above text was a comment on the following post from Music Thing:

Lots of people say things like ‘RARE legendary’ in eBay auctions for DX7s and Casio VL-Tones, but eBay item #300001522431 doesn’t go for hype, just saying “prototype VOCODER of german 70´s Electronic Pioneers”. What’s on offer is Ralf & Florian’s vocoder, built to order by a local electronics company, and later used on the intro to ‘Autobahn’. No bids so far at $3,800, with ten days to go. (Thanks, Kaden)
UPDATE: It went for $12,500!

Imagining modernity, revising tradition: Nor-tec music in Tijuana and other borders, by Alejandro L. Madrid

Image source: Youtube

Text source: Look Smart: Find Articles

December 2005

Based on extensive fieldwork in Tijuana, San Diego, Los Angeles, and Mexico City, this article explores the intersections of identity, modernity, desire, and marginality in the production, distribution, and transnational consumption of Nor-tec music. Tijuana musicians developed Nor-tec by combining sounds sampled from traditional music of the north of Mexico (conjunto norteno and banda) with compositional techniques borrowed from techno music. The resulting style reflects the current re-elaboration of tradition in relation to imaginary articulations of modernity that takes place in Tijuana’s youth border culture.

Read the entire text at Look Smart: Find Articles


Mixmaster Mike- photo by Chris Taylor

Image source: Virtual DJ

Text source: Manovich.net 

winter 2007

It is a truism today that we live in a “remix culture.” Today, many of cultural and lifestyle arenas – music, fashion, design, art, web applications, user created media, food – are governed by remixes, fusions, collages, or mash-ups. If post-modernism defined 1980s, remix definitely dominates 2000s, and it will probably continue to rule the next decade as well. (For an expanding resource on remix culture, visit remixtheory.net by Eduardo Navas.) Here are just a few examples of how remix continues to expand. In his 2004/2005-winter collection John Galliano (a fashion designer for the house of Dior) mixed vagabond look, Yemenite traditions, East-European motifs, and other sources that he collects during his extensive travels around the world. DJ Spooky created a feature-length remix of D.W. Griffith’s 1912 “Birth of a Nation” which he appropriately named “Rebirth of a Nation.” In April 2006 Annenberg Center at University of Southern California ran a two-day conference on “Networked Politics” which had sessions and presentations about a variety of remix cultures on the Web: political remix videos, anime music videos, machinima, alternative news, infrastructure hacks.[1] In addition to these cultures that remix media content, we also have a growing number of software applications that remix data – so called software “mash-ups.” Wikipedia defines a mash-up as “a website or application that combines content from more than one source into an integrated experience.”[2] At the moment of this writing (February 4, 2007), the web site www.programmableweb.com listed the total of 1511 mash-ups, and it estimated that the average of 3 new mash-ups Web applications are being published every day.[3]


40-min MP3 of the history of bastard pop, remix and mashup

Image source: DJ Food

Text source Boing Boing

October 5, 2005

This is a 40-minute MP3 of a British radio broadcast called “DJ Food – Raiding the 20th Century” that attempted to sum up the entire cut-up/remix/mash up music movement. It’s lots of crazy, whacky, jarring, harmonious, tricksy, and serendipitous sound, and it made me laugh and think. The landing page for the MP3 has an exhaustive list of the samples employed.


Can I Get An Amen, by Nate Harrison

Can I Get An Amen?, 2004
recording on acetate, turntable, PA system, paper documents
dimensions variable
total run time 17 minutes, 46 seconds

Image and project source: nkhstudio.com

Can I Get An Amen? is an audio installation that unfolds a critical perspective of perhaps the most sampled drum beat in the history of recorded music, the Amen Break. It begins with the pop track Amen Brother by 60’s soul band The Winstons, and traces the transformation of their drum solo from its original context as part of a ‘B’ side vinyl single into its use as a key aural ingredient in contemporary cultural expression. The work attempts to bring into scrutiny the techno-utopian notion that ‘information wants to be free’- it questions its effectiveness as a democratizing agent. This as well as other issues are foregrounded through a history of the Amen Break and its peculiar relationship to current copyright law.

O dub, em versão brasileira

Image: DJ Yellow P., do Dubversão (à dir.). Galera que faz sound system no Rio e em São Paulo by R. Setton.
Source: Epoca

Gênero musical surgido na década de 70 na Jamaica começa a ganhar força no som de novas bandas e nas pistas de dança do Brasil

Parece até novidade. O agito que começa a se formar, principalmente com festas pelo eixo Rio-São Paulo, faz o dub parecer bem mais novo do que realmente é. Na verdade, a ‘’inovação’’ surgiu na Jamaica, no começo dos anos 70. O dub gerou o drum’n’bass e o remix, e é tido por muitos como pai da música eletrônica. Foi também usando a base desse gênero musical que saíram as primeiras rimas de rap. Isso quando o dub já estava em Nova York, levado por imigrantes jamaicanos. Tão velho e tão novo, o estilo conquista um público diverso, freqüentador dos inferninhos e festinhas que rolam pelo país.

Segundo o paulista Fábio Murukami, conhecido como Yellow P. e considerado o melhor DJ de dub do Brasil, o estilo nada mais é do que o esqueleto da música. ‘’É a versão do produtor que faz com que uma mesma música pareça outra, tirando e colocando vocais e instrumentos’’, explica. Em alguns casos, um MC (na Jamaica chamado de deejay) canta e fala por cima da canção. Na prática, pode-se dizer que a música vem separada em canais de baixo, bateria, guitarra e vocais, e o produtor mexe com as possibilidades, colocando efeitos e criando outra versão.

Read the entire Article

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