23
Feb

Yesterday’s Google Doodle was an homage to Heinrich Hertz. The man’s work touches all of us, in developed countries at least, on a daily basis, if not more often. Wikipedia says:

“He was the first to conclusively prove[1] the existence of electromagnetic waves by engineeringinstruments to transmit and receive radio pulses using experimental procedures that ruled out all other known wireless phenomena”

The scientific community saw fit to name the unit of frequency in honor of his work.

Electromagnetism propagates in waves, and so does sound through materials. Numerous other phenomena exhibit cyclic behaviour and frequency measurements are used in dozens of fields of human endeavour. You could write a grimoire on the art, science and culture touched by cyclic patterns, so I’ll stop here before that project takes over my life.

I’m a day late so I missed my chance to take a screen shot of the doodle – it was an amplitude modulated sine wave in the corporate colour-scheme. You get a nice spread of hits if you Google his name.

13
Oct

20111013-190515.jpg

This fantastic steel drum player was busking outside Ealing Broadway station, this evening. In the couple of minutes I spent listening to him he covered some pop song I couldn’t place and Bach’s Toccata & Fugue in D-minor. He let flow a gentle, swaying lyricism to both pieces: a hint of jazz, a nod to the relaxing heat of the Carribean, the odd blue note and lots of swing. Glorious!

I’m a fan of buskers who pick music or styles that exaggerate or totally shift the ambience of a space. I think if you simply busk famous songs in a style similar to how they’re most known, you’re missing a trick. Busking has so much potential to subvert the familliar patterns of an average day. Not that I have musical skill enou to pull this off, you understand!

This guy nailed it. Totally out of place amongst commuters scrambling to get home, and really beautiful; reminding us to take it easier and smile more often.

12
Oct

Some friends, as The Dead Pets Society, run an irregular series of club nights, for which I’ve been “the sound guy” at most of the recent ones. They held another of these “occasionals” last friday, and I helped out in my usual fashion. The venue, Ryan’s Bar in Stoke Newington, holds regular music and club events. The manager likes The Dead Pets a lot and begged them to return – they’re quirky and host off-kilter shows with a diverse range of acts and ideas. This one was themed to celebrate Lief Erikson day, the US’ memorial for the real first European to find North America. I’d mention the yellow submarines, but that might be too obscure a reference for most…

There were three bands, plus DJs.

  • Lonesome Cowboys from Hell play a twisted country sound, with added spooky atmospherics that match their American gothic look. Their lyrics will turn your stomach if their outfits don’t get you first.
  • Bolide improvise spacious, agitated soundscapes, with more than a nod to the free-jazz of the late 60s.
  • Justin Paton has a solo act to compliment his role in Now, jamming simple but very effective acid house on minimal gear.

20111013-083549.jpg

Read the rest of this entry »

26
Nov

I’ve owned an Akai MPK-49 controller keyboard for nearly three years. It’s built (fairly) well, surviving a couple of years’ worth of gigs with only minor damage and almost totally functional. What isn’t so good are the pads. They’re dreadful. Akai’s MPC series drum-samplers have legendary pads – their 4×4 layout, solid construction and that slightly grippy rubberised texture are an iconic design.

an mpc 60 Read the rest of this entry »

15
Nov

I’ve just heard Dave Clarke, the infamous techno DJ, talking in a Resident Advisor podcast pointing out how strange it was that CDs came out in the early 80s containing nearly a Gigabyte of data, when the rest of the commercial technology market had devices of more like 32k – that’s 20,000 times less data. This geeky detail, when you shine a metaphorical torch on it, seems bizarre, and almost epoch shifting. Did the CD do more for the adoption of digital technology into day to day life than, say, the early desktop computers? And why is a techno DJ pointing this out to me, rather than a computer scientist or technology commentator?

04
Oct

This was so exciting I had to break my usual practice of only writing about music or computing… A father & son team from the US have launched an HD video camera tied beneath a weather balloon into space! They tracked its flight and descent as best they could using mass-produced GPS equipment and were able to recover the footage once it crash/landed.

Homemade Spacecraft from Luke Geissbuhler on Vimeo.

A good friend, Mat Connolley from web design partnership Iteracy, brought this to my attention, by linking up the story here.

30
Sep

Check out these fantastic prints by artist Tim Sanders. Microscopic photographs of the grooves of three very different records, displayed at 100x magnification.
Tim_sanders

(I came across this reading the quite lovely It’s Nice That blog)

21
Sep

A friend of mine, public artist Hannah Hull, is hosting a seminar on the relationship between art and mental health. She’s looking to find people with stories and experience to speak at the event. Below is what she has to say:

Read the rest of this entry »

05
Aug

I’ve remixed the Knob Jockey’s “Troupee”, with the help of the Ela Southgate Dub Brass Players. What once was a breakbeat beast, is now an electro-ska crusader. Download and enjoy!

[soundcloud url="http://soundcloud.com/2sd/knob-jockeys-troupee-remix"]

You can find the original here, on the Knob Jockey’s website. I’ve heard them play out loads, their fidget house, dubstep and mashup sets are flawless and really fun. They’ve got a couple of festival shows lined up through the end of the summer so go see them if you can.

TroupeeReArt2

22
Jun

Fantastic news this week! RinseFM, East London’s underground-music pirate radio station, has been granted a broadcast licence. The station has been instrumental in fostering a sense of community around, and promoting, varied underground bass-music. DJs and records calling themselves UK Garage, grime, dubstep, funky house and drum’n'bass have broadcast from its studios for 15 years.

Rinse FM logo Read the rest of this entry »