Webhamster Henry's Top 10 Imaginary Sound Events of 2016
This year, dedicated to the memory of Dr. Pauline Oliveros.
- Retubed Project (Tell Harmonium 2016)
Roland Tell, a Clevelander of Swiss extraction, has a little cottage industry of making tiny solid state processors that plug into the sockets formerly holding vacuum tubes in amps, radios and TVs. These manipulate the signals coming in, changing simple modulation and amplification to rhythmic pulses, distortions and delay effects. Plug one into an antique radio and it can turn into a cascade of live manipulated sound. Some of the modules have bluetooth, and can use that to coordinate with nearby tube replacements in other devices and external controls.
- Sumi-e Taiko Sumi-e Taiko (Calligrhythm 2016)
When engaged in the practice of painting, the position, angle, pressure, height, paint load, and velocity of the brush determines what actually ends up on canvas. With Japanese calligraphy, your results also should be legible and beautiful! So the Sumi-e Taiko troupe, with a training in dance, calligraphy and drumming, have turned the rhythm of calligraphy into sound. Their first experiments were with vocal chiffing, spitting, humming noises, eventually working in chorus, and then blending drumming from their large collection.
- Disclaimer Dance The Disclaimers (Down on the Pharma 2016)
The miracle of audio resynthesis is applied to a supercut of drug commercial disclaimers, tightening the rhythm over a danceable beat, hocketing the claims and disclaimers in a call-and-response-like gospel tune, warning against using the very drugs they promote.
- Restful Suite #3 𝄐 (Fermata) (Pause Records 2016)
Fermata's goal is to promote silence in music, and they do so with a series of day long suites that begin with notes and rests in each measure, and grade them so the rests take over bit by bit, stringing you along. The rhythm doesn't slow, you get to feel the rhythm of the notes that aren't there.
- Sounds of the Pelagic Sea Surface Microlayer Biota Woods Howl (Sound files referred to in a paper published in the Journal of Colloid and Interface Science, 2016)
As our materials science enables precise measuring of previously impossible to perceive events, Woods Hole scientist Oliver Paul investigaties the top millimeter of the ocean with microscopic carbon fiber capacitance microphones to record the activities of tiny animals, plants there. Photosynthesis is a major driver of activity in this layer, and the animals are so small that sound itself plays a major role in independent movement. The mini-microphones are sensitive enough to distinguish the sounds of mating calls between those microbes that choose to reproduce sexually. This is not very deep listening, but deep listening nevertheless.
- Woody or Tinny Standing Circus (Montgomery Reptile Records 2016)
An unique mallet instrument, the "Sketch" has ranks of polished hardwood and painted tin resonator bars, providing both woody and tinny percussion. Yum-de-Buckety, Eric the Half-a-Bee, the Lumberjack song, and SPAM have never sounded so good.
- The Angels Ringtones 👼Phone (angelPhone) (device 2016)
The angelPhone is a smartphone manufactured using faith-based computing and cellular technologies for the vast market of faithful believers in the USA and elsewhere. The phones leverage the efficacy of prayer to make their connections to other phones. Different denominations act as carriers and delicate theological negotiations are needed to make connections.
Nevertheless, each phone manages to run based on instructions in a tiny missal, hand written by a specially trained order of Benedictine monks. They have also condensed centuries of ecclesiastical music into a tiny choir book, and when the phone rings (or "Annunciates"), somehow the tiny device pipes up with a full bodied version of Bach's BWV 248, part III "Herrscher des Himmels, Erhöre das Lallen".
- Milton the Ham Broad Weigh (off-off-off Broadway show 2016)
Just as the Beatles inspired immediate, hastily produced knockoff bands and recordings, the Broadway steamroller of Hamilton has resulted in some hastily produced replicas for those who can't wait and/or can't afford to go to the show. Of course, all the raps, songs, music are nothing like the real show's, and indeed are kind of Hammy and schticky (if you can say something is 'schticky' about something as treyf as ham). But somewhere in the middle, it hits its groove and the whole "Let's Put On A Show"-ed-ness finds a spot in a tale about the American Revolution. I wouldn't see it again, but I would see other knock offs!
- Carnaby Single Flexidisk, 1966 / 2016 reissue
Swingin' London during the British Invasion years produced a lot of ephemeral oddities, but of particular note was this Flexidisk, actually embossed on the front of a vinyl miniskirt! To play it, you convince your bird to remove the miniskirt and fold it rather lumpily onto the turntable. It's been reissued like so much other vinyl because: vinyl. I hear there's a similar Beret.
- Stretch Music Type II K7 (2016)
3d printing tech meets 80s cassette tape mania with Stretch Music, a production 4 track cassette player modified with heating heads copped from DIY 3d printers. With tiny silicone covered fingers, heating elements warm up the polyester while precisely stretching the tape, transposing down a recorded hum into a precise melody. You also get the classic stretch whistle of the tapes' bias frequency. Each tape produced this way is a unique artifact.
Type II K7 also sells custom "endless" blank cassettes where the loop is a Möbius strip with custom coatings and spliced formulations of different kinds of tape and their own home crafted magnetic media. Each blank is marked with the BPM of the changes in media, for use as an underlying beat.
- Crystal Set A Rush of Jedi , "Seize the Memes" Art Installation (2016)[ BONUS!]
More than 1,000 crystals turned into primitive AM radios, complete with cat's whiskers and toilet paper tube variable inductors, tuned to different stations (or untuned), arrayed on shelves surrounding a wall and driving very sensitive speakers placed in the middle of the room. This is entirely powered by the radio waves themselves!
The collective A Rush of Jedi play a massive keyboard with switches made of strips of tin cans over brass brad fasteners to mash up whatever is over the air.