Songs About Nothing: Jason Lescalleet

Bob Burnett:  A review of "Songs About Nothing" by Jason Lescalleet (released on Erstwhile) from Volcanic Tongue that captures the release well.

Stunning double disc collection of mind-erasing loops, avant classical drone and minimal cold wave threat from Jason Lescallett, presented as a back-handed tribute to Big Black’s notorious 1992 album Songs About Fucking: Songs About Nothing is the sound of pure entropy, moving from ear-scalding feedback sculptures through nod-out minimal synth repetition through scrambled choral works and widescreen soundtrack drones. The first disc unfolds in a series of stately movements linked by a form of oblique progressive logic with an increasing atmosphere of all-out psychosis until it feels like you’re listening in on advanced surveillance electronics or experiments in sonic/psychological warfare (a quality which often marks out the most extreme Lescalleet recordings). The second disc consists of one massively extended track which expands on the ‘narrative’ feel of the first disc with the sounds of helicopter blades, distant cries, riot tones, hallucinatory/piercing upper register violence and huge blocks of eviscerated silence, with aspects of Masayoshi Urabe’s convulsive approach to orchestrating nada. A stunning release from Lescalleet, his best to date, and a set that demands to be explored repeatedly in depth. This is hardcore. Highly recommended. 


Bicycles and a Better City

"The bicycle is new vision for the blind man. It is a thrilling tool of communication, an experiential device for the beauty and the ills of the urban context. One cannot turn a blind eye on a bicycle – they must acknowledge their community, all of it."

Read more from Kasey Klimes wonderful observations here.  


The Anonymous Zone

Simon Reynell at Another Timbre has created a listening space titled The Anonymous Zone. I'll let his description stand: 

The Anonymous Zone is a new idea; a place where music can be listened to and appreciated for what it really is, not because of who made it.  Improvisation and contemporary classical music are as riddled with star systems as any other form of music, and inevitably, in spite of our best intentions, our reaction to a piece of music is partly determined by our knowledge of who is playing or has composed it.  So we give more time and attention to pieces by our favourite musicians, and – conversely – we’re inclined to quickly pass over music by people we either don’t know or assume we don’t much like.


Doug Aitken: Song 1

Bob Burnett: Doug Aitken's' 360 degree film project Song 1 will be concluding it's showing on March 20.  The filmwork has been screened nightly from sunset to midnight via 11 HD projectors on the facade of the Hirshhorn museum in Washington, DC. There's a full write up of the piece on the Hirshhorn's website.

Much has already been said about Song 1 being a groundbreaking work merging film and technology.  As a viewer my thoughts kept drifting towards James Joyce's concept of "the language of the night" used in Finnegan's Wake; a form of articulating the unconsious yet clear moments in life that may not have tangible meaning but create deep and lasting impact. The constant of Song 1 is the soundtrack; a variety of takes of the standard "I Only Have Eyes for You" mixed in with atmospheric natural sound from the environments where the images and people were shot.  The most notable version of the song is the haunting version from 1959 by The Flamingos.

For contrast, here's the version created by Beck that's also used:

In addition to sitting still and watching one section of the wall, I walked around the perimeter and took in the mid-side doppler effect of the soundscape changing from speaker to speaker. Added visual charm was the in-proximity tree branches that picked up the flicker of the projectors--not to forget the projectors themselves: large, square HD boxes emitting strong light and movement.  The surrounding trees picked up reflections of the projections as well as added dimension to the foreground.

The experience created interesting people watching too.  There were several hundred viewers sitting around the perimeter, passersby on foot self-conciously walking by seemingly not knowing what to do with themselves or comprehending what they'd stumbled across.  Some flat-out showed their lack of intellectual curiosity by ignoring the whole environment. Oh well, that's their loss.  The final takeaway for me is Song 1 came across as a strong example of art in public places being a catalyst for making something happen.   The nightly screening created a destination for what's normally a quiet part of the city.  Additionally, it rethought the use of a structure and turned art outward instead of only within its walls.


Hillman Curtis 1961-2012

Bob Burnett: I didn’t know Hillman Curtis or know specifically of his web design work or read his books.  I read this article on Design Observer earlier in the week and was struck by it.  Hillman was approximately my age when he died earlier in April of cancer.   I admire that he produced video pieces in a quiet, unaffected yet thoughtful way.  I like their nerdy normalcy—I didn’t care that they were sometimes technically a-kilter or not lit.

His webpage features a bunch of video clips.

He seemed to be a guy that took his design experience in web and print and expanded it to video stories about people just because he wanted to.  I suggest starting with the Artists Series on his web page. I liked the David Byrne/Brian Eno film because he made me interested in an album that I didn’t like when I listened to it when it came out.   The Lawrence Weiner video was another great example for me.  Mr. Weiner was all over the place and captivating at the same time.  I love the slow dolly shot up to his striking face.

Hillman Curtis did some commissioned work too—for instance a few shorts for Adobe.  He had the  huevos to do technically messy, yet engaging segments.  I’m just starting to watch the BAM Performers series. Seems he actually got a camera crew for those and there's a higher level of production aesthetic.  

I've produced and directed videos for 25 years.  There’s something nice and re-centering for me seeing this work.  It makes me not want to get simply caught up in delivering something for a client as fast as possible but to think a little bit, let a concept develop that you actually like and then make better use of the medium.  


Christopher Willits+ Friends Remixes Now Online

Bob Burnett: A nice compilation is now available online. Christopher Willits publicly shared 121 recordings used to create the album "Tiger Flower Circle Sun", encouraging other artists to "have fun and create what you love with the sounds". This album features some of the results.You can go here to download it for yourself.


The Coordinates Are Entered by Dksoundguy

The Coordinates Are Entered by Dksoundguy
Bob Burnett: DC musician and friend of C60 Dennis Kane has been going down the road of analog synthesizer acquisition, composition and recording. I've linked his newest effort above. I've always had a soft spot for analog synthesis. I used to listen to it frequently while working in a record store while in high school. "Boring synthesizer music!" bellowed my colleague Marc. "But I like boring synthesizer music" being my reply. I have to credit long duration synthesizer music as the groundwork that made other contemporary composition understandable for me. The pathway to Morton Feldman had a trailhead of Tim Blake. (seen in the photo above)I hope you enjoy Dennis' work.