Way Music…some new music

Eric Parker, from Boston, is in town for a few more months. He is a great bass player and we have been having weekly jams. You can hear him in his Boston outfit, a free form music project back east called Rabid Owl. We are probably going to set up a few gigs under the “way music” moniker (alternate name: rrep) as soon as I can get the laptop stable enough to take out. Here are some cuts from a recent session:

  • outer time” bass and granulated guitar
  • rreplay“– I’ll probably chop of the end jam a bit as it gets rrepetitive.
  • B&D” — don’t worry, it stands for bass and drums, the latter of which get a bit dubbed out.
  • Eric in the Evening in Reverse,” a 40 minute jam that we think progresses in the opposite way from Boston Jazz DJ Eric Jackson, who has a show called Eric in the Evening on WGBH. Jackson starts a set with some mellow jazz and gradually, imperceptibly, edges the music toward more and more out there. Monisha and I used to regularly put him on for dinner thinking “this is nice” only to be lured into a squawking, raucous, usually really interesting excursion. We start with the rawk and mellow out later, hence the title.

All the songs are mp3, stereo at 192k, recorded in one take, Eric Parker on bass, Rich Rath on guitars and computer. As always, share them, download them tell your friends. If you are interested in hearing more of my various projects, check out Way Music. We’d love to hear from you if you listen to us, so leave a comment.

ReacTable Tactile Synth and HIDs

Just read this interesting piece on a new synth called ReacTable that has caught Björk‘s eye. It is a light table with a projector and a video camera under it. The video monitors what is going on on top and using the OSC protocol (I think) it sends instructions to sound producing software. The projector sends light to the table, in order to connect and modify the various objects put on the table and moved around to make sounds. Here is a demo movie, and another one with multiple players live in Berlin.ReacTable

This is part of an exciting field in computing called human interface design. Most of the HID folks are visual/tactile oriented, as in Jeff Han’s light table controller which is a minor YouTube hit. The key point is that these HIDs are multi-touch, so you can use all ten fingers, or multiple people can work on the same surface. Ultimately, I agree with Han that they will replace the monitor/keyboard/mouse configuration. Here is the YouTube presentation from 2006.

You can find a newer demo (and nothing else right now) at his new startup, Perceptive Pixel.

Musicians are on the forefront of this revolution, though I am not sure they know it, or that the computer people have quite realized yet either. In music, the HIDs are called controllers, like the pricey Lemur, which is multi-touch but not touch-sensitive, and the STC-1000 (which I own), which is not multi-touch, but is touch sensitive…and about a tenth of the price of the lemur. What Han and ReacTable are doing that is new is making the surface responsive rather than just an input device. I’ve emailed Han asking about audio applications a year ago or so, but got no reply…guess he was too busy even then.Another place where the arts will influence HIDs is the connection between dance (or more limited motion) and music. My favorite example is Laetitia Sonomi‘s Lady Glove which is a glove full of motion sensors that control synthesizers. It looks sort of like her nervous system has been turned inside out, with the nerves on the outside, which is not a bad metaphor I think.There is also a growing DIY music controller movement, where people hack up toys or build from scratch their own versions of something that will control music. I think what the musicians don’t yet realize is that their search for more sensitive and interactive controllers is something that translates well to other realms.

As always, please check out some of my free music at Way Music.

Day Dream Nation Concert

SOnic Youth from the nosebleed seatsMonisha and I went to hear Sonic Youth in Berkeley. I think we got the last tickets for the whole show. Our seats, as you can see from the pic, were at the very top back row of the balcony. We could see better than the cellphone pic lets on, and the sound was actually quite good from way up there…nosebleeds but not earbleeds. Here are some better pix from a different show in Chicago.
I was psyched as the program was a full rendition of SY classic Daydream Nation, a sprawling double album that Pitchfork Media has dubbed the most important album of the 1980s. They opened with a dead-on version of their big alt.hit from the album, “Teenage Riot,” and proceeded to tear through the album with no commentary and a lot of energy. I won’t recount a blow by blow, but “Candle” was great, and the difficult-to-do-live “Providence” was tremendous blast of noise. One concert-goer I overheard described the Daydream portion of the show as “eight distractions with a drummer in the middle” which was kind of fitting, I think it might have been a compliment. I have duly added “the distractions” to my list of band names in case I run out.

I looked over to see how Monisha was faring. Her tastes lean toward Kanda Bongo Man and Mozart. She has a fantastic ear and no patience for any singer who is the least bit off key. I doubted she would like them, but was surprised. Monisha had this look of sort of a combination of shock and entrancement and later said once she got used to it she began to hear the music in the noise and appreciate that they were very serious about what they were doing, not just throwing things together. She also thought Kim Gordon was a blast, because she wasn’t playing the tambourine and looking pretty but a central part of the band on bass and vocals. I’m hoping Mo will take some time and share her thoughts herself.

“Providence” was perhaps the most interesting piece. On the album it is a treated piano or something like that, with a phone answering machine of Thurston Moore’s (one of the two guitarists) father berating him [N.B. see comments for a correction on this and more on the instrumentation] and telling him he’s too stoned and a fuck up and better get his act together. Gradually, Mr. Moore the elder gets drowned out in a wall of unearthly noise. I have always like the song, having had a similar relationship with dear old dad. Answering such a message with a song that literally obliterates it with what he is doing always seemed a lovely concept to me. Live the emphasis was on the noise, and Thurston had some sort of contraption next to his guitar amp that produced the requisite squealing and howling. Monisha was impressed.

The second half of the show was mostly new stuff from Rather Ripped, including a fantastic version of “Incinerate.” The minimalist, uncharacteristically mellow “Do you believe in Rapture” came off much better live than on the CD I think. It would have made a great closer, but fortunately for us, we got another few songs after that. The band sounds very different on the newer stuff. Each player has more space, they seem like they have grown really good at listening and responding to each other musically. I think I liked the newer stuff better than Daydream. For about half of the newer songs Mark Ibold came out and covered for Kim Gordon’s arthritic fingers. She then went nuts doing a sort of really cool interpretive dance along with giving her full attention to the vocals. It added a great visual element to the show.

All in all a great concert. Hope you have time to listen to some of my stuff at way music!
You can hear some SY stuff here.

Tony Miles and Kevin Kooyumjian

Rich Rath and Tony MilesJust got back from a visit to the Bay Area. We took a trip down to Monterey Bay one afternoon, and I got to meet, hear, and jam a little with some great musicians, Tony Miles and Kevin Kooyumjian. Continue reading “Tony Miles and Kevin Kooyumjian”

Welcome!

Welcome to the Way Music Blog, part of Way Music, Rich Rath’s free music site. I’ll use this space to let you know what I’ve been up to musically, what is happening on Way Music, and thoughts about gigs, sound, and music — both other people’s and my own.