teh s3quence 015 – HALLOWEEN 2011 EDITION

Because I like to do things out of order (and also because I totally forgot that I hadn’t posted teh s3quence 014…), I’m giving you teh s3quence 015, the HALLOWEEN EDITION!

Usually when I make a Halloween mix, it’s pretty straightforward — pick a bunch of songs that are about zombies, vampires, ghosts or are otherwise spooky, mash them together, make sure there’s at least one requisite track from an actual Zombie (Zombie Girl, White Zombie, Rob Zombie, Nik Fiend (who actually is a zombie) and call it good. This year, I went about it a bit different.

Rather than just get a bunch of Halloween-themed songs, I tried to pick tracks that were actually spooky, not just about spooky things, or spooky in a campy way (see: Sneaky Bat Machine and Voltaire). So this mix has a lot more emphasis on mood and ambiance. Oh, there’s the Zombie Girl track in there, too, and I threw in “Everyday is Halloween” at the end to lighten the mood (how often can you say that you added Ministry to lighten the mood?), but otherwise I was going for stuff you might actually play if you were hosting a haunted house or a let’s-all-watch-The-Exorcist party. Also, you know, I had to step up my game this year to compete with @slighter’s Halloween Mix…

 

Track list

01 Pugilistas – Sea Soul’s Breath
02 Skinny Puppy – Testure
03 Velvet Acid Christ – Fun With Knives
04 Alien Sex Fiend – All the Madmen (Padded Cell Mix)
05 Air – Radian (excerpt)
06 WAX MONSTERS – Mercury
07 Delerium – New Horizons
08 Marilyn Manson – Redeemer
09 Gary Numan – Dark
10 Angelo Badlamenti – Haunting & Heartbreaking
11 Dax Riggs – Night is the Notion
12 The Black Keys – Strange Times
13 Godspeed You Black Emperor! – The Dead Flag Blues
14 jazzsequence – when the lights go off in space, do you say “Bloody Mary” ten times in front of a mirror just to see if she comes and slits your throat?
15 Krii – Dzaes Manouverz
16 Le Presage (feat. Mr. Dibbs and Jel) – Invitation to Hell
17 DJ Krush – The Blackhole
18 Nine Inch Nails – a mixture of nightmares (Symphony of Noise Remix)
19 Meat Beat Manifesto – She’s Unreal
20 Funker Vogt – Seelenwanderung
21 Zombie Girl – Symphony of the Living Dead (Part 2)
22 Queen Adreena – Heavenly Surrender
23 Ministry – Everyday is Halloween [Original 12″ Version]

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Visit Plague Music on Turntable.fm

I haven’t been quiet about being addicted to loving Turntable.fm.  I took a break from Turntable for about a week, only to be reminded how awesome a platform it is when I came back.  The ability to see immediate feedback to the songs you play is almost better than DJ’ing at an actual club or party where some people go and dig the music, but never get up and dance, preferring to socialize.  It’s hands-down better than other platforms or methods for hosting or broadcasting music to other people.  It provides a more direct line of communication and feedback than a podcast, SHOUTcast stream or Blip.fm and is a great way for musicians to play their music and directly interact with their fans and get a response.  After our listening party earlier this week for the new Raygun Girls album, we’ve been trying to think up ways to do something similar again.

Why not a regular Plague Music room?  We could use it for any live events or just hang out and play some tunes.  You can come see what we’re up to by visiting the Plague Music Netlabel room.  If you’d like to DJ and all the slots are full, you can sign up on our DJ list and we’ll make sure you get in there.  It’s likely to be slow going at first as we gather momentum, but we’re hoping to keep this as a regular feature and staff it every Friday (if not other days during the week).  So stop by and see what’s going on.  If you have an event you’d like us to host in our room, or you are an artist and would like us to play your tracks, give us a shout.

Turntable.fm: A place for DJs, wannabe-DJs, music snobs, and — interestingly enough — musicians to hang out

I’ve been playing on turntable.fm for the last couple weeks.  I’ve been on the site so much that if my wife sees a window with a funky red curtain that looks like a cartoon version of the White Lodge in Twin Peaks (enough that I expect a dancing midget to start talking backwards at me at any minute) with a bunch of bobbing cat, bear, kid and, occasionally huge gorilla avatars, she will give me a look and start complaining about how much time I spend on the site and avoiding work.

If the room names are any indication (a quick glance might give you Indie While You Work, Indie While You Don’t Work, Indie While You Shirk Work, Music to Code By, etc.) there’s a lot of people avoiding work on turntable together.  A lot.  In the last month, it seems, the site has exploded.  Not only in the number of users — with the profiles feature they rolled out earlier this week you can see how long a user has been on the site, many of them under a week — but in news and posts around the blogosphere.  Turntable is, as they say, the new thing, all the while playing nice by the rules of the DMCA (following the same guidelines that Pandora and other streaming radio services need to comply with in the States).

Turntable works for a couple different reasons, but I won’t go overly into game theory (even though that’s a big part of it).  First of all, music is universal.  ”Do you want to come back to my place to listen to some records?” is the sweater-wearing indie version of “why don’t you stay the night?”  Music communicates on a deep level — deeper than words alone — because we respond emotionally to certain kinds of chords, keys, and progressions.  For a music-o-phile, what’s more fun than having some friends over and playing your latest discoveries at them?

Turntable rewards users by giving them points every time another user hits “awesome” on the built-in Rock-o-Meter, which is displayed prominently under their username, and allows access to new avatars, giving a sense of status and l33tness (this is where game theory comes in).  It also allows users to fan other DJs, alerting them when they are DJing in different rooms and serving as yet another status indicator if you have a lot of fans.

For those of us (myself included) who have or do DJ in real life, turntable offers an opportunity to spin to a live audience, get feedback from the audience (in a way that you wouldn’t on, say Blip.fm) and hang out with other DJs and music fans.  And I think it’s fairly universal that anyone who DJs can’t ever DJ enough, so any excuse to throw on some wax is enough to get us moving in that direction.

There’s an interesting thing, though, about turntable if you make your own music.  You can use the right room, with the right kind of audience, to demo out your music and see what kind of feedback it gets.  I’ve done this myself with my own music and that of musicians I know.  It’s rewarding to throw out a track you contributed to and see heads bobbing indicating that other people are digging it.

I don't know if this exists, but the source this came from said "photo credit: TechCrunch" for what it's worth…

Due to DMCA restrictions, there’s a limit to the number of times a single artist can be played.  However, I’m hopeful that the service will open up to allow artists to contact them directly for listening parties and virtual concerts (in fact, that’s exactly what we’re doing later this month).  For those of us who never leave the house, this is another tool in an artist’s arsenal for spreading your music.  Already I’ve seen recognizable names like Neil Gaiman and Ben Folds headlining popular rooms.  It’s only a matter of time before that spreads and we have a Daft Punk room or a Paul Oakenfold room — assuming they, or someone in their entourage, has time to waste on the site, that is.  Independent artists can use turntable as a promotional tool and netlabels in particular can use it to promote artists on their label and create exclusive live events without the need to book a club.  You can even make a room private and potentially sell access to the room on turntable through your website.

The site is in beta and has some very obvious glitches, particularly in peak hours.  Despite this, it’s addictive as cocaine, sending users into spiraling withdrawal when the site goes down or experiences problems.  The only limitation to access is that you have a friend on Facebook that’s using turntable, which you probably do.  Even if you aren’t a music snob, it’s a great way to be exposed to new artists and new music in much the same way as hanging around in a dorm room and playing records is.

Visit turntable.fm
Register for our Raygun Girls The Taker release party

A History of Bedroom Music Production — Part 2

RPM2011 is 9 days away and it seems appropriate to finish this retrospective series before RPM starts.  Part 1 of this series covered the early beginnings of my interest in music up through high school and eventually turning to the computer as a means for producing and recording music.  Part 2 will cover how that evolved and changed in college and the upcoming third and final part will cover everything that happened between graduating college and now.  Ready?  Go.

Last week I talked about Sweet Sixteen and how that helped me create music in ways I hadn’t tried before.  I gave up trying to create punk rock and metal with my cheap keyboards and started making more electronic-based goth and industrial.  The end of high school and beginning of college marked the sudden rise of electronica into the mainstream with artists like UnderworldThe ProdigySneaker PimpsChemical BrothersCrystal MethodMobyPortishead and Fatboy Slim all bringing their diverse takes on dance music and suddenly it was all over the radio.  Along with that shift in popular music came a shift in music-making technology.  I began to use (mostly unsuccessfully) Cakewalk for music-making, but was frustrated by the complete lack of intuitiveness.  On the other hand, I got a taste of Sonic Foundry Acid and was hooked.  Acid was based on loops, and in about 15 minutes (with the right bundle of samples) you could create a danceable track along the lines of what The Chemical Brothers and Fatboy Slim were making money from.  In many ways it was empowering, and in many ways it killed electronic music by making it too easy.

Fœtus Kryste – 17, 18, 19

The problem with Acid was that it was entirely based on loops and contained no tools for actually creating any of those loops.  So you needed another program to actually create the loops if you didn’t want everything you did to be derivative or based off loops and samples found on the web (unless you could create your own loops with live instruments).  Sometime after I found Acid, I found FruityLoops (and later, its companion, FruityTracks which eventually just got integrated into the same package).  FruityLoops was a essentially software beatbox that came bundled with various drum and instrument samples that you could use to create beats and patterns.  Combined with FruityTracks, you could assemble those into full compositions.

Fœtus Kryste – Spacegirl

Despite having these new tools, I look back on those years of writing music and realize I was floundering; hopping from one program to the next and never being comfortable in any of them.  It wasn’t until I took a class in the Music department on early electronic music that I began to abandon conventions and, in so doing, begin to find my voice (or sound).  To be honest, I didn’t know there was electronic music before Kraftwerk, really, so learning about a history that dated as far back as the 1940s was far from boring, and I was enthralled by the music of artists like Steve ReichAlvin LucierCharles Dodge and Morton Subotnick.  My two compositions for the class show both my influence from sample-based music as well as my new-found love of twiddling knobs on the decades-old analogue synthesizers in the music department.  It was also in this class that I had my first experience with “real” recording software, namely Cubase and ProTools, running on an old Macintosh with only a monochrome monitor.

Fœtus Kryste – Untitled #1 & Untitled #2

I couldn’t get enough time in the music lab, so, after the electronic music class, I did an independent study with the same professor for further research into electronic music, and part of that independent study was creating an analogue synthesizer.  I started rummaging through the shelves in the Audio/Video section of the school library pulling out record after record of experimental electronic music.  And I got to do a test-run of the analogue synth I built for a composition I did for a class on Hinduism and Indian culture in which I used the theories and methods of crafting classical Indian ragas to create a new composition for the synthesizer.  Sadly, whether it was from being in storage, not having a proper housing, the Southern California heat, or something more mysterious (or less — like bad solders) the synthesizer died before I had the chance to use it much more than that.

Chris Reynolds – Experiment on Indian Raga

The next semester I went abroad to England where I continued doing more or less what I’d been doing until I heard the score for a stage adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s VALIS by my friend (and former roommate) Josh Tanenbaum.  The writer/director, Rob, had asked both of us if we’d be interested in participating but I couldn’t because I’d be across the pond.  Nonetheless, I was anxious to be involved and hearing Josh’s score inspired me.  Being in England, I was immersed in DJ culture, discovered underground UK Garage and drum & bass, and was DJ’ing on the University’s radio station and occasionally at a club run by a group of the students.  At the same time I was immersed in the local goth scene.  In the UK, goth had closer ties to metal and — simultaneously — electronica, and there wasn’t the sort of hard defined boundaries between different sub-sub-cultures like I saw at home.  It was perfectly normal for someone to be heavily into “cybergoth” — listening to ATBPaul VanDyk and Paul Oakenfold — to get tickets to see Iron Maiden at Wembley Stadium. So, it was through these influences that the VALIS Remix Album came to be.   I was very interested in creating a unique sound that was a combination of various musical influences and styles which included hip-hop, electronic music, and experimental music.

c.s.reynolds – Serpentine

Eventually though, I gave up trying to use just about anything for composition in favor of SoundForge, an advanced recording program from the same company the created Acid (which was later acquired by Sony) with various effects filters to stretch, shrink, mutilate and destroy any sound you could create.  Using SoundForge, I began my journey into experimental music, duplicating many of the experiments of those early avant-garde experimental composers.  I created interpretations of Alvin Lucier’s “I am sitting in a room” of Steve Reich’s phase patterns, of Harold Budd‘s “Candy-Apple Revision” (whose instructions are simply play something in D-flat major). These experimentations were reinforced by another class taught again by the same professor who did the electronic music class specifically on Experimental Music.  I wrote an experimental piece called “Music by Computers” which was a page of binary (0s and 1s) in random order and the instructions were to interpret however you liked (I have three recorded variations on the “Music by Computers” — one by the Experimental Music Ensemble, which was made up of the students of the class, one by The Loafmen, and one I recorded later in which I transcribed the binary into alphanumeric characters and used those to determine the notes and rests and key and time changes).  It was during this time that I was probably the most prolific, although part of that was influenced by the fact that the experiments were often lengthy ordeals.  Indeterminacy became my guide, and I became fascinated with an approach to music that was spontaneous, random and evolving, which is still infused in the music I make now.

It was also during this time that I was commissioned to write music for a stage adaptation of William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell” which I also had a part in.

c.s.reynolds – Beyond Heaven + Hell

And then there was The Loafmen.  There were four of us, myself included, in the Experimental Music class plus one other person — the previously mentioned Rob, a former student.  Rob, Peter, Josh and I were all in Rob’s car listening to something in Rob’s vast post-rock collection (most likely Don Caballero), when one of us said “we should start a band”.  This didn’t actually sound half-bad so we recruited Chris, another student in the class who  played drums, and became The Loafmen (named after the “loaves of squeaking viscera” in a rubber skeleton toy that Chris had).  The Loafmen were part performance art, part experimental music, and part post-rock and truly a product of the ideas we were immersing ourselves in inside and outside the Experimental Music class.  This, in turn, had an effect on the types of things I was experimenting with and what I was experimenting with had an effect on what I brought to The Loafmen.  The Loafmen had four rules:

  1. Don’t talk about what we’re going to play before we play it
  2. Listen to what the other members are doing
  3. The song ends when it ends
  4. Everyone is a Loafman unless they aren’t alive or capable of falling down

Forgoing expensive (or even less-expensive) studio equipment, all of The Loafmen’s music was recored by a single VHS camera I got on eBay for the film I was making for my senior project.  Initially, it was just the easiest thing on-hand, but eventually it became part of the process.  We’d rehearse for several hours, then go back to my room to watch the results.  We were a bit like guerilla artists, taking over the common room for our rehearsals and using found objects as instruments, and the videos were a way to sort of document the visual aspect of The Loafmen.  (I still have the tapes and plan to digitize them at some point.  They kind of need to go on YouTube.)  In addition, it was generally through watching the tapes that we came up with the song titles for what we had recorded.

At the end of the semester we did two performances, one for the Experimental Music class and one in a student-run coffee house built into the basement of one of our dorms.  The latter was called the “Milk and Cookies show” and we provided milk and cookies to anyone who came to see us (obviously).  In addition, at a large-scale rave that a student organized as his senior project (what can I say, our school was awesome), I did a live DJ performance of the experimental pieces I had been working on myself, called Fractal.

c.s.reynolds – Fractal

The experimentation continued and eventually evolved into completely new styles, but that will have to wait for Part 3…

teh s3quence 009: lilah’s mix

teh_s3quence-009

a new tradition i’m starting this year is to make mix cds for each of the kids every year.  i did one for G a couple months ago, and decided when i finally made lilah’s that i would post it here on teh s3quence.  so, here it is:

01 morphine, the night
02 poe, hello
03 bjork, big-time sensuality
04 imogen heap, clear the area
05 elastica, connection
06 eisley, combinations
07 fleetwood mac, go your own way
08 the killers, everything will be alright
09 pop tarts, girlie pop
10 no doubt, just a girl
11 they might be giants, clap your hands
12 the 5, 6, 7, 8s, woo hoo
13 blondie, hanging on the telephone
14 the b-52s, love shack
15 garbage, only happy when it rains
16 no doubt/bounty killer, girls got the bass in the back
17 alice deejay, the lonely one
18 ayumi hamasaki, moments
19 bt, blue skies (feat. tori amos)
20 ayumi hamasaki, i’m your little butterfly
21 ben folds, gracie

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(side notes: track 01 is a special song because it’s about a “little girl” named lilah, and it played in my head when we were coming up with names.  track 21 is a song ben folds wrote for/about his daughter.  “still fighting it” on rockin’ the suburbs was written about/for his son.)