Disquiet Junto 0165 Bertoia chair

The assignment this week is to create a composition that explores the sonic resonance of Harry Bertoia’s iconic side chair.

On Saturday I procrastinated away my opportunity to go to a main street cafe. My son sorta hijacked my recording to develop a cover of a TV theme.

While I don't normally pay much attention to chairs, it seemed very unlikely to find a Bertoia chair in Leeton. An aluminum chair was needed for the resonant properties but I could only find a matted sort that didn't seem ideal.

Then I spied the public seating and noted it was made of metal. I tapped the seat and ran my fingers over the surface until I settled on a spot with a lot of vibration to place the mic.

There were a few tones from tapping resonant spots, which I tapped while making a few recordings. Those passing by pretended not to be interested, except for pets and children.

Once in Ableton Live I applied a lot of EQ and tape saturation emulation to the recording from the contact mic. Three busses added reverb, bass and echo, each with their own saturation.

The track shared with the Junto came from the start of the second take. There's a nice part at the end of the first take where a magpie's song resonated on the seat.

Disquiet Junto 0164 Hay Fat Choy

The Disquiet Junto this week asked for music from fireworks.

My track draws exclusively on a collection of badly shot videos from about a decade ago, when I first got a small digital camera. You can see in the video I was a newbie holding the camera sideways. The automatic focus rarely catches up with the action and the sound was recorded using an in-built mic, which clipped a bit.

The fireworks were part of a semi-regular winter solstice night that my outlaws organise outside Wagga Wagga. I won't speculate on where they got the bangers but they were good. There was a rumour that the fireworks lit on the night of my 30th were leftovers from the Sydney Olympic closing ceremony. Anyway, you can hear the appreciation of the small crowd.

The sound of fireworks, particularly the Doppler effect, suggested a descending harmonic progression. At first I wasn't sure I could get a decent kick sound from the material. It took a few attempts to get the melody and rhythm but I wanted to work with the video rather than instruments this week for various reasons. There's EQ and compression, as well as reverb and a little delay. After the first export I went back and added panning effects to generate more interesting stereo effect.

Working on the Chain

The new year brings a new Shinobi Cuts remix chain. Toastboat was released last month and we've started a new chain with a track from DJ Pnutz -- whose track on the last release was astounding.

Embedded above is my first attempt at remixing her track Infrasonics. It felt a bit self-indulgent adding my kids but their voices add a lightness to the material. The bassline you hear was recorded last year for a friend's track but seemed to suit and ended up in the final draft.

The logo for Shinobi Cuts shown here was one I designed. We wanted a ninja to reference the Ninja Tune Forum where our projects originated. Shinobi is, of course, another term for Ninjutsu, and cuts are a term for tunes. There's a version of the logo on Bandcamp that shows ninjas passing parts for a song.

Remixed sex

It's no secret that I'm a fan of pornography. On my second album, YOUR, I sampled a bunch of videos to make the track Dance Naked. On another blog you can find an essay on how internet pornography empowers women that I wrote while studying feminism.

Above is a remix made from a recording of my partner Jo and I making fuck last month. At the time I felt reluctant to share the sound of my orgasm. It seemed a very intimate moment but then I started thinking about public declarations of love and, since I'm not married, this is a statement of my relationship.

Since then I've been thinking of a story about Robert Mapplethorpe, who responded to an accusation that he was exploiting his naked photography subjects by taking a picture of himself naked with a whip handle up his arse that made him look like the devil.

It was a story I remember thinking about when I posed naked for a university newspaper last century. Anyway, I think many sound recordists work hard to ensure they aren't recorded but it is an important experience to feel vulnerable. Sometimes I wonder if I'll hear my moans played back to me and how it'd make me feel.

Uwe Schmidt on blueprints

There’s a sense that people want to sound like something else. There are too many blueprints. People need to develop their own stuff. We have tons of musical history to refer to. The weight of history is bigger than the creative horizon. It’s as though the information we are accumulating is bigger than anything we imagine. As a young musician you are confronted with everything in real-time and have to negotiate your relationship to it.

Naviarhaiku 058 Still there, somewhere

Another improvisation on the gated guitar for the Naviar Haiku project this week.

Haiku poem by Botanka Shohaku
Picture by Tanakawho

Not much to write about this composition, as it flowed out of me once I hit record. I recorded MIDI as well, thinking I'd add a few synth parts but I realised after the last track recorded this way that it ends up sounding very busy.

Disquiet Junto 0163 Layering Minutes After Midnight

Junto this week asked we take segments recorded last month and layer them to create a new recording.

I listened back to the recordings, made notes on a few different themes that some shared in common, then disregarded these ideas and put a few sounds together until it started to sound interesting. I settled on recordings by KeithysDunimselfaMischief, Rizzi, and Peepingtomb.

Then I used TB OmniSone to change how the sounds were spatially placed in the mix, a bit of EQ and then exported the new recording. I think it sounds a bit like making two-minute noodles at night while camping, so I called it campsite.