Pen and Paper Meditation

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No thoughts, intentions or expectations. It’s not a doodle, if that implies being idle. It’s not a work of art, if that implies work. It’s what happened with my pen and paper while I was living in my body just now.

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City Sick by Pooka

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I must admit I am city sick

One of the best female folk duos ever, this recording from about 1993.

I only wish I could post a video of them singing and playing it.


The Power of Nothingness

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There is a kind of destructive and delusional conspiracy in the history of much of human thinking that has undermined the fundamental importance of one of our most incredible resources: Nothing.

People are down on Nothing.

What we should see if we think about it more clearly, is that the world of things is really the creation in our own minds, in our mental model of the world, of the line between two equally important parts of one whole. One of those parts is Nothing.

To fail to appreciate Nothing, to harness it, to be blind to the role of Nothingness is to deny ourselves of the most natural fulfilment.

Nothingness is the secret to understanding not only the world, but the self, and after all, what, really, is the difference?

Listen to Alan Watts talk about Nothing:

Also enjoy the music.

I recognised part of Neil Young’s soundtrack to Jim Jarmusch’s classic black and white movie Dead Man in there, one of my favourites, the track “Organ Solo” which I think is played on a hand organ. This movie features Jonny Depp as a man named “William Blake” who is mistaken to be the reincarnation of the famous poet by a native American man, aptly named “Nobody”. Iggy pop is in there too. Choice quotes from memory “One thing’s fur shurr, I wouldn’t trust nothin writ down on no piece of paper” and “I can’t take whisky like I youstacould”. The movie is intense (a couple of graphic scenes) but unmissable, so if you managed to miss it, you have your homework.

Also behind Alan Watts in the video is “Lars is no loser” sung by Icelander Siggi Ármann and “Dawn” by Cinematic Orchestra from their gorgeous album “Man with a movie camera”. This music ties so many references together for me and for my appreciation of the message so eloquently furnished by this master of Nothing, Alan Watts.

The rest of the music I feel familiar with but can’t identify, so if you recognise it please do tell.


Chapter 2 of the Tao te Ching

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Recently I read the Tao te Ching for the first time. This little book, two and a half thousand years old, so tenderly rendered into English by Stephen Mitchell, contains a raw and ancient wisdom that has been carried into the modern era in more recent eastern traditions such as Zen Buddhism.

Like the true poetry it is, there are things said and unsaid, metaphors and imagery woven into an artwork that speaks not only to us but through us. The author, Lao Tzu, an ancient master of The Tao, or “The Way” teaches us how to live in a way that religion often does, but which does not define laws for us to follow. Instead it shows us where to look to discover the laws of nature.

The book is tiny. The message is simple. As much as we would rather demand that the mystery of living is a puzzle that only exertion and grand learning, perhaps even selective divine inspiration can reveal to us, this book leaves us with ourselves. The words leave space. The guidance is a mere nudge and a nod, a gesture towards a path that winds through the trees without high ceremony or the odour of empire (unlike Confucianism which almost ruined eastern philosophy for me when I was younger).

Far from shying away from the every day, a reading discourages high retreat from family life or work or pleasure as much as it encourages compassion and peace and precisely the kind of inner harmony that people like me can normally never bear to hear about without cliche-induced nausea.

Yet somehow its message has penetrated me. I like it.

It doesn’t tell, but it helps us tell ourselves. It uses language to exceed language.

At once a tactic, a style and the core message, the Tao te Ching exhibits a common characteristic of eastern wisdom traditions: things in the Tao te Ching often seem to conflict with each other in a way that unsettles the puffy rational ego into a game where it, if it can be personified, believes it can win by rejecting the message and text as shallow nonsense. Simultaneously, a part of us – perhaps what some people like to call a soul, whispers into our ear that it didn’t win, it lost, that it was really the ego being shallow and reminding us that we can too easily be drawn into imaginary conflict like a bird pecking a mirror, unable to see the beauty of reflection.

How can I say more?

Chapter 2

When people see some things as beautiful,
other things become ugly.
When people see some things as good,
other things become bad.

Being and non-being create each other.
Difficult and easy support each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low depend on each other.
Before and after follow each other.

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets it.
That is why it lasts forever.


Acoustic Guitar MIDI Mod

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Check this out!

ACPAD – World’s First Wireless MIDI Controller for Acoustic Guitar. The perfect bridge between electronic and acoustic music!

The ACPAD allows players to blend both acoustic and electronic sounds with FX and assignable tap pads. Create whatever sound you want with ACPAD. It is strong, flexible and offers a new world of creativity you have been looking for. ACPAD is an electronic orchestra in your hands!

Look for this project on KickStarter.

via my mate @chuparkoff


Ratatat, File Under Weird But Cool Music Video

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Brooklyn instrumental duo Ratatat have something interesting going on. The music is electronic dance but they dirty the lower tempo house beats with sophisticated choppy rhythm layers, 70s-style guitar riffs and fuzzy synth chords. There’s a little bit of the LA sound, like Flying Lotus, but then the square punch also reminds me of Daft Punk. There’s definitely a strain of psychedelia.

So that’s the music, but why I’m really blogging this is the video clips.

I’m not sure if somebody has slipped something into the video producer’s milkshake but the results are surprisingly stunning. Stunning in the sense that my first reaction was bewilderment. They look like intentionally failed attempts to utterly underwhelm. That stunned feeling quickly gave way to a rising mirth and wonder, like I get when experiencing a zen koan. Perhaps one isn’t expected to arrive with satisfaction at rational comprehension.

Here’s “Cream on Chrome” which may have been test footage from a budget Beijing karaoke joint that had been found in the trash folder of a backpacker’s SD card.

In “Neckbrace” I want to believe they have a highly trained battery of incredibly disciplined birds. Add a drummer with a bare snare, and that’s almost all they need on-screen.

In this one it seems like they’ve repurposed footage from a stock photography shoot, because, what could be cooler than a fake sequence of normal people acting normal?


WOW Live Drum and Bass by Jojo Mayer

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Check out this incredible display of prodigious drum skill by Jojo Mayer. Now that’s what I call drum and bass. Well, technically, I think you might call this genre Jungle but it’s all good. I’m not too sure I’m on board with the genre of camera work employed however!


Bach Well Tempered Boomwhackers

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An incredible demonstration of precision and a jaw-dropping creative rendition of Bach’s seminal Prelude No. 1 in C Major (BWV 846) by French group Les Objets Volants

… using only Boomwhackers


Brian Fitzy – Virtuoso Live Looping – Valerie

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Brian Fitzy starts this jam out with a straight-up acoustic guitar song but by half way has built up half a dozen layers including electric violin and decent beatboxing. Don’t quit out before you get to the good stuff. Nice breakdown too.


New Track – Chris Mountford – Elliptic Curve – Bitcoin Mix

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Created as part of the soundtrack for The Bitcoin Doco, here’s the original Bitcoin Mix.

The documentary is quite interesting:

The Bitcoin Doco
https://vimeo.com/112223859


Spazzkid – Truly featuring Sarah Bonito

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This is exactly what it needs to be!!

Everything also needs two exclamation marks!! And bunnies!!


John Cage on Silence

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John Cage was a genius. Her he is in his own words on sound and silence – stunning in a brilliant and complete encapsulation of my own feelings about sound and silence.

To learn more about John Cage: http://johncage.org/


Aeolian Garden House

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Here’s another Kaossilator 2 Jam. Like the others, it has no edits or post-processing, just one take.

I think this is a satisfying constraint because the Kaossilator 2 is really an instrument as opposed to a “workstation” or any other kind of production tool. It Can’t really be said to support “editing”, so while it does enable “composition” through successively capturing loops, and while it has some drum patterns and a gate arpeggiator which enable beat-precise notes and drum sounds, it is generally unforgiving of mistakes (no undo) and its limits are regarded as severe, for example, the loop length maxes out at 8 beats, ruling out most chord-progression style jams.

So freestyling is a good way to get the visceral sound qualities but also to avoid the trap of endless tweaking and perfecting note position, effects chains and tune composition that a full DAW seems to invite.

Unfortunately the video and audio are slightly out of sync which is super annoying considering I captured them together, it seems they only diverged after Youtube’s video processing step. I’ll have to look into that because video and audio sync has been a persistent challenge for me.

If you have any tips for this please leave a comment below.


Jeff Mills and Laurent Garnier in Berlin

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This was 2004 just hear how this builds:

The track is The Sky Was Pink [Holden Remix]  by Nathan Fake (UK)

 


Kitchen Table Techno

By: | Topic: Music | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Make your own music! One thing I’m conscious of these days is how much of my time is spent consuming what other people make compared to the time I spend making my own stuff. If I exclude “the day job” which is actually making stuff for other people in exchange for money, I wonder what the percentage of each really is.

So here’s a Kaossilator Jam I just made, Kitchen Table Techno. Strictly speaking, it’s not really techno… more of a megamix maybe, but it’s definitely a kitchen table and it was all made in one sitting with no edits on the little Kaossilator 2. Some disapprovingly call it a toy, but I call it a toy and fully approve :)

 

 

Please let me know what you think of it in the comments.

So much of modern western civilisation focuses on the economics of mass consumption, but I prefer to focus on the economics of mass creation! This doesn’t mean I think we should all be subsistence hermits, but what is a healthy ratio?

Making stuff expands your skills of self-sufficiency and it adds value to the world. Making is a form of discovery and a path to mastery.

The maker movement is a trend that picks up the trail of DIY Culture and I see it as a good example of a restorative and enriching trend in the world today. It’s the most literal form of productive culture I know.

As one of my heroes, Alan Kay, says, “The best way to predict the future is to invent it”.

What do you think is a healthy ratio of making to consuming?