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?
Jim Pavloff knows his way around Ableton Live, and, apart from being an accomplished creative producer in his own right, he has put together a couple of remakes which show just what goes into creating a classic electronic dance track… from the 90s.
Prodigy’s Liam Howlett famously composed most of Prodigy’s music single-handedly. He’s the genius behind the atomic riffs and explosive sample-laden dance floor rippers. It’s worth saying that when this music was new, all this production had to be done on physical devices… dozens of them.
These days digital electronic music production can all be done in software. Of course, it still requires talent to assemble. Jim Pavloff has that talent.
Jim, perhaps you could indulge us with some rock god poses of yourself during the intro? Thanks that would be great.
Indie Game looks like an exciting new documentary film about indie game development. The story follows the obsessive personal creative process of real developers making real indie games. Michael Dante DiMartino recognises it as a movie less about video gaming and more about the purpose and nature of Art:
Create fearlessly. Follow your passion.
The documentary follows the tumultuous emotional journeys of a handful of intensely-driven dudes as they forced these games into existence, facing adversity at every level-up. The film itself was acclaimed at the Sundance Film Festival and is featured in Possible Worlds, the 2012 Canadian Film Festival in Sydney at the Dendy. The feature was inspired by a short film about Alec Holowka of Infinite Ammo. Yes go watch that too.
It seems like the technological and economic conditions are right for indie games. It even seems as though independent video games are in a renaissance. I’m old enough to remember the 1980s where the shelves of suburban computer stores were usually stocked with video games with photocopied disk and cassette sleeves – home made Commodore 64 computer games. Back then we were naive enough to believe that video games could be made without large teams of dedicated artists, producers and QA people, even going so far as to believe it was possible for an individual programmer to make something fun to play! Such childish idealism! People actually paid money for those home made games, if the price was right. Kids everywhere wanted to make their own video games and be like their heroes: people like David Braben and Jeff Minter. It seems like those days are back again. People are buying and playing video games made by individuals and small teams and this spells trouble for big dumb companies who have grown lazy peddling a catalog full of big budget mediocrity. What’s more, indie games frequently adopt a lo-fi styling using pixellated graphics as if to emphasise the attractively humble origins of the game project, or perhaps to highlight this fact:
Fun is resolution-independent.
In a twist of feel-good indie fate that is so perfect that a froth of conspiracy theorists will surely claim it was concocted by an evil PR firm for an old media kiretsu to lull us indie game fans into a false sense of disruptive innovation, the film project was hatched and funded on Kickstarter. They hoped for at least $15k but actually raised just under $25k from nearly 300 backers pledging anything from $1, garnering thanks, to over $300 in exchange for (amongst the special edition merch) having one’s own video game trailer tastefully appended to the movie!
If you’re in Sydney you can get a festival ticket for $16 (includes a free drink) and not only watch the movie, but see the video games first-hand as they will be set up to play. If, however, you don’t drink/live in Sydney/want to be seen in public, you can get an even cheaper fix as a digital download direct from the filmmakers. Just like buying a cassette from the back of an artist’s car.
Does this make you want to be an indie game developer? Are video games Art? Are we witnessing an indie games renaissance? What do you think of the movie?
Bill Cameron has this report on the growing phenomenon called “Internet”.
In 1993, the Internet was on an explosive growth curve that has to a large extent lived up to the hype that many of us hoped it would back then.
It seemed more democratic than traditional media.
The current word for that is “social media” and though it’s been overused and seems at times to be a term defined too narrowly – denoting interpersonal chatter. As an aside I think it’s quite a good term at heart, at least to the extent that it implies that the alternative is an antisocial media: centralised, with high barriers to entry, closely guarded and scarce broadcast spectrum resources, single points of failure (and of editorial or censorial control) and the inescapable agendas of large commercial operations
Newspapers, magazines, television programs have started to take notice…
Oh have they?
Sometimes it doesn’t seem like many of those older media have been paying much attention over the past two decades.
I’ve been obsessing about this song for more than a week now. It haunts me. I’ll tell you where you can download the mp3 for free but first let me tell you how I feel about it.
Having been exploring Jamaican music recently – dancehall, ska reggae, rocksteady etc, when I first heard “Get Free” I just felt like I’d tapped into some kind of deep underground thermal spring of good vibes.
The pieces work so well together.
The voice is really interesting. Amber Coffman from Dirty Projectors delivers a sultry mixture of matter-of-fact lyrics and rallying calls over a wide and capable modern production that happily remains inconspicuous and doesn’t fight the basic, chilled out rhythm for prominence. Amber’s voice trails off in the wind in a series of rich dischordant siren harmonies reminding me of Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares (The Mystery Voices of Bulgaria) with shrill quartertones that befit a cry from Carpathian mountain battlements.
The warm off-beat organs, nasal guitar riffs, life-giving bass rich with spacy old amplifier artifacts including what might be genuine original Studio One speaker cone dust… this is reggae. Brassy synths and monster sax leads burst and tumble like a steel drum on a humid night in Kingston (or did you hear one?)
Amber’s presence builds in layers. She sings in rounds. Peaceful, insistent, sometimes close to your ear, sometimes through the loud hailer.
There are remixes – and rightly so, the rhythm is pretty subtle and understated… you’d think a driving drum & bass mix could be great – but so far none of them that I’ve heard have penetrated the massive presence of the original. The remix by Andy C unfortunately seems to squash the energy (and the chord progression) with 19 layers of multi-octave pads, and tiresome 90s swooshing effects and kick rushes.
But the video clip is the jewel in the crown. Simple yet apocalyptic, artful yet apparently affordable.
It seems Major Lazer is exactly the kind of interplanetary soldier who stares impenetrably at the horizon in his mirror shades and his bandolier of microphones, sitting on the skeleton of a Tyrannosaurus Rex.
The nerdcore ninjas at Boston Dynamics, famous for bringing the robot invasion ever closer with creepy military research robots like big dog, recently demonstrated a mega jumping wheeled robot, Sand Flea.
Andrew Dickey riding freestyle through the streets of Melbourne. This is amazing. The height and insano distance Andrew Dickey gets in this video… incredible. Sweet track Attack Ships on Fire by Architect too…
The video is published as volume 1. Can’t wait for Vol. 2
Many of our readers will remember that there used to be a kind of technology, a bit like a huge, flat, noisy slow USB key that stored less than 2 Megs of data. Not gigs, megs.
So anyway, these were called Floppy Disks (even though they were square and rigid (the actual disk is inside the casing) and the floppy drives that each computer had back in the before time, well they were NEVER ever used to make music like this, except by extreme geeks with too much time on their hands:
The sound comes from getting the disk to “seek” by moving the read/write “head” with its little motor to read different parts of the disk, but moving in a stuttering, stepping fashion. The stuttering speed is fast enough to make a “tone”. The tones can be “played” by (somehow) converting a midi file into commands that cause the floppy drives to move in just the right way when it’s their turn to play the “note”. Freak!
I’ve looked closely and can’t see any tricks. Yet this is the kind of dancing that could never have been conceived without modern digital video production technology as a reference point. Note the extended reversal.