For the seventh installment of the Preservation Sound video series, we examine how an unplanned encounter with a highly unusual instrument can provide direction for a vibrant and idiosyncratic body of musical work. Fans of modern music are likely to be familiar with duo Mates of State, who have released nine internationally-distributed albums over the past fourteen years. Mates’ first three releases were nearly solely arranged around a traditional drum kit, the duo’s two voices, and a single other instrument: the circa 1971 Yamaha Electone YC45 Combo Organ.
I first heard Mates of State in a small Brooklyn venue circa 2002, and I was blown away by the raw, massive sound that was conjured up through such a minimal setup. As the band explains in our program, their unusual sound was not the result of any strategic planning, but rather a willingness to embrace the tool that they happened to have available. Mates’ relationship with the YC45 is an indelible example of the strength that can be found in limitations. Watch the video featuring exclusive new in-studio performances now on Youtube.
A few years back, I wrote a short piece regarding Canadian scholar and author Marshall McLuhan. One of MM’s most insightful observations is that the tools we make (MM was speaking collectively – ‘We’ as a civilization) can indeed help us perform the tasks that they were designed for; but over time they exert a very real and definite ‘pull’ in terms of dictating our behavior. This has a whole range of implications for artwork, culture, and society in general. We are not wholly masters of our tools; we may benefit from them, but we are limited by them as well, and once certain tools are widespread enough, they can exert their own prerogatives, leading our societies and psyches into places that we might not have chosen to go otherwise.
When I first moved to Bridgeport back in 2005, I met an artist who’s work is concerned with exploring this dynamic; this relationship between mankind, technology, and perception. It’s an intensely modern project that’s fueled by an idiosyncratic manipulation of antique technologies, and he offers an especially compelling account of the advantages that await the artist who makes his/her own tools. Click here, or below, to watch the video.
For more about Tom Mezzanotte, click here.
How are y’all doing today… we have a new video ready: “Build A Variable H-Pad.” If you’ve ever wanted an easy, controllable way of reducing level in the studio without losing signal balance or creating wild impedance variations (which can have undesirable consequences frequency-wise), this project is for you. I have a couple of these little boxes at Gold Coast Recorders and they get used pretty often; the most common use would be if I want to crank up a tube mic preamp to get some break-up on a drum kit or vocal mic. If this results in an excessive output level, I can just patch in one of these variable pads and dial in a safe level for the A/D convertors.
Check out the video, and here’s the schematic for anyone who wants to build one of these lil fellas. You’ll need two balanced jacks of your choosing, four 1% 1-watt 160-ohm resistors, one 200-ohm 1-watt resistor, a 1-watt 1-K linear taper pot, a terminal strip, and a small enclosure.
For my original article which describes the development of this device, click here.
I am v v pleased to announce that PSV #004 is now online. “The 4-track in 2013” looks at the possibilities that an old-school cassette 4-track machine offers when used in conjunction with a digital audio workstation. We do this through the work of John Panos, aka KINGS. Panos’ music is some of the best new stuff I’ve heard in a while, and he has some really insightful things to say about tape noise and distortion and how these things work as both an arrangement element and a sonic frame, situating parts of the track within an historical context informed by the legacy of cassette-distributed popular music. Check it.
For more about KINGS, check out:
KINGS website / Blog / Music / Twitter
Alright! So we’ve been toiling in the summer heat here on CT’s Gold Coast to get the first three Preservation Sound videos ready for ya. Filmmaker Richard Ruggiero has put these together, and we plan on making a new show every two weeks or so.
Click on the ‘VIDEO’ tab at the top of the page to view more detailed information about each video.
And… for those you who are into this sorta thing: we’ve created a Facebook page so that you can receive auto-updates on new PS dot com pieces. And you know what else, fukk it, I am done with tumblr, i love it but it’s a one-horse town, so yeah i’ve changed to instagram. Expect all the same bullshit that I used to post to tumblr, but now with cliche shading/vignetting.
Click any of those lil graphic icons at the upper right to check out the new Fbook, twitter, and instagram. Paul Weller, take us out…