Get busy listenin’, or get busy dyin’

Here’s some stuff for your ears this Friday.

To be listened to all at the same time, or in any combination as you please.

Spacemen 3 – Dreamweapon, an evening of contemporary sitar music

Third Ear Band – I the Key

Theatre for Eternal Music – B flat dorian blues

Terry Riley – In C (it’s my ambition to perform this one day)

Sunn O))) – live (cos nothing says ‘weekend’ better than drone metal)

Early Kraftwerk on WDR TV, 1970

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Five songs that get under your skin

"My unconventional taste in music brings all the girls to the yard"

Five songs that’ll get under your skin , take over your entire world and won’t let up until you have listened to each of them several times in a row.

1) Street Hassle, Lou Reed

Mr Reed always maintained that he wanted to write songs that were like punk rock operas. Street Hassle is probably his most convincing and successful attempt at this with a devilishly addictive cello riff that keeps coming back in a labyrinthine structure of musical themes and different voices.

In other news, for all you fans of “The Boss”, Mr B. Springsteen puts in a guest appearance in the middle (at about 09:03), with a bit of Shatner-style talk-singing.

2) Beechwood Park, The Zombies

Talk about harmonies? This tune harmonises the shit out of everything. The last harmonies make the hairs on my arms stand on end, and make my stomach lurch. In a good way.

3) Faust and Tony Conrad

This collaboration between Krautrock favourites Faust and New York young upstart Tony Conrad brought out the best of them both, and resulted in the mesmerizing album from which this track is taken. Conrad’s solid violin drones seem to pin Faust’s sound down a bit more, whilst Faust’s typical skittishness illustrates and augments Conrad’s microtonal double stops (when you play two strings at the same time on a violin). Lovely, mind-bending stuff.

4) Good Vibrations, The Beach Boys

This was my first bit of vinyl, on flexidisc, that I got for free on the cover of Mojo after a readers’ poll voted it the greatest pop song of all time. They were right. This song has got hooks aplenty that sink deep into your psyche and it’s just plain weird in parts. The truncated radio edit version is not acceptable: this must be listened to in its entirety.

5) Be My Baby, The Ronettes

This song is addictive. See also, Frank Booth in Lynch’s Blue Velvet. There’s something about Spector’s production here that drags you into a disgustingly sugar-coated world – like getting trapped in a vat of treacle. Perhaps it’s the piano/woodblock quavers* being played fast like that, perhaps it’s Veronica Bennett’s ever-so-slightly abrasive voice, perhaps its a sound that keeps on getting fuller and fuller until it takes over your ears entirely….

*That’s an eighth note to you, North America.

Drone-o-matic automatic composition for all

Drone-o-matic™ Instructions for Use:

  1. Pick your drones from the players below: each player plays a viola drone of a different pitch for about 30 seconds. You can play as many or as few as you want; stop and start them as you please.
  2. Congratulations: you are now a composer.
  • A:
  • B:
  • Bb:
  • C:
  • C#:
  • High C:
  • D:
  • D#:
  • E:
  • F:
  • G:
  • G#:
  • Glissando on C:
  • Glissando on G:
  • Glissando on D:
  • Glissando on A:
This post was inspired by two people.

Firstly, Gianni S. who told me that he enjoyed making cacophonous music by playing the YouTube links on my Music from Issue Two post all at the same time.

The other person is composer Iannis Xenakis (via a colleague at my day job in the maths department, who also deserves props for telling me about ‘stochastic music’ in the first place).

In his composition ‘Gendy’ (1991), Xenakis sought to deconstruct and purify the composition process by handing it over to chance, mathematical models and computers. The flipside of this? Gendy was a computer programme as well as a piece of music. Gendy the computer programme acted as an automatic composition machine: a tool that anyone could use to produce any number of Gendy compositions.

This is my viola-based version so you all can make your own automatic music.