Peter Kirn – performance and the space, time, sound continuum

A Festival to Ponder the Nature of Time

From Create Digital Music, and right up my alley; although nowadays I am more observer than participant. Right up yours too if you are concerned at all with future music, performance, experimentation, field recordings, and the integration of sound with other modes and domains.

The Yaybahar

I want one. I’d settle for spending sometime in the room it’s in.

via VIMEO: Yaybahar is an electric-free, totally acoustic instrument designed by Gorkem Sen. The vibrations from the strings are transmitted via the coiled springs to the frame drums. These vibrations are turned into sound by the membranes which echo back and forth on the coiled springs. This results in an unique listening experience with an hypnotic surround sound. What you hear in this performance is captured in realtime without any additional effects and with no post audio processing.

Instrument: Yaybahar
Performence: Görkem Sen
Video: Levent Bozkurt
Video Editing: Olgu Demir
Sound Mix: Mert Aksuna
Place: Ali?ler Yurdu


Wood Spin

Artist Bartholomäus Traubeck has custom-built a record player that is able to “play” cross-sectional slices of tree trunks. The result is his artpiece “Years,” an audio recording of tree rings being read by a computer and turned into music, much like a record player’s needle reads the grooves on an LP.

The tree rings are actually being translated into the language of music, rather than sounding musical in and of themselves. According to Makezine, the custom record player takes in data using a PlayStation Eye Camera and a stepper motor attached to its control arm, and relays the data to a computer. A program called Ableton Live then uses it to generate an eerie piano track.

Though the record player “interprets” rather than actually “playing” the tree trunk, as Gizmodo notes, the song still varies with each new piece of wood placed on the turntable. via

Experitronic – A Few Favorites – 2013

Experitronic is my catch-all terms for: electronica, experimental, modern classical, ambient, noise, soundscapes, drum & bass, techno, and did I mention experimental? It names the sonic space my own music making takes place in.

Experitronic new releases

Julianna Barwick – Nepenthe
Tim Hecker – Virgins
Darkside – Psychic
Alvin Curran – Shofar Rags
Bernie Krause – Particles of Dawn Soundscapes from the Great Animal Orchestra
Charles Cohen – The Middle Distance
Aidan Baker – Aneira (Bandcamp)
Lustmord – The Word As Power
Rebekah Heller – 100 Names (iTunes)
Steve Roach – Ultra Immersion Concert

Experitronic reissues

Lustmord – The Things That Were
The Hafler Trio – 4A Cure for Kenophobia Recordings 87-99 (
Muslimgauze – Tandoor Dog
Celer – Remixes 2005-2012 (Bandcamp)

Growing up in rural Louisiana and then later on a farm in Missouri, Julianna Barwick was a preacher’s daughter at a church whose organ got very little use. “We would always sing a cappella,” she explained in an interview a few years ago, “And instead of instruments we would clap or sing in rhythmic rounds.” A curious kid and a bit of a loner, Barwick showed a precocious fascination with the human voice. Her hobbies included harmonizing with random sounds, making up songs about whatever she was doing at the moment, and singing long, loud notes in hollowed-out spaces like parking garages and inside the trunk of a giant tree just to see what the echo would sound like. “It sounds kinda psycho, I know,” she admitted in our interview, but sometimes “I would sing to myself and get so lost in it that I would cry.”

Actually, it doesn’t sound that crazy; it’s very easy to become lost in the music that Barwick now makes as an adult. Over the span of her career, from her imaginative 2006 debut LPSanguine up through 2011’s dazzling breakthrough The Magic Place (the name is a nod to that aforementioned giant tree trunk, where she’d unwittingly discovered reverb), Barwick’s gradually refined a process that is at once inventive and incredibly simple. She sings short, reverb-drenched, often wordless vocal fragments into a loop station (though she made the loops on the painstakingly lo-fi Sanguine using just a guitar pedal) and layers them into luminous compositions that feel like the aural equivalent of an airplane ride through a cloud. Toweringly sublime yet invitingly human, her music has an uncanny power to transform whatever space it’s played in. It can make a cramped apartment feel like a high-ceilinged cathedral, or– when she plays in one– an actual cathedral feel like a gear-cluttered basement show. –Lindsay Zoladz, Pitchfork

comment, new releases: This year it turns out the top of the list elevates lots and lots of experiments gone very very right. Ms. Barwick uses her voice and Rebekah Heller uses a bassoon, but the end result is equally gripping. The most mainstream electronica here is Darkside’s Psychic, yet Nicholas Jaar and Dave Harrington seemingly render an 80’s soundtrack as if such a thing could be built today using the audio equivalent of Photoshop. It is splendid in its imagining what a mind meld between Derrick May and Pink Floyd and Giorgio Moroder might have sounded like.

Brian Lustmord’s journey with the human voice is unique in his output of grey scale ambient, and, it provides one of the best covers of the year. Aidan Baker is prolific; releasing eleven recordings this year. Likewise, Steve Roach, now on Bandcamp, released ten recordings. In any given year, if any two musical giants do so, it is highly probable I will note where the highest peaks are located at year-end. Curran, Cohen, and Krause are all older than I am and more power to aging explorers! Special thanks to Morphosis for bringing Cohen’s spare Buchla techno back into the light of day.

The reissues travel from Lustmord’s dark ambient, to The Hafler Trio’s UK techno, to Muslimgauze’s dependable Middle-eastern industrial, to Celer’s ambient scraping. Different strokes for different folks and each is delightful in, well, unique and different ways.

The Living Treasures of Bali

The internet is amazing. For music lovers? Triple amazin’. Not only are there awesome resources for any genre one might favor, but, an absolutely astounding resource can sit ‘out there’ and then be discovered in a serendipitous way. And, amaze.

I forget where I saw the reference and link, maybe at skafunkrastapunk, but diving in to The Living Treasures of Bali at cost me many pleasurable hours.

Performances by eminent elder Balinese performing artists with Gamelan Semara Ratih
“Banyu Pinaruh dan Bulan Purnama” 26 December 2004 Ubud, Bali

You could watch the whole thing right here or on the archive site. I didn’t because one can also download MPEG1 files and then make DVDs, and, as I did, watch them on the big home theatre screen. Or, MP4’s could be downloaded and poured into the iPOD.

Grab a taste here. The music of Indonesia is many many musics. These performances by the Gamelan Semara Ratih are masterful and the visuals are engrossing.

Mail Beat

Okay, I hear this faint ticking sound while lounging about the living room. I go investigate. It’s not in the living room but I hear it behind the front inside door and go into the front hall. Standing still I hear it near the mail shute. Going closer, I discover the ambient beat coyly hiding in the mail shute. I go and grab the Zoom H4 and set it inside the shute. Gotcha! Oh member of the old house orchestra!

I’m slightly tempted to stick it in the sampler. In the last place we lived, one night the steam radiator started drumming the most amazing syncopated rhythm. It was kind of an 11/4 with 7/4 sliding around too. (Like I really know what it was. Not!) The greatest environmental sound I ever heard was at the old Lakewood Public Library, where a cold air return in a little reading area led to some kind of structural cavern. The sound was this rolling very low woosh-and-echo. I dragged Matt over to confirm my report, but the next day the sound had vanished.