Archive for the ‘Design’ Category
We recently were lucky enough to come across the work of a man called Felix… Felix makes machines and with these machines, he makes music. He has collaborated with Plaid and he has just recently released an EP of his work entitled… Felix’s Machines.
We caught up with the man to ask him about his machines and he also supplied us with a brilliant video showing exactly what the machines do…
Bleep: Who is more responsible for the music, Felix or the Machines?
Felix: The machines are hand-built devices that often create some unexpected mechanism noises. I compose MIDI sequences on a laptop but their physical location and condition determines how they sound, which impacts the way I write the music. As an ensemble of instruments, timings and timbre need to be adjusted to suit specific spaces. Essentially, I write the music but the state of the machines provides a set of rules. I find it helpful to work with this limitation as a guideline for composition.
B: Tell us a bit about the growth of the machines…
F: I started using a rudimentary set of materials. These were taken from wooden piano mechanisms, and I used springs and solenoids salvaged from scrap electronic devices such as typewriters. Over time I’ve got better tools and have added more metallic parts to the machines. I’m gradually learning about materials and ways they’re engineered, and as I do the machines are upgraded.
B: What influences would you say have brought you to where you are today?
F: Melodic/chaotic electronica has influenced me. In particular Plaid, Autechre, Aphex, Squarepusher, Venetian Snares. Visually I like Kinetic sculptures, Futurists, Cubists and Surrealist styles.
B: What is the on the Machine’s rider?
F: Depends on the performance space. For a gallery all the sounds are acoustic and the setup can take a range of forms. Live amplified setups require a selection of mics and careful mixing to ensure there’s no feedback. It takes a day or ideally two to setup. And it needs to be dark.
B: Who would you and the Machines most like to collaborate with?
F: I’ve collaborated in two live performances with Plaid and we’re looking to do more. It would be great to hear other artist’s music composed for the machines, but it can take a while. The machines definitely have a their own characteristics, probably a bit like learning an instrument. Aside from the music side I’d like to expand my designs by collaborating with a company who build drum kits.
B: What plans have you got for the future?
F: My time has recently been taken up with various commission work for brands, but at every given opportunity I keep building and recording the machines. I hope to start putting together another release next year with newer more powerful machines.
To mark the release of ‘ISAM‘, the much anticipated seventh album from electronic pioneer Amon Tobin, the vaults of the Crypt Gallery underneath St. Pancras Church have been transformed into a fantastical underworld made up of unnerving yet beautiful scenes of alien-like life forms. The installation, part of a collaboration between Tobin and the British artist Tessa Farmer, unites elements of the forthcoming album together with Farmer’s detailed sculptures made from dead insects, bones and other natural materials to create an immersive experience that questions our preconceived ideas on how familiar materials can be used. The concept speaks as a response to Tobin’s explorations in to the synthesis of field recordings, acoustic modelling and multi-sampling techniques.
Farmer’s delicate creatures hover mid-air suspended from the ceilings whilst tracks from ‘ISAM’ play out to create a bewildering atmosphere. Various rooms depict tracks from the album, such as ‘Kitty Cat’, a track in which Tobin’s voice has been radically distorted to resemble that of an elderly lady and where Farmer responds with her interpretation of a cat’s carcass that has been invaded by an army of creatures including tarantulas and sea urchins to form an arresting image.
BLEEP Q&A WITH AMON TOBIN:
Bleep: How did the collaboration with Tessa Farmer come about?
Amon Tobin: She came to me in a dream. Like Joan of Arc towering over me, her flaxen locks fluttering in the wind against a glowing backdrop of molten lava. she spoke to me in a voice like thunder and said “hey like we should totally get together and do a show or something”. I was all like “totally”.
Bleep: The organic element and ideas such as situationism are themes that arise in both yours and Farmer’s works, can you explain in more detail what relation her work has to your new sound explorations?
Amon Tobin: We both try and make impossible things from ordinary materials. there is a great deal more to Tessa’s work but this is something I think we have in common and is why it made sense to me to collaborate. Aside from that, I just find what she does to be very beautiful.
For my part I see a lot of potential in building something unfamiliar from familiar materials. It’s what first got me into sampling when I first started making music. this album takes things further out along those lines. The instruments and sounds are made up into things you can play. They are grounded in traditional models for instruments but they often do things real instruments can’t do. e.g. I took my own voice and modified it for the harmonies and vocals on the record to sound female.
Bleep: In ISAM you have moved on from sampling to focus more on the synthesis of field recordings. Can you tell us a little more about the production process behind the album?
Amon Tobin: It’s all still sampling to me really because sampling was never about the source material as much as it was about the new role a sound or a break played when put in an alien context. There is this conflict between where the sound wants to go and where you take it that produces a strange dynamic and this is what I’m really interested in.
ISAM is music first but also a combination of ideas on how to make new sounds. one process was based on spectral synthesis. An audio source is analysed into it’s spectral properties then assigned various morphing, pitch and timbre variables that react to cc events on a midi controller.
It’s not all about synthesising my own recordings though, I used a range of things. Sometimes I used multisamples instruments which preserve the tonal quality of sounds far better than when you synthesise them. Sometimes I used plain old synthesisers and plug ins too. I usually get the best results when I mix different approaches to anything together.
BLEEP Q&A WITH TESSA FARMER:
Bleep: Amon Tobin and yourself share much common ground, for instance in the way you both explore how familiar materials can be put to different uses aside from what we are accustomed too. In comparison with much of your past work what elements have you had to adapt in order to imagine this collaboration with Tobin?
Tessa Farmer: Myself to an extent- i am a bit of a control freak, very protective of the world i create and was nervous about letting other people in! I developed a narrative in response to the album, which is not something I’ve done before/ in advance – this normally happens and evolves as I make the work- i try not to plan too much ahead, as materials (mostly found, scavenged) so often influence what happens.
Bleep: Aside from the collaboration with Tobin what forms of music inspire you and your work?
Tessa Farmer: When i work i listen to Joni Mitchell, Nina Simone, Leonard Cohen, Ella Fitzgerald, Queen and ABBA.
Bleep: The majority of your work is so minuscule that only a magnifier can show the viewer the depth of detail and craftsmanship that has been carried out. Can you talk us through a little about the process that brings your creatures to life?
Tessa Farmer: I actually don’t use magnifiers in the exhibitions any more- I like the viewer to work! I think close close inspection provides a deeper engagement, and i want the viewer to see beyond craftmanship, that’s not what the work is about – i want them to engage in the story, in the world of the fairies.
But on a practical level, I build the fairies out of plant roots, using tweezers, scissors and superglue- much like a 3D jigsaw- the skulls are made from bits of earth, soaked in glue, carved into a cranium shape with facial bones made from roots stuck on.
Bleep: Can your work be seen as a conscious comment on the relationship between nature and humans and therefore a statement on the neglect and destruction of nature or is it purely fantastical?
Tessa Farmer: For me it’s purely fantastical- the reality is the wonder of the natural world, not a comment on our destruction of it… nature is wonderfully, beautifully harsh and shocking at times- my work reflects this and the struggle for survival that it an alien concept for most humans – i am fascinated by how life has evolved to adapt to every niche on the planet… there is simply so much to learn it is mind boggling and truly engaging.
ISAM: Control Over Nature installation runs from 26th May – 5th June at The Crypt Gallery.
ISAM is available to buy now on Bleep.
Words / interview by Laura Humphries
Photos of exhibition by Laura Humphries / Margot Didsbury
We noticed when we looked at a couple of recent releases on the Bleep homepage today that a lot of sleeve artwork was paying homage to the beautiful (and sorely missed) aesthetics of video synthesis and processing (see above).
With this in mind, we asked our good friend / artist extraordinaire Konx-om-Pax (aka Tom Scholefield) to pick out some examples of work, and the equipment used to create these techniques… Here’s what he gave us.
SCAN PROCESSOR STUDIES are a collection of works by Woody Vasulka & Brian O’Reilly.
“This is piece from my mate Brian who now teaches in Singapore with another friend from my art school days. Its simply mesmerising.”, Konx-om-Pax
Fairlight CVI (Computer Video Instrument)
“This was one of the first commercially available video synths… you can spot the effects a mile off!”, Konx-om-Pax
EVL Lab – Sandin Analogue Image Processor
“A very early example for analogue video synthesis”, Konx-om-Pax
Sunsetcorp – Nobody Here
“Cheeky Oneohtrix Point Never audio visual bootleg”, Konx-om-Pax
Our good friend Shaun Bloodworth is this week having his first solo exhibition. Containing Photographs and Film, documenting the UK and US electronic bass music scenes, since 2005, with over 200 pictures from FWD>>, DMZ, Low End Theory, NYC and Sonar . There will be collaborative work from GiveUpArt, Humanstudio, Peter & Paul and of course the NSEW project that he completed with our good selves.
The exhibition ‘UNDERGROUND‘ will open 28th April until May 14th, in Sheffield UK, with a special ticket only event on May 7th, with DJ sets from MaryAnne Hobbs and Grievous Angel .
In the words of Shaun himself:
“Most of the subjects are of a different generation to me, a group who are much maligned by the media – accused of being lazy, consumer-driven and selfish. However, I consistently find the opposite to be true – they are hardworking, talented and driven by personal experiences, living their lives to the full.
I fell into their world by chance, a returned favour creating a new path for me, and now find myself bizarrely and happily part of it. Over the past twenty years I’ve been lucky enough to travel the world , see incredible things and meet amazing people, but nothing has inspired me more than those featured in ‘Underground’.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from this journey, its never to judge a book by its cover.”
Last week, we ran a competition giving away an awesome Lazer Sword package… all you had to was answer: “What would be your ultimate weapon and why?”… Above was the drawing by the winner and below is what he had to say about it:
“Apart from a Lazer Sword, my ultimate weapon would obviously be a solid Platinum Dragunov, encrusted with rare African diamonds and a chain-saw on the front for extra saftey, small side cannons that shoot ninja stars and LAZER sight. It’s fully automatic, so i’d carry a huge pack of silver-lined bullets (In case of werewolves) which also doubles up as a huge speaker/subwoofer combo. OH and it’s also modified to shoot Bees if the occasion ever arises. Also the trigger is made from the Obsidian of an old Mayan sculpture that was stolen from an underground Mayan temple, causing loads of old Mayan zombies to come to life under my command and KILLLLLL.
The reason i’d choose this is because i’m awesome, and someone needs to sort out North Korea.
The thing is, it only works if a wear a Lazer Sword T shirt, also a spare album would be great
So help me out pleaseeee?
(super detailed picture attatched)
Each week we send out an e-mail newsletter to thousands of happy customers. In this newsletter is a round-up of the latest music releases, merchandise and specially featured items, as well as charts, exclusive give-aways, podcasts, competitions, editorial, label features, interviews, written articles and reviews. If you haven’t subscribed to the Bleep newsletter already, we strongly recommend YOU DO SO NOW…
However, our favourite thing about each newsletter is the artwork header that we select to lead the e-mail. Sometimes, we pick it according to our favourite album of that week and want to draw this to your attention. Sometimes, we just simple really love a particular artwork. Here is a round-up of our favourite e-mail headers of 2010:
Artwork taken from: Bleep Exclusive Kyle Hall / Wild Oats Digital Catalogue
Artwork taken from: Limited Offer DFA Label Sampler / Mailout: 20.04.10
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