20 December 2010

John Cage

Cage (and particularly his 4'33") was hugely influential with the theory behind the Sshhh project. In what was a (failed) campaign for an alternative Christmas number one single, it's now at 21 in the Top 40. I hope that a few more people investigate some of the ideas behind the piece rather than just see it as a subversive attempt to topple X Factor.

The remixes, by the way, are entertaining. I particularly like Herve's 'Tidies Up The Studio remix' where the silence is punctuated by the odd bit of background noise.

Available to download here: Cage Against The Machine

17 December 2010

Central Station book

It looks really nice, doesn't it?

16 December 2010

On FormFiftyFive

I have found the Glasgow's Central Station site/community hugely supportive over the past year or so. Given the standard of material on there, I've additionally been honoured to have had some work from my portfolio selected on its homepage and then was even more excited when there was talk of contributing to a book that they were producing [I'll update on that in a separate post].

What I wasn't aware of - something that explains the large number of views of an image from the Sshhh project in recent times - was that the site has also been publicising my work alongside that of some majorly talented artists. This nicely prompted an appearance on the wonderful FormFiftyFive for which I'm very grateful.

05 December 2010

Karel Martens - Printed Matter

Beautiful looking book. Available via the following link: Karel Martens: Printed Matter

01 December 2010

Central Station party

Glasgow's Central Station will be having a party on Friday which also acts as a launch event for the book which will be distributed from January 2011. I can't make it there [it's at the Sub Club complete with rum and Scotland's house champion Harri on the decks]. However, the book - which I will be getting sent at some point - does include one of the works I produced as part of the Sshhh project. So, yep, another book. Which is very nice.

Instead I'll actually be out for a few pre-Xmas drinks with my MA chums in Manchester to celebrate Irish finally doing the decent thing and leaving these shores*.


A pic of us from the above at what seems to now be our 'regular' eating place. We asked the staff not to move the hazard sign for this. Oh, the glamour.

01 September 2010

Various - Fünf

artist: Various
title: Fünf
label: Ostgut Ton, DE. (Distributed by Word & Sound, DE.)
date: 25.10.10

(Available via the following link: Funf)

Ostgut Ton releases this unique compilation of music crafted from field recordings made inside the two Berlin clubs Berghain and Panorama Bar. The concept and original recordings were made by the Berlin based producer Emika. Over a period of two months Emika created the recordings in the clubs while they were closed to the public and edited them into a library of sounds. The library was then given to all the Ostgut Ton artists, but also to club associates like DJ Pete aka Substance, Dinky, Cassy, Margaret Dygas, Ryan Elliott and Scuba using his SCB alias, to make music with. This release marks the celebration of the label's five year anniversary.

Emika's idea started from feeling the whole building resonating from the music being played, which lead to the question: which sounds exist here when there is no party? Intrigued by stories of how the club spaces and sound systems influence the resident DJ sets and productions, Emika was curious to explore what music could be made from the building itself. Berghain’s sound technicians Krischan Makswitat and Silvio König, helped to record the entire light rig including the strobe lights, which in itself sounds techno. Other interesting sources to record were the large cooling rooms used for storing thousands of drinks in bottles. The ventilation systems in these rooms make incredible sub frequencies mixed with the sound of the bottles vibrating against each other. The club also contains large swings made from metal which creak and moan at the slightest of movements.

In total the library comprised over four gigabytes of sounds, and the artists were not given restrictions on how to make music from the library. The tracks on this compilation consist of each artists signature production aesthetics and feature debut solo productions by our residents Fiedel (one half of seminal Berlin based outfit MMM), Boris and Prosumer’s long term production partner Tama Sumo. All together this release highlights the special and inseparable relationships between the label, club space, and collective of artists.

26 August 2010

Noise book (update)

Just had word that my proposal for a chapter in the publication prompted by the Bigger Than Words conference was successful. So that's something to look forward to in 2011.

It will be amazing that this work will actually culminate in something in a book that ends up in a library.

20 July 2010

Final Thoughts (almost)

I thought that I was ready to wrap up this project (again). Especially as I'm currently submerging myself in my MA dissertation/final major project. However, I now need to work on a proposal/publication extract for one of the books triggered by the conference. I am daunted by this - as it will be my first attempt at being published academically - but I'll give it a go. I just need to untangle the theory that underpinned my practice so that it might work as a clear and concise chapter within a volume concerned with the politics and perceptions of noise.

I have to include:

  • A 400 word proposal detailing the issues that the chapter will address and how it will be organised
  • A few academic references and 5-6 keywords
  • A 200 word biographical note

In fact, it's not that dissimiliar to what was submitted in answer to the conference's call for submissions although that was actually a very vague outline. It's essential that I now can pick out what is the philosophical stance I've come away with after going through this process. The final chapter will be around 5,000 words but won't need to be submitted until the end of the year.

Additionally, I expressed interest in assisting with any design aspects for the completed books should that be required. I feel that having a hand in the production of the volumes would be a fitting end to this project.

06 July 2010

Bigger Than Words: finished

The Noise conference went well last week. I was particularly impressed by the sheer breadth of contributions. I didn't get chance to catch everything I was interested in due to various panels clashing. That said, some amazing and inspiring views on the subject and Dave dropped in for the showing of The Beat Is Law plus I met Cabaret Voltaire's Stephen Mallinder who was a really nice, interesting bloke. Additionally Michael Goddard has said that there is interest from publishers in the papers that will hopefully prompt two books [each looking at different aspects of the phenomena: roughly along the lines of Noise in Music/Noise Musics and the Aesthetics/Philosophy/Politics of Noise].

I forgot to use my camera but Rosa Menkman - whose own work is concerned with glitches in technology - posted some here.

30 June 2010

Reworking the Sshhh presentation

I'm rewriting my Sshhh presentation for Friday's panel. I'm drawing a little from the research I'm doing for my dissertation project with observations on how kids observe silence. That has given me the chance to contrast John Cage's philosophy with that of Dizzee Rascal. I'm also trying not to be too rigid with the layout so that it feels a bit more informal.

Bigger Than Words - starts tomorrow

From salford.ac.uk:

Conference, gigs and film showings to explore the concept of 'noise'

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

The concept of 'noise' will be taking over Salford venues this weekend as the University of Salford hosts a series of music events, film showings and academic debates.

Musicians including Stuart Braithwaite of cult band Mogwai will join academics from around the world to explore the entirety of noise in modern society. This includes noise pollution in the city, the depiction of deafness and tinnitus in movies and how the noise of the courtroom affects legal proceedings.

Music forms a key theme through the conference with Nicola Spelman's paper on Lou Reed's musical responses to undergoing electrotherapy and even discussion of a punk band that entered Russian politics after the fall of communism.

There will be a film showing on Thursday at the University's Adelphi House. The Beat is the Law Part 1 is a film following the Sheffield music scene in the 80s and 90s featuring Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley.

Music or 'noise gigs' will also take place at the King's Arms, Salford where electronic solo-pieces, computer glitches and para-musical videos featuring improvised instruments will be on display.

Conference organiser Michael Goddard said: "Noise is all around us in modern urban environments. Sometimes it is considered a pollutant and, at others, a cultural force. With this conference we aim to explore the whole range of ways in which noise affects our everyday lives."

'Noise, Affect, Politics' runs Thursday - Saturday at various locations in Salford.

Contact Michael Goddard on m.n.goddard@salford.ac.uk or Benjamin Halligan on b.halligan@salford for more information.

19 June 2010

Bigger Than Words panel

So the Bigger Than Words, Wider Than Pictures conference is a couple of weeks off. I'm re-developing the presentation I delivered for that. A new structure I have for it is:

  1. Personal introduction.
  2. Opening quote and a bit about my own philosophical stance regarding noise perception.
  3. My personal research and the recordings that were taken.
  4. The development of a visual project and the influence of Cage's theories plus the visual influences that came courtesy of synaesthesia research and the Kiki/Bouba effect. Also some additional related ideas that Steve Goodman discusses in his Sonic Warfare book. [Which ended up being my holiday reading, by the way.]
  5. The development of the completed book and the idea of sound as carrying the 'essence' of a particular space.
  6. Questions and comments.

I wish I'd had the opportunity to get this breathing space before the last presentation as I've re-evaluated the project and feel more confident that I know what are the more interesting elements. Admittedly, some of this has come from the likes of SPARC where I got some feedback from people unfamiliar with the territory. So, while nervous, I'm a bit more confident that what I'll discuss will feel fresh while I also reckon that I know what it is that interests me about my work.

Further to this, I've been asked if I'd like to chair a panel at the conference. It's the parallel session on 'Noise & the Digital' featuring:

The matter of numbers: sound and the experience of noise in analog and digital models
(José Cláudio Siqueira Castanheira, Universidade Federal Fluminense - UFF, Brazil)

Glitch Studies Manifesto Presentation
(Rosa Menkman)

Xenakisian Sound Synthesis; Its Aesthetics and Influence on 'Post Digital' Computer Noise
(Christopher Haworth, Queens University Belfast)

I've not actually done this before but, given that this semester's project has largely been about participating, I said yes. Although I will need a few pointers from the organisers about what's required.

10 June 2010


SPARC [the Salford Postgraduate Annual Research Conference] was interesting.

Due to previously being rather prolific via email, I finally got the opportunity to put some faces to names/addresses including one of the people that has been intrinsic to getting all the elements together for my AHRC funding application. Then I met my PhD personal tutor too. In fact the latter was in the audience when I did my 60 second "pitch" and caught up with me afterwards - having not noticed my name - as he was interested in what I'd outlined. Which is handy. Especially as he's one of the organisers of the Bigger Than Words, Wider Than Pictures conference. And what I was outlining was what I'll be revising for that.

Additionally I spoke to the coordinator of the Graduate Trainee Assistantships who will be in touch ahead of my post in October. And she was really nice too. Also amazing was the further contact who expressed genuine interest in the development of the ideas within Sshhh and mentioned another proposed conference that they will be organising. And also asked if I would be interested in speaking at that.

I did feel a bit out of my depth at times. As mentioned, most of the research work displayed was hard science rather than the kind of visceral work that I have a habit of developing. In fact, work from the school of Art & Design appears to be under-represented within programmes like SPARC [I was the only one - although there was a contributor from the school of Music, Media & Performance]. And some of the panels were very much outside of my comfort zone. Plus a woman asked if my work was for my Masters. When I said yes, she pointed out that SPARC is a post-graduate research conference. I replied that I was a postgraduate student presenting a research project and she insisted that it was for PhD research. I disagreed [because, like, I was there and had therefore met the criteria to contribute to the conference] and she commented that I was the only Masters student there. I've just had another glance at the section clarifying eligibility and it doesn't mention MAs. Just that it includes MRes, MPhils and MSCs by research [in addition to all PhDs] so she might have had a point. But then I wasn't completely wrong either.

Meantime my new blog - which will be used for my dissertation project (given that this one is still ongoing) - is now live at http://musicecology.blogspot.com.

06 June 2010

SPARC poster #2

The poster arrived for the SPARC conference that is happening this week [it is closer to the colour below but the photo was taken while it was particularly overcast]. The sound recording card was delivered too so I'm just recording the sounds to that while I've also made the stickers that show where to push to generate the samples. I'll update how that all goes on Thursday. However I already feel that the other SPARC abstracts are really science-y and tied into really solid research while mine now feels very much about looking into a subject, finding out some stuff and then formulating a solution that is based on what I really want to produce. In a way, it is as much informed by my own taste and feelings as it is the theory that I applied. I can't see that particular approach being mirrored by those postgrads that have been working in medicine and other 'serious' subjects.

Meanwhile I'm also seeing the external examiner tomorrow. On Wednesday we're getting briefed on the final MA project/dissertation too. I'll be starting a new blog for that one.

25 May 2010

SPARC poster

The poster for SPARC has been sent for printing. The four little circles at the bottom are hopefully above where the buttons are on the sound playback card. I say "hopefully" as it hasn't arrived yet. I subsequently had to map their position using a little jpeg of it that I scaled up to what were listed as its dimensions.

I also decided not to label the buttons on the poster just in case disaster strikes and the audio device gets lost in the post. I can add some stickers to it later.

22 May 2010

Warp20 Chosen artwork

It's a bit late for adding inspirational images, but I've just been looking at the artwork that was created for the releases celebrating the 20th anniversary of Warp Records. The above cover from the series particularly captures far more successfully what I was trying to achieve when I created the image found on this link. It's that ominous, awkward quality that I think makes it a perfect metaphor for the existence of sound within an environment.

Anyway, while this is being added after completing the negototiated project, it's worth noting as my dissertation will be investigating design for music.

Album available from the following link: Warp20 (Chosen)

18 May 2010

Hand-in and presentation

I reached the end of this project today with a presentation and hand-in. I was satisfied with the deliverables (apart from how rubbish my wonky boards looked next to those slick ones submitted by Nicky, Dave and Amy) but I could have fine-tuned the Powerpoint quite a lot were there more time. Still, it's over.

Except it isn't really. I now have to rework the presentation for the Bigger Than Words conference in July. For that I'll be wanting to take out a lot of the content that was intrinsic to the work's development as part of my MA and elaborate further on the theoretical stuff that informed my design decisions. Before this, I also need to rework everything into a research poster to be exhibited at SPARC. I've got a recordable card on order for the latter. This will be embedded into the graphic and will make the poster more interactive. That's needed for the second week in June by the way.

16 May 2010

Powerpoint slides

Even I'm getting a bit bored of this now.

"Remix" CD

15 May 2010

Presentation board #6

That's the last one. Phew.

Presentation board #5


Again, some very nice feedback from Central Station after those lovely (and largely Glasgow-based) people showcased some of the Sshhh work again.

14 May 2010

Presentation board #4

Presentation board #3

Some old text versions

I'm just going through a pile of old files to get together everything relating to the process for this project. Perhaps some of it will be useful for the Powerpoint. Anyway, I found these old text interpretations which were attempting to disrupt the type with treatments influenced by the production of noise.

13 May 2010

Another presentation board

Only the other four to complete now.

10 May 2010

Presentation boards

It's that time again: I'm now busy trying to put the key parts of this project on A3 presentation boards ahead of next week's hand-in. [I'm using a grid from an old IBM catalogue as the basis for this layout. It is also the closest I've come to emulating the two colour printing that I mentioned way back in January.]

In other news, the overprinted CDs haven't arrived yet. Plus I need to complete the book tomorrow night so that I can photograph it and use the images on the presentation boards and Powerpoint.