Wednesday, August 23, 2006


i don't usually plan to talk about tv shows or other visual arts in this space (not when there are a bajillion other places to read about such things. though if you've been with me for awhile you may recall a certain mention of 'the office' when i'd finally watched it about ten years after everyone else on the planet had.) but last night i watched one that was as much about sound and music as anything else i've mentioned 'in these pages.

'lomax the songhunter' is a one-hour tribute to and sketch of alan lomax, folklorist and song collector extraordinaire, who believed so deeply in the connection between music and cultures. lomax spent most of his life documenting the stories that music tells about different societies, and brought this information to the attention of - well everybody - academics, politicians, students, musicians...the list is endless. in doing so he also brought thousands of stunning recordings into the world, from dustbowl ballads to the folks songs of great britain and spain.

in the documentary dutch filmmaker rogier kappers re-traces many of lomax's ventures into some of the most isolated communites in europe, and visits with people who lomax had recorded maybe fifty years ago, or the relatives of those he had taped. i'm not sure what was more incredible to watch - a fiesty looking old irish man tear up while listening to the recording of his father singing a mournful mining song, or hearing the aged dulcimer player describe what it was like to work with alan back in the day. or maybe it was most powerful to watch lomax himself sitting on his couch, wearing huge headphones and listening along to one of his own cds, trying to tap along with his foot and so oblivious to the world around him. he'd suffered a brain hemorrhage a year before this scene was shot, and at this point in his life while not completely debilitated, he could barely express himself verbally or get around without help in the world. but the extent to which the music moved him, kept him alive, even, was tangible. you think i'm exaggerating, but you'll see.

check out your local PBS listings - it may not be too late for you to catch the documentary, or a repeat screening at 3:30 am later this week. and then get yourself to the record store to pick up a few of lomax's classic recordings, which you'll inevitably need to have after watching. here's a good one to start with - biblical songs and spirituals from the georgia sea island singers.

Friday, August 11, 2006

electronic goodness

chicago's in for a treat over the next week. japanese electronic musician (and activist. and documentarian. and explorer of many bright hair colors.) yuko nexus6 will be performing both on wluw's something else, sunday august 13th around 10 pm, and then on august 18th at the elastic space. (you can check out the logan square blue wall/audio installation mentioned a few posts ago on your way over there.)

i saw and listened to yuko give a slide show / music performance last year, based mostly on travels she'd made around the US. it was a memorable experience for ears, eyes and brain, and her enthusiasm / energy was contagious.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

salon perm?

help a few good producers from the UK tell Glasgow about hair:


WANTED: Radio, sound works & audio recordings on the theme of hair & hairdressing of any duration. Hair themed playlists & musical dedications to hairstyles loved and loathed also welcomed.

DETAIL: this FM radio project will broadcast live from Glasgow for one day only. Transmitting to hair workers and their customers - barbers, hairdressers, salons stylists, wigmakers and other coiffed Glasgow listeners.

WHEN: deadline for receipt of work is Sep 29th 2006. The broadcast will take place in the Autumn.

FORMATS: Audio CD is the preferred format. But Dat, Mini Disc, MP3 (please do not send by email) Tape also accepted.

SEND TO: Hairwaves
Flat 2/2, 1088 Argyle Street,
Glasgow G3 8LY


the radio stylists at work on this project are mark vernon and zoe irvine, and both are involved with other fine audio projects:

rescued bits of cassette tape
feature on mark vernon from the third coast festival website


perhaps you've left a comment in the past, oh, year...and are wondering why it never showed up. wonder no more (thnx sus) and please don't be shy from this post forth - comment away.

p.s. for the record i strongly dislike the font used for "feedback" in this image.

Friday, August 04, 2006

the banana-eating bunny

not an audio post, but something i must share with whoever will take the time to download and watch.

if i've seen you in the past week you've probably already watched it, but then you probably have been wanting to see it again.

for others:
have you ever seen a frolicking bunny that is so happy about the banana he's about to eat that he can't stop running around in circles? thought not.

watch hermione eat a banana.

one year later...

in honor of LISSENUP's just-over-one-year anniversary, and thanks to the most generous and patient aaron ximm (of, i'm pretty happy to finally start posting audio on the blog, and you may get a few little movies too. we'll see. i'll start with a piece about competitive model horse collecting that i made last july. you can read about it back in the archives, and now listen to it here. just imagine a church basement or generic hotel meeting room full of women, girls and model horses, and you'll be rightly prepared to hear this.

update! just added a small movie to the post before this one about the blue wall near the logan square el station. go listen! (if you want to.)

Thursday, August 03, 2006

neighborhood sound

it wasn't, and then one day the wall behind the el station nearest my home was painted blue. this didn't seem too surprising, considering the stop's on the blue line, (logan square) but the mesh metal silhouettes of different logan square residents, painted yellow and mounted to the wall, were definitely unexpected. and to then hear some audio coming from a couple of the yellow figures on my way home from a long, hot day at work was nearly shocking. in a good way.

when i got h
ome i remembered the newsletter from my alderman, with a small story on the station's new artful look, that arrived in the mail last week and was laying conveniently near the top of the pile in my recycling container.

so here's the deal:
the installation's called 'Cuentos en la Pared / Story on the Wall and is a collaboration between six senior citizens from nearby apartments and six high school students, with assistance from the logan square neighborhood association and archi-treasures. the project includes the silhouettes, a timeline of community events and multilingual interviews with more than 130 residents of logan square.

sounds cool enough as is, but what's even more impressive to me is that the audio coming out of a speaker
hung behind one of the silhouettes was pretty creatively produced - with repetition, collage, careful rhythm and well-chosen excerpts. it doesn't tell one person's story in a linear fashion, as you might expect from an oral history -type public project mounted in a highly-trafficked pedestrian area.

no, the audio installation hanging out side the logan square blue line station qualifies as Real Audio Art. how do i know? by the confused looks on the people who stopped for a few seconds (seldom longer) to check out what was up with all that noise, then continued on their way, clearly perplexed.

but don't just take my word for it. watch and listen for yourself.

good job, logan square!!