The radio show I do every week (err, I mean, that my good friend Esteban Caliente does), The Difficult Listening Hour, is still going strong. I've discovered that the shows that are pre-taped seem to be the best, probably because of various technical problems and discomforts at the Free Radio Chukshon studio. So Esteban will probably continue to pre-tape in my studio and then bring in and play the show at its air time (fridays, 4-6pm).
Every week is a different theme around which floats a cloud of songs, noises, field recordings, and often interviews and conversations - so far the show has covered noise, technology, education, bicycles, elections/voting, and more.
The 8th installment, focused on religion, just aired last week and is now archived on the site. So go have a listen.
My friend Esteban Caliente is hosting a "new" radio program on the new internet radio station in Tucson, Free Radio Chukshon. I say "new" in quotes because the show is a reprise, a re-versioning, of a radio show I did 18 years ago on WCBN, the student radio station I worked at in Ann Arbor. The show is called The Difficult Listening Hour and it's sort of a collage of sound effects, field recordings, interviews, music, all mashed together and sort of conforming to a loose theme... Esteban is even including, mixing in, recordings of the old shows, incorporating them into his new shows. It's a really interesting trip down memory lane, and down the last couple decades of music - both popular and 'experimental'. Listening to the kind of audio manipulations he's doing, and comparing them to the much more rudimentary techniques I had access to in the early 90s is pretty fascinating.
The station has a pretty full schedule already, with new programmng happening for 8 or more hours every afternoon/evening, and auto-shuffle going the rest of the time. It's exciting.
Until this spring, my mp3 collection was consisted of something like 25 GB of diskspace. It was manageable and I sort of had a handle on what I had and what I liked. It had been growing slowly, maybe 5% a year for the last 8 years or so, as I gradually converted my physical musical collection to digital files, or acquired stuff from friends.
However, starting this spring, my collection exploded in size, dramatically. It's now up to about 80 gigs! I did some trading with a friend, and then when I went to Europe I got tons of new stuff from my brother, friends in Berlin and Prague and Rostock, and then recently a harddrive was donated to Dry River that had about 30 gigs of great stuff on it (in fact, the collection on there was so great that I wish I knew who's it was because he/she might just be a really cool person) that I copied. I've been gradually importing all this new stuff into iTunes because I want to somehow keep it sort of sane, this glob of new stuff I haven't heard yet (or stuff I know but have never had a copy of)....
It's an odd experience... how does one deal with so much new culture just sitting in one huge pile?
Well, I've set up a smart playlist in iTunes that plays only stuff I've recently added, never played, and that hasn't been rated as only 1 star and has never been skipped. I'm still not quite done importing it all, but right now in this playlist I have 6 days, 19 hours and 34 minutes of this new music to listen to.
Anyway, I set it on shuffle and listen in the background all day while I work and it's great, mostly, and when I hate something I rate it 1-star or just skip it, and it varies from Alice Cooper to Thelonius Monk to Kyrgistani folk music to Wir Sind Helden and everything in between.
Latest addition on Phonophilia.com: a recording of a speech and performance I gave in Brussels in May 2000. This was the first time I'd been invited outside of my local geographical area to present my work as an artist and as "evangelist" of "cultural recycling" - and as founder of Detritus.net. It also happened to be the first time I travelled abroad, other than brief trips into Canada. And it was the beginning of my continuing project to make field recordings in odd or interesting places.
The presentation I made is still pretty interesting, content-wise, though my speaking style leaves a bit to be desired - but I will provide as an excuse the fact of jet lag and that it was about 10 pm and I'd arrived in Brussels at about 6am that morning on my flight from San Francisco. And I was nervous as hell to be one of only 2 north americans there.
More about this trip (photos, email bulletins, etc) is at http://www.detritus.net/steev/europe2000/
Yesterday I posted a new item to the Phonophilia podcast. It was recorded February 19 of this year in Nogales, Mexico, at the migrant aid tent that was set up with the help of No More Deaths in collaboration with the local office of a Mexican agency called Commission for the Aid of Migrants. The aid station is there to help the hundreds of migrants who get shoved back across the border at the Mariposa port of entry by the U.S. Border Patrol, often in horrible medical condition. La Migra rounds them up in the desert and usually doesn't give them enough water, food, or medical help. Some of these people turn right around and try crossing again, and in their already compromised condition are a lot more likely to die out in the desert. Others have a serious situation that causes death on the Mexican side. Some are separated from their children.
The thing about this clip is while it conveys all of this information it also is a form of audio art. I montaged different snippets of the original recording into a simple sound collage, and i want it to be able to be listened to in that way, in addition to the journalistic purpose. I didn't worry about making it some NPR-style perfectly coherent and traditional radio report. The snippets aren't even in chronological order. It's a hybrid. It's another experiment in trying to find some middle ground between art and documentary. Enjoy and Learn.
Legendary (?) and oh-so-popular with the kids punk band Defiance, Ohio played about a week ago at Dry River. I recorded some of it and just posted a little bit of the recording, their first song, with some introductory banter. Note that they even thanked us border activists who'd been in the space all evening before the show, probably keeping them from getting a proper soundcheck. They also warn people to be considerate when they dance, which is so cool. So many shows I've been to where kids just flail around and end up hurting each other. I still can hardly believe they actually played at our little space, they even requested to play at our space.
I just posted another installment in the Me Encanta Los Sonidos podcast, a performance last weekend by Desert Rat of his song "Tucson, City That I Love." It's a wonderful anti-sprawl, anti-mall, anti-development, pro-nature ditty full of great lines like "this city will make a fine ruin when the Santa Cruz runs again." Desert Rat is a Tucson native, now living in Seattle, an antisocial nerd, a semi-famous activist folk singer, union longshoreman, and snarky anti-anarchist socialist (trotskyist maybe, even?). I recorded a lot of other great songs of his that night which I hope to put online a little later, though you may have to remember to check phonophilia to listen to them because i don't know if i'll post again here about it.
It's funny because Desert Rat left long 10-minute voicemails for 2 of my friends and fellow BLAC members yesterday, letting them know that he disapproved of our political agenda for the no-border camp but that he did want to attend some of the off-topic workshops this weekend... His objections seemed to be based on the misunderstanding that People's Global Action is directly connected somehow with the World Social Forum phenomenon, which is not true. He disapproves of the World Social Forum process and structure, which I and most of our collective do too, recognizing that it's been coopted and corrupted by NGOs, but the No Border Camp operating under PGA Hallmarks has nothing to do with the WSF or any other social forum.
Anyway enjoy the music, even if the man is kind of confused and hard to get along with.
How to mix up a breakbeat in your kitchen. This is hilarious and totally rocks too.
A couple weeks ago I saw this crazy german techno-pop band called Porsches on the Autobahn. They were a lot of fun. I got to the show really late and only saw their last few songs, but here I posted an mp3 of what they sounded like playing their last song, and what it sounded like as a I made my way out of the venue, Plush, and onto the sidewalk.
I've been really getting interested in sound and music again, and thinking about doing live performance again. But I've been hesitating because it's yet one more thing, and I don't know if I have time for one more thing. Life is pretty pleasantly busy and just on the balancing point before getting "too busy." I've been trying to be very careful lately to keep from going past that point.
And yet making music again feels really important to me right now, so maybe there's eomthing else i can lay aside for now. The other balance I want to strike though is that it not be something that sucks more soul out of me. Messing around with some music software last night I started feeling like I was being stupid, immersing myself in yet another thing that required staring at a computer screen. What am I doing? Maybe I should think more about this. Maybe I should be doing some sort of music less computer-intensive? hmm.
UPDATE: here's another new sound file, of snow melting off my roof 2 weeks ago and into our water harvesting tank.
Last Wednesday I went to Club Congress to see Giant Sand play, but I was even more impressed by the opening band, Lonna Kelley and the Brokenhearted Lovers, from Phoenix. Her voice is soooo great. Here's a song from the show I recorded that keeps being stuck in my head.
Another one is now on the top of Me Encanta Los Sonidos, the main Phonophilia podcast.
Enjoy. oh and her website is lonnakelley.com. Go buy a CD.
I'm officially announcing the new, improved version of Phonophilia, the site I started 5 years ago dedicated to field recordings and sound. About a year or 2 before that I had purchased a minidisc recorder and some binaural microphones, mainly to record my live performances. But then I started getting interested in making field recordings. My love for this is explained on the site's about page.
Now what I've done over the last 3 weeks is revamped the site, making it driven by a content management system (Drupal) with modern bells and whistles like tags and RSS feeds and flash audio players an stuff. I like how it has turned out. I've slurped most of the audio content from the old site into the new system, but it's not all quite organized into pages and playlists and stuff, there's a link to the old site that i'm keeping around.
As I go forward, I'll be uploading and publishing lots of recordings I've made over the years that I never got around to putting on the site, because of the time factor involved. Now that I have the content management system, it wil be alot easier to put up these files with metadata and stuff. I'll also be posting new recordings I make.
There's a main iTunes-friendly rss feed, or podcast, that will have regular content on it - not neccesarily all content, but representative samplings. There's also an overall RSS feed that has absolutely everything that gets posted.
I'll periodically post here with links to stuff too. Like this recording of Calexico's song "Guero Canelo" at their show last Saturday. It's particularly interesting because they sang some Manu Chao lyrics over the top of it.