28 September 2014

Is this new deep house influenced by the old deep house we old free party people danced to in fields back in the late 80’s and early 90’s?

With news just in that hipsters are beginning to distance themselves from deep house claiming it is “too popular” it’s time to ask some probing questions.

So, what is this phenomena known as deep house? Is it, as WikiPedia.org says “a subgenre of house music that originated in the 1980s, initially fusing elements of Chicago house with 1980s jazz-funk and touches of soul music?” Well, that’s the roots of it. Maybe? What after? 

“But it wasn't just American music laying the groundwork for house. 80’s European music, spanning English electronic pop like Depeche Mode and Soft Cell and the earlier, more disco based sounds of Giorgio Moroder, Klein & MBO and a thousand Italian productions were immensely popular in urban areas like New York and Chicago”,  says Phil Cheesman. At the beginning of the 90s house and techno then made the jump across the ocean and evolved further according to Britain's/Europe's own influences.  

Is this new deep house influenced by the old deep house we old free party people danced to in fields back in the late 80’s and early 90’s? Veritably it is. Is it the same as the music we danced to in the heady club days of smoky and sweaty back rooms of any night club dive we could get our hands on in the mid 90’s? Veritably so. Is it the deep house we played in house and squat parties and church halls and still play on beaches and in pubs? This new stuff sure doesn’t sound it “was first and foremost a direct descendant ofdisco

Of course it’s all the above and all the above are the roots of what we play now. It’s a free flowing musical and cultural organism in complex flux.

How and why though?

Philip Sherburne from Spin.com speculates it’s “slower, moodier, and more sensual than most other club-music forms — heir to disco at its most mirrorball-blissful — deep house has survived for nearly three decades, staying mostly out of the spotlight, consigned to warm-up sets and after-hours reveries.
“But lately, it has bubbled back to the surface. A few years ago, that would have been unthinkable; deep house's moody pulses were drowned out in a cacophony of lasers and jackhammers and drops. But deep house's deliberately low profile is beginning to bear out the old meek-will-inherit-the-earth maxim.
“Warm, moody, sometimes hesitant, and often melancholic, deep house is the antithesis of mainstream EDM's harder/faster/stronger ethos, that capitalist ego-topia fuelled by cheap pre-sets and dodgy Molly, hell-bent on success. Deep house is contradictory, wracked with doubt, so full of blue notes it bleeds indigo. It's pro-sadness on the dance floor; pro-pathos in the mix.

We'll be the first to admit that some of the attention has been misplaced. A lot of what gets flogged as deep house right now isn't really worthy of the name; it's mid-tempo, pop-dance fare with a 2-step twist, or it's snoozy, monotone background music tailor-made for SEO plays on YouTube channels emblazoned with soft-lit hipster cheesecake. In fact, "deep house" itself is a retrospective term; in their heyday, many of the first songs in the canon were simply considered "house," full stop. It was only later that a style assembled itself around the template those originators had set.
So what classifies as deep house today? Some basic guidelines: The four-to-the-floor pulse is imbued with a suggestive bit of shuffle and swing, with accents on the two and four. The grooves are more restrained than techno's, leaning back rather than barrelling forward. The tempo generally runs between 118 and 125 beats per minute, although there are many outliers. More than anything, deep house is rich in harmony and atmosphere, buoyant as a jellyfish, bursting with lush textures and phosphorescent tones. 
DeepHouseHQ questions that 125 BPM: “Anyways, technically, deep house is a subgenre of house music: a slower, around 120-123 BPM with a characteristic bass pluck sound with pitched down vocals, psychedelic sounds capes, and groovy bass-lines. It is hard to define what form it actually should take, but the technical, scientific definition of around 120-123 bpm should give you a better idea.
“Deep House isn’t Deep House”, Ziad Ramley a blogger on SalaciousSound.com reckons.  “First thing’s first, when we’re referring to Deep House in this current, new context we’re actually talking about more than just Deep House. More realistically, we’re talking about tracks kinda around 128bpm that sound deep to a casual listener. The term is now more than anything simply a reflection of the track’s atmosphere. Is it unfortunate that bedroom producers will tag their tech house tracks as “deep house!!” on SoundCloud? Absolutely. Can we do anything about it? No.

“I hate to sound too counter-culture, but these labels really have no value outside of search engine optimization anymore. We have two options: 1. Be very annoyed all the time, or 2. Not give a fuck (or shit). Moving on.

So why am I optimistic about all of this? Much like pre-North American dubstep, deep house has been around for much longer than most people give it credit for. Deep house is one of THE pioneer genres and boasts an enormous catalogue of originals and remixes; to stay fresh, new Deep House is going to need to evolve, and fast. Old Dubstep and new Dubstep differentiated themselves from each other with fresh sound engineering which appealed to a new audience, and I strongly believe that new Deep House will also find its silver bullet to make it more radio ready.

Is “bulbous, rubbery bass in a club track” equal deep house? No not according to Kristan J Caryl from MixMag.net. “What we need is a clear definition of the current sound that people are calling deep house but it isn’t.” Kristan thinks “Without getting too pernickety, incorrect genre blanketing is a plague on plenty of new music. Whether it’s a bass producer being lumped in with dubstep, a juke producer being categorised as future garage or Burial being heralded as the saviour of night bus, ill-informed youngsters, out-of-touch music retailers and wannabe bloggers are bandying signifiers around with infuriating abandon. 
Whether it’s the result of a lack of historical perspective, laziness or bandwagon jumping does not matter, but it needs to stop. In the case of my beloved deep house, for instance, it’s a genre not just defined by a slight sense of atmosphere, lazy jazz motifs, rounded edges or warm bass notes, it’s about so much more. Or it should be.
“Larry Heard saw the genre's potential to be about more than just physical jack trax. As a multi-instrumentalist from a young age, he was one of the first to bring a real sense of musicianship to stripped down, machine-made disco. 
By incorporating elements of the soul and jazz he grew up on, Heard unwittingly sophisticated and intellectualised the genre and, even though he probably didn’t know at the time, deep house was born. The term was being used in the UK by 1988 and the Deep House Convention at Leicester Square's Empire in February of that year featured a number of seminal Chicago artists like Kym Mazelle, Marshall Jefferson and Frankie Knuckles.  
If you add into the mix the gospel influences brought by vocalist Robert Owens when he worked with Heard as Fingers Inc in the 80s, you've a genre that not only sounds and feels warm, but that produced proper songs with painful and poignant lyrics. From there, the likes of Chez Damier, Ron Trent and Prescription Records perfected the deep house style we know today. It's deep musically, but so too emotionally, spiritually, sexually and, to some extent in the early days, religiously. It’s deep house.
Of course, deep house is just the start of it. Once you're down here there's a spaghetti network of variations on the theme to explore. It's true they range from terrific to tiring, nostalgic to nauseating, but as well as a spiritual and sexual depth, there's cosmic depth; music from the outer edges of our galaxy that's not so much deep as totally bottomless.
So, whether exploring the universe or the self, the known or the unknown, real deep house is something you feel in the blood in your veins rather than in the sweat down your face; it’s a feeling not a physical reaction. 
Let’s leave the last word and the last track to pioneer RonTrent.

Ron: “One of Ron Hardy’s favourites… This always reminds of a fresh time. Though this was released in the 70s, it was fresh to the ears of the Chicago urban youth that it was being introduced to. When classics like this were being reintroduced to us it was a mind opener. It was the introduction of what people like to now call “deep house”. This is where the term was derived. It was referencing obscure music with depth and not so much the electronic tracks being crafted by new, up-and-coming producers. Jazz funk at its greatest is what this song is. Soulful all the way through, but it is the bridge and vamp that rocks you to the core.”

Methinks it was first and foremost a direct descendant ofdisco and jazz funk. And gospel. And Shulgin. And those pioneering black, gay clubs in Chicago and Detroit smashing down the doors so the ethic of a soulful non-sexist, non-racist togetherness is all we ever really want to dance about.

Oops, a little bit of politics in there…

25 April 2014

'Post-Digital' Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music


'Post-Digital' Tendencies in Contemporary Computer Music

Kim Cascone

"The digital revolution is over." Nicholas Negroponte (1998)

László Moholy-Nagy was a strong advocate
of the integration of technology and industry
into the arts.

Over the past decade, the Internet has helped spawn a new movement in digital music. It is not academically based, and for the most part the composers involved are self-taught. Music journalists occupy themselves inventing names for it, and some have already taken root: glitch, microwave, DSP, sinecore, and microscopic music. These names evolved through a collection of deconstructive audio and visual techniques that allow artists to work beneath the previously impenetrable veil of digital media. The Negroponte epigraph above inspired me to refer to this emergent genre as ‘post-digital' because the revolutionary period of the digital information age has surely passed. The tendrils of digital technology have in some way touched everyone. With electronic commerce now a natural part of the business fabric of the Western world and Hollywood cranking out digital fluff by the gigabyte, the medium of digital technology holds less fascination for composers in and of itself. In this article, I will emphasize that the medium is no longer the message; rather, specific tools themselves have become the message.

The Internet was originally created to accelerate the exchange of ideas and development of research between academic centres so it is perhaps no surprise that it is responsible for helping give birth to new trends in computer music outside the confines of academic think tanks. A non-academic composer can search the Internet for tutorials and papers on any given aspect of computer music to obtain a good, basic understanding of it. University computer music centres breed developers whose tools are shuttled around the Internet and used to develop new music outside the university.

Unfortunately, cultural exchange between non-academic artists and research centres has been lacking. The post-digital music that Max, SMS, AudioSculpt, PD, and other such tools make possible rarely makes it back to the ivory towers, yet these non-academic composers anxiously await new tools to make their way onto a multitude of Web sites. Even in the commercial software industry, the marketing departments of most audio software companies have not yet fully grasped the post-digital aesthetic; as a result, the more unusual tools emanate from developers who use their academic training to respond to personal creative needs.

This article is an attempt to provide feedback to both academic and commercial music software developers by showing how current DSP tools are being used by post-digital composers, affecting both the form and content of contemporary ‘non-academic' electronic music.

"It is failure that guides evolution; perfection offers no incentive for improvement." Colson Whitehead (1999)

The ‘post-digital' aesthetic was developed in part as a result of the immersive experience of working in environments suffused with digital technology: computer fans whirring, laser printers churning out documents, the sonification of user-interfaces, and the muffled noise of hard drives. But more specifically, it is from the ‘failure' of digital technology that this new work has emerged: glitches, bugs, application errors, system crashes, clipping, aliasing, distortion, quantization noise, and even the noise floor of computer sound cards are the raw materials composers seek to incorporate into their music.

While technological failure is often controlled and suppressed - its effects buried beneath the threshold of perception - most audio tools can zoom in on the errors, allowing composers to make them the focus of their work. Indeed, ‘failure' has become a prominent aesthetic in many of the arts in the late 20th century, reminding us that our control of technology is an illusion, and revealing digital tools to be only as perfect, precise, and efficient as the humans who build them. New techniques are often discovered by accident or by the failure of an intended technique or experiment.

"I would only observe that in most high-profile gigs, failure tends to be far more interesting to the audience than success." - David Zicarelli (1999)

There are many types of digital audio ‘failure.' Sometimes, it results in horrible noise, while other times it can produce wondrous tapestries of sound. (To more adventurous ears, these are quite often the same.) When the German sound experimenters known as Oval started creating music in the early 1990s by painting small images on the underside of CDs to make them skip, they were using an aspect of ‘failure' in their work that revealed a subtextual layer embedded in the compact disc.

Oval's investigation of ‘failure' is not new. Much work had previously been done in this area such as the optical soundtrack work of Laszlo Moholy-Nagy and Oskar Fischinger, as well as the vinyl record manipulations of John Cage and Christian Marclay, to name a few. What is new is that ideas now travel at the speed of light and can spawn entire musical genres in a relatively short period of time.

> Back to the Future

Poets, painters, and composers sometimes walk a fine line between madness and genius, and throughout the ages they have used ‘devices' such as absinthe, narcotics, or mystical states to help make the jump from merely expanding their perceptual boundaries to hoisting themselves into territories beyond these boundaries. This trend to seek out and explore new territories led to much experimentation in the arts in the early part of the 20th century.

When artists of the early 20th century turned their senses to the world created by industrial progress, they were forced to focus on the new and changing landscape of what was considered ‘background.'

"I now note that ordinarily I am concerned with, focus my attention upon, things or ‘objects,' the words on the page. But I now note that these are always situated within what begins to appear to me as a widening field which ordinarily is a background from which the ‘object' or thing stands out. I now find by a purposeful act of attention that I may turn to the field as field, and in the case of vision I soon also discern that the field has a kind of boundary or limit, a horizon. This horizon always tends to ‘escape' me when I try to get at it; it ‘withdraws' always on the extreme fringe of the visual field. It retains a certain essentially enigmatic character." - Don Idhe (1976)

Concepts such as ‘detritus,' ‘by-product,' and ‘background' (or ‘horizon') are important to consider when examining how the current post-digital movement started. When visual artists first shifted their focus from foreground to background (for instance, from portraiture to landscape painting), it helped to expand their perceptual boundaries, enabling them to capture the background's enigmatic character.

The basic composition of ‘background' is comprised of data we filter out to focus on our immediate surroundings. The data hidden in our perceptual ‘blind spot' contains worlds waiting to be explored, if we choose to shift our focus there. Today's digital technology enables artists to explore new territories for content by capturing and examining the area beyond the boundary of ‘normal' functions and uses of software.

Although the lineage of post-digital music is complex, there are two important and well-known pre-cursors that helped frame its emergence: the Italian Futurist movement at the beginning of the 20th century, and John Cage's composition 4'33' (1952).

Futurism was an attempt to reinvent life as it was being reshaped by new technologies. The Italian Futurist painter Luigi Russolo was so inspired by a 1913 orchestral performance of a composition by Balilla Pratella that he wrote a manifesto, The Art of Noises, in the form of a letter to Pratella. His manifesto and subsequent experiments with intonarumori (noise intoners), which imitated urban industrial sounds, transmitted a viral message to future generations, resulting in Russolo's current status as the ‘grandfather' of contemporary ‘post-digital' music. The Futurists considered industrial life a source of beauty, and for them it provided an ongoing symphony. Car engines, ma-chines, factories, telephones, and electricity had been in existence for only a short time, and the resulting din was a rich palette for the Futurists to use in their sound experiments.

"The variety of noises is infinite. If today, when we have perhaps a thousand different machines, we can distinguish a thousand different noises, tomorrow, as new machines multiply, we will be able to distinguish ten, twenty, or thirty thousand different noises, not merely in a simply imitative way, but to combine them according to our imagination." - Luigi Russolo (1913)

This was probably the first time in history that sound artists shifted their focus from the foreground of musical notes to the background of incidental sound. Russolo and Ugo Piatti - who together constructed the noise intoners - gave them descriptive names such as ‘exploders,' ‘roarers,' ‘croakers,' ‘thunderers,' ‘bursters,' ‘cracklers,' ‘buzzers,' and ‘scrapers.' Although the intonarumori themselves never found their way into much of the music in the Futurists' time, they did manage to inspire composers like Stravinsky and Ravel to incorporate some of these types of sounds into their work.

A few decades after the Futurists brought incidental noise to the foreground, John Cage would give permission to all composers to use any sound in composing music. At the 1952 debut of Cage's 4'33', David Tudor opened the piano keyboard lid and sat for the duration indicated in the title, implicitly inviting the audience to listen to back-ground sounds, only closing and reopening the lid to demarcate three movements. The idea for 4'33' was outlined in a lecture given by Cage at Vassar College in 1948, entitled ‘A Composer's Confessions.' The following year, Cage saw the white paintings of Robert Rauschenberg, and he saw in this an opportunity to keep pace with painting and push the stifled boundaries of modern music. Rauschenberg's white paintings combined chance, non-intention, and ‘minimalism' in one broad stroke, where the paintings revealed the ‘changing play of light and shadow and the presence of dust' (Kahn 1999).

Rauschenberg's white paintings were a powerful catalyst that helped inspire Cage to remove all constraints on what was considered music. Every environment could be experienced in a completely new way - as music.

Of equal importance to Cage's ‘silent piece' was his realization that there is, in fact, no such thing as ‘silence' - that, as human beings, our sensory per-ceptions occur against the background noise of our biological systems. His experience in an anechoic chamber at Harvard University prior to composing 4'33' shattered the belief that silence was obtainable and revealed that the state of ‘nothing' was a condition filled with everything we filtered out. From then on, Cage strove to incorporate this revelation into subsequent works by paying attention not only to sound objects, but also to their background.

> Snap, Crackle, Glitch

Fast-forwarding from the 1950s to the present, we skip over most of the electronic music of the 20th century, much of which has not, in my opinion, focused on expanding the ideas first explored by the Futurists and Cage. An emergent genre that consciously builds on these ideas is that which I have termed ‘post-digital,' but it shares many names, as noted in the introduction, and I will refer to it from here on out as glitch. The glitch genre arrived on the back of the electronica movement, an umbrella term for alternative, largely dance-based electronic music (including house, techno, electro, drum'n'bass, ambient) that has come into vogue in the past five years. Most of the work in this area is released on labels peripherally associated with the dance music market, and is therefore removed from the contexts of academic consideration and acceptability that it might otherwise earn. Still, in spite of this odd pairing of fashion and art music, the composers of glitch often draw their inspiration from the masters of 20th century music who they feel best describe its lineage.

> A Brief History of Glitch

At some point in the early 1990s, techno music settled into a predictable, formulaic genre serving a more or less aesthetically homogeneous market of DJs and dance music aficionados. Concomitant with this development was the rise of a periphery of DJs and producers eager to expand the music's tendrils into new areas. One can visualize techno as a large postmodern appropriation machine, assimilating cultural references, tweaking them, and then re-presenting them as tongue-in-cheek jokes. DJs, fueled with samples from thrift store purchases of obscure vinyl, managed to mix any source imaginable into sets played for more adventurous dance floors. Always trying to outdo one another, it was only a matter of time until DJs unearthed the history of electronic music in their archeological thrift store digs. Once the door was opened to exploring the history of electronic mu-sic, invoking its more notable composers came into vogue. A handful of DJs and composers of electronica were suddenly familiar with the work of Karlheinz Stockhausen, Morton Subotnick, and John Cage, and their influence helped spawn the glitch movement.

A pair of Finnish producers called Pan Sonic - then known as Panasonic, before a team of corporate lawyers encouraged them to change their name - led one of the first forays into experimentation in electronica. Mika Vainio, head architect of the Pan Sonic sound, used handmade sine wave oscillators and a collection of inexpensive effect pedals and synthesizers to create a highly synthetic, minimal, ‘hard-edged' sound. Their first CD, titled Vakio, was released in the summer of 1993, and was a sonic shockwave compared to the more blissful strains of ambient-techno becoming popular at that time. The Pan Sonic sound conjured stark, florescent, industrial landscapes; test-tones were pounded into submission until they squirted out low, throbbing drones and high-pitched stabs of sine waves. The record label Vainio founded, Sähkö Records, released material by a growing catalog of artists, most of it in the same synthetic, stripped-down, minimal vein.

As discussed earlier, the German project Oval was experimenting with CD-skipping techniques and helped to create a new tendril of glitch - one of slow-moving slabs of dense, flitting textures. Another German group, which called itself Mouse on Mars, injected this glitch aesthetic into a more danceable framework, resulting in gritty low-fidelity rhythmic layers warping in and out of one another.

From the mid-1990s forward, the glitch aesthetic appeared in various sub-genres, including drum‘n'bass, drill'n'bass, and trip-hop. Artists such as Aphex Twin, LTJ Bukem, Omni Trio, Wagon Christ, and Goldie were experimenting with all sorts of manipulation in the digital domain. Time-stretching vocals and reducing drum loops to eight bits or less were some of the first techniques used in creating artifacts and exposing them as timbral content. The more experimental side of electronica was still growing and slowly es-tablishing a vocabulary.

By the late 1990s, the glitch movement was keeping pace with the release of new features in music software, and the movement began congealing into a rudimentary form. A roster of artists was developing. Japanese producer Ryoji Ikeda was one of the first artists other than Mika Vainio to gain expo-sure for his stark, ‘bleepy' soundscapes. In contrast to Vainio, Ikeda brought a serene quality of spirituality to glitch music. His first CD, entitled +/-, was one of the first glitch releases to break new ground in the delicate use of high frequencies and short sounds that stab at listeners' ears, often leaving the audience with a feeling of tinnitus.

Another artist who helped bridge the gap be-tween delicate and damaging was Carsten Nicolai (who records and performs under the name Noto). Nicolai is also a co-founder of Noton/Rastermusic, a German label group that specializes in innovative digital music. In a similar fashion, Peter Rehberg, Christian Fennesz, and the sound/Net art project Farmers Manual are tightly associated with the Mego label located in Vienna. Rehberg has the distinction of having received one of only two honorary Ars Electronica awards in Digital Music for his contribution to electronic music. Over the past few years, the glitch movement has grown to encompass dozens of artists who are defining new vocabularies in digital media. Artists such as immedia, Taylor Deupree, Nobukazu Takemura, Neina, Richard Chartier, Pimmon, *0, Autopoieses, and T:un[k], to name just a few, constitute the second wave of sound hackers exploring the glitch aesthetic.

There are many artists who have not been mentioned here who contribute to pushing the boundaries of this movement. It is beyond the scope of this article to go deeply into the evolution of glitch music, but I have included a discography at the end of this article that will offer good starting points for the casual listener.

> Power Tools

Computers have become the primary tools for creating and performing electronic music, while the Internet has become a logical new distribution medium. For the first time in history, creative output and the means of its distribution have been inextricably linked. Our current sonic backgrounds have dramatically changed since 4'33' was first performed - and thus the means for navigating our sur-roundings as well. In response to the radical alteration of our hearing by the tools and technologies developed in academic computer music centers - and a distribution medium capable of shuttling tools, ideas, and music between like-minded composers and engineers - the resultant glitch movement can be seen as a natural progression in electronic music. In this new music, the tools themselves have become the instruments, and the resulting sound is born of their use in ways unintended by their designers. Commonly referred to as sound ‘mangling' or ‘crunching,' composers are now able to view music on a microscopic level. Curtis Roads coined the term microsound for all variants of granular and atomic methods of sound synthesis, and tools capable of operating at this microscopic level are able to achieve these effects. Because the tools used in this style of music embody advanced concepts of digital signal processing, their usage by glitch artists tends to be based on experimentation rather than empirical investigation. In this fashion, unintended usage has become the second permission granted. It has been said that one does not need advanced training to use digital signal processing programs - just ‘mess around' until you obtain the desired result. Sometimes, not knowing the theoretical operation of a tool can result in more interesting results by ‘thinking outside of the box.' As Bob Ostertag notes, ‘It appears that the more technology is thrown at the problem, the more boring the results' (1998).

"I looked at my paper, said Cage. Suddenly I saw that the music, all the music, was already there.' He conceived of a procedure which would enable him to derive the details of his music from the little glitches and imperfections which can be seen on sheets of paper. It had symbolic as well as practical value; it made the unwanted features of the paper its most significant ones—there is not even a visual silence." - David Revill (1999)

> New Music From New Tools

Tools now aid composers in the deconstruction of digital files: exploring the sonic possibilities of a Photoshop file that displays an image of a flower, trawling word processing documents in search of coherent bytes of sound, using noise-reduction software to analyze and process audio in ways that the software designer never intended. Any selection of algorithms can be interfaced to pass data back and forth, mapping effortlessly from one dimension into another. In this way, all data can become fodder for sonic experimentation.

Composers of glitch music have gained their technical knowledge through self-study, countless hours deciphering software manuals, and probing Internet newsgroups for needed information. They have used the Internet both as a tool for learning and as a method of distributing their work. Com-posers now need to know about file types, sample rates, and bit resolution to optimize their work for the Internet. The artist completes a cultural feedback loop in the circuit of the Internet: artists download tools and information, develop ideas based on that information, create work reflecting those ideas with the appropriate tools, and then upload that work to a World Wide Web site where other artists can explore the ideas embedded in the work.

The technical requirements for being a musician in the information age may be more rigorous than ever before, but - compared to the depth of university computer music studies - it is still rather light. Most of the tools being used today have a layer of abstraction that enables artists to explore without demanding excessive technical knowledge. Tools like Reaktor, Max/MSP, MetaSynth, Audiomulch, Crusher-X, and Soundhack are pressed into action, more often than not with little care or regard for the technical details of DSP theory, and more as an aesthetic wandering through the sounds that these modern tools can create.

The medium is no longer the message in glitch music: the tool has become the message. The technique of exposing the minutiae of DSP errors and artifacts for their own sonic value has helped further blur the boundaries of what is to be considered music, but it has also forced us to also to examine our preconceptions of failure and detritus more carefully.

> Discussion

Electronica DJs typically view individual tracks as pieces that can be layered and mixed freely. This modular approach to creating new work from pre-existing materials forms the basis of electronic music composers' use of samples. Glitch, however, takes a more deconstructionist approach in that the tendency is to reduce work to a minimum amount of information. Many glitch pieces reflect a stripped-down, anechoic, atomic use of sound, and they typically last from one to three minutes.

But it seems this approach affects the listening habits of electronica aficionados. I had the experi-ence of hearing a popular sample CD playing in a clothing boutique. The ‘atomic' parts, or samples, used in composing electronica from small modular pieces had become the whole. This is a clear indication that contemporary computer music has become fragmented, it is composed of stratified layers that intermingle and defer meaning until the listener takes an active role in the production of meaning.

If glitch music is to advance past its initial stage of blind experimentation, new tools must be built with an educational bent in mind. That is, a tool should possess multiple layers of abstraction that allow novices to work at a simple level, stripping away those layers as they gain mastery. In order to help better understand current trends in electronic music, the researchers in academic centers must keep abreast of these trends. Certainly, many of their college students are familiar with the music and can suggest pieces for listening. The compact discs given in this article's reference list form a good starting point. More information can be obtained by reading some of the many electronic mailing lists dedicated to electronica, such as the microsound, idm, and wire lists. In this way, the gap can be bridged, and new ideas can flow more openly between commercial and academic sectors.

"We therefore invite young musicians of talent to conduct a sustained observation of all noises, in order to understand the various rhythms of which they are composed, their principal and secondary tones. By comparing the various tones of noises with those of sounds, they will be convinced of the extent to which the former exceeds the latter. This will afford not only an understanding, but also a taste and passion for noises." - Luigi Russolo (1913)


-Cage, J. 1952. 4'33'. Published c. 1960. New York: Henmar Press.

-Idhe, D. 1976. Listening and Voice: A Phenomenology of Sound. Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press.

-Kahn, D. 1999. Noise, Water, Meat. Cambridge, Massa-chusetts: MIT Press.

-Negroponte, N. 1998. ‘Beyond Digital.' Wired 6(12).

-Ostertag, B. 1998. ‘Why Computer Music Sucks.' Available online at http://www.l-m-c.org.uk/texts/ostertag.html.

-Revill, D. 1992. The Roaring Silence. John Cage: A Life. New York: Arcade Publishing.

-Russolo, L. 1987. The Art of Noises. New York: Pendragon Press. (Originally published in 1913.)

-Whitehead, C. 1999. The Intuitionist. New York: An-chor Books.


-Christian Fennesz. 1999. +475637-165108. London: Touch TO:40.

-Farmers Manual. 1999. No Backup. Vienna: Mego MEGO008.

-Kim Cascone. 1999. cathodeFlower. Frankfurt: Mille Plateaux/Ritornell RIT06.

-Mika Vainio. 1997. Onko. London: Touch TO:34.

-Mouse On Mars. 1995. Vulvaland. London: Too Pure 36.

-Neina. 1999. Formed Verse. Frankfurt: Mille Plateaux MPCD72.

-Nosei Sakata and Richard Chartier. 1999. *0/rc. Brooklyn: 12K 12K.1006.

-Noto. 1998. Kerne. Bad Honnef: Plate Lunch PL04.

-Oval. 1994. Systemische. Frankfurt: Mille Plateaux MPCD9.

-Pimmon. 1999. Waves and Particles. Tokyo: Meme MEME015CD.

-Pita. 1999. Seven Tons for Free. Osaka: Digital Narcis MEGO009.

-Ryoji Ikeda. 1996. +/-. London: Touch TO:30.

-Various Artists. 1999. Microscopic Sound. New York: Caipirinha Music CAI2021-2.

-Various Artists. 2000. blueCubism. Osaka: Digital Narcis DNCD007.

-Various Artists. 2000. Clicks and Cuts. Frankfurt: Mille Plateaux MPCD079.

This text was originally published in Computer Music Journal 24:4 Winter 2002 (MIT Press), where it can be downloaded in pdf format.

a network of clandestine societies in which the electro acoustics involve the post processing of other peoples material

tVCabbage Sound System provide free parties, playing deep dubbed out house and techno music to the people of east Kent and beyond...

Into the mix of people doing their thing everywhere come the hoary East Kent free party stalwarts themselves. They don't profess to be the best, the most talented, the loudest, they don't boast, big themselves up, challenge or put down their compatriots. They just are.

tVC always liked to think they sat at the more cerebral end of the house spectrum sometimes being accused of being elitist and stroking their chins. More like knowledgeable and appreciative. With a bit of chin stroking. You can't not chin stroke, can you? Man, talking to them DJ's about tunes they've discovered or are excited about producing or releasing, record labels they're 'on' at the moment, clubs they've visited, sound systems heard, fellow DJ's appreciated. Oftentimes the banter is the scene. The DJ's are the scene. The deep house scene does and has existed in its own tiny bubble for decades. You either like it and are into it, and come along to gigs, or you're not. Simple as that.

It is unsalubriously rumoured that tVC gigs attract an audience of a certain age. They will so soon, if they are not already, be fat and disappointed and 50; or is that just Oz? With the renewed interest in the scene by the youngers an energy not seen for many a year has injected deep house with a much needed boost. You never know as the free parties start kicking off we can get them outside shuffling in the sunshine with the elders. As they always have done.

You can't fault tvc's enthusiasm though, and the aging house DJ is an easy figure to mock. In the early and mid 90's, the tVC people were boggle-eyed ravers in their teens and 20's, and one would think, these days at least, that a tVC gig would clearly be a red-letter day for babysitters; but it so isn’t. The baby sitters are at the party too. And another thing; it would be easier still if all tVC had to offer was memories of a bygone peak. But nothing could be further from the truth. They've never peaked. TVC do reject capitalist ideology, accept Buddhist principles and embrace equality and diversity as they always have done. Sitting outside the mainstream straddling the benign and the divine.

tVC deep house and techno ethics eschews tired cliché because they deal fundamentally in gently technorific affecting reveries. Their dazed funk sodden grooves and jazz-derived wooze provides uncluttered and pristine meditations. The throb of exquisite, synthesised kick drums, melting melodies supplemented with percussion and synths and just enough melancholy to suggest hidden depths, cannot fail to propel you gently towards the dance floor. They are still ploughing their resolutely individual, indefatigable and unpredictable furrow. It's a reason not so much about walking away from the world as about all the most contemporary reasons you may have for trying to embrace the world.

A tVC party is never less than fully unintegrated with its surroundings. The results of all this are mixed, as ever: funny, irritatingly clever, sometimes teetering along the edge of listenability, often all three at once. It is always tried, experimented, never safe. 

No dark, dour observations on the futility of it all from tVC. The effect is discombobulating, like being on a strobe-lit ferry in rough seas. They play sets of soulful deep house and minimal tech with lots of dancefloor bite. They dovetails this nicely with a pigeonhole-defying blend of mind-melding techno dubby grooves. They propel mixes that output chains of reference and ironic reversals extended beyond all bearing. They play a convergence that really works though; a pleasure indeed. It feels like that point between liquid and frozen, always on the margin, slightly skewed. Some people might call it slush. It’s like difficult easy listening, with globules of sound resisting each other like chip fat and washing up liquid. Not that it lacks more straightforward ways of hitting the dancefloor sweet spot because it doesn't  The parts may be disparate but they are made to submit to an abiding mood of vivacity and sunniness. A plethora of pulsating field explorations no less. Move this mix outdoors in the summer and that's where the interface disintergrates into a oneness with the earth and your fellow dancer and the DJ. Deep house will always eschew tired clichés don’t cha know?

But, thankfully, tVC have also lost none of their shambling, DIY philosophy or charm. The lugubrious undertow of their slinky flow is really becoming universally comprehensible to a new, more aware and sussed generation brought up on electronic music. Indeed the tVC sound mixes familiarity and misery in an oddly appealing way.

On a prosaic level, that is perhaps because deep house has made music less utilitarian: its subtle minimalism and playful ennui previously lost in the ludicrously lucrative funsucking, cheesy-anthem-fest of much of mainstream club culture. In the future we'll see less cheesy-anthem-festing and lots more smaller independent acts and DJ’s doing their own thing, but on a regional and city level. Basically we're going back down into the underground that we never left, baby, and there's nothing wrong with that. It’s where electronic music, and perhaps all art, truly thrives.

With exemplary and often excruciating honesty, of his crippling self-doubts, his needinesses, the greed of his addictions, his drive for acceptance, shallow though he knows it is, Oz still purifies his soul through his DJing. Education is about much more than learning things. As Stephen Fry maybe would say "in the rooms of friends, with earnest frolic and happy disputation. Wine can be a wiser teacher than (vinyl)." (The Fry Chronicles by Stephen Fry). Any excuse for a piss up, ey?

tVC are apologetically unapologetic. What that means is that on the one hand nothing has changed – people inspired by the past always want to make and hear new music – and on the other hand everything has changed – because people inspired by the past always want to make and hear new music.

Ridiculously over the top, but also ridiculous amounts of fun. It is dancing as a way of taking your mind off the fact that, as Woody Allen once put it, life is divided into the horrible and the miserable – i.e. genuine physical suffering v mere existential angst – and if you're really lucky, you end up miserable.

The revolutions we've experienced in the last few years in telecommunications, media, intelligence gathering and information processing, have coincided with an unprecedented sense of disorder and unease, not only in societies, states, economies, families, sexes, but also in species, bodies, brains, weather patterns, ecological systems. There is turbulence on so many levels that reality itself seems suddenly on edge. 

Centers are subsumed by peripheries, mainstreams overwhelmed by their backwaters, cores eroded by the very skins supposed to protect them. Master copies lose their mastery and everything valued for its size and strength, finds itself over run by micro processings once supposed too small and insignificant. It is against this backdrop that the free parties are currently being held with many such groupings of people all over the country/world, whose radius of activity is mostly confined to people in the know, often performing in unknown spaces. The atmosphere is intimate, convivial, almost private. Everyone seems to know each other; a network of clandestine societies in which the electro acoustics involve the post processing of other peoples material; where the record has become the instrument; where the sound is all about the mixture of other peoples work; where the aim is that of transcendance. True, great music should achieve this, making one transcend, and in doing so honouring the spirit, by taking you somewhere beyond, to a world you may not be familiar with, and freeing us from the unpredictable or the all too predictable realities of modern day life.

18 April 2014

The Pridstock Diaries. Jon meets Chu and the birth of Splosh!

The Pridstock Diaries will bring interviews with the founders, the artists, the bands, the DJ's, the helpers and the humpers at this years Pridfest.

To kick off Jon priddy talks about, Chu, Splosh! and how he got into house music.

A pint with Jon Priddy down the Neptune in Whitstable.

So you've known each other 20 years?

Yeah, me and Chu met on a computer course and I'd just come out of hospital and my mate John was doing this course on Apple Macs in Birmingham. He needed to make the numbers so he rang me up and said 'do you want to join this course?' I met Chu there and gave him a lift home. Ever since then...

You've never look back?

Well, he ended up painting my car, a 2CV. He used to be known as tuma; he kind of changed his name.

On the actual graffiti scene he ended up knowing everybody. He gets involved in stuff all over the place. He's worked in Afghanistan.  Ibiza. Amsterdam. 

His main love is painting big murals but doesn't get a chance to that very often so ends up doing a lot of design work. His photography is really good. He's a brand consultant designing logos, the whole look. That's why it takes him a long time to do the work for the Pridstock flyers; it's not something he can knock off in an afternoon. He needs to think about where he's going with it, the colours, the lettering, everything. It's all thought out, you know? He's a bit geeky like that... (laughs). 

I remember years ago, we'd be sitting in a pub like this and he'd be sketching while we're talking. Constantly, couldn't stop. And his brains a bit like that. He gets the verbal diarrhea going... it gets him into a bit of trouble sometimes. But he's kind of like my adopted little brother, really. That's how it's always been. We've pissed each other off a few times; as you do. but, we've got one of the those long term friendships.

So, Chu used to do the flyers for me for the Splosh! parties. He didn't do the really early ones but you can see the point where Chu got involved.

The Splosh! thing really come about because a coulple of us were late into it really. In the late 80's some of us discovered rave music. Stub used to come round to the pub with a hoody on, sweating his nads off. He'd been away for 36 hours or something and he'd been out raving. We'd all take the piss out of him. We were still grunging it up a bit but getting bored with it all. Stonehenge had all come to a horrible crunching end and we'd missed all that '86 [campaign].

So I was running a stall flogging Indian clothing and jewelry in Birmingham and Universities up and down the country. it was bloody hard work. To be honest I made more money selling Rizlas and stuff like that. You know, an 'ethnic trader'. Then I did a stall at my first rave.

Part two tomorrow...

13 April 2014

Derrick Patterson pulls a full house

tvcabbage has moved from .net to .com

“Never waste any amount of time doing anything important when there is a sunset outside that you should be sitting under!” 

C. JoyBell C.


That was one old cold, wet and long winter but be prepared for the 2014 summer of love as tvc come out of the closet blinking and stumbling into the sunlight for a veritable feast of carefully prepared events to celebrate the upcoming long, hot deep summer in east Kent.

Saturday night and another tvcabbaged at the smack looms. This week we have Derrick Patterson, a stalwart of the scene, coming down to entertain the deep house Whitstable people. I guest its still too early to go continue things on the beach after we close the pub up but, you know, as the weather warms up and we can be guaranteed the warm nights are once more upon us, the drive, the need to celebrate the coming day by worshiping the sunrise round the fire with a few friends and a few tune will become so predominant that we wont be able to help ourselves. Meanwhile we'll just have to contend with gatecrashing some generous DJ/friend/dancers house if they so generously offer their sofa and kettle up.One can only hope.

On other news the bank holiday season starting next weekend for Easter signals the start of the regular tvc sunset celebrations outside Keam's yard on Whitstable seafront. Here you can expect like minded friends old and new to share some deep chilled vibes whilst we watch Gaia do her work and provide a free spectacular light show. BBQ's optional.

These Whitstable sunsets are deserving of their legendary status because as the sun descends over the horizon the London smog and fumes bends the light into some spectacular patterns and colours. The boominator, a green, solar powered mini rig will enable us to quietly appreciate the first of the bank holiday weekends sunsets. More details about this and a flyer will be up soon on this website and the tvc Facebook page.

Also coming up this summer will be the third Pridstock Festival. Started in 2012 to celebrate tvc (and splosh) stalwart Jon Priddy's 50th birthday the festival has now become a regular fixture of the tvc calender. This year we have a great new site for the party as we move away from the old share and coulter pub field. One benefit of this is that beat and sol, our old partners in the share and coulter site, will still be promoting their own weekend there based around live music acts and their own unique solar powered vibe. the dates for 'pridstock' are 15, 16 and 17 of august and the dates for 'summer lovin'' are 8, 9 and 10th august. Why not support both events?

Pridstock will of course have a few choice bands that Mr Pridstock loves and has personally selected for their eclectic input to the festival but it will be mainly a celebration of the deep house music we love and cherish with all the DJ's from Splosh! and tvc and a few well chosen special guests. A glorious weekend of Deep and Deeper house music. Details of this event can be found on the pridstock website or fb page. Basically there will two dance tents, splosh and tvc; and Geoff's Mess Tent hosting 'The Bottom Bunk' with Rob Lynch, Roots Locker and some very special guests.

tvc tent will be more chilled and informal with the best of the local DJ's present and performing. We not only have Pete Woosh from DiY as our special guest for the weekend but also the former Alien Nation DJ's Warren and Stu Long alongside Tim Elms taking care of a full on Friday night for us. As the weekend progresses the vibe will become cooler and more chilled. Subway Sounds DJ's Steve Newin and Del (TBC) will give us a great Sunday afternoon of hip hop and chilled vibes and for Saturday afternoon we have the one and only Roots Locker and, from the Midlands Rob Lynch, with the best of deep reggae and roots and a promise of some dub shenanigans across all areas particularly the roots reggae cafe.

As for another cracking tvcabbaged at the smack...
Derrick Patterson pulls a full house for tonight's set, keeping it dubby and techy to start but injecting soul and that magic mixing element. the groove always, relentless and churning. vocals, Detroit  Chicago proper grooves along nicely.  The crowd really love Derrick and warm to his every move. After he poses for photos and hangs out. All in the best possible taste of course.

Mike SU provides more than able support and he's on form tonight. He weighs the odds and plays his then takes them to the next level.

Next weekend: we're down outside Keam's Yard on the seafront with the solar powered boominator for a few tunes and a gentle lap of wave as we watch the sun go down. First one of the bank holiday chill gigs of the season.

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