Easy Listening for the Post-Eclipse Crowds

•August 22, 2017 • Comments Off on Easy Listening for the Post-Eclipse Crowds

So hey, it’s been a second. Lots brewing and time at a premium, which is generally becoming the mantra around these parts. I think I may need a vacation, having spent a good part of the sumer on business jaunts across the Northeast. Still in Baltimore at the moment, pending possible relocation and attempting to live out multiple parallel lives simultaneously until one becomes reality. In the meantime, may the current reality prevail. Speaking of, for those that tune in regularly, you’ll notice that the Instagram-feed is back on the sidebar – not to say that we’re not still mildly paranoid about trolls and other “patriots” of the deep web, but a.) official permanent residency has been granted and b.) while the potential for some serious insensitivity from the swamp is still an ever-present factor, signs are pointing to an administration that’s too disorganized to actually directly impact or daily existence. Life, as they say, goes on. Now please permit me to take a second to continue knocking on this here block of wood.

But enough about me. There was a solar event yesterday – and given the rules of solar events, here’s a few new releases from the net label. Now, in theory, these should have been released yesterday, but I was actually a.) swamped b.) kind of sick and c.) working until 9. So here I am, coffee at my side at the kitchen table, staring down some HTML, fighting the good fight.

Pines_300

First up – a classic from yours truly, originally released circa 2007 on the Dolor del Estamago label. Entitled We walked all night under the cover of darkness… in the morning we sought shelter amongst the pines in the valleyit was one of my first releases that I didn’t put out myself, and in turn introduced my work to a large swath of the bay area scene. Consisting of processed flute and field recordings (which was the case for a lot of my stuff back then), it was also one of my first “dream” mixes – meaning it’s meant to be listened to while sleeping. More on that later when I do something crazy like release another vslkast – I mean, wow, it’s been 10 years – I suppose a new mix may be in order.

decay

Next up: Songs of the Rain and Urban Decay. Also by me, but recorded a few months ago, as opposed to over a decade ago. Just some songs recorded in the living room in Charm City during an exceptionally wet spring and summer.

annotated_300

On deck after that: Annotated Songs for Amplified WaterAlso by me. I know, repetitive, but also a good opportunity to clear the backlog of recordings. Considering all the things on my to-do list, sending demos out would be just another thing to dedicate to – maybe one day, but for those attempting to cultivate a simpler existence, one thing at a time. Sonically, this is about 12 years of orphaned mixes and experiments finally paired together into something slightly more melodic than my usual jams.

Gloss

Finally, Gloss, by Michigan/Colorado-based sound artist and professor Lyn Goeringer. I met Lyn in Ohio back in March during John Talbert’s retirement festival as she was performing on an amplified goat skull designed to collect wishes and dreams. All said, it was some kind of awesome. As is this collection of jams, made almost entirely with handmade square-wave oscillators and crackle boxes. It’s raw. It’s primal. And once again, some kind of awesome. Happy to share it with y’all.

 

So that’s that. Enjoy the tunes, stash away your glasses and keep fighting the good fight – will catch you on the flip side.

Solar report and celebration

•June 21, 2017 • Comments Off on Solar report and celebration

Fellow champions and well-wishers. A quick missive since, while writing this, it’s the early AM and the office beckons, but as today is on of those solar events that punctuate the year, there’s three new releases on the VFI net label for you to peruse and absorb.

the_difficult_third_wish_square.indd

First up from the SF Bay Area is Tim Walters’ The Difficult Third Wish, which is electroacoustic laptop doom at it’s finest. As it happens, there’s also a physical release of this one, which you can pick up by contacting Tim directly.

DF27_300

Next up is Dirge for 27 from vsls, which is one of my many monikers. I think in a previous post I was trying to figure out the differences between a couple and the conclusion was that vsls was mostly laptop stuff and True French was analog, but somehow this is analog but under the vsls tag. What can I say, gotta keep ’em jumping. Either way, this one’s all about an instrument I built a few years back called Number 27 in it’s final performances before retiring it by way of putting a couple gallery hooks on the back of it and hanging it on the wall. Spoiler alert: it’s pretty dark.

pvs_300

Our final installation for this release cycle is Multifungi Volume 1 by Costa Rican visual artist and noise heroine Paulina Velazquez-Solis. In this edition, we collect the audio from 4 of her performances, recorded over the course of 7 year in 4 cities in 2 countries. Relish it’s archival significance as one of the few recordings of experimental music made by a woman in/from Central America – or simply enjoy the tunes. Your call. Just remember, you heard it first right here. Unless you have one of Marlo Eggplant’s compilations. Then you may have hears some of it there as well.

Speaking of Pau, I should mention that her last show in DC was featured in the DC City Paper. For those who read stuff, here’s the link.

And then we were artists again

•April 28, 2017 • Comments Off on And then we were artists again

IMG_5265

So in spite of my regular complaining, I’d still like to think of this as more of a website as opposed to a blog or live journal, etcetc. Does live journal even still exist? I remember it being a thing when I was a senior in college 13 years ago, so probably not, but either way. This is a website. About me. And the stuff I build. And the art I make. And how it all interrelates. Today we talk about art.

First up: Orden Natural. After a year of planning and building, Pau and I finally installed a new show at Rhizome in Takoma Park – it’ll be up until May 28 and here’s the statement for anyone who’s interested:

Natural Order is the first solo exhibition by Costa Rican / Mexican artist Paulina Velázquez Solís in Washington DC. The show is a view on what comes to be, arranges itself and finds new ways to connect and communicate. This exhibition is the result of taking notes and cues from personal experiences and ongoing curiosity into the biological world – which converge into variations, working with different media such as drawings, sound installation and sculpture.

Some artworks arose from collecting experiences of the human-mammal-body, particularly in the changes that take place during pregnancy, postpartum and the reproductive process in general.  In other works, routine and the pass of time are represented through time-shaped soap and the diary like recording of fingerprints that fail to be consistent.  Shifting the view into a microscopic perspective, a sound installation made in collaboration with sound artist Travis Johns, creates a habitable net of cell-like units that respond to their environment in a sonic inspired synapsis.

Second is all about video and my place in the general hierarchy of faculty life. So the college I teach at just turned 80 – and as part of the celebration, they decided to have a faculty art show to showcase the works or artists and scientists alike. And for the most part the show was extremely well put together – featuring documentation from research, snippets of private practices, hidden talents and passions from senior faculty… and me. Considering the call came up when I was working on Orden Natural, my first question was if they were accepting sculpture – with the answer being, nope, not so much. I then showed my portfolio and the Bioprinting piece stuck out the most… but it had to be framed. Therein lied a slight problem – since the piece was conceived to be rendered on computer and printed on a standard computer printer, finding a decent, stock frame for letter-size paper was nigh-impossible – even with 4 art supply stores within 5 blocks of my office. Lots of cheap, plastic certificate holders but nothing hangable. Not wanting to cut the prints, I opted to do something else. Seeing as I was (and currently still am) teaching video art, I decided to cobble something off of my hard drive, pulling from digital prints, an old video mashup I made 13 years ago and some synth jams. Altogether, the render time was about 13 hours – arguably the longest I’ve had since my video computer was a Bondi blue G3 tower. Yikes. Of course ling render times does not a video art make. But in this case it actually looked pretty cool.

So there I went, tv + dvd player in hand to install this piece – which was met with restrained confusion – was it my research? Was it mountable? Could it fit in a frame? Was it titled “documentation of research from…” Nope to none of that. On my end, I feel like I didn’t quite get the memo on what “faculty” art actually is. I mean, I know my institution isn’t as distinguished as the art institute across the street, but we do have an art department. If anything, let’s chalk this up to an awkward transition from me as an artist in the field to one in the tower, but still – strange. Maybe I have some growing up to do. Or I’m just at the wrong school. Somehow, some way, I’ll work this thing out. In the meantime, here’s some moving pictures for you.

 

Shoot-outs, Prints and Multiples

•April 25, 2017 • Comments Off on Shoot-outs, Prints and Multiples

So for some reason I almost began this missive with “Hello me, meet the real me” – and then I re-listened to said song by the deth of mega’s and realized that was in fact a terrible way to begin. So instead, I’ve wasted three lines telling you how I wasn’t going to do that. Because such is the circuitous method of my speaking. That said, I’m fresh back from a fairly killer class after a fairly tumultuous week that involved a bunch of time on a ladder, two art openings, some diplomatic stuff (as in diplomats, not being diplomatic), a trip to the emergency room and that one day I slept in until almost 9… for the first time since like 2007 – not including that once day in 2011 when we were out until 5 am.

Anyways. Have to say, I’m really enjoying the professor life, especially with regard to the general feeling of fulfillment it brings – admittedly, it took a second to get my sea-legs i the classroom – especially since my first class is a 2.5 hour long 200 level, but at this point, I’m sad that there’s only two more weeks left. Here’s hoping I can entice some institution into bringing me aboard as full-time faculty. Somehow, some way, some day. Truth be told, I think I enjoy it even more than building – with the added incentive of less direct exposure to toxic chemicals.

Gushing notwithstanding, here’s whats up: a quick report on two things Vaux outside of the usual spheres and spectrums.

Thing 1: My good friends at sPLeeNcoFFiN just put out a tape of my stuff – mainly some of my first Baltimore-era synth improvisations. I think I maybe had like 5 modules and a Dark Energy a this point, so it’s fairly sparse compared to my usual walls of sound – to which my dear friend and electronics mentor John Talbert’s mentioned that I should see if the current administration would be interested in playing my music at the border as a cost-effective alternative to an actual wall – my response being that you’d be surprised how heavy Mexico is into noise music. But yeah, sparse. But kind of cool in a 1960’s mono-space boogie kind of way. Celebratory even. I think in some instances, I was trying to go a little too Subotnick, but hey, gotta start somewhere – why not the beginning? Anyways, here’s the link in form of an embedded photo that sends you to their page of wonders. 17522736_10155302070311042_3448981453734306034_n-2

I should mention that I seem to be playing under the name of True French these days. Not that my solo project needs a new name, but considering I’m using all-analog gear while vsls was all about a laptop, i figure I can differentiate for a while a reconcile later. Not to mention that a Salvadorian street gang has appropriated “vsls” as one of their things, and while I technically have the trademark, I doubt any of my colleagues a the law school would want to take up the argument with a potential legal wing of their aforementioned operation. So it goes. As long as some euro-supremacist group doesn’t take “True French,” I think I should be ok for a second. Speaking of, the name is in reference to my bike – a true French Motobecane from the ’70’s. With the exception of an obscure bottom bracket that needs the occasional alignment, dear lord that thing is fast.

Thing 2: pedals. Yeah, I still make those. Maybe not as prolifically as other times, but it has been known to happen when not wrangling 400 feet of wire and photoresistors into a gallery setting. More on that later. In the meantime, I sent a God Standard to LA to participate in a fuzz shootout. Here’s how we did:

So yeah, that’s what’s up. More on the art world in a second. Crashing hard at the moment. 8 hours at the day-gig, 2.5 hours teaching, 4 miles on the bike, no sleep for most of the weekend and a good 12 hours on a ladder between Thurs and Sun – on top of home and family, music, friendship and being woken by the cat at least twice a night. I’ve never been so exhausted, but somehow it all feels good. I sleep now. More in a ticky-boo.

Two guys with beards and an imaginary webpage

•April 1, 2017 • Comments Off on Two guys with beards and an imaginary webpage

A report and some videos. So for those who read these things for things other than my quasi-paranoid concerns on the deconstruction of certain administrative state, you’ll know that I’m a newly-minted occasional member of faculty of the same institution that I’ve been an administrator at since moving back to this country. And with that, there’s been a slight learning curve – for instance, spring break is a time for grading papers, lesson planning and recovery – not working full-time in the administrative position, grading papers and booking a small east-coast tour with esteemed colleagues. But, as one would figure, that’s what I did and while there’s largely been no regrets with said decision, I am indeed quite tired. However, productivity stops for no one, so I write. With discipline and proper planning, we shall succeed and excel.

Case in point, today’s schedule:

  • 6 AM: Wake up, finish oscillator for art show
  • 7 AM: Make coffee
  • 8 AM: Drill box for custom pedal
  • 9 AM: Materials order for art show and custom orders
  • 10 AM: Paint one box, glue fur to another one
  • 11 AM: Pancakes!
  • 12 PM: Update website (right now)
  • 1 PM: Shower
  • 2 PM: Xime nap – read musicology text
  • 3 PM: Pack art in car, leave for DC
  • 4 PM: Deliver artwork to gallery
  • 5 PM: Return to Baltimore
  • 6 PM: Dinner
  • 7 PM: Playtime – bathtime – bedtime
  • 9 PM: Work on paper for conference
  • 10 PM: Record/mix improvisations on electronics
  • 11 PM: Read, pass out with head in musicology text

And so on. Tomorrow I write more, prepare for Monday’s class and do laundry. But previously, I was on tour with f.org, the duo I play in with Alex Catona that straddles the working definitions of free improvisation and harsh noise. I personally think we’re onto something – it’s just a matter of outlet. More on that later. At the moment, you’ll have to suffice with some videos of us doing our things in New York, Washington DC and Baltimore. They’re pretty good. And they form the basis of the sonic material for a new and forthcoming record entitled “No Fuhrer” – aptly named in the typical revolutionary fashion and in response to attempting to play free music at a time when so many other freedoms are being clamped down. Compared to our previous recordings, things get dark quick. Can music be both free and non-idiomatic as well as political? Can any music be non-political? Hard to say these days. For those who who agree, here’s a quick statement to the assuring manifesto that the powers that be can try as they might, we will fight them wherever we can with whatever tools we have at our disposal. For those who don’t, here’s some videos of two guys with beards playing cello and synthesizer who named themselves after a website that they personally cannot afford to own. More on the way, but keeping to the schedule, I believe the shower is calling.

In solidarity,

t.

 

Springtime Post-Industrial

•March 21, 2017 • Comments Off on Springtime Post-Industrial

As it seems the world of busy never abates, another proclamation for the masses. Namely, being that it’s the first day of spring, three new releases have dropped on the experiment and potentially focal pivot of existence otherwise known as VF Industrial. Rounding out this season we have:

a1754696598_10

José Duarte – CR Dístopia. Imagine a future where the insistence on preserving the pristine aspects of eco-tourism and the perceived image of a globalized paradise has turned ugly and anyone not willing to support the myth disappears into the machinations of systemic rehabilitation. In other words, the sounds of the neopostapocalyptic post-colonialism direct from the source – as told via processed field recordings, VF synths and Pure Data. Click the picture, take a listen.

Headboggle_300

Headboggle – Music for PC. Bay Area synth wizard and Buchla aficionado Derek G presents an extended mix of acoustic piano music for your entertainment and general  befuddlement. Recorded on a series of pianos across San Francisco, this mix was originally made to accompany films by visual artist Paul Clipson, and serves as the only current archive of their collaboration – in glorious stereophonic sound.

MareIslandAlbumCover_300

Finally, we have Mare Island, by [ruidobello]. For this record, sound artist Jorge Bachmann presents a series of haunting mixes that combine haunting synthesizers with field recordings conducted at an abandoned navy shipyard located 20 or so miles north of San Francisco. For your safety, listen to this in the company of at least one friend and have a couple blankets available to take the chill off.

And there we have it. More on the way, including a small bit of tourism I’m undertaking in the ned few days – midterms are almost finished grading and a slew or emails need to go out by the ned of the week. I should probably continue hammering away at this paper I’m scheduled to present at Columbia University in a few weeks, there’s wiring to be done and recordings to be made. Ah yes, and episodes of a certain zombie-themed tv show to be watched – probably the hardest thing on the list to do. Seriously, it’s like we’re watching it in 7 minute chunks as we try to get our tv-ma viewing in while the little one’s asleep. The problem is that being a light sleeper, even the slightest zombie sound is prone to waking her. Adult life – so it goes.

Post-Ohio Decompression

•March 11, 2017 • Comments Off on Post-Ohio Decompression

IMG_5185

Hey gang,

It’s Saturday morning and I have a second to provide an update on what’s happening in our neck of the woods, both with regard to personal, professional and artistic. We were all in Ohio last week for the retirement party of a professor from undergrad and a departmental reunion – had a wonderful time, but between Pau and I we also performed three recitals and put up a preview of a couple new instruments on top of putting 800 miles on the car round trip. This week was all about recovery. At least I had a quiz and an open lab scheduled for my class this week – no idea how I’d be able to lecture on top of all that. Supposedly I have a midterm due next week, but there’s already talk of canceling class due to snow – possibly the first actual storm in Charm City all year. So it goes.

Outside of that, it’s a total waiting game at the moment as the applications I submitted at the end of last year are churning through the pipes. Hopefully I’ll hear something soon and make the necessary preparations when it comes time to pull the trigger. In a few weeks, Alex will be flying up for a few shows and then Pau has a solo show at Rhizome that we’re frantically preparing for. Tomorrow I’ll be holed away writing a paper about hydrography for a conference in NY – so yeah, lull and frantic, simultaneously and interchangeably.

Of note – in the fundraising/electronics dept, we’ve dropped the price on the 24 to move out the final stock – it’s been a great pedal, but juggling 5 production models gets tricky and the thought is that it’s time to streamline the operation and make some new stuff. Just saying. I’d probably be more than willing to build one custom if you asked nicely, but for now this is what we have.

Also – hey, here’s a recording from my set in DC the other week. Still waiting for the recordings from Ohio – will post them as soon as they’re up.