Retirement, Reflection, Celebration

•February 10, 2018 • Comments Off on Retirement, Reflection, Celebration

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So hey. Been a second. Been busy. But not so busy this weekend, so I get to take the time to deal with web logistics, etc. Not to mention laundry and other household sundries. Currently clocking month 3 in Ithaca – feels like years. Possibly a good thing? Still sleeping better and stress levels are still much lower than at any time in the past four years. Lucky me. A couple new releases on the horizon via the industrial wing, but first a few announcements.

Announcement 1: Retirement.

Ok – sort of – I’m not retiring. Really of anything. Hell, I’m 35. I’m not eligible for nearly anything for another 25 years. Nor am I giving up the goat or throwing in the towel in the whole creative life thing. The day gig will continue to be the day gig and the nights will be spend with building, writing, recording and what have you until further notice. What is retiring, however, is the Number 24. And no, it’s not going away. In fact, I’ll probably be building them at a greater pace than I’ve been for a while. In fact, it’s probably one of my favorite builds and currently forms the backbone of my home built analog rig. Seriously, it’s great, folks. What I am retiring it from is capitalist production. It’s been 6 years since I built the first 24 in Costa Rica, partially in a response from a client to build something similar to a Supersonic Fuzz Gun – which it actually isn’t, by the way. And in those 6 years, it’s ended up in the hands of some awesome players, who I have nothing but thanks and gratitude for with regard to support, enthusiasm and their willingness to plot a course into the unknown and take a chance on this particular weirdo. But there comes a time when you realize that you have too many balls in the air and it’s only a matter of time before they either come crashing don or you’re simply going through the routine of keeping everything in motion. Especially last year, that was definitely my case. Build, sell, build sell, etc., without any time to design, invent and experiment. Seeing as it’s a new year, in a new town and new everything, I decided that it would be grand to concentrate on a couple new endeavors, and by extension, hopefully figure out new ways of making this industry more efficient and time-friendly. Because trying to work full-time, do the art and electronics thing, write music and be present in the life of a very active preschooler is kind of a handful.

So what does this mean? Simply put, no more direct sales. If you want one, feel free to reach out and I’d be more than happy to build one for you. But no inventory, no marketing, no building with the expectation of exchanging said device for cash unseen from mystery buyers on the internet. I’ll still have them available from time to time on merch tables and as a workshop unit, but other than that, hey, it’s had a good run – let’s put it out to pasture and see where my experiences in building that particular model will take me as I dream up new stuff.

Announcement 2: Reflection.

I’m sure I’ll inevitable go deeper into this one later, but something kind of strange happened the other day while I was sitting in on a lecture by George Lewis at the day gig. He was talking about the notion of Creole aesthetics in contemporary music and while he was listing examples, I kept referencing various pieces of Latin American contemporary art. Which kind of makes me wonder why I feel like I associate with the academic elite in contemporary western music or if that’s a label of a time gone by. It’s weird to think that a gringo farm-kid from upstate New York (currently living and working in upstate New York) could ever potentially identify as a Latin American contemporary artist, but hey, in an era of non-binanry fluid identification where anyone can be anything, why the hell not? Who knows. Like I said. Reflection. I’m sure more will come up on this subject over the next couple months.

Announcement three: Celebration!

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So yeah. I’m 35 now. Statistically, hey, my life is half over! I’ve never really made that big a deal about the passage of time, but for some reason this time it’s been a bit of a positive affirmation that I’ve now been ding this creative sound stuff for half my life. Or a quarter of my life if you think of things as being half over – time to refine a thing or two, methinks. Concentrate on what matters most. Rededicate. Enjoy it. Like I said, celebrate. That being said, here’s a horrible recording from my show last week. My flash recorder bit the dust after a decade of use so I attempted to use my even older portable MiniDisc recorder from undergrad. Apparently MD does not do well with my current sonic aesthetic (bass, dynamics, etc). But in effort to document the good, bad ad ugly, here it is. Next workshop, I’m totally investing in a decent Sound Devices recorded (says the noise musician with expensive tastes), but hey, for now, enjoy the crunch.

Until next time,

t.

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Frozen Globe Illuminates the Ice Sky

•December 21, 2017 • Comments Off on Frozen Globe Illuminates the Ice Sky

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So hi – it’s been a second since the last update on this thing that I swear is a functional website that’s about art and music and not just a forum for me to vent in absence of a presence on social media. Maybe one day I’ll rejoin the hive, but at the moment, the current administration is pretty hung-ho about trolling our media presence at every border crossing, so eh, call it a public service to keep the line moving faster.

On that note – so hey, what’s new. First and foremost, we, being Pau, Xime and I are no longer in Baltimore. Yup. A new phase in all things VF, in this case meaning VauxFlores and not Vanity Fair or Vauxhall, for that matter. Here’s what went down: After nearly 11 months of looking for an upgraded occupational position that will allow such human luxuries as a decent education for my daughter, I was offered and subsequently accepted an IT position at a college in Ithaca, NY. I’ll leave it up to you to discover which one, but in less than two weeks, the house was packed and we were on our way north. 2 months lair, we’re still only kind of unpacking, but I pretty much hit the ground running and our heads are still spinning from the rapid transition. In spite of that, we’re happy to report that Ithaca living is pretty chill – it’s a smaller city for sure and you owe some of the amenities of being on the coast, but it has it’s perks. For instance, we can now afford to send Xime to preschool and I appear to be less stressed out and happier. Always a good thing. Not to mention that there’s that “gorges” joke to acknowledge.

So what’s different in this new phase? In all honesty, I’m not sure. It’s not every day that you pack up and move to a city you’ve only ever been to once before where you know maybe three people from the time before you moved there. I’m sure I’ll figure out some manifesto, but in the meantime, boxes are being built, projects are being finished, sounds are being recorded and the Industrial and Video wings continue to do their thing – possibly even with slightly more gusto and determination that before since there’s not the hovering spectra of where you’re going to end up in the next 6 months. Not to say that Ithaca is the forever home, but there’s currently no exit strategy – all said, it’s kind of this happy, affordable, quirk-filled, northeastern, liberal farm town populated by some of the smartest people on the planet. I guess what I’m trying to say here is it could be worse.

In the meantime, let’s talk releases, yah? After all, it is a solar event and if we go by VFI rules, that means new tunes.

First up is Windfall from the Oakland, Ca. duo Usufruct, otherwise known as Tim Walters and Polly Moller Springhorn. If you recall, Tim’s first VFI release The Difficult Third Wish was our smash hit of 2017 and this release if the perfect follow-up, blending haunting electronics with Polly’s disembodied intonations. Seriously, take a listen.

Also on deck is the next adaptation of my Songs of the Rain and Urban decay. Maybe I was inspired by the overall terrible nature of vaporwave videos or the insistence that in order to make it on nearly any level of the music business at this point you need a video, I decided to create a video album of sorts to accompany said records tracks. Of course not being on social media really stymies the inertia for that particular drive and YouTube craps out years worth of media per day, rendering one’s personal videos pretty much culturally insignificant, but hey, you never know. Not to mention it was fun dorking around with Final Cut for a second. I’m still rusty, but who knows – after spending most of a decade only really filming terrible examples of audio electronics, it could be fun to get wacky for a second.

So that’s what’s up. Go list to Tim and Polly’s disc, go watch my videos and enjoy the celestial phenomena. Then get some sleep. You need it. I need it. We all need it.

 

Endings, beginnings and remixes

•October 16, 2017 • Comments Off on Endings, beginnings and remixes

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For those who tune in regularly just to see what I’m up to as opposed to via referrals from music blogs or pedal reviews – speaking of which, yes, I still do that stuff (pedal building, that is), just not as much as I’d like to or as quickly as I could – the joys of balancing work, life and extra-curriculars. Anyways, this is what’s up.

First, some new tracks from the Industrial branch – Esteban of the Bloqueos variety cooked up some pretty convincing tracks in the style of Black Dice. I, not really knowing anything about Black Dice, offered to create dub remixes of them and failed horribly, creating mixes that are my usual walls of sound but with more delay. Not to say that they’re bad. Several years ago, while on tour with the Pink Canoes, Aram mentioned that regardless of his output, he’ll always end up filed in the jazz section at the record store. So it goes. Or course Aram is versatile and is actually an accomplished sax player while I’m an Eno-inspired acolyte of 90’s era Merzbow with questionable actual musical abilities, but hey, not stopping me. Anyways, here’s the link for these mixes.

In other news, it looks like its full steam ahead for a pending move from Baltimore, Md. to Ithaca, NY. Still finalizing paperwork, but boxes are being packed in anticipation. More on that as it happens.

Moving Images + Geology

•October 6, 2017 • Comments Off on Moving Images + Geology

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A quick one considering it’s day 5 of my 2nd 6-day work week in a row and for lack of better description, I am dragging here.

Two updates. First, I’m happy to announce that a 9-month collaboration with Colorado-based improviser Paul Mimlitsch has just bore fruit by way of Uncompahgre, a new album from VFI featuring Paul on bass and contrabass clarinets and me on electronics. We’ve been bouncing tracks back and forth now since January and I’m happy to report that they’re quite freshly-certified on the usual aggregates. By the by, for those curious about the meaning of said word, it’s Ute and is on loan to such locations as the Uncompahgre River, national forest and what have you on the western slope. Roughly translates, it means “water that turns rocks red” – fitting, since Colorado itself is basically bastardized Spanish for “the color red.” Said national forest was also the site of one of the more amazing things I’ve heard over this particular lifetime, being expanding ice on a frozen basin, amplified by several peaks around it, turning each crack into an epic space-war of echoes. Possibly you hear that in these tracks? Or not. They’re improvised. Hear what you want to hear. As should be the case.

In other news, after nearly a decade of inactivity, I’ve somehow found myself working with video again. Granted it’s primarily using footage the remaining footage that I shot back then, but it’s something. I’m not sure if you would call them music videos, video art or something else, but seeing as the entire media world seems video crazy at the moment, I may as well follow suit. Or at least add a tab to page navigation. Things are a little sparse there at the moment, but I’m sure it’ll get fancy eventually.

And with that, coffee beckons. 16 hours left to this work week. If I’m lucky, the phone will ring with good news.

Autumnal Numerology

•September 24, 2017 • Comments Off on Autumnal Numerology

Hi All,

So it’s fall. And with that some new releases from the industrial branch, as well as an update on what all we’ve been up to – which is mostly a whole lot of building, writing and waiting. On the building front, I’ve been mostly finishing up projects that have been on the desk for forever and a day. Not much visible progress, but it’s a wonderful feeling to look at the workbench and not see a pile of works in various states of completion. One instrument of note: the second addition to what could be considered the “Industrial” series – in other words, custom units designed for VFI artists based on their custom specs and funded exclusively though the net label. It’s been a bit of a slow-going project, but the general idea is to have all aspects of the VF enterprise support each other, to allow an outlet for artists, provide instruments for them and somehow bring everything together in a holistic, largely non-commercial way. Or something like that. Obviously, money is still changing hands, but it’s a little more communal or something. At the very least, it’s less of a me building the same thing over and over again for money. For this interested in what this second beast was, here’s a pic – I’ll write a larger report later.

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The writing should also be self-explanatory. My trusty, decade-old flash recorder bit the dust a few months back so I’ve resorted to jamming into an old rack mount minidisc recorder. Considering that a good portion of my earliest compositions were based around minidisc field recordings, there’s a certain degree of nostalgia and feeling that things have come surprisingly full-circle in a way. But regardless, the simplified press a button and let the tapes roll approach is a nice touch – much better than working with a DAW – I mean, it all ends up there eventually, but with only one computer, recording and performing can be a little taxing on the CPU. Granted, one has to take into account the amount of time for realtime uploads, but eh, so it goes.

Ok – time to scribble is running out – it’s fall. Therefore a couple new recordings from the Industrial wing. Well, not exactly new – more like a decade old. But they’re some of my favorite jams, so somehow its relevant. Not to mention that hey, it’s also experimental music – the thought that more than a couple dozen people have heard these jams is negligible. So here they are – the entire discography from the satellite ensemble. Hope you enjoy them.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.