Water is the blood of snow

•June 25, 2018 • Comments Off on Water is the blood of snow

So hey, we’re officially one and a half months snow-free! Gotta admit, while I’m typically accustomed to winter, this one was rough. It wasn’t the cold or the snow that did it, though – it was the length. There’s something about snow in late-April that simply does something to your programming. Actually, make that all biological programming. Maybe Baltimore just was light on the nature, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen as much pollen as I’ve seen this spring in Ithaca. Seriously – we’re talking tumbleweed-sized balls of oak pollen, white-outs of dandelions, yellow rings around every puddle and some sort of strange white plant-fluff down by the lake. I’m usually not allergic, but the past few weeks have been a non-stop flow of sniffles and congestion as my poor nose goes into overtime just keeping the stuff out of my lungs.

And then there’s the rain. Days are usually nice. Then it rains and suddenly the temperatures are in the 40’s again. I keep hearing stories from friends and co-workers about snow in July and August up here and at this point, I’m beginning to believe them. Not to imply that I didn’t, but after living in a top-floor brick walkup where try as it might, the air conditioning was never going to stave off the congestion from the roof and brick exterior in Baltimore, I’m happy for the weather – the rain, the cold and everything in between. Not to talk exclusively about the weather – lot’s happening, hence the radio silence. More on that all later – first up, hey, it’s summer. That means new releases!

First up: The Wind Harp Ensemble, by The Norman Conquest. It involves a wind harp and an ensemble. Not to mention a bunch of synths and voices and Norman’s trademark production. Grip it on the pic:

WindHarp_350

Next up is Dirge for Eight and Twenty (The Teeth of Baltimore) by vsls, which I thought was my moniker for when I use laptop stuff, but this is definitely all analog. Not to say that there has to be a logic behind any of this, but I think the logic was that the first “dirge” EP was credited as vsls, so why not continue for consistency? Either way, here it is.

TOB_350

Finally, we’ve got Tim Walters’ Austerity Measures, which combines Tim’s formidable SuperCollider prowess with some analog nastiness courtesy of Chimera Electronics and VauxFlores. It’s good. Listen to it right now.

AusM_350

So that’s what’s up. Or at least in the immediate vicinity. More on peeps being published, a string of shows (mostly unrecorded), awards won and upcoming art things when I have a second.

Until next time,

t.

 

Advertisements

Potential Spring Sighting Somewhere Along Highway

•April 9, 2018 • Comments Off on Potential Spring Sighting Somewhere Along Highway

IMG_6692

Fearless and Intrepids:

A missive among snow squalls and white-outs in Ithaca as we approach mid-April. Possibly a little heavy on the winter side of things, but eh, we knew what we were getting into when we moved up here. Not to say that we’ve been around much – I think in the past two weeks, there’s been about 1400 miles of driving logged in the name of democracy, culture and other notions slightly out of style here, but are all the rage elsewhere. Not to say that it’s all been driving – let me fill in the gaps.

2 weeks ago was the run-off election of the Costa Rican national election. Meaning a trip to DC since Pau was still registered to vote at the embassy since she registered to vote while we were still in Baltimore and we couldn’t change it to the NY consulate. We’d already made one trip for the general election back in Feb, but found it imperative to head back for round two since one of the two remaining candidates was a real upstanding creep – the kind of guy ho usually doesn’t get more than 2% of the vote due to fringe extremist views, but since the modern era of politics no longer adheres to common sense, he somehow came out on top in the first round. Not enough to claim victory, but enough to mobilize us thinking folks to action – seriously, the past few months for Pau have involved coalitions and Slack meetings and outreach, etc. in a what felt like a fight to the finish to essentially preserve the status quo in CR – which isn’t necessarily perfect by a long shot, but is fairly peachy in comparison to what could have happened if the alternative came to power. Spoiler alert he didn’t – in fact, he lost by over 70% in the runoff, much to our relief. And by relief, I mean, literal relief – Other than a slow day at the office come April 2, most of the day was spent on the couch in utter exhaustion, feeling elated and repeatedly saying “we did it.” We even bought a New York Times to save the clipping, only to discover that there wasn’t a single mention of the election in our edition. Oh the joys of living in the era of scandal – collusion, treason, adult film stars, chemical weapons and the like, but nothing to the extent of “small nation without army manages to fend of fringe political nightmare by way of direct action and comity engagement.” At least we know it happened. And for that matter, for the silver-lining moment of it all, if it worked there, there’s a chance that it might also work here. The general take-away from it all (even from the perspective of supportive husband, driver and babysitter while Pau took care of all the legwork): democracy is something that we can’t take for granted. That being said, I’m kind of looking forward to primary season so I can yell at various elected officials at town halls and other political functions. For starters.

So that was the first 700 miles. Well, that and a Pejibaye workshop at Rhizome. Trip 2 was back to Baltimore to drop the girls at the airport for two weeks of family and endless summer in CR while I wait another month in Ithaca to be eligible or leave time. Ah to be in a new position at a new occupation again. Speaking of, that’s going well. I don’t normally mention the day gig much here, but it’s been an inspiring run thus far. Not to drift from the subject – I have 2 weeks to myself in the tundra. Junk food will be eaten, movies will be watched, things will get accomplished, video calls will be made. And, in this case, websites will be updated. 2 quick things from the industrial wing.

Thing 1: Steini’s new record! New electronic tunes from Iceland. Need I say more. Click on the picture to get to the page. A quick note on the artwork – about 6 years ago, I sent a pedal and  bug to Steini so he could photograph it in and around Iceland as part of Pau’s Somos Legion piece. And in this case, we also decided to toss the boomerang back into his side of the court to have it manifest as the artwork for this record. Things you can do when you’ve been collaborating with a core group of friends for over a decade. Either way, it’s a good one.

Steini_350

Thing two: my new record. Granted, me self-releasing music isn’t all that newsworthy – I mean, that’s kind of what I do at the moment. Maybe one day that will change, but truth be told, it takes a fair amount of energy and dedication to keeping all the balls in the air and searching out labels and doing the demo dance for experimental music seems a little daunting – especially wen you’re not on social media so the random tendrils of vitality that might lead to a tape release or something aren’t as readily available – BUT, in light of the general sleazery emerging from that world ala data theft, manipulation, propaganda and other aspects of the less utopian aspects of the human condition, I’m glad I got out when I did – for those on the fence, I insist you take the plunge back into the real world – the general shock of how truly anonymous you actually are takes some getting used to, but after a few months off the more toxic sites such as Facebook and Twitter, you realize that you’re better off without them,  all the people you want to keep in touch with will still be in touch with you, the weirdos you’d rather avoid won’t go through the effort of finding you and suddenly every news post that’s just a recap of Twitter reactions has even less of a footing as newsworthy reality. Or maybe I’m just dated. So it goes. Either way, I have a new record composed back in January when it was stupid cold out, mostly made using things I’ve built, as is my tradition these days. Picture = link = music.

FrostGradient300

Thing final – the good folks from the Ratskin/Decaycast side of the sphere recently wrote up a review of Marlo Eggplant’s latest hit on VFI. Read it here.

And that’s that. More in a bit, but I have this guitar project I’m working on that’s due in a few days. Gotta hop to.

 

t.

VF Reviewed in Pedal of the Day

•March 2, 2018 • Comments Off on VF Reviewed in Pedal of the Day

Hey all – it appears to be a snow day today. Rare by institutional standards, but apparently it does in fact happen, possibly without Cayuga Lake being frozen from end to end either. In short, office day. Plus a day to hang with the family and take it easy. So far I’ve danced in about 6 “shows” for stuffed animals, went camping twice, built two railroads, houses for the anthropomorphized versions of said trains, read 4 issues of vintage Spider-Man (with the Lizard prevailing as favorite villain so far) and hid from “monsters” (in other words, Pau) about 4 times. I believe we’re experiencing what people have called Cabin Fever. Thinking it might be a good time to get decked out in snow gear and go roll around in the fluffy stuff until we get into possible nap territory. Then some sort of warm beverage, check the slow cooker and see about dialing up some sort of family-friendly feature to get us through until bedtime. I doubt the mail’s running today, but if it is, maybe spend the evening hacking away on a couple projects. I ran out of solder the other day, so if not for that, I’m kind of at a loss, hence webwork. Maybe if I get really desperate, I’ll fire up the old Max patch and see if I can learn me some more Jitter. Because I’m really that far behind. I’m sure I still know Max 4.6 exceedingly well, but hey, video and voltage, kids. But in the meantime, a quick heads up, that the Number 23, which is NOT being retired was recently featured on Pedal of the Day. The video’s at the top of the post. For those into reading, here’s the accompanying article. Good stuff – thanks again for the feature – good words from an awesome site.

OK, being paged. Must return to flustered parenting within the confines of the walls of this-here cabin. Wish me luck, kids.

Retirement Celebration, Pt 2

•February 25, 2018 • Comments Off on Retirement Celebration, Pt 2

2014-10-21 13.08.34

Post two for today. So ya know how last week I was all “hey, we’re retiring the 24’s?” Same goes for Platanos for the same reasons. Again, Thanks and then one to all the folks who took the plunge on this guy and remember – it’s not the end, just the end of me trying to actively profit off the whole building and selling routine. New projects, they await and all that. Also, for those interested in what the Platano was all about, here’s the schematic. Figure I might as well share.

Platano Verde

Three more industrial hits!

•February 25, 2018 • Comments Off on Three more industrial hits!

So hey gang, as of right now, I’m officially sick. Fun, right? Usually the first half of an illness is me being in denial that I’m actually sick,  but yesterday had me delirious and begging for dayquil, as is the way of my people. Today I’m a little better, but still holed up with a box of tissues hoping that I can get my act together for the office tomorrow. I think I can do it. Waste of a weekend, but eh, gotta nuke something. I’ll probably post a couple more things as the day wears on, but here’s the first. Breaking with celestial phenomenon, new releases from the net label. In numerical order, we have:

Oa – Aeriform Cities

a3418916300_10

Matt Davignon and Hugh Behm-Steinberg present a record of processed voice, featuring the quintessential who’s who of voice processors from the San Francisco Bay Area. It’s pretty snazzy. Plus the album artwork provided courtesy of Mary Behm-Steinberg is some of the best VFI’s features so far – tops! This is release number 22, by the way.

FORMS OF THINGS UNKNOWN – No Disposition or Exit Plan

FOTU_300

Number 23, sequentially. Ritualistic synth jams by way of Ferrara Brain Pan, another San Francisco legend from the banewmus scene. This stuff is dark, and I know a thing or two about dark synth jams. Recommended! Finally, we’ve got:

 

Marlo Eggplant – head/rush(ed)

JohnsTravis1

For those who don’t know her, Marlo’s kind of awesome. Plus she’s about to finish her doctorate in England. Take a listen and love it! This is number 24.

Ok – taking a break to re-up on the dayquil – more post 2 for today = incoming momentarily.

Retirement, Reflection, Celebration

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

IMG_6524

 

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!

IMG_20180203_203323918

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.

Frozen Globe Illuminates the Ice Sky

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

Windfall_300

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.