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.

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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.

satellite001   Sylvedic

 

 

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.

And then we were artists again

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

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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.