This Is Not Art: Australia, 2011

this fall, i was privileged with the opportunity to participate in two arts festivals in newcastle, australia. these festivals were "electrofringe," whose focus was on the practice of electronic arts, and "critical animals," whose focus was the critical theory underlying creative endeavors. both of these festivals are components to a larger meta-festival called "this is not art." i was invited to engage in a variety of artistic and pedagogical events, some of which were newly realized just for the festivals (viz. songbirds).

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MLEF: the blended fetal eyeball paste tour

Last week, MOLTEN LAVA EYEBALL FIEND played a few shows in Texas and a show in New Mexico. We're calling this our first tour, although we really see it as a dry run for a much larger tour around SXSW. For the most part, the networking and brainstorming was invaluable to the EYEBALL FRIENDS. Also, it was really exciting to find new audiences that seemed to enjoy what EYEBALL FORNICATION is about. Several recordings exist that document this:

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On June 3rd, Cooper Baker and I performed this piece for amplified steel bar. It involves grinding and cutting the metal and processing it with an array of quirky homemade analog effects units. It was very loud, and emitted constant showers of sparks. We had way too much fun doing this, and we will most certainly be doing it again soon.

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Creosota, Live on the Air

On Thursday, May 12th, Josh Redman was kind enough to host Creosota on his show "5 4 3 2 Fun" on KCSB 91.9 Santa Barbara! Adam and I talked quite a bit about the performances that would happen the next night at CEMEC (not as Creosota). We start playing around 8:25. Enjoy!

Bird Tree Shrine

Last Saturday night, Sean Leah Bowden, Thalia McCann & I made a performative installation involving an amplified tree shrine inhabited by insane bird creatures. Leah and Thalia did incredible work on the costumes and shrine. I offered as much help as I could with the shrine, and provided the following tape piece constructed from granulated field recordings of starlings. It played out of a small guitar amp at the base of the tree and an even smaller hidden speaker in the branches.

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I recently had the privilege and good fortune to travel to Australia again! This time, I got to play some music and even do some teaching, thanks to Estee and the other kind folks at Electrofringe and UNSW. In the process, I really enjoyed making field recordings of trains & birds (thanks, Sam!), taking pictures of some beautiful street art, and hanging out with friends both old and new. I was again reminded of how incredible the coffee is down there. That alone would be reason to go back! I also got to visit Melbourne this time, which is a truly lovely city, with some lovely people in it.

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who is anybody?

On Wednesday, December 1st, I had the pleasure of sharing the stage with MC Justin Zullo (AKA Conundrum), Kimbridge Balancier (AKA sPeakLove), and Diana Cervera. I DJ'ed (from the command line!) for Conundrum for the first half, and played a solo set for the second. Due to a few technical problems, I was unable to record the set with Conundrum, but I was able to reconstruct the solo set. I've decided to release this set online as an EP, in a manner similar to "gosling_glider_gun."

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give me everything.

on thursday, october 28th, this piece made its debut at brooklyn college for their biannual "international electroacoustic music festival." despite the fact that i couldn't be there in person, i couldn't pass up the opportunity to have it premier in brooklyn, due to the subject matter. i'd been planning this piece for two years, and it was awesome to finally see it through to completion.

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a recording of a short set i performed at the che in san diego, on saturday, september 25th. my primary tools were supercollider, matlab, and logic. i also used soundhack and audacity. all original unreleased material, slated for free digital release with abattoir records in new york sometime this year.

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interval ylem:

chonyid bardo:


i played these two sets livecoding in supercollider on my eeepc running pure:dyne, played through two homemade amp / speaker circuits left over from the project steve and i just worked on.

the material is inspired by some meditation and late-night internet research into vajrapani cosmology, specifically surrounding the bardo thodol. i actually have a copy of the translation (not the robert thurman) somewhere around here. the titles reflect this. "ylem" is a term first used by cosmologists george gamow and ralph alpher to describe the primordial substance. in tibetan cosmology and linguistics this relates to the chikhai bardo (first interval), or the clear lights; an experience of complete merging with blissful liberation. after this, the bardo thodol describes lesser lights, or the chonyid bardo (second interval), a highway through various inner realms, riddled with possible exits into liberation or eventual rebirth.

i have clearly been listening to a lot of eliane radigue's beautiful electronic compositions-- and a healthy amount of gabber. most of the sounds are produced by fm and waveshaping. the material is largely simple and repetitive, not just because it's the result of livecoding, but also as a choice. i generally go for a more granular approach to sound, so the sound of smooth oscillators is kind of a treat for me. the warm tone of the amps is really what pushed me in that direction. to record this, i used a pair of binaurals clipped to the little 8ohm speakers you see in the picture above. in these sets i'm particularly fond of waveshaping by phase-indexing a sinewave or set of sinewaves with very low frequencies (1-24 hz). this technique adds a throbbing nonlinear distortion that can be both timbral and rhythmic.

crudspades ginormous thing at bent 2010!


the crudspades ginormous thing went up at bent last week! i had to restrain myself from putting documentation online too early, because i didn't want to spoil any surprises. steve litt and i had a great time working on this project, and i look forward to working with him in the future... we have been talking about recording an album of crudbox music. i'll post updates here, of course.

here is a link to the concept art and proposal. the installation consisted of a small ensemble of self-amplified trash sculptures, with steve's crudbox as the conductor. we ended up making 6 pieces and finding 2 prefab appliances. they were:

  • a large metal slinky with several metal beaters hanging inside it, shaken with a solenoid
  • a metal grate, previously used as a gong with mike clemow for our performance at the silent barn a few weeks ago (as the todd walker tabernacle choir), hit with a solenoid
  • two amplified cans hit with solenoids
  • a piezo-speaker feedback synth, activated with a relay
  • an electro acoustic sculpture we came to call "richard." richard was made from a flat ribbon speaker i pulled out of the trash over a year and half ago. on either side hangs a small electret microphone. the mics are ring-moded together, using the jar, and the amplified signal is fed back into the speaker. crudbox sequenced richard by turning a small, hidden led on and off, which was paired with a photoresistor to pulse the feedback on and off. when used in this way, richard mainly provided a low end "wump!" sound. however, running in stand-alone mode, independently from crudbox, richard could generate a huge array of tones, and was immediately playable. furthermore, the no-frills interface provided an opportunity for meaningful collaboration with others. i am curious to build out the other flat speaker i found and make a second richard. i feel like i could play an entire set on this instrument alone. if i made a second one, it could be interesting to have three people interacting with the system onstage. i will post video of richard running solo in a later post.
  • an old vhf analog tv, activated by a relay. steve and i were amazed at the beautiful shapes and patterns one could get simply by turning the television on and off. we even got it to change stations sometimes! steve is now obsessed with tvs.
  • an old turntable, activated by a relay. steve had tried this approach before during the mmix festival last fall. we used an lp of 500 lock grooves.

Some video, taken in my kitchen just before we installed in dumbo, may be seen here.

the return of ®


® is a duo project between guitarist devin drew connelly and me, which has been going on in the background for the past several years, although you probably haven't noticed yet. we are interested in accessing the trans-personal space through free improvisation and other occult practices. we often incorporate sigils, mantras, and cards into our performances. we borrow from many traditions, depending on the outcome we're going for.

following a brief hiatus, ® has reemerged with the following artifact. it has only been marginally edited, and is completely uncut from start to finish.

devin drew connelly- guitar
joe mariglio- livecoding
kapow- parakeet

kids' music workshops at unsound festival!

from last sunday, february 7th, to tuesday, february 9th, a small but amazing group of kids, aged 6-12, built electro-mechanical instruments and talked about sound / music in ways even some educated adults might have problems comprehending. we didn't talk about scales, notes, or staves. we explored the sounds you hear every day, like dishwashers, telephones, and traffic. we discussed the multiplicity of sounds-- how each and every sound is different and how some are similar to others. we thought about where sounds come from and why they sound the way they do. most of all, we listened and played.

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winter and bloom (dance set from 2007)

side one: winter.

side two: bloom.

i played this set in a basement in 2007. people seemed to like most of it, even the scary parts. i know it's ancient history, but i didn't have this blog back then, and steve wanted to hear it. so i've put it on archive.

set list:

pigs feet
a fern sullied
artichoke on the run
pay attention!


blue bus (c'mon)
equos onda
3 quarks for master mark (charmed mix) - feat. miles pearce on flute

(180 bpm)

the set was made in supercollider, digital performer, and abelton live. it basically marked the end of my exploration of dance-music styles, mostly dark psy, happy hardcore, hard house, and drill n bass. in addition to these genres, compositionally i was (and continue to be) obsessed with microtonality, oddmeter and polyrhythms. the sound palette i used was very influenced by the work of curtis roads and iannis xenakis. i also regularly did studies where i'd use less than one second of sound material to generate entire 15 minute works. since then, i have almost totally moved away from beat oriented music, but i could definitely see myself revisiting this in the future. so wise up!

what was great about this night in particular was the sense of a truly open, positive community dedicated to experimentation and collaboration. everyone involved had something really unique and beautiful to offer, and i don't just mean the dudes with the gear (although they were awesome too!). only a few times in my life since have i felt such a sense of collective pride and accomplishment. one such night, in recent memory, was the night chronotronic played monkeytown. i sincerely hope to have more nights like this in the future.

let's make it happen!

concept art for crudspds ginormous thing!!

crudspds ginormous thing will be installed at bent 2010!!! stay tuned for updates!!!

the crudspds ginormous thing is an interactive installation by steve litt and me. it will consist of eight self-amplified, electro-acoustic trash sculptures that are activated by steve's crudbox sequencer. since the crudspades ginormous thing derives its sound from amplified physical objects, the user can appreciate the source of the sounds and control them intuitively, creating a wide range of noises. the sound sculptures are constructed from recycled junk, both as a statement of resistance to the throw-away culture that created them, and to subvert their iconic visual language into objects of creative empowerment.

the ‘brain’ of the crudspades ginormous thing is the crudbox, an open-source diy step sequencer designed to turn other devices on or off. instead of playing sampled sounds or controlling a synthesizer, the crudbox works by simply sending power to one of eight outputs. plug any device into an output channel, and that device can be sequenced in a manner instantly recognizable to electronic music fans everywhere. two or more crudboxes can be synced over midi, for virtually endless possibilities.

the sculptures are each unique in look and behavior. they are all brightly colored, dumpster-dived, electro-acoustic instruments that either generate enough sound acoustically, or contain embedded amplifiers and speakers. while most of these objects come already set up, a few of them will be made available for the user to experiment with. this way, the installation will not only serve as a source of passive entertainment, but of active collaboration.

sweet acceleration

click here to listen to the uncompressed aiff file (or play in embedded widget).

this composition was made from field recordings of the 7 train in long island city, and a few of the water treatment plant on the brooklyn side of the creek. i did the plant recordings in the fall, documenting the work in this post. the plant was recorded using a pair of coresound binaural mics, mounted to my head as i practiced my daily meditation on the roof. i recorded the 7 train this past week, late at night so there would be less wind and traffic noise. i used a pair of akg c1000's (cardioids) in an ortf configuration (17cm tip-to-tip, 110° apart). a big thankyou to my housemate jake for loaning me the mics and for freezing with me while we stuck those suckers on a pole and chased some trains. after a few hours of utterly frigid conditions, we retired to the court square diner for milkshakes with whiskey in them.

the composition was done mostly in supercollider and sequenced / mixed in logic. it had been a long time (two years maybe?) since i had worked in any kind of daw, and it was interesting to revisit that style of working. i understand that tools like logic are good at doing very specific kinds of things, and the spirit of the piece called for a few of those things. i also used soundhack to perform strict convolutions between streams of particles and the field recordings to derive spectral granulation. this was more efficient (although non-realtime) than performing a partitioned convolution in supercollider, a technique i also used in places. many of the phrases in the piece were derived from pictures of maps of the surrounding area, although i certainly don't expect people to be able to hear this. i also used other formal systems like fractals and irrational sets. when i was looking for inspiration for gestural phrases, i took all of these formal techniques and tweaked them until they said something like what i wanted to say with the material. when this turned out to be insufficient, i drew the rest in by hand.

with this piece, i tried to accomplish a very different set of goals from what i'm used to and comfortable with. for one, i wanted to actually get down to telling a story. so much of my work only implies a narrative, typically an abstract or formal one, instead of telling a concrete story about concrete things. i was inspired by the work of trevor wishart and robert normandeau specifically. actually, if you're familiar with normandeau's work, you might hear some threads of his beautiful composition "tangram" in my piece. i haven't lifted them, obviously, but i had been listening to that piece on repeat during the production and planning of my own piece. i have also been reading wishart's book "on sonic art," which is simultaneously challenging and uplifting to read.

a narrative piece requires very different treatment than other forms. in order to successfully tell a story, the storyteller must play to the audience's willingness to suspend disbelief. this sort of charisma is ineffable and difficult to achieve. this is where audio fidelity weighs in for me. i don't necessarily want to reproduce the exact sound of a train passing the listener at a distance of 3 feet, but i want that option available to me. i want to be able to make it sound like a flock of trains, or a broken train struggling with each inch of track. if everything sounds like washed out whitenoise with little dynamic clarity, then there won't be much disbelief to suspend. i believe this happened at the debut, where the sound system was fairly unsatisfactory and the room inappropriate for the kind of listening required to actually hear the piece. again, this is not a universal need. much of my music (and the music of my friends) loves to be compressed. to this particular piece, however, the effect was detrimental (see my previous post for details).

so with that, i leave you with the original recording as i mixed it. you may listen to it in any number of sub-ideal situations, if you like. or, if you want to determine if i'm trying to blame the sound system for my own dissatisfaction, you may listen to it on closer-to-ideal setups, if they're available to you. for a frugal alternative to monitors, i recommend decent headphones in a dark quiet room. enjoy!

chronotronic wonder transducer strikes again!!!1

chronotronic wonder transducer is some kind of weirdo experimental arts collective (i think).

we are more or less comprised of the following personnel:

lori napoleon, ted hayes, steven litt, amy koshbin, mike clemow, oliver rivera-drew, and me (i'm joe mariglio, usually).

last night we played a show at monkeytown, in williamsburg. it was a lot of fun. everybody's performances were very dynamic, and i love the fact that each act is unrelated but the whole show is coherent somehow. also, monkeytown is a really wonderful space, and i'm sad to hear they will be closing after this month due to a legal battle with their landlords. montgomery was very nice to us (for the most part), and everybody there was super helpful. their food looks amazing, although i can't afford anything on their menu. and their taste in music for the front bar was refreshing! when i walked in, they were playing off the tellus audio magazine issue about just intonation! XD

all this being said, i was pretty unhappy about the way my set in particular sounded. while i intended the piece to be short and sweet, i feel like it came off as having not enough material. this was partly a pacing issue and also partly a dynamics issue. i spent the last two days of composing this thing on the dynamics alone. there is a huge difference between the loud and soft bits, which allows for a sensation of progression and phrasing that just didn't come through from where i was seated on stage. on speaking to people who had performed there before, i gathered that the system was intended to be heard from the sides, and that in the middle everything was muddy. the fact that everyone else's set sounded great to me supports this. but i think that horrible mackie sub they have only plays 80 hz, regardless of what's going through it.

i have learned a few lessons that i hope to take with me from this night.

1) it makes sense to "perform" a tape piece (ie pre-recorded), if it is in the spirit of the composition. i stand by the piece.

2) when you do a piece that depends heavily on faithful sound reproduction, make sure you either do it in a space meant for that kind of listening, or bring your own rig.

3) the next experimental music concert i perform will be much more lo-fi friendly.

4) i need to write a composition about the jz train now. (this will probably not be lo-fi friendly)

in the next post i will upload a link to the piece so you can decide for yourselves what it sounds like. i recommend headphones and closed eyes.

MMiX Festival Wraps Up with Performances!

tonight, at theaterlab, there will be performances by a few of my friends and me. i will be doing an improvised set on homemade and hacked analog electronics. an oscilloscope will accompany the set to provide a visual cue for the sound. i'm hoping it will be both aggressive and dynamic. i will try to remember to record it.

the program:

Joe Mariglio (that's me!!)
And um yeah
Steven Litt
Ben Neill & Bill Jones

space will be limited, so come early!

tdat performance today!!!

I can't wait!  This is actually turning out to be more fun than terrifying.  For a while there, it was pretty terrifying...

I found a group of ITP students who seem to like doing the piece, and do it well.  They are: Elizabeth Fuller, Ted Hayes (Tedb0t), Lee-Sean Huang, and Kristen Smart.  I could not have asked for a better group, to be honest.

Our first performance will be today at 12:30 and I am totally psyched and not at all terrified.  The project site may be found here.

The text that we have settled on is technically version 8A, although this is misleading because between version 6 and 7, and version 7 and 8, are a very large number of simulated versions that were never tried by humans.  That number is even larger for the 'demo' versions a and b, which may not end up happening at all.  At least the genome files are intact for the demo versions, so they can be pored through and represented / appropriated however anyone should see fit.  The entire genome for demo b, a trio, is available here.

The version we will be performing is available in pdf form here: rules, text.

I plan on making an audio recording of the debut.  I'll post it when I do.