OUT NOW – Oscillatorial Binnage’s ‘Agitations: Post-Electronic Sounds’

Oscillatorial Binnage’s ‘Agitations: Post-Electronic Sounds‘ is finally released via Sub Rosa.  The album has been in-the-works for some years, and is now available as download or on CD (which is accompanied by an illustrated booklet).

The recordings are entirely post-electronic, arbitrarily microtonal music created using mechanical assemblies of found objects, resonated with electromagnetic force fields. Distribution has been slowed by the pandemic, but it’s available on Bandcamp (and also directly from me – see below).  Mirroring the current situation, the album envisions an apocalyptic paradigm shift scenario, necessitating adaptation in the face of adverse conditions (in this case, an imagined post-electronic situation: how might musicians create exploratory electronic music, with its emphasis on waveshaping, filters and modulation processes, without any synthesisers? This album provides the answer).

Oscillatorial Binnage is Fari Bradley, Chris Weaver, Toby Clarkson, and myself. We’ve been performing together for fifteen years, during which time we’ve introduced many unusual new electroacoustic instruments, along with the concept of acoustic hacking.  ‘Agitations‘ features the electromagnetic resonators that I’ve been developing since 2004.  We’ve given many workshops around the world, teaching participants how to access the hidden frequencies of scrap objects using coils and force fields, and how, by acoustically combining workshoppers’ apparatuses all together, even more complex sounds can be produced: communal apparatuses are fertile instruments for ‘miraculous agitations’.

Miraculous agitations are instances of complex sonic progressions, usually emerging from clustered vibrating objects (see previous blogposts for more explanations). Obtaining these emergent states requires patience, but the probability of such states occurring increases with the size of the apparatus. In 2013, Oscillatorial Binnage spent a week at Maggie Thomas and Bob Drake‘s Borde Basse studio in the south of France, loaded up with as many salvaged/adapted objects as we could haul. Over the course of our stay, we gradually coaxed elusive ‘miraculous’ states to emerge from our vibrating apparatuses, not without some grind (Bob, engineering the proceedings, notably had a box of headache tablets on standby).

In France, where the bulk of material was recorded, Bob and Maggie’s array of microphones captured many moments when our apparatuses would become locked into resonating grooves.  The album collects all these instances, recorded entirely acoustically without any electronic processing.  These moments – technically known as ’emergence’ – are one of the principal advantages post-electronic apparatuses have over electronic synthesiser-based equivalents: the possibility of unexpected sonic events arising from an infinity of real-world physical variables.  Another benefit is the economical, recycling aspect: all soundmaking and filtering modules can be found for free.

Oscillatorial Binnage recording Agitations: Post-Electronic Sounds

The CD edition is available either through Bandcamp, or alternatively, can be obtained from me here (see contact page) for £11 with free P&P for the UK.  The limited edition [now sold out] includes a foreword by Nicolas Collins (author of ‘Handmade Electronic Music: The Art of Hardware Hacking‘).

Room40 publishes ‘Aki Onda: I Lost My Memory’

An artist’s book has been published to coincide with Room40‘s digital re-release of the three volumes of Aki Onda‘s Cassette Memories sound project. The limited edition 23-page ‘I Lost My Memory‘ contains Aki Onda’s photography and his story behind Cassette Memories. I supplied a supplementary essay entitled ‘Tape, Psyche, Montage and Magic: The Cassette Memories of Aki Onda’ exploring Onda’s work and the esoteric uses of tape. Some further information can be read on the main Miraculous Agitations blog.

I Lost My Memory‘ also reveals, for the first time, the long-lost identity of an anonymous author writing in 1932, who battled memory fugue to pool his memories for a book of the same title: ‘I Lost My Memory: The Case as the Patient Saw It‘ (published by Faber & Faber).

Aki Onda: I Lost My Memory is out now on Room40 and includes download codes for Cassette Memories I, II and III.

Joris Van de Moortel, noise/music chemistry, and The Wire magazine on the artist’s palette

Extreme detail of Van de Moortel’s ‘Bomb Culture’ (2019)

Noise, forever fizzing at the edges of musical vocabulary, forms the topic of an essay I’ve written for Joris Van de Moortel‘s new artist’s book ‘A Dubious Pilgrimage‘, out now. Van de Moortel is an artist/musician who terms his performances ‘Messes’, riffing on the Catholic Mass but with messier sacraments that assail guitars, amplifiers and other unsuspecting instruments to the point of overload.

The essay is titled “Van de Moortel’s Goception in the Mess: Byways in the History of Noise’s Ongoing Transmutation into Music”, and this noise/music transmutation is viewed through the lens of the literary work of a Victorian chemist and would-be poet John Carrington Sellars titled ‘Chemistianity (Popular Knowledge of Chemistry)‘ (1873). The made-up word ‘goception’ is deployed by Sellars in that work to signify chemical reaction – a neologism precariously invented by him to achieve poetic flow.

With chemical reactions – or ‘goceptions’ – in mind, a longer blogpost over at the main Miraculous Agitations blog examines some instances where artists have used physical copies of The Wire magazine as raw ingredient in artworks. The Wire is a catalyst Joris Van de Moortel often uses in his creative work, most explicitly in his ‘A love affair with Excess’ series where distressed snippets of text from The Wire‘s ‘Excess All Areas’ special 2019 issue are squirrelled into mixed-media artworks. My ‘Bomb Culture’ history of musical explosions text was thereby transformed into an artwork infused with Van de Moortel’s own performative lore.

Strangely, a Wire magazine feature I’d written eight years previously was artfully collaged in Allen Fisher‘s concrete poetry book ‘SPUTTOR‘ (2014). But maybe this isn’t so strange given The Wire situating itself within experimental culture? The fact that I’m by no means a regular contributor to the magazine suggests this is just the tip of an iceberg, and that artistic, collage, poetic/concretic, decoupage and personalisation uses of The Wire are to be expected?  An interesting topic to investigate…

Read more at the main Miraculous Agitations blog.  Joris Van de Moortel’s A Dubious Pilgrimage‘ is available now.

The Wire #409 – Psyphonics – ‘Further Listening’

The latest issue of The Wire (#409) contains my article on ‘psyphonics’ – the idealistic practice of attempting to embed idea, emotion and ‘thought’ within sound. A blogpost over at the Miraculous Agitations blog gives a little background to the idea. The Wire article charts how this romantic concept survives and even flourishes within modernity’s rigours.

A newly formed Psyphonics Facebook group now exists for anyone wishing to explore the idea further and share related music/recordings.

Resonating street furniture, post-electronic busking and ‘acoustic circuit-bending’

New blog post over at the Miraculous Agitations blog – on resonating street furniture, electromagnetic apparatuses, post-electronic busking and ‘acoustic circuit-bending’.  It forms a sort of cautionary tale on the perils of electromagnetically resonating too far afield.

Also, a primer on post-electronic music can be found in the new Exact Change e-zine #8.

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