It’s been a while since this blog was graced with the news about some new musick of mine being released, hasn’t it?
Now that is to change – at, for the time being, the rate of one remix:
The track/remix in question was done already a few years back still at the Ye Goode Olde Viennese Ivory Bunker and I’ve been eagerly awaiting this release to come out ever since I sent the finished file to Skylined – the creator of the original track. Mostly because it is, if I may be allowed to say so (and who could forbade me, after all this is my *bowdlerized expression* blog), one of my personal favorites, one of those tracks where things ‘just flow’ and you end up with a piece of musick you really like. And still really like years later… Well, I hope you’ll enjoy it, too! So here, without further hubris or whatnot, is the announcement:
Skylined – Whrall Variations is the 100th release on Mahorka*, the Bulgarian Weblabel founded by Svetlozar Aneff and now run by Ivo Petrov (who actually is none other than Skylined). So congratulations are certainly due!! Here’s an excerpt from the release notes:
Whrall Variations contains exactly what it says on the tin – variations of Whrall created by dear friends who have shaped throughout the years the widely spread veil of all the styles Mahorka have come to encompass: ambience with a sense of dread and doom, dynamic glitchy rhythms, thick walls of sound, dreamy soundscapes that seem to eliminate gravity, the rattle of imaginary machines, and the hum of billions of neutrinos flowing through your eardrums. We cordially invite you on this trip. Bring along friends and don’t forget your towels.” — Angel Draganov (Polygon Ring)
Featuring remixes by Yordan Iliev (acoustic guitar), Alexander Asenov (el. guitar and boss gt8), Boyan Bratanov, Mytrip, Mloski, Sound_00, Ikipr, Adrián Juárez, Iversen, Sevensy, Abluonihil, Tomoroh Hidari, Swamps Up Nostrils, Remell.
The original track, btw., was Mahorka’s 13th release and can be found here.
*I can’t quite help myself but point out that mahorka have released music of mine before: check out their Music For Elevators vol. 1 & 4 for some Tomoroh Hidari tracks, including a further Black Star Variation. And then there’s, of course, the three drone/ambient albums I’ve released under my his Namelessness Is Legion alias. But enough about me, go enjoy the Whrall Variations now…
It’s been a while since my last update. Sorry for that! As I’m currently looking for a new flat (if you know of an affordable, cozy place in E- or SE- London ready to move in before May 18th, please get in touch – hidari [at] gmx [dot] net) as well as for work (headhunters please contact me at the same email address) there’s only so much inspiration left. And most of that went into working on some music for an upcoming release tentatively titled ‘Embers of a Ceasefire’.
Unlike my last two releases The Black Star Variations and Some Stars not yet Black Holes, both of which were focused around analogue synthesizers in either hard- and software manifestations and which, from the onset were explorations of the ambient genre, the new tracks are based on rougher sounds as I’m building up a pool of material mostly made up from sounds recorded with self-built or modified sound devices, field recordings and results from image to sound processing.
Besides cmos-chip based devices like the 4093 nandsynth I already featured on this blog and the Poor Man’s Synth I built at the Dirty Electronics Workshop as well as the Atari Punk Console and some 40106 and 555 circuits I recorded straight off the breadboard, I’ve just finished a first couple of circuit bent devices to further increase my sonic arsenal.
For those of you not familiar with the concept of circuit bending (those who are may want to skip this paragraph): The idea is to alter the electronic circuits of (cheap & simple) toys and (toy-)instruments in a way that makes them produce interesting sounds and/or glitches. Or, in the case of instruments to increase the range of both, the sonic capabilities as well as modes of playability. Made famous by pioneer Reed Ghazala this form of technology hacking has gained widespread popularity over the last couple of years, with hundreds of websites and yer-tube videos to be found on the topic. If curious, I recommend heading over to google/that-tube and search for ‘Circuit bending’/'Circuit bent’.
I attended a first workshop at the Music Hackspace last December where I bent a children’s toy only to find out the ‘thing’ wasn’t doing half of what it did during the workshop once I brought it home (and in a recent attempt to ‘repair’ the damage it seems I’ve actually destroyed the circuit)… But one doesn’t give up that easily.
So recently when veteran circuit bender Tasos Stamou did another workshop at noise=noise, this time focusing on the cult toy-organ that is the Stylophone (the re-released version, to be precisely) I was thrilled to give circuit bending another, supervised, chance. Especially since I already had a Stylophone waiting to be modified. A few hours of soldering and drilling holes and – always the hardest part – reassembling the whole thing again, later I am now the proud owner of a Stylophone that has a) a wider pitch-range, b) a sustain mode allowing it to drone on permanently until battery death does it silenced and c) two body contacts that allow for a feedback-glitch.
I made a first quick demo recording to give you an idea of what words can’t really describe, i.e. what it sounds like:
Circuit Bent Stylophone Demo-290413 (if the soundcloud player doesn’t show up, please try refreshing page)
Here’s a few pictures from the bending in progress:
Tasos has also figured out a way implement a CV control of the Stylophone but due to lack of some parts we weren’t able to get this done at the workshop. I do, however, possess the info and am planing to do this with my Stylophone in the near future (as I don’t have a CV-Source (sequencer, et. al. yet, there’s no rush, I’d say).
Tasos Stamou demonstrating his Stylophone (including the CV Input)
With the motivation of a job well done I then went on to do my first all-by-myself bent.
I had picked up a little Turkish toy-phone for a quid-and-a-half at a charity shop and, after making sure I recorded its original output (the numbers from 1-9 in Turkish as well as the Turkish alphabet, plus a few telephone sounds and musical pieces – all of which I plan to upload once the promised Ivory Bunker Sample Packs come – bothering me about them might help to speed things up (: !!)
I went on to find out – by process of trial and error – what could be done with this toy. Turns out not too much – the only bend I found was for the system clock, the resistor of which I replaces with a potentiometer which allows to slow down the clock to an extend that renders the sounds into glitchy low drones and pitched down voice-samples. Once again I think it’s best to let a demo recording do the talking:
Circuit Bent Turkish Toy Phone Demo – 290413 (on Soundcloud – please refresh if it’s a no-show!)
While admittedly only a simple modification there’s quite a variety of sounds this thing can now produce. I yet have to play around with it more and try to, for example, send the signal through a variety of effects and, maybe sometimes, open it up again and see if maybe I can find some more bends – such as some feedback points or connections that make the output glitch up in more unpredictable ways then the simple slow-down. Meanwhile I already have another candidate to modify/bent – a microphone cum beatbox-player including voice-modulator, a couple of preset rhythms and – ‘important’ – a button that plays back applause. I’ll see when I’ll get to that, as, to close the circle and lead back to where I started this post, I need to focus on finding a new flat/room and work… meanwhile here’s two pictures of me recording the glitchdrone extravaganza posted above:
In that spirit: don’t forget to follow me on twitter, fb or linked-in and/or support my work by heading over to bandcamp and treat yourself to some fine music (and if possible buy one of the two priced releases or consider leaving a small donation dl-ing one of the ‘name your price’ ones – thanks!)
… and yes, as I said in the introduction: if you’re headhunting for a creative musician/music-writer and/or promoter/’evil’ genius or a tenant/flatmate – get in contact now!! cheers…
In my latest update, about my trip to Mallorca, I left out one detail. I didn’t plan on doing so, I actually just forgot to mention – and now it seems that, in this ongoing narrative here, this topic actually warrants a post on its own. It may be that the law of coincidence needed to prove itself – as always by exception – and turn a mundane oversight into insight to, and I’m not certain if I’m truly speaking pataphysically here, dedicate a special place to an encounter with the legacy of Alfred Jarry.
Now, I’ve mentioned Jarry before – in this post and elsewhere. And referred to his ‘Pataphysics – while an influence on all my music making, even in the times before I was aware of it*- specifically on two of my releases. One could call it somewhat of a leit-motif… While I’ll leave it to dear reader to check if they can identify those releases on my bandcamp page – if so they wish -, if rather interested in reading more on the wonderful science that is ‘Pataphysics I can recommend Andre Hugill’s quite recently published ‘Pataphysics: A Useless Guide. Thus said, it is of course important to point out that Ubu entered the world/stage quite a while before Dr. Faustroll enlightened us to the existence of The Science. We should thus travel back further into literary time in order to come back, full cycle, to the present and thus the Balearic scene of my recent Ubu-esque encounter:
The Esbaluard Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Palma is a great place to visit in any case. Apart from its quite remarkable architecture – intriguingly built into a part of the towns former fortification – it hosts artworks by some seminal figures of 20th century creative modernism. Ceramics by Pablo Picasso, to drop one name here. Or, and another of the surprises on my nincompoop-esque first encounter with the Balearic island, a whole collection of pieces by Joan Miro dealing with the notorious figure that – with a single utterance of ‘Merdre!’ – brought on the transition into modern theater: The incompetently evil Ubu. A sort of Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil – story, Ubu – the Ex-King of Aragon usurps the state, kills off his enemies and – driven by Lady McBeth-like Mere Ubu to increasingly evil and stupid deeds – all echoing and satirizing the aspirations of bourgeois mover-uppers – ends in the tragedy of classic drama. This splendid figment of Jarry’s school-boy days’ imagination was brought to life-likeness as the central character of three plays (Ubu Roi, Ubu Cocu and Ubu Enchaîné) - and has gone on to inspire, amongst others, the name of rock(?)-band Pere Ubu or the magnificent archive of modernist- to post-modernist art and discourse, ubu web. Now it has, admittedly, been a while since I read the Ubu plays – a quick google effort reveals that an English version is freely available on Project Gutenberg, but I’d rather finish this post before delving into that text again – so I’ll rather than having a go at re-telling, let alone practice my withered skills of literary criticism here invite Dear Reader to read the text for themselves. Or, maybe even better, go to see the play(s) the next time they’re performed at a theater near you. If you’re in or near London you’re quite lucky, as the play is currently being staged at the Barbican! (You will need to pardon Jarry’s French, though…) If you’re more inclined to watch from the comfort of your home there is a 1965 version (in French with English subtitles) available on yeTube:
As the whole surrealist movement was heavily influenced by Alfred Jarry it need not wonder that one of its most prominent members, Joan Miro (Barcelona, 1893-Palma de Mallorca, 1983) held his own fascination for Ubu.
During the censorship and generally adverse conditions of the reign of Spain’s catholicism infected dictator Francisco Franco the figure of the vile incompetent king became a tool of masked criticism – especially in Miro’s Barcelona Series. But the work on display at Es Baluard stems from a later date and pays hommage to Ubu directly. It show’s the series ‘Ubu’s Childhood’ as well as pieces made for a bibliophile edition of Ubu Roi. (According to wikipedia Miró created over 250 illustrated books). And while Miro was not the only artist to bring to painting the monstrous ubu – ‘Max Ernst, Picasso, and Réné Magritte all produced works illustrated the monstrous Ubu’s monstrous deeds; [it seems that ]Miró was [also] deeply committed to Père Ubu, illustrating three texts, Ubu Roi (1966), Ubu aux Baléares (1971), and L’Enfance d’Ubu (1975). ‘ (source)
Set up skillfully at Esbaluard the series displayed there speak – especially to someone more rooted in literature than the history of the arts – for themselves. So while I can only recommend anyone finding themselves in Palma to drop by the museum and see for yourselves, here are a few pictures I took as, let’s say, appetizers:
For more information visit the website of the Esbaluard Museum
And for those wondering where the magnificent phrase “Constant Shallowness leads to Evil” stems from: it is the title of an Album by British Industrial band Coil who – law of coincidence?! – have their own Ubu-esque track, the haunting ‘Ubu Noir’ on their Scatology Album:
Thus I’d say let’s leave it at that…
UPDATE: yesterday, April 17th, a review of a new book on Jarry was published in the Times Literary Supplement. You can read: Merrrrdrrrre!: Alfred Jarry and Père Ubu at the link.
*In similar fashion as the discordianism‘s dogma that ‘everybody is a discordian pope, whether they are aware of it or not’ everybody is a pataphysician, whether actively practising ‘pataphysics or not.
It was a welcome change for sure when, in the week leading up to easter, I took a trip down to Mallorca for a week with my whole family. My Mother had had the idea to celebrate her recent round birthday with a week of hiking and enjoying some cultural highlights on this beautiful Balearic island. Besides being a wholesome change from the cruel greyness of the past weeks here in London (a situation which is, luckily, slowly starting to improve – the sun is shining today, fitting in with the mood of the breaking news…), it provided me with a chance to spent some quality time with my parents, sisters & their families and my aunt. It also gave me plenty of opportunity to revel in my shutterbuggery (that’s not a word, I guess, but it does sound good, now, doesn’t it?!) and – most interestingly to the connoisseurs of my musick – to take some nice field recordings.
Before delving into that topic, though, I feel I need to shortly mention that before going there myself basically I all knew of Mallorca was what sensationalist media reported on Der Ballermann aka Germany’s only colony where tourists work hard of ridding themselves of those nasty brain cells. Now I know more and am positively taken by the beauty of the landscape as well as the rich cultural history of that Balearic gem.
But enough honey around the threshold of the Tourism-agency… I did, luckily, bring my handy Zoom H4N with me. I managed to capture some decent sounds of waves crushing against a rocky shore at Sa Foradada (who put the Dada in there, btw.?) and my niece captured a nice pic of me doing so. It was, of course, a constant struggle against the wind which, besides airplanes (ruined my attempts to capture some amazing birdsong) and people chattering is probably the major foe of all field recordings. Nonetheless, here’s a snippet of the waves:
(Field recording of waves breaking at Sa Foradada on Soundcloud)
As it was the week of easter – or ‘Semana Santa’ as it is called in catholic Spanish – we were treated to a unique spectacle: The procession of the hooded men. I had heard of these taking place in various locations all over Spain. In some places they feature local folk-singing by the ‘mourning women’, and usually they come with a lot of drumming. In Palma, alas, they featured (para-)military pomp by marching bands… Lined up with 100(0)s of spectators, this is, of course, not the place to get any recordings that are of much use for musical re-mangling or sampling, but more a kind of capturing an atmosphere. (And who knows when/what for that might come in handy.) And even though the overall musical quality is atrocious in places (makes you wonder if the musicians play their instruments more often than that once a year) it is a pretty catchy tune. I witnessed/recorded two different of these marching bands and they all seem to play only one motive for all of the procession (even though there are slight variations). Have a listen yourselves:
(Semana Santa Procession in Palma de Mallorca on Soundcloud)
I’ve enabled the download for both of these recordings and you are welcome to use them in your music or whatever (please credit to Tomoroh Hidari if you do so!) – the procession is an mp3, the waves come as wav.
Meanwhile personally I’m at work on some new music for an upcoming Tomoroh Hidari release. At the moment I’m still mostly working on assembling a sound-pool (including some mangling of said field recordings in, amongst others, the amazing cecilia program). The working title is ‘Embers of a Ceasefire’ and that is about all that can, at the moment, be said about it with certainty. I will keep you updated about the process when news are mentionworthy. Until then have a good time in a, since today, Margaret Thatcher free world…
During today’s morning black magic ritual (aka coffee; +coffee) I learned of the passing of one of my favorite film directors, Spanish born Jess (Jesus) Franco. Now, I do not intend to make a habit of adorning this blog with exploiting the (always suspiciously sycophantic) obituary genre. (why, btw., suck up to the dead. And I’m not buying into the whole De mortuis nihil nisi bonum also, but that’s all another essay I’ll probably spare myself writing). Anyway, the first – and a good and personal – obituary by, obviously, a fellow Francophiliac features on Tim Lucas Video Watchblog…
What immediately amazed me is the already large amount of ‘who was Jess Franco’/'I don’t know (m)any movies by him’ -comments popping up on the blue&white social network. And that’s what spontaneously motivated me to add my signal to what will – certainly – become noise by sheer deluge of JF tributes, obituaries and retrospectives on the ‘blogosphere’…
Mind you, I am not a movie-critic (and have no aspirations in that respect) and I wouldn’t call myself a cineast either. And while objectivity is much asked for (and never really fully accomplished, as there is always an observer speaking) in journalism, I like to avoid this variation of the spiel of the absent author on this blog and rather provide you with a voice telling you of a subjective relationship with the wonders of this, humanly constructed, world. Thus, what follows is by no means a full account of Franco’s work as an auteur, nor does it even attempt to do, what others have done considerably better. What it is, is me paying tribute to a great, prolific film-maker who, according to IMDB has directed 199 (!) films, a few of which I greatly enjoyed and drew quite some inspiration from. And from whose movies I sampled twice: “In Secret and Silence” features samples from the great “A Virgin among the Living Dead” – still one of my favorites (trailer) – and the forthcoming track “The Westenra Vortex” by Anathemasochist – my project with fellow Franco appreciatrix Hecate aka Rachel Kozak – features samples from “Jess Franco’s Dracula“. (Full movie on youtube).
(Tomoroh Hidari – In Secret and Silence on Soundcloud – free download)
My first encounter with the work and world of Jess Franco was – as it was, I think, for many – the music to his seminal Film Vampiros Lesbos.
Jess was an outspoken Jazz enthusiast and this specific soundtrack by Manfred Hübler and Siegfried Schwab, with its easy listening exotica became a cult in its own in the 90s hedonistic lounge crowd. The actual movie, starring the beautiful Soledad Miranda – my personal favorite of Franco’s leading women - I saw much later.
This makes – as far as I remember – the rather bad “Oasis of Zombies” the very first of his films I watched. At that time the name Jess (Jesus) Franco had, however, not yet stuck with me. It was the – very good – “Love Letters of a Portuguese Nun” which eventually triggered my Francophilia and started me off on searching and collecting as many of his films as I could (a journey which is still ongoing, albeit my lack of intentions to track down (most of) his ‘merely’ pornographic films). The great I’m in a Jess Franco Mood blog and an episode of the highly recommended Eurotika series of documentaries dedicated to The Diabolical Mr. Franco soon helped to gain some insight beyond the rather sparse IMDB and Wikipedia pages.
One, amongst a few, recurring themes in his work are the writings of the Marquis de Sade, (from whose writing, btw., one can learn more about the human psyche than from Lacan or Sigmund Fraud – also see this book by Maurice Blanchot) with more than one adaptions of Justine and Juliette respectively and, it seems, a special interest in the story of Eugenie. One of his best – and another one of my favorites adaptation features, again, Soledad Miranda alongside Paul Müller (vs. a shady Jess Franco himself on the heels of their bad deeds) in Eugenie de Sade.
Another favorite motive of the maestro was female (often lesbian) vampires. The connection of Vampires and Sapphic Erotica is, it should be mentioned, not all that novel. And – careful! anecdotal evidence – while a feminist friend of mine once told me that the whole vampire-myth has its sources in veiled references to lesbians (do your own research, should you want to substantiate this claim), it the topic can be quite clearly seen in one (if not thee) earliest published piece of Gothic Vampire Fiction, Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s ‘Carmilla‘ (Free ebook via Gutenberg.org). This story obviously influenced quite a few movies – wikipedia names Carl Dryer’s famous ‘Vampyr‘ and Roger Vadim’s ‘Et mourir de plaisir’ (English: Blood and Roses) as examples. And Franco took up the motive in more than one of his: Apart from the already mentioned Vampiros Lesbos I found “Female Vampire” (featuring Lina Romay, Franco’s Muse and Wife of many years) and “Daughter of Dracula” quite worth the while. (And I should admit here that the combination of Horror and Softcore, while in its execution not always really that arousing, is a kind of sleaze I’ve been enjoying for quite some time in my life and which certainly gave its own share of inspiration to my debut album, the Necrophonicon!)
Jesus F. also touched on a variety of Exploitation genres – Women in Prison-flics, Cannibals, Nunsploitation and more with results of different quality and tastefulness. There certainly isn’t too much political correctness in them (and back then there was not much pc to revolt against, a thing all those neo-exploitation movies can’t seem to get a handle on doing properly). I am quite certain Mary Whitehouse wasn’t a big fan of these movies and most of them are probably not the first choice to recommend to a Franco neophyte. But if you are into kinky sleaze and can handle the quite open depictions of some male/some male’s more or less perverted fantasies there are certainly some gems of the genre to be found. (the Eurotika docu posted above may give you some hints where to start out on your journey of discovery).
For his many – straight out – porno movies Franco faced quite some criticism and rejection by cinephiles and parts of the industry, but for him as a lover of making films it was a way to survive and be able to do what he obviously loved: make great movies – many of them adaptations of world literature – Doriana Grey, – which personally I did not enjoy all that much -, Dracula vs. Frankenstein & The Mistresses of Dr. Jekyll – both of which I’ve yet to see – or The Story of O.; and the list goes on.
Then there’s also a large number of thrillers – many of which play in an underworld/subculture of – again - perversion and classic de Sadian Libertine. Succubus – another from my list of favorites, or the splendid She Killed in Extasy (like all films featuring Soledad Miranda, of course, a favorite) or Exorcism - with Lina Romay and Jess, once again, playing the role of the detective – come to mind immediately.
born: Oliver Stummer
is a musician, producer and sound engineer currently living in London.
He was born in Graz, Austria sometimes in the last century.
He holds a Magister (~Master Degree) in Media- and Communications and English from University of Vienna.
He drinks his coffee without sugar (black, of course - everything else is not coffee but a milkshake!)
The Ivory Bunker is both, the name for his studio and, in a way, for his philosophy.
He oscillates between the positions of the Nihilist Jester, Cynic or Evil Sage at the Ivory Bunker.
He also works as producer, sound engineer, guitarist, cellist, melodica player and (de-)composer
His hobbies are nothing, cultural sciences and - history, reading, photography and atheism.
He likes bacon.
read more on:
contact: hidari [at] gmx [d0t] net