Archive for the ‘Glitch’ Category

Waves and Radiation


Waves and Radiation – Twisted Science

So to Mars, or the aftermath of some shocking nuclear accident, a Three-Mile Island for Theydon Boise, a Chernobyl for Chertsey if you will. Or, perhaps more prosaically what you can do if you take everything but the infrared spectrum out of an image and then tweak it to the edges of reality using Photoshop.
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My Red Hot Car

Squarepusher – My Red Hot Car

This photo is basically an example of a played for fluke, a bit of inspiration, a bit of perspiration and a whole lotta luck.

I’ve spent weeks trying to nail motion blurring the background while keeping a moving subject crystal clear, trying with bikes, mopeds, cars, cyclists and even at a horserace, but with no real luck… That was until I was stood at some traffic lights last week, camera round my neck and spotted this guy pulling up.

Camera comes up; driver glances over; lights go green; car goes boom – maybe he was showing off, or maybe he leaves half his tire rubber at every traffic light, but speedy take off or not, I got a shot I’m pretty pleased with.

So the question was, how to get it on here? Well, perhaps it’s cos popular music emerged at pretty much the sane time cars became widely available to people young enough to rock, there are a hell of a lot of tunes about driving – as everyone who’s ever bought a motorway music compilation will know to their chagrin and embarrassment.

But for this shot, I wanted something a bit special and a lot suitable, something that goes fast, but is stylish as fuck, something that terrifies you with its growl, but seduces with its purr. Squarepusher, in his own words, is the fucking daddy, so if he’s got a song about a dope moter, it was always gunna be a goer.

A relaxed but raging, comfortablely chaotic charge through tempos, textures and time signatures, Sqaurepusher’s music is rarely less than challenging, complex genius. My Red Hot Car is one of his biggest tunes, and along with Windowlicker came to define the sound of the appallingly named, incredibly sounding music of Intelligent Dance Music (IDM). The music of Squarepusher, or Tom Jenkinson as his parents know him, has moved from techno, drum and bass and glitch, to jazz and music concrete, but is always engaging and ahead of the game.

My Red Hot Car was released on Warp (where else) in 2001, just before the album it featured on, Go Plastic, the track was recently included in the best thing I bought last year, the Warp 20th Anniversary box set. The collection features five CDs and five 10″ vinyls, as well as an exclusive digital download, of music, and the best packaging I’ve seen for years, alongside a catologue of every piece of Warp music’s artwork. It’s truly a thing of wonder and beauty, more information is here but unfortunately it appears to be sold out from Warp. You can still pick it up elsewhere online, and it’s well worth the £100+ price tag.

The original Go Plastic album can be bought from Amazon here or downloaded from Squarepusher - Go Plastic

Variation of Birds

The Knife – Variation of Birds

As this blog is less than a year old, I have yet to use two original tracks by the same artist (although I came close with Trentmoller here and here), so it is not in keeping for me feature two tracks from the same album within months of one another, but I am doing, and I hope no-one minds.

There are several special pleadings I’d like to make to justify the rudeness. Firstly, when The Knife initially announced the release of Tomorrow, In A Year, the operatic soundtrack about Darwin’s life they had scored with collaborators Mt. Simm and Planningtorock, they released the eerie Colouring Of Pidgeons as a teaser for it, and although I blogged about it here, I didn’t actually allow the MP3 to be downloaded.

Secondly, despite the digital version of Tomorrow, In A Year being released last month, the exquisitely packaged CD version only hits the streets tomorrow – although if, like me, you pre-ordered, you may have your copy by now.

And my final reason for featuring the album twice is that since I first wrote about it, my admiration, my thankfulness, my wonder, at the scope, the ambition, the realisation, the beauty and the savage strangeness of the album has only increased the more I’ve listened to it. I genuinely believe that the musical world should thank whatever deity it turns toward that artists with the imagination, the bravery and the brilliance of The Knife exist to create music as wonderful and as weird as this is.

If you haven’t heard any of the opera before, I should warn that it is pretty demanding and unusual listening, making use of atonality, glitches, and static – I cannot remember another electro artists producing anything as challenging and as avant-garde as this before. It owes much more to Schoenberg, Strauss’s Salome and Mahler than it does to modern electro or electronica.

Yesterday evening, in a trip out with some friends, as something between an experiment and a test, I played the second disc of the soundtrack, to garner their views. Unsurprisingly, they  were surprised by the music, but more, they had not only not heard of the project (who apart from geeky bloggers has?!) but they hadn’t (despite the huge Heartbeats) heard of The Knife… Which I think is a shame not just for people who haven’t enjoyed their music and for their record sales, but for our musical culture more widely. In a world where Lady Gaga, The XX and La Roux top charts, there is surely a case for an act who clearly influenced each of them to be more widely known. I don’t imagine one more wordy, wondering and wandering post on one more MP3 blog will change that much, but if one more person gets to enjoy them because of this, I’d be pretty pleased.

If you remember the photo I used for the last track, you will see the similarity of the two. In keeping with the Darwinian theme of the music, I tried to use an image that is an evolution from the earlier one – reaching higher into the sky, and procreating too.

You can buy the album from The Knife’s website here or from Amazon here or download it from The Knife In Collaboration with Mt. Sims and Planningtorock - Tomorrow, In a Year

Dumb Luck

Dumb Luck
Dntel - Dumb Luck

Having already featured the day job of one half of The Postal Service (Death Cab For Cutie’s Ben Gibbard), I’m now using the other half’s main project on shotwithsound… Given TPS are one of my favourite ever bands, seems like I should go straight to source, but this way I get to prolong the build up and work out the best image for them when I get round to it.

Jimmy Tamborello’s Dntel make electronic glitch pop unsurprisingly not dissimilar to The Postal Service but a little further from the mainstream and a little more deconstructed – featuring guest vocals from the likes of Conor Oberst, Mia Doi Todd, Grizzly Bear and Gibbard – on the brilliant This Is The Dream Of Evan And Chad.

Dumb Luck is the title, and opening, track from Dntel’s 4th, and latest album – released in 2007. Although it seems pretty autobiographical, the main message of the song, set out in the lyrics below, seem appropriate for most of us to remember:

Just don’t forget
That it’s dumb luck that got you here
Don’t fool yourself
Misfortune’s waiting for the best time to appear…

I took the photo to accompany the dong this week during an early morning work trip to Canary Wharf, the centre of London’s financial services district. As the people who used to be the masters of the universe pour out of the Tube station, engrossed in their FTs and their Blackberries, as they charge into their glass palaces, it seems to me that they may benefit from stopping to think about Dumb Luck once in a while…

Using a wide aperture and longer than necessary exposure on a sunny morning gives both the sense of hurried industry and a dream like fragility to the image to help it work better with the song.

As ever, you can buy the album Dumb Luck from Amazon here

Or download it from Dntel - Dumb Luck

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shotwithsound

shotwithsound is a blog about the music I love, with occasional forays into my photography, and other things that catch my eye.

You can see more of my photography on my website www.nicstevenson.com.