New Matthew Dear Pops Ears; Morgan Beringer Video Melts Retinas

Texas-born, Detroit-raised, New York-based artist Matthew Dear has a new EP, to be followed by a full-length in 2012. It’s worth mentioning now for two reasons: one, the driving, “chugging” rhythms of the single, “Headcage,” will pop into your head and stay there, led by Dear’s vocal ability to croon and groove simultaneously. Second, the opening of this video may well make your mind go squish. The work of London-based director Morgan Beringer, seen previously milking monochrome textures out of another Matthew Dear collab, the film makes it look like some very colorful part of the Earth’s crust turned a …

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Good Listening, Good Taste: Selection of Ghostly Sonic Output, Inspiration for Getting Things Made

More than just a label, Ghostly is establishing itself as a hub of design, as in the new poster series by Swiss artist Sonnenzimmer, available from their online store. With artists likewise drawing heavily from visual inspiration, the connection between sight, sound, and taste is an evocative one. Photo courtesy Ghostly International. You can expect to see ongoing appearances by Ghostly International, the 12-year-old label with roots in Detroit that has since established firm outposts in California and New York, in these pages. (Pixels?) The reason is simple: Ghostly is a grand experiment in how to retain relevance as a …

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From the Trenches of the Loudness Wars, A Broad Survey of Research

This goes to ele—augh, no, aside from over-compressing, we need to stop overusing that joke. Photo (CC-BY) Orin Zebest. You’ve heard the gripes, and heard and seen the somewhat unscientific demos. Now it’s time to examine the over-compression of music with – science! Earl Vickers of STMicroelectronics examines the Loudness Wars in an academic paper, as noted to us by reader photohounds. The Loudness War: Background, Speculation and Recommendations [PDF Link, sfxmachine.com] The paper comes from last November, but it’s as relevant as ever. It’s not just the usual take, either. Its history begins with Phil Spector and vinyl, considering …

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Listen to Amon Tobin’s Sound Design Magnum Opus ISAM; Commentary, Behind-the-Scenes Details

The artist at sound check. Beware the Fog of Doom that’s enveloping the stage! Photo (CC-BY) MDL.hu. With a full length record, we also get a glimpse into sound design and live touch control, along with a cross-media event involving photography and sculpture. It’s the latest Amon Tobin, and for lovers of digital sonic manipulation, it’s big news. Amon Tobin’s ISAM arrived this week, and it’s an epic opus of ambience and digitally-sculpted sound candy. It’s digitally-distorted without being glitch, off on cinematic reveries through noise before breaking into the odd deep-bass break. It’s also a virtuoso solo album on …

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Optical Music: Bibio's New Album, Videos, Inspired by Bokeh, Film, and Optical Effects

As film makes a resurgence as a medium, music, too, responds with optical, chemical halos. Bibio’s music, sounding acoustically as if wrapped in a layer of warm gauze, was already partially cinematic. His new album for Warp, “Mind Bokeh,” is more tuneful and poppy, but as the name implies, it also draws directly from visual inspiration. It’s so visual, in fact – and the optical creations so central – that I think it belongs more here than even on our sister site. For the new record, the multi-instrumentalist and producer, aka Stephen James Wilkinson, takes a photographic technique and spins …

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Optical Music: Bibio’s New Album, Videos, Inspired by Bokeh, Film, and Optical Effects

As film makes a resurgence as a medium, music, too, responds with optical, chemical halos. Bibio’s music, sounding acoustically as if wrapped in a layer of warm gauze, was already partially cinematic. His new album for Warp, “Mind Bokeh,” is more tuneful and poppy, but as the name implies, it also draws directly from visual inspiration. It’s so visual, in fact – and the optical creations so central – that I think it belongs more here than even on our sister site. For the new record, the multi-instrumentalist and producer, aka Stephen James Wilkinson, takes a photographic technique and spins …

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A Record Player Made from Paper, as the FlexiDisc Lives; Thanks Be to Pythagoras

It’s not in any way digital – we’re in paper and needle territory – but clever design transforms packaging and notecard into playable music device. Create Transducer Music, anyone? Designer Kelli Anderson concocted a novel approach to the wedding invitation for her friends Karen and Mike: turn the paper invite into a playable sound device. The couple even made and recorded their own song for the occasion. (The story of the individuals is worth mentioning – Karen advocates for the rights of makers and coders and Mike is a Grammy-nominated engineer.) The device itself plays music without electricity or circuits. …

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Interview: Anika, Working with Portishead’s Geoff Barrow, Makes an Album You Don’t Have to Like

Perhaps it’s something of an irony, here on a site that heralds shiny technology, but there is a longing among many musicians to return to something raw and unvarnished in music. There’s discontentment in the ranks of the techno-futurists, enough to sow the seeds of rebellions. If that feeling could be given a voice, Anika would be a good candidate. A political journalist who found herself, entirely unexpected, at a session with Portishead producer Geoff Barrow, she is a vinyl-loving, politically-minded throwback, an antidote to everything that commercially-calibrated in music. http://www.stonesthrow.com/anika The first thing you should know about Anika’s self-titled …

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Last Days of Compact Disco: Album Lovers Hand-Make Musical Objects

While Mac blog TUAW calls on Apple to kill optical drives (does Apple need that kind of encouragement?), the shiny digital compact disc and the album in general still have their devotees. Sure, album sales are down. Sure, digital downloads are in. But look beyond business or practicality for a moment at these exotic hand-constructed musical objects, and what you see is sheer love. A hand-constructed CD or vinyl album is a gesture of making music for someone, not for the ether. I raised the issue early last month, and readers responded with lots of examples of handmade records, which …

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Reclaim the Album’s Soul: Tips for Handmade CD Artwork, Make One Sunday

You hear the repeated chorus: music in the digital age has become meaningless and valueless, like turning on water from a tap in the middle of Rome. But, quietly, a movement is stirring that is reclaiming the value of music. Armed with nothing more sophisticated than markers, paper, collage materials, and imagination, they send mixes of music like grade school Valentines. Heck, they even use the mail. It makes the album more personal than it was even in its golden, mass-produced age. Many of the practitioners in this case are returning to the cassette and mix tape. But I was …

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