Archive for the 'Internet/Media' category

The End of 2015, the End of The Inkbottle

As this year comes to a close, I am also going to bring this blog to a close.  It’s basically been closed for a while, since I’ve not posted much here over the past few years.  But now I’m making it official: this is it.  If you want to find out what I’m up to in the future, then follow @hauntedink on Twitter or visit https://hauntedink.bandcamp.com (which is the name I’m using from here on out for music) or soundcloud.com/mheumann.  Of course, everything I have posted here–along with everything in The Library and the other sites connected to hauntedink.com–will be around as long as I’m around.

I started writing online back in 1995–20 years ago.  Back then, there were (relatively) few web sites and fewer voices focusing on music.  I created the first web site devoted to Tricky; I spent years writing music reviews both here and for a few different online journals.  As the years have gone on, and as my life has gotten busier and busier, I have found that both do not have the time to post here nor the inclination.  There are so many different outlets for musical discussion and analysis now, and I don’t really think my voice alone warrants its own site.  So I will continue to write, but I will seek to post this information elsewhere (again, check @hauntedink for future details).

Now, I didn’t want to end this blog with just a good-bye, so here are a few thoughts about 2015:

  • Pye Corner Audio.  Damn, that guy just keeps on making wonderful music.  He released Prowler towards the end of the year, after many publications had already created their “best of” lists.  I’m sick of lists, so I don’t want to make one, so I’ll just say that Prowler is the best music I heard this year.  It might be PCA’s best work–which is saying something.  It’s much more groove oriented than his Black Mill Tapes works or his work for Ghost Box, and that’s a change that seems entirely appropriate.
  • Other great music I heard this year (in no order whatsoever): Joanna Newsom’s Divers (yet another amazing work from this essential artist), The Orb’s Moonbuilding 2703 AD, Chemical Brothers’ Born in the Echoes, Thundercat’s The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam, Pole’s Wald, the Ghost Box compilation, A Seance at Syd’s, Kode9’s Nothing, and everything created by fellow Bandcamp artists Chonyid, The Hatcliff House Tapes, and The Owl Service.
  • My favorite musical event this year was watching Glastonbury on the BBC’s iPlayer (thanks to a handy proxy-server app).  There was some great music performed there this year, but (oddly) my favorite performance was Belle & Sebastian, who were adorable in their happiness (something that was in short supply this year).
  • The thought that we in the US have to endure 11 more months of a presidential election after spending all of 2015 listening to some of the most deranged and idiotic people every to walk the earth profess their qualifications for the job, makes me want to just build a time machine and go forward to November 2016 to see Hillary win (I’m assuming; if you’re reading this during the Trump presidency, then please find me and shoot me).
  • My world outside my career in education was focused on reading tons of science fiction and wiggling around with my modular synth.  At year’s end, my synth is dominated by Harvestman modules. I’m aiming to get back to my ultimate task of channeling (as best I can) the musical legacy of Pan Sonic.
  • Science fiction I would definitely recommend you read: Neil Stephenson’s Seveneves.  I was an early fan of his work; I loved Snow Crash and The Diamond Age as a grad student.  By the time he got to Cryptonomicon, though, I felt that he needed to get a better editor.  He hasn’t changed in his verbosity and detail, but the more I read his stuff, the more I appreciate the detail for what it is: a complete and thorough account of the world he is creating.  Anathem was just wonderful in its detail and complexity; its connection to the Long Now project was a plus (I’m a member).  But Seveneves is something altogether different–a story that spans both the end of life on earth and the creation of a new life.  I can’t spoil it for you; read it.  It’s the best novel of the year, and it’s the one I’m voting for when I vote for the Hugos in 2016.
  • Other wonderful, wonderful novels I read this year: everything by Peter F. Hamilton, the Ancillary trilogy by Ann Leckie, Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora, Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem and The Dark Forest, and Ernest Cline’s Armada.  During my nice, long break from teaching, I plan to read a whole host of novels by James Corey, Stephen Baxter, and Raoul Peter Mongilardi (damn, there’s so much good stuff out there…).
  • Great science fiction on TV, too: Syfy decided to actually make science fiction again, and I really like their shows DefianceKilljoys, and Dark Matter.  The Expanse is really promising; I am eager to see more of it.  I LOVE Agents of Shield, even though it’s cheesy and uneven.  It’s just damn fun (and I’m a huge fan of Daisy Johnson from the comics, so seeing her come to life on the screen is a blast, too).

My final note to all 3 of you who might actually read this: our world 2015 saw the rapid rise of intolerance, racism, and fascism.  Fight these things with empathy, intelligence, and courtesy.  Think before you speak, consider your audience’s perspective, avoid personal attacks and other fallacies, and be polite.

Thank you all,

Haunted Ink (aka Michael Heumann)

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2014 Wrap-Up

Jan 02 2015 Published by under Feature, Internet/Media, Music, Personal

I haven’t written much on this blog over the past year.  It’s not that I didn’t have anything to say but that I simply didn’t feel an intense compulsion to write up my thoughts on this space.  Are blogs dying in favor of social media?  To a degree, yes.  Certainly more people read Facebook posts than would ever read these words.  But who cares?  I write because I am.

So what was 2014?  It was an interesting year, to be sure.  Aside from the usual work and family events, my lasting memories of the past 12 months will be the Seahawks’ first Super Bowl championship, the World Cup, buying and selling tons of different Eurorack modules, and finally digging into the world of Marvel comics (go Kitty Pryde!).

On the music front, there was a number of standout works, from Pye Corner Audio to IX Tab to Kemper Norton to Mika Vainio to Leyland Kirby.  I listened to and enjoyed all of this music.  However, if I had to pick one album for 2014, I’d probably go with Kemper Norton’s Salvaged.  It’s a weird mixture of spoken word and ethereal electronics, and it’s been in my car CD player since I bought it back in September (or thereabouts).  To me, it’s the sonic equivalent of Children of the Stones and other awesome occult 70s sci-fi from the UK.  It’s just a beautiful and beautifully creepy work that grows in my imagination every time I listen.  Listening to the floating drones and the random vocals that flitter through songs like “To Mahina: Departing” and “To Mahina: Meeting,” I really feel like I’m floating slightly above stone circles and other pagan monuments in and around Avebury (or getting flashbacks to the classic John Pertwee Doctor Who episode “The Daemons”).  Wonderful work!

Really, though, my musical focus this year has been in the Eurorack modular world.  I absolutely love creating music with a modular synth.  It’s so much more unpredictable, fun, rewarding, challenging, and frustrating than creating music with a computer!   Creating music on a modular synth has forced me to rethink my whole idea of music and music composition.  If you are at all interesting in creating music, I highly recommend modulars–they are well worth the investment (which is significant, trust me).

As I said earlier, I buy and sell modules all the time, looking for that perfect combination that doesn’t exist but that I continue to see all the same.  In the process, I’ve actually used just about all the big Eurorack modules over the past few years.  What are my favorites?  Well, I’m glad you asked.  Here are my current top 5:

  1. Intellijel/Cyclonix Shapeshifter–calling it a “VCO” (Voltage-Controlled Oscillator) is really not doing it justice.  This is the most complex and dense module I’ve ever owned, and it’s also the most rewarding.  It has the potential to create just about any weird sound I can imagine, though getting that sound to match up with the sound in your head requires a lot of patience and sweat and tears.  Still, totally worth it!
  2. Hexinverter Jupiter Storm–I got into modulars mostly because I wanted to pretend I was in the BBC Radiophonic Workshop creating sound effects and alien music for Doctor Who and Blake’s 7.  With the Jupiter Storm, I can do all that.  It’s a noise module that can be twisted and manipulated in all sorts of interesting ways.  It’s great for percussion, to be sure, but I find it most interesting when I hook it up to an echo/delay module for truly alien soundscapes.
  3. Hexinverter Galilean Moons–I can handle the Shapeshifter’s complexity, in part, because of modules like Galilean Moons, which is about as simple and straightforward (yet incredibly useful) as a module can get.  It’s a VCA and an envelope generator, meaning that I can plug in an audio source and immediately generate long drones, short percussion sounds, or anything in between without the need of any other modules.  Really, really useful!
  4. Synthrotek’s Eko (or Echo)–a weird little echo module that I often pair with the Jupiter Storm to create total weirdness.  It’s a simple echo mostly, but push this module to the extremes and you get some of the weirdest and most wonderful sounds you can imagine.  I’m actually building myself another one of these modules so I can have two!
  5. Transistor Sound Labs Stepper Acid–I don’t really get along with sequencers all that well. I can’t explain it, but they tend to annoy me.  However, I immediately bonded with the Stepper Acid.  It’s super easy to program and manipulate on the fly, and it works incredibly well with just about any VCO I use.

Honorable mentions should also go to Make Noise’s new Wogglebug, Flame’s C-3 knob recorder, Qu-Bit’s RT60 effects processor, and especially Synthesis Technology’s E102 Quad Temporal Shifter (which I left out of the top-5 because it’s so new I haven’t really been able to explore its full potential).

What is in store for 2015?  Tons, from what I can gather.  In fact, I’ve already pre-ordered three awesome modules that should all arrive in January: Mutable Instruments’ Streams (VCA/VCF/EG combo), Sputnik Modular’s Quad VCF/VCA, and Ginko Synthese’s Sampleslicer (which might just be the modular sampler I’ve been waiting for all these years).  Here’s hoping these and many more modules make the coming year bright and interesting.

To end, here’s a memorable song of mine from 2014.  Its working title is “Trantor 007,” though if this ever finds its way to an album, I’ll most definitely find a better name.  Enjoy!

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Best of 2013: Hacker Farm, UHF

Dec 31 2013 Published by under Feature, Internet/Media, Music, Personal, Politics, Technology

UHF

I didn’t do a Top 10 or Top 25 for music this year, in part because I didn’t want to and in part because I was focused more on creating my own music than I was listening to others.  But looking through my iTunes library to see what I have been listening to, I notice that there was a lot of interesting music released (or re-released) over the past twelve months, including new music from two long-dormant names: My Bloody Valentine and Boards of Canada.  Both of those works were quite good, especially mbv (I thought BoC’s was a bit too derivative of their older stuff, but then I haven’t listened to it as carefully as I could).

But the album that I listened to more than any other this year was UHF by Hacker Farm, a British artist who makes wild, crazy music from (apparently) DIY projects and scrap (or something like that).  Yes, this album came out at the end of 2012, but I didn’t hear it until 2013, after reading an article in Wire and then ordering the CD from the UK.  UHF is a messy, chaotic work that goes in all sorts of weird and wonderful directions, most of them sinister and all of them interesting.  The tracks range in tone and style, from wild, sci-fi atmospherics (“Burlington,” which features a voice-over advertising a town that seems straight out of The X-Files) to V/VM-like noise collages (“Konrad”) to mutated pop tunes trapped in jars of noise and static (“One, Six, Nein” and “Grinch”).  Throughout, the senses of foreboding and anxiety are mixed with a determination to fight back against the forces that seem to have crushed the spirits of those who would prefer a world that wasn’t dominated by drones, spies, and greed.

I had this album running in a loop in my car for most of the year as I drove around the city that I currently call home, a place that has been annihilated by the recession, a place with rampant poverty and unemployment, a place that (until recently) seemed to be on the verge of despair and collapse.  UHF was a perfect soundtrack for such a world.  That this is both the most depressing and the most hopeful album of the year says a great deal about the artist who created this and the world in which we live.

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I Dream of Wires

Aug 24 2013 Published by under Internet/Media, Music, Technology

Get it.  Live it.

“I Dream of Wires: Hardcore Edition” 2013 official trailer from I Dream Of Wires on Vimeo.

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Top 10/Bottom 3: July 2013

Jul 17 2013 Published by under Film/TV, Humor, Internet/Media, Music, Personal, Politics, Top 10/Bottom 3

 

Mika-Kilo-Cover-300x296

Top 10

  1. The Venture Bros.
  2. Mika Vainio, Kilo
  3. Chris Watson, In St. Cuthbert’s Time
  4. Pye Corner Audio, Conical Spaces
  5. Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig (re-watching before I watch the new GITS)
  6. The League (rewatching for the 5th time)
  7. Archer (watched whole series twice in a row over the last month)
  8. Bunheads (I like it, so shut up!)
  9. ALM’s Pamela’s Workout
  10. Synthesis Technology’s E580

Bottom 3 Reasons I Didn’t Post the July Top 10/Bottom 3 Until July 17

  1. I forgot
  2. Protest Drone strikes
  3. ‘Merica

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Where’s the Rest?

Jun 20 2013 Published by under Internet/Media, Music

I came across a clip from Joanna Newsom’s music video for her wonderful “Good Intentions Paving Co.”  The video is a few years old at this point, but I had never seen it (just flew by me somehow) until yesterday.  Man this clip is amazing.  But where oh where is the rest?  I have dug around the web for hours and have come up empty handed.  C’mon Drag City and Joanna–share the rest!

See the clip for yourself.  I dare you not to love this!

Joanna Newsom – “Good Intentions Paving Company” from fillipe ALVES on Vimeo.

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Top 10/Bottom 3: June 2013

hypnotoad

 

Top 10 Things I Believe (in no particular order)

  1. Hockey players are the best athletes in the world because they have to be fast, strong, tough, nimble, dexterous, and fearless–all while on ice with tiny slivers of metal beneath their feet to keep them upright.
  2. Pye Corner Audio should be the most popular music in the world.  Joanna Newsom second.
  3. The new Star Trek movie was TERRIBLE–one of the worst things I’ve seen in years.
  4. All glory to the Hypno-Toad and the Noisering
  5. Joanna Newsom should rule the world
  6. Everyone should read Isaac Asimov’s Foundation trilogy–and then read the other 15-30 books set in the same universe.
  7. Socialism is awesome
  8. My wife is awesome
  9. Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One is fantastic and you need to read it now now now
  10. Jane McGonigal is right–reality IS broken

Top 3 Things I Don’t Believe

  1. Doctor Who just keeps getting better and better
  2. I need to spend more money on modular synths
  3. I really enjoy 4 straight months of 110 degree weather.

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Top 10/Bottom 3: May 2013

Make Noise Echophon

Make Noise Echophon

Top 10

  1. What else?  Boards of Canada, Tomorrow’s Harvest
  2. Make Noise Echophon
  3. Game of Thrones
  4. Parks and Recreation
  5. New Venture Bros!
  6. Portland Timbers
  7. A real summer vacation (until June 24, at least)
  8. Half in the Bag
  9. Jon Brooks, Shapwick
  10. Daft Punk, “Get Lucky” (I like it, though it would be way better if a woman were singing)

Bottom 3

  1. Every Republican in Washington
  2. GW Bush’s Library
  3. Heat

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Top 10/Bottom 3: April 2013

Apr 02 2013 Published by under Internet/Media, Music, Personal, Technology, Top 10/Bottom 3

My modular

Top 10 Eurorack Modules (in my system)

  1. Livewire Dalek Modulator
  2. WMD uHC
  3. Doepfer A-119
  4. Doepfer A-199
  5. Make Noise MMG
  6. Make Noise Maths
  7. WMD Multimode Envelope
  8. XAOC Devices Moskwa
  9. Pittsburgh Modular Analog Delay
  10. Circuit Abbey Unify

Bottom 3 Eurorack Modules (not in my system)

  1. MFB Dual ASDR (oddly cut–didn’t fit properly)
  2. SnazzyFX Ardcore (couldn’t find enough uses to justify keeping it)
  3. Doepfer A-190-2 (mine just didn’t work)

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Top 10/Bottom 3: March 2013

Ix Tab

Top 10

  1. Knoobz.com
  2. Ernest Cline, Ready Player One
  3. IX Tab, Spindle & the Bregnut Tree
  4. Hacker Farm, UHF
  5. The League
  6. Redlettermedia.com
  7. Start of MLS season!
  8. Spring Training in MLB
  9. New EP from Pye Corner Audio
  10. Meeting Dick Mills

Bottom 3

  1. Republicans
  2. The word “sequester”
  3. Fat

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