Archive for the 'Technology' 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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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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Photo of the Month, October 2013

Oct 06 2013 Published by under Music, Personal, Photo of the Month, Technology

Smartphones at DM

Photo of smartphones watching Depeche Mode at the Staples Center, September 28, 2013.

 

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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: 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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Gallifrey One, Dick Mills, and “Inspector Spacetime”

Feb 18 2013 Published by under Film/TV, Humor, Music, Personal, Technology

Us and Dick Mills

My wife and I attended Gallifrey One, the annual Doctor Who convention held in Los Angeles around Valentine’s Day.  It was a lot of fun and super crowded.  We met a doctor (Sylvester McCoy), a bunch of companions, Dr. Bishop (John Noble), and many others.  But the highlight of all highlights was our one-hour small-group meeting with legendary BBC Radiophonic Workshop member Dick Mills (pictured above), who was part of the workshop from the late 1950s to his retirement in the 1990s.  During that time, he was responsible for nearly all sound effects heard in Doctor Who and quite a bit of the music as well (including the original title theme, which he and Delia Derbyshire created from a score by Ron Grainer).  It was amazing to get such a first-hand account at the workings of the famous workshop, especially from someone who had been there from the beginning.  To top it off, he was a wonderfully sweet, warm, and engaging person.  He also gave a one-hour talk to the whole convention featuring lots of great photos and sound samples from his many years at the BBC.  That was, indeed, the highlight of not only the weekend but the year, as far as I’m concerned.

Another highlight was my introduction to Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler Who Can Also Travel Through Time, the Doctor Who parody by the guy who played the Doctor Who parody Inspector Spacetime on the TV show Community.  I’ve been amazed by the fan response to a running gag on a show–they’ve created an entire history of the 51-year-long imaginary show, complete with more intricate detail than most real shows possess.  But all that creativity doesn’t really amount to anything if there’s no real show.  So Travis Richey (the 11th Inspector) and his compatriots (all up-and-coming writers, directors, actors, etc) created the show, which consists of one 30-minute web series and another on the way.  My wife and I attended their two-hour-long panel which featured a viewing of the series, interviews with the cast and crew, and a table reading of the first episode of the new series.  As I was watching, I remember thinking: this is the future.  Forget networks, cable, movies, all that–the future is people with good ideas and a little bit of money (they raised the funds for the series through Kickstarter) pooling their resources and creating awesome things.  This future already exists in music; it’s always existed in writing; and it’s coming to the big, big world of TV and film.  I can’t wait.

 

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Top 10/Bottom 3: February 2013

Top 10

  1. The Cookbook
  2. MuffWiggler
  3. Analog Haven
  4. Seahawks–next year?
  5. Angels–this year?
  6. Pye Corner Audio, The Ever-Present Hum
  7. Hacker Farm, UHF
  8. NHL is back!  Go Kings!
  9. Gallifrey One
  10. Broadcast, Berberian Sound Studio (and don’t forget the film itself!)

Bottom 3

  1. Republicans
  2. The guy who writes the labyrinthine manual for the Maths module
  3. You (or me)

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