Sep 022011
 

Dylan Simon, Ken Soper, Tony Youngblood

Ken Soper and Dylan Simon make analog synthesizer music . . . WITH THEIR MINDS!!!

Sabine Schlunk from Gallery F asked me to curate the music portion for the August 27th opening reception of the exhibition Figure 1: Scientists and Artists Picture the Intangible. The T.I. crew ended up doing a total of three improvs (the second, a jazz love letter to the planets helmed by Jamison Sevitts; the third, an ode to art and the philosophy of George Braque directed by Craig Schenker).

The first was “Brainwaves,” a collaboration between KEN SOPER, DYLAN SIMON, and myself. Ken has been experimenting with a Teletron — Robert Schneider’s hacked Mindflex toy that outputs one’s thoughts to control voltage. He put on a phenomenal proof-of-concept set at the Tim Kaiser Noa Noa house show earlier this year. For this performance, we decided to use TWO Teletrons. I very hastily hacked the one that’s been lying in my basement for a year, and Dylan Simon took the controls. The result is a visual and auditory experiment-gone-right. Enjoy.

Watch the below clip for a great introduction by Ken Soper. Stay tuned for podcasts of the night’s other two improvs.

Oct 172010
 

In keeping with Halloweird! October, we bring you Frankenstein 1986, , a new synth-pop soundtrack to the 1931 horror classic Frankenstein, starring Ken Soper, Lawrence Crow, Tommy Stangroom, Cody Bottoms, and JJ Jones. There are some great moments, such as Cody’s electric guitar samples, Ken’s haunting Hammond organ lines, and Lawrence’s Casio SK1 leads; but listening back, I fear we may have been having a bit too much fun. I had the brilliant idea of incorporating a cheap toy drum machine that wears out its welcome . . . oh. . . after about 5 seconds. That’s not the fault of its wielder JJ Jones (who knocked it out of the park with his vocal work on the episode). I even played the drum machine somewhere in the middle of the show. The blame lies with the machine’s downright annoying timbres, which weren’t apparent to me until playback. Tommy Stangroom, who did various percussion and synth sounds, claims it was apparent to him from the beginning. He elected not to play the infernal drum toy.

There’s enough good material here for a decent 30 minute show. In it’s full hour + run time though, I recommend you only listen in sync with the film. Seeing the classic film with an 80’s synth pop soundtrack is a strange, comical, and not unpleasant experience.

What do you think? Does it stand up to the Dracula or Freaks soundtracks?

Stay tuned next week for the Third Annual Halloween Extravaganza, which will focus on the intersection between fear and arousal.

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Oct 162010
 

Because of a week-long work trip, I wasn’t able to post this episode last Sunday. Never fear though, for another Halloweird! October episode is coming tomorrow evening!

“For the love of beauty is a deep-seated urge which dates back to the beginning of civilization” Freaks opening disclaimer

For episode 36, we created an improvised score to Tod Browning’s 1932 horror film Freaks. The episode stars Ken Soper on Moog synthesizers; Tommy Stangroom on percussion and xylophone; JJ Jones on voice and various toys/chimes; Lawrence Crow on Theremin, Casio SK1, and various toys; Cody Bottoms on laptop, keyboards, and Korg sample pad, and Craig Schenker on saxophone. There are quite a few golden moments in our Freaks soundtrack, and I encourage you to sync the soundtack to the film. Be sure to mute the tv and turn the subtitles on! Syncing instructions in the podcast intro.

We recorded this improv on Thursday, October 7th. Directly after, we recorded an “80’s synth pop” soundtrack to a beloved horror classic. Find out what that film is when we release podcast 37 tomorrow night.

Halloweird October!

Mar 282010
 

On October 18th, 2009, seven of us got together and created a new soundtrack to the 1931 film Dracula, directed by Tod Browning and starring Bela Legosi.  This is one of my favorite episodes to date.  The orchestration is extremely lush, and the performers were especially good at knowing when and what to play.

Before the show, we paired a performer with a character in the film and had that performer come up with a character theme.  Ken Soper on keyboard provided the theme for Dracula, for example.  Things really started to get interesting when the characters interacted with each other, and the performers had to find ways to mix the themes together.  Aside from coming up with some themes in advance, the show was completely improvised.

You can listen to this episode in sync with the film (and I’ll tell you how in the podcast intro) or you can just listen without the visuals.  If you can get a copy of the film (and the version we use is the 2004 Universal Legacy collection dvd) I highly recommend you use it.  But if you can’t get the film, don’t let that stop you from listening to the show on it’s own.  The improv still works great by itself.

Dracula Improv features Ken Soper on keys and Theremin; Jamison Sevits on Fender Rhodes; Craig Schenker on saxophone and flute; Charlie Rauh on electric guitar; Cody Bottoms on percussion; Melody Holt on musical saw, autoharp, and Theremin; and myself on a circuit-bent Cool Keys keyboard, musical saw, autoharp, and wind chimes. We had a small audience that also participate by making screams, etc.  They were Mara Bissel, Amanda Tucker, Pimpdaddysupreme, and Deklan.  I did the live mixing and post-production.  Enjoy.