Archive for the 'Music' Category

8-Bit Jesus in the mail…

8-bit Jesus album

Wow, I just got a physical CD in the mail! The package is simply 8-bit beautiful!

Haven’t bought a music disc since forever, but with tracks like We Three Konami, Ryu the Red Nosed Ninja, and Super Jingle Bros, who could resist? Classic Christmas songs in the style of Classic NES games.

Well, I actually bought it for Doctor Octoroc’s poor dog, Ein. He’s much better now after surgery.

The album’s called 8-Bit Jesus, and you can download all 18 tracks for free from Doctor Octoroc’s blog. Or you could buy it from his blog and pretend it’s Christmas everyday.

Here’s my favorite track, Ryu the Red Nosed Ninja:

“I Google You” by Neil Gaiman

Tonight at 7pm EST, I’ll be making a guest appearance on MixieMoxie‘s “Shock & Awesome Show“.

Mixie, Mander and I, as well as her friends on Blog.tv, will be chatting about “touching the Internet”. We’ll probably go into tele-haptics, which will likely segway into cybersex and eventually BDSM culture. We’ll be filling in the gaps of each other’s knowledge.

While testing out Blog.tv’s co-host feature with Mixie, I got to learn from her friends about a song by Neil Gaiman called “I Google You“. To spice things up, this rendition is performed by bi-sexual cabaret-punk entertainer, Amanda Palmer (hat tip Blake Stacey).

Given that my ex-prof Alex Halavais had recently published “Search Engine Society“, and considering how it is now common practice to judge acquaintances by checking Google, this song was just too good to be true.

Here are the lyrics to “I Google You” by Neil Gaiman:

I Google you
late at night when I don’t know what to do
I find photos
you’ve forgotten
you were in
put up by your friends

I Google you
when the day is done and everything is through
I read your journal
that you kept
that month in France
I’ve watched you dance

And I’m pleased your name is practically unique
it’s only you and
a would-be PhD in Chesapeake
who writes papers on
the structure of the sun
I’ve read each one

I know that I
should let you fade
but there’s that box
and there’s your name
somehow it never makes the pain
grow less or fade or disappear
I think that I should save my soul and
I should crawl back in my hole
But it’s too easy just to fold
and type your name again
I fear
I google you
Whenever I’m alone and feeling blue
And each scrap of information
That I gather
says you’ve got somebody new
And it really shouldn’t matter
ought to blow up my computer
but instead….
I google you

ASIDE: If you recall, I interviewed MixieMoxie just last year about her modeling experience with Zivity.com.

Macworld ’09: Origins of Ocarina for iPhone

One of the SMULE engineers, Spencer, reveals the backstory of how the inventive Zelda flute application, Ocarina, was created for the iPhone.

Apparently SMULE produce all kinds of musical apps as they’re using a unique audio coding language for creative yet rapid development. A key member of SMULE is Ge Wang, a PhD student at Princeton, who was profiled by Apple for his Stanford Laptop Orchestra (SLOrk).

Ge Wang had developed ChucK as a programming language tailored for generating and making sense of sound. It’s designed to have a shallow learning curve as Wang claims that it is possible for someone who’s never programmed before to start making music within the first 30 minutes.

To see how popular Ocarina is, just search on Youtube for fans showing off their Ocarina playing skills.

See http://ocarina.smule.com for details, or better yet, join their “This Contest Blows!” contest!

RjDj: Like illicit drug, but technologically legal…

RjDj

Got a sweet mp3 player, but tired of listening to someone else’s music?

The tools for music creation has become more accessible thanks to affordable applications such as Garageband, but they still tend to be relatively complex to learn. In comes another mode of music production… the one that pre-packages auditory possibilities, and lets you unleash it in your own haphazard, serendipitous way. Throw in the portability, multi-sensory and processing power of the iPhone, and the gates of creativity becomes unleashed.

Earlier this month, Brian Eno released a generative music album for the iPhone known as Bloom. Just this week, Gunter Geiger, a technologist and advocate of free software, released the equally spectacular, RjDj.

So what the heck is RjDj?
Continue reading ‘RjDj: Like illicit drug, but technologically legal…’

Magnetosphere: Like a universe unfolding…


Magnetosphere revisited (audio by Tosca) from flight404 on Vimeo.

This September 9th, Apple is rumored to announce a redesigned iPod nano, iTunes 8.0 and iPhone firmware 2.1.

While plenty of new features are expected for iTunes, one of the neatest things to look out for is a “stunning new music visualizer,” which TUAW contributors believe to be Robert Hodgins’ Magnetosphere (as seen above).

If you can’t wait till then, the Magnetosphere visualizer is apparently floating around the Inter-tubes…

Weezer’s Pork & Beans: Meme-riding and not just for the lulz…

Hot on the heels of the Hitler + Internet memes video comes Weezer with their latest single, Pork & Beans. After watching the video above, you’d understand why this taps into our very geek subculture and is currently spreading like a super-meme all over twitter.

Their music video features catchy, somewhat commercial, music in the grungy Weezer vibe. Overlaying the music are well-crafted video spoofs of popular Internet memes. This technique of meme riding has seemed to be the tried and true way of getting attention of netizens, thus propelling word of mouth, turning it viral.

But doesn’t anti-commercialism sell (thus being commercial)?
It does. (thanks @carvedhearts)

But it’s also a russian doll situation. Weezer was told to be more commercial, so they wrote this. In a zen-like fashion, it works for both sides.

As seen from Wikipedia:

This single was written by Cuomo as a reaction to a meeting with Geffen where the band was told it needed to record more-commercial material. Cuomo remarked, “I came out of it pretty angry. But ironically, it inspired me to write another song.” (Rolling Stone, Issue #1050).

Take at the lyrics after the jump to see what I mean… it’s quite stupid actually, but hey, that’s them pulling a fast one on all of us (sneaky bastards!)…

Continue reading ‘Weezer’s Pork & Beans: Meme-riding and not just for the lulz…’

Singapore’s own 11yr old “John Mayer” in the making…

With all the high production videocasts I’m seeing on the web, it sure is refreshing to see something so heartfelt and authentic.

My buddy Michael Cho, an accomplished street singer and thinker behind Comiqs.com, recently emailed me about his 11 year old brother-in-law, “NickyRicky“.

You see, NickyRicky recently wrote his first song entitled “I saw love in front of me”. After watching it, I think he’s soon to be Singapore’s little “John Mayer“.

Michael mentioned that NickyRicky wrote the lyrics and composed the music, so all he had to do was to figure out the chords for his little one.

If you can’t get enough of NickyRicky, check out his Youtube channel “Remote Control Productions” where his other hilarious videos include one about a disease you get from doing too much homework.

First time playing with the Kaoss mini-KP

Better known for their hugely popularly Kaoss Pad (now at version KP3), Korg’s new mini-KP puts the power of the dynamic effects processor in the hands of the everyday music tinkerer. Where its big brother costs around $399, this little toy comes at an affordable $199. Since I found it barely used off Craigslist, I got mine for about $125.

What’s it do?
The mini-KP lets you effect sound in real-time, through an intuitive touch-pad interface. Like the touchpad on your laptop, the moving your finger across the X- and Y- axis lets you distort your music through around 99 built-in effects and synthesizers. It’s also the smallest in the KAOSS PAD series, and uses 4 x AA batteries so it’s totally portable.

Additional features include BPM effects, where you can use the “TAP/BPM button” to synchronize the mini-KP to your song’s tempo, and apply a wide range of effects to your music. The “FX RELEASE” function provides a natural decay when changing effects or removing your finger from the pad. The Hold function lets you memorize the position at which you touched the touch-pad when you release your finger. And finally, you can use the two memory keys A and B to store your favorite effect program settings, including the effect depth and the Hold on/off status.

This probably won’t be a toy for everyone, except DJs and music producers who are just starting out. It’s perfect for live audio performances, even on the move (warning: this video is a little irritating).

There’s another toy by Korg called the Kaossilator… now that’s something anyone can get into since it lets you make music, rather than just distort it. It lets you create layers of beats by tapping the touchpad to produce interesting overdubbed compositions. It’s been sold out for months now, but that’s something I waiting for to add to my strange musical instrument collection (theremin anyone?).

First time playing the mini-theremin…

Some of you might have remembered my fascination with the mini-theremin played by a cat not long ago. This evening, I received the package from Japan.

As you’ll see, the Otona no Kagaku magazine / assembly kit is beautifully packaged. I’ve got the mini-theremin build process as a series of photos, where you’ll see it’s easy and fun enough for anyone to put together. Only problem was tuning it, which turned out to be quite a bitch. Still, the intrigue kept me going. This is my first time playing a theremin, so it’s less of a performance, more of an experiment. You’ll see me trying to back up a track from Portishead’s new album, Third.

mini-theremin (from Otona no Kagaku)mini-theremin (from Otona no Kagaku)mini-theremin (from Otona no Kagaku)mini-theremin (from Otona no Kagaku)mini-theremin (from Otona no Kagaku)
mini-theremin (from Otona no Kagaku)mini-theremin (from Otona no Kagaku)mini-theremin (from Otona no Kagaku)mini-theremin (from Otona no Kagaku)mini-theremin (from Otona no Kagaku)

For the uninitiated, Wikipedia has a decent explanation of how to operate a theremin:

A theremin is unique among musical instruments in that it is performed without being touched by the operator. The musician stands in front of the instrument and moves his or her hands in the proximity of two metal antennas. The distance from one antenna determines frequency (pitch), and the distance from the other controls amplitude (volume). Most frequently, the right hand controls the pitch and the left controls the volume, although some performers reverse this arrangement. Additionally, some theremins use a volume dial and have only one antenna.

Aside: Youtube now has hidden links to download higher quality MPEG4 versions of your video. Here’s the link to mine.

Magnus “Maestro” Martensson @ United Nations

Having had the honor of working with the multi-talented (and ever quirky) Magnus “Maestro” Martensson, here is his recent performance for International Women’s Day at the United Nations.

His piece came in towards the end of this 2hr long webcast (requires RealPlayer). This video clip will eventually go onto his delightful blog at maestromartensson.com