The Walrus is a Philadelphia-based music blog written by Michael. You may send me stuff through the send a tip page or email me. All mp3s should be sent as links. NO ATTACHMENTS, PLEASE. If I like your music, chances are I will write about it.
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Check out this incredible video of legendary Morton Subotnick discussing his early career and the evolution of his ground-breaking work with analog synthesizers.
Back in the sixties, while Robert Moog was developing his pioneering keyboard on the East Coast, Subotnick, Ramon Sender and Don Buchla were toiling away in San Francisco on what would become possibly the world’s first analog synthesizer, the ‘electronic music easel’ BUCHLA 100. Instead of a keyboard, it relied on pressure sensitive touch-plates, which controlled individually tuneable keys for limitless micro-tuning possibilities, analog sequencers, and complex waveforms beyond your basic sine, sawtooth, and square waves. You can now find it at the Smithsonian.
Ponytail guitarist Dustin Wong recently put together this clip for the band’s upcoming album, Do Whatever You Want All The Time, out April 12 via We Are Free. The video starts with a collage of old movie theatre intro segments, then kicks into stop-and-stare pandemonium. At 1′30″ a hardcore dancing redhead apears (best meme of 2011?) then disappears behind clips of car manufacturing and robots. Beyond the outrageously fun music video is the music itself. Molly’s vocals lightly pierce the air on top of driving guitars and furious drums. Leaves me pretty excited for the album; there’s even a bit of beachy ambience for the lighter hearts.
In a new interview, Beach Boy AlJardine mentioned this small bit of news:
“Capitol Records plans to issue a Beach Boys version of Smile sometime this summer to begin the celebration of The Beach Boys’ anniversary. Smile is the Holy Grail for Beach Boys’ fans, so it will be good.”
“I don’t have many details on it, although we didn’t do any new recording. I’m happy to see it finally come out. Brian’s changed his mind about releasing the material, but it was inevitable, wasn’t it? (Al chuckles).”
Say whaaaa?Yes, we have the Brian Wilson Band/Van Dyke Parks collaboration that became SMiLE 2004, which re-worked the sessions into a fleshed-out, more coherent, 3-movement album. However, a re-mastered collection of all the original session would be amazing.
Jandek never fails to surprise us. The outsider musician, who claims he is not Jandek, but rather a representative of Corwood Industries, has independently released over 35 albums of difficult and cryptic music since 1978. One never knows what to expect from “Jandek”. For example, in 2009 he turned up in Houston and played a 78-minute funk jam that was remarkably catchy. Say whaaa??!
It was no less surprising when it was announced that he would play a one-off show with bassist Mike Watt (Minutemen) and drummer BJ Wilson (HEALTH) at UC Irvine in January. It had the potential to be a pretty mind-blowing band and these clips from the show give me the sense that it was just that…
The late Milton Babbitt was a serial composer born in Philadelphia, who went on to revolutionize American music education and later became interested in electronic music. He was hired by RCA in the 1950s as consultant composer to work with their RCA Mark II Synthesizer and produced the seminal, groundbreaking work Composition for Synthesizer. Lucky for us, NPR has just premiered a new documentary surveying his career:
The American composer and teacher Milton Babbitt died Saturday, Jan. 29 at age 94. For years, New York-based journalist and filmmaker Robert Hilferty had been constructing a documentary on Babbitt. It was a quirky, loving look at a man regarded by many as a composer of “difficult” music. Hilferty left the film unfinished when he died in 2009. Composer and former Babbitt student Laura Karpman has now completed Hilferty’s film. And she has graciously placed its premiere on NPR Music.