January 30, 2009

The Weird, Wonderful Music Of 'The Prisoner' (1967-68)

"The Prisoner, created by Patrick McGoohan and George Markstein, follows a former British Secret agent who is held captive in 'the Village' by mysterious authorities who want to know why he has resigned his position. The series ran for seventeen episodes, from 1967 to 1968, first on the BBC and, later, on Canada's CTV." Three volumes of incidental music from the show were released on CD in the early 90s. I've culled through them and posted the weirdest, the coolest, and the most iconic cues in the playlist above. AMC.com has been kind enough to post all 17 commercial-free, unedited episodes of The Prisoner HERE. Previously, you had to shell out around eighty bucks for the DVDs. Much of the series is an exercise in anti-television. The final episode ("Fall Out") "generated controversy when it was originally aired because the last third of the episode was designed to be very obscure, have no dialogue, and be open to interpretation. It forced McGoohan, who wrote and directed the episode, to go into hiding for a period of time because he was hounded at his own home by baffled viewers demanding explanations." (wikipedia) If you've never seen it before and you prefer your entertainment served up with a triple-helping of totally-fuckin'-bizarre, you're in for a treat. Start here.

January 27, 2009

The Jazz Butcher: Proof Of Cosmic Indifference

From allmusic.com: "The Jazz Butcher was the vehicle of prolific singer/songwriter Pat Fish, an archetypal British eccentric whose sharp observational wit and melodic gifts navigated the group through over a decade of constant line-up shifts, stylistic mutations and even a series of name changes which found the band performing variously -- and apparently randomly -- under such titles as the Jazz Butcher Conspiracy and the Jazz Butcher & His Sikkorskis From Hell..." Pat Fish resides comfortably at the top of my list of fringe/cult musicians who were, for one sad reason or another, robbed of greater notoriety. He's a thousand times more clever, fun and instantly likeable than contemporaries like Elvis Costello, and he bounces effortlessly between comedy, tragedy and just plain strange like the best written episodes of M*A*S*H. It just pisses me off, quite frankly. I once read an interview with Michael Stipe in which he praised Pat Fish as an influence. That was probably the last time some bigshot mentioned him in an interview, unfortunately. Related: The Jazz Butcher "Angels"

January 18, 2009

Three Microsoft Songsmith Abominations

This novelty has already worn out its welcome, but I guarantee that the flood hasn't even begun. Software like this is comparable to diet pills: they are both marketed as effortless solutions to whatever ails you. Do you lack musical talent? Do you suffer from obesity? No need to exercise or practice, just use our shitty product instead. Here's one of many demo videos Microsoft put together for the Songsmith software:

A PIZZA TEEN! Original: "Guh-Guh-Guh Chay-Chay-Chay-Chay-Chay-Chay..."

January 16, 2009

Project 03: Tone & Beat Matching

This was the third lock-myself-away-for-two-months-and-learn-the-software project I created. It was made about a year after Project 01, toward the end of 2000. At that time, I had two live radio shows (a music program and a music-oriented talk show), so I was extra motivated to play around with this stuff. The premise was simple this time: remix the piss out of a ton of found sounds and songs, focusing on tone & beat matching to create a seamless mix which could pass for an actual store-bought DJ mix. Again, I was just using shitty old bootlegs of Sound Forge & Vegas. The result is a bit pretentious, but I think I passed the test. Related: Project 01: Learn The Software

Project 01: Learn The Software

I recommend using headphones to listen to this, not because it's overly loud or offensive, but because much of it is concerned with the depth of the stereo, or rather how "3-D" it is. I rediscovered "Project 01" last week, and I think it's still a blast. It's the very first mix I ever made using software. It was created between the end of 1999 and the beginning of 2000 on my old Gateway Pentium 3 desktop computer (128mb ram, 20GB harddrive) using ancient bootlegs of Sound Forge 4.5 and Vegas. At night, I'd lock myself in my room and teach myself how to use the software by creating a series of problems to solve. I wanted to...

  • Mix found sounds and samples with songs.
  • Take multiple versions of the same song and remix them into something completely new.
  • Take a short song and seamlessly extend it several minutes without it sounding overtly like a loop.
  • Focus on atmosphere.
  • Experiment with beat and tone matching
  • Experiment with unusual segues.
  • Combine the final individual "tracks" into a single, cohesive mix.
In hindsight, I think I did a pretty good job, especially considering I had absolutely no experience. Yeah, there are a couple of issues with the sound levels, but they're tolerable. Related: Project 03: Tone & Beat Matching