I hear the second night of "Low Level Allstars" (Thursday Feb 24) at Deitch was better than Wednesday, the night I attended [or I should say even better, since Wednesday was great]. I'm told the sound guy improved (I can attest that he did a not-so-good job the first night), and the speakers were put on tall stands. Also the crowd was bigger and more polite, although according to one report people were sitting down during Bodenstandig, which was definitely an up on your feet partying kind of thing. It's hard to find the right balance between sitting, listening, and partying, especially when trying to manage a typical New York gallery audience of people there to make the scene, yak, and network for their all-important careers.
For an example of what I'm talking about, check out the .mp3 of this John Parker/jenghizkhan performance at the Front Room in Brooklyn. He's playing some great gritty electro-noise stuff and you can hear the schmoozers just schmoozing away. This is no comment on his music--it doesn't matter who's playing here, music and performance are just a sort of background for everyone's personal movie. As I've mentioned before, this is partly because New York has an embarrassment of riches relative to other scenes and people are just blase, but there is also a high oink factor.
In the comments to my second post on Bodenstandig, Jonathan Brodsky floats the theory that jungle (the older, purer version of drum and bass) was the product of open source software, as opposed to musicians using commercial products. Let's nip that meme right here! Here's Brodsky's comment:
I don't know about jungle originating in commercial software environs... It was my understanding that the form developed in trackers similar to the ones that bodenstandig uses, on the amiga. I know that the breakcore sound is mostly due to the tracker interface as well. which software were you thinking was the one that spawned jungle?I clarified that by "commercial software environment" I also mean to include software in so-called hardware synths and samplers, and further replied:
Rob Playford initially used a shareware sequencer called Superconductor (running on an Atari) along with an Akai S-950 sampler and DAT, around the time of 2 Bad Mice's "Waremouse." By 1993 he'd switched to C-Lab's Notator, a commercial product. (C-Lab eventually became Emagic, maker of the popular sequencer Logic.) The real breakthrough for jungle came not so much with tracking, or sequencing, as abuse of (commercial) samplers. From The Mix (1996): "[Metalheadz'] 'Terminator' tore through the scene [in '93] with a vengeance ... its manipulation of timestretching from a sampling utility into a revolutionary new sound effect (by pushing the circuitry way beyond its parameters) made 'Terminator' not just a big tune, but a seminal one for the emerging and, by this time, identifiable new scene."
How can one "abuse" a sampler?
It seems quaint in 2005, but people used to think samplers were just for making perfect copies of sounds. To overdrive it or cause it to make noise seems normal now, not abusive, but that wasn't always the case.
I added some links to your references. The wikipedia article on trackers is interesting. Here's another one. Also some info on Atari chip-music editors such as the one Bodenstandig used. I'm still curious (and googling) about the interrelationship of the Atari demoscene, amigatrackers, and early rave and 'ardkore. How much was hobbyist/cultist vs real club/dancefloor breakthroughs? Also how much was actually hacked and/or open source vs just using the products companies were selling? Then or now? From the wiki article it sounds like the Akai and the tracker software were inseparable 50/50 partners in defining the "tracker" sound. Is that the same thing as "classic" breakbeat rave or breakbeat techno? The article makes "tracker" music sound like a cheesy variant--did that happen later or was tracker music always the music of (mostly European) hobbyists/Atari cultists?
Soundtrackers and "open source" do not necessarily have something to do with each other. In the home computer scene, sources were and are guarded, to showcase skills and lift them to a mystical level. In exchanging soundtracker files, the music becomes open source, or maybe open score. The musician gives you all the tricks and sounds in one file you can build upon yourself. The program code of the soundtracker software itself might well be closed source, tho the application itself is in the public domain.
The discussion about using or abusing instruments is not really fitting to digital instruments i think. You might take a saw and cut through a violin and record that, at some point in history that would have been cool and considered being an abuse of an instrument. To really abuse it you might want to drive nails in a wall with a violin and not even record that. -- But to say one is abusing digital instruments is in my opinion only a way to make yourself look cool. Abuse=Punk=h4rdc0re!! There is no such thing as turning the knobs in the wrong direction on a sampler. Not to follow the instruction manual or failing reproduce demo songs is not abuse. It's just that after some time another sound becomes acceptable to listeners. You might consider what i do to the YM2149 chip is abuse, but in fact, thru exploiting all the thing can do, i bring it to blossom and beauty. It's all inside the machine. Maybe some things were not even considered by the constructors of the chip, but it is still there. And a sampler can just store any sound, so to put there as many different ones as possible seems natural to the materiality of the instrument. Npt doing so is misunderstanding of the machine.
Digital artefacts can be brought to a different context. Nintendo hardware, more closed source than anything, can be freed and brought to everybody, not only developers paying licenses. (Yes, maybe 15 years later, but still!) A chip that was intended to control the printer and make keyclick sounds can become a musical instrument. (YMROCKERZ!!) Powerpoint can be used to make art. All this is not abuse, it shows us the great potential of software. Nothing breaks, only more things appear.
drx, Bodenstandig 2000
Ah, and BTW, thanX0rz Tom for your nice review!
Hi. Does anyone know where I can get a copy of Superconductor as talked about above with Rob Playford. Many thanks. Jamie.
I don't, sorry. I got that info out of a book (print--Chris Kempster, History of House) so I don't have a place to recommend for links on it (other than some of the resources above).