Take Me (Chamber SonX): Restored And Reposted

Background: This project is comprised of seven pieces released by Peter Hammill in 1996. Songs from Sonix and X My Heart have been edited and remixed into a single chamber work: In essence, 47 minutes of source material has been reimagined as a 12.25 minute suite. In  addition to the performances of Peter Hammill, the late violinist and PH associate Stuart Gordon also appears across this remix.

The suite was constructed over the course of a winter weekend and sent with trepidation to Hammill, asking him for permission to post. (Because, after all, every composer enjoys a stranger cutting, splicing and rearranging his work and then splashing it across the Internet.) His reply was gracious: “Well, an interesting little project…not quite the way *I’d* do it, ho ho…. but certainly in the honourable tradition of remixes, albeit longform version.” He further and kindly said that he’d have no problem with me “hoisting this up” to the Web.

All music copyright 1996 by Peter Hammill

2011 Remix by kulturhack

Photo by Gig Goer UK

Trailer For A Work-In-Progress

As I’ve previously noted, part of drafting my book involves recording myself reading newly written sections. From the outset, optimizing the sound of the text has been very important to me. And the only way to effectively tweak it is to, well, actually voice it.

As a consequence, I’ve many recordings of the novel’s final-draft sections which, because they’re locked down, are no longer of use.

Last year, it occured to me that edited versions of these readings could serve as the basis for occasional book “trailers.” And layered with music and visuals, they’ve proved to be pretty effective at this task.

The critical proviso then as now is to warn potential listeners that I’m a writer, not a professional narrator. But what I lack in rounded tones and perfect enunciation, I more than make up for in terms of definitive demonstrations of the novel’s prose rhythms . . .

Transcript Of “The Dull Ache Of Dormancy” Trailer

“Ready, then, to tidy up?” The voice seems to come from everywhere. And though you’d like to answer No, the car-wreck curiosity is irresistible. Turning away is useless because youʼre already rubbernecking–even though (or maybe because) this freakish accident is your own:

In a swivel chair on an oriental rug, youʼre waiting for playback and remembering Steppenwolf: Well, you don’t know what we can find / Why don’t you come with me little girl? But on a different kind of magic carpet ride–one that’s the opposite of escape. The dimmed halogens at the edges of the studio spill tarnished light down the walls, yellowing the acoustic panels before smudging into shadows. This, even as the fixture above your chair blazes at maximum setting, containing you and the ivory-handled cane in a cone of glacial light . . . .

“Standing by for ‘Post-Modern Pop Song;’ digital transfer of original mix, yes?” The Engineer makes this question an announcement, his voice omnipresent between the monitors. Squinting through the Arctic light and beyond its glare on the control booth window, you see him silhouetted against the halogen-glint on all of that gear for re-polishing your past: Business-brisk, in service to the entertainment industry and bathed in the glow of his professional tools. Apart from a terse Letʼs do it, then, what more is there left to say?

And now you want a cigarette–for the first time in many years. Recording studio. Engineer. Hidden dread before playback. Making music means chain smoking–or at least it did. It’s Proustʼs madeleine-and-limeflower tea, but turned inside out: circumstances have conjured up a sacred object from the past. And though you try, you canʼt shake the desire because in addiction there is no gone. Absence there becomes abstinence; the dull ache of dormancy. Lou Reed materializes then, fading up with some mid-chorus advice: You’re still doing things I gave up years ago–which are true words in a truer song . . . .

You’re beginning to adjust to the disconnectedness at the heart of Studio World: A perpetual twilight between the centuries that might be anywhere. And yes, the time frame could be narrowed a little by identifying the modules and racked MIDI units. But the spartan trend in component design makes everything an echo of Jonathan Ive. Which is why the concept of Where is useless: The hardwareʼs international minimalism has eliminated any sense of “here.”

But all of this is academic because you don’t know the tech–at least not like you did.Well, after all, just look at yourself. And so you lean back in the chair: surrounded by speakers, wanting nicotine and free-floating in a cloudy pool of maybe 10 years. It occurs to you that your resurrection fantasy had always been much more specific than this–even as the details of how you came to be here begin to soften and smudge.

You’d written the hit song for a successful film. Except in reality you hadn’t . . . .

A Short Film About Tilda

In retrospect, of course, this was inevitable–I’ve been on a collision course with this particular project since those first amino acids formed in that far away, prehistoric tidal pool.

It happened this way: This morning I was archiving documents to my server while listening to The Divine Comedy’s A Short Album About Love. As I opened the folder containing the source graphics for my Tilda Swinton Moment posts on Twitter, well, the perfect song started playing, and I knew what I had to do . . . 

And so I did. 

Sue me.

Compilation: The Metro Station iPhoneography

From the winter of 2010 through the spring of 2011, I suffered from an ailment that entailed some fairly excuriating physical therapy.

Since my ability to drive was impaired, I ended up taking a lot of subway rides to the medical center. On these almost daily trips, I started to take handheld, slow-shutter iPhone shots of the stations and the trains. At first, it was simply to take my mind off the discomfort, but soon I found that an iPhoneography project had accreted around the original intent.

Though I’ve already published many of these shots, they were always–or at least for a very long time–seen by me as glimpses of the work-in-progress that has become this video . . .

A Month Of Me: The Film

Today finally marks the end of my morphing avatar on Twitter. I can’t speak for you, but I began to think I’d never see the end of this project. What started out as a playful comment on the more constant avatar-shifters somehow became 30 days of performance art. In retrospect, I still like the idea of a single avatar that daily changes stylistically. I think it appeals to my inner-Warhol.

But the problem was how to give the project genuine closure. Somehow the simple resumption of my official avatar seemed, well, wimpy. It was then my friend Susan Champlin (@susanchamplin on Twitter) suggested that I conclude the project with a time-lapse summary. Perfect. (A virtual kiss on Ms Champlin’s always-thinking forehead for the brilliant idea.)

And so to conclude this weeks-long performance, I give you A Month Of Me, the–um–film. The version of “Vanishing Act” that serves as the soundtrack was excerpted from 2004’s Animal Serenade. It’s written and performed by Lou Reed and copyrighted to him.

(One last thing–learn from me, and never wade into something that requires you to change your picture on Twitter everyday at 6:00 AM without fail. Just sayin’ . . . )

Technology’s Consequence Collides With Nature

I happened to look out of the window at around 6:30 this morning–just in time to see a huge contrail running from horizon to horizon. And then, of course, the sunrise hit it . . .

Whoa. Deep, Massive Whoa.

The photos below are followed by a video of the thing–marking, I think, the first time I’ve used that function on my iPhone. (The featured music is Brian Eno’s “Asteroid Dawn,” from Curiosities, Volume 2.)

“Jimmy,” Visualized

Okay, I’ll admit that I’m intrigued–the posted reading of “Jimmy,” intended for my reference use and not public performance, has been doing doing, er, rather well in terms of visitors. A smarter individual would pretend that this development had been foreseen, but trust me, it wasn’t.

Thus, this is the logical conclusion to the posting of an excerpt from my work in progress that included the “Jimmy” sequence and the followup entry including my reading of it. With a tad of hubris (but a lot more raw curiosity), here’s the visualization of that reading:

To those of you who remain disinterested (and those of you who’ve become increasingly annoyed by all this repurposing), take heart–the chances of a film version remain astronomically slim and years
away . . .