Squeeeeeeaky Shoes

quicktime click for video

A music video.


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air air air air air air airrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

(air) – Al Larsen flash clip | mp3

what is in it? it’s more than oxxygennnnnnnnnnn

air air air air air air air air airrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr
airrrrrrrrrrr airrrrrrrrrrrrrr airrrrrrrrrrrr air air air air air air

cleeeeeeeeean air! clean air! clean air! clean air! clean air!

and now i’m breathinggggggggggggggggggggg

all yourrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr


and now you’re breathing alllllllllllllllllllllll myyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy


and now we’re sharrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrring all this

((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( (air) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ))))))))

(((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( ( (

) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))))

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Running in Place (Going Nowhere)

How do you record an album anyway? With the barn doors open? Hmmmm. What’s more important – sound isolation or the sound of cars driving by? Being isolated in the cave of creativity or capering in the street?

High-quality home recording studios have exploded in the last decade – the technology to sound good has never been so convenient and accessible. So what are we doing way out here, hours away from anything on a thin peninsula between the Pacific Ocean and the Willapa Bay? The moon doesn’t make a sound, does it matter that it’s hanging full in the sky? How about bats – could bats be important?

Tracks forthcoming… in the meantime: Curtis Knapp and Adrian Orange, “Running in Place (Going Nowhere).”

Relatedly Linking
Watery Graves | Thanksgiving

it is only folllllllllllllllllolllowing it’s nature

Aahhhllalalala Audio

Two new songs in the text-to-speech style!

“the wind is in the t r e es” – AL Larsen mp3
“the crow harasses the hawk” – Al Larsen mp3

How do you record an album anyway? Can you record a spoken word album without a microphone? If so, would it be music? You can sequence sound clips and make them go “boom, bip, boom-bip.” You can take the mic and go, “the boom, the bip, the boom-bip” (Push It Along). So the door between poetry and a drum track is definitely open. Beat poets and beat-boxers have been crossing that threshhold for awhile. Kurt Schwitters may have left that door unlocked. Hmmm… But in the cut and paste era what’s a performance anyway? I saw Camille Paloque-Berges read her myspace comments the other night and that was pretty good. Performative typing taken into performance poetry vocal-space. Justin Katko combs active duty military message boards and recombines the vernacular through multiple voices funnelled through his own performing throat. OK. Let’s throw it backwards: Funnel our poetry back through some unwieldly and half-baked consumer software machine logic. Here are two more installments in my attempt to confuse syllables with beats, machine-voice with spoken word, text with score. Come to think of it, it would be nice to be out under the T R E E S right about now. Warm Not Cold!!!


How do you record an album anyway? Maybe it’s more of an argument than a collaboration. Nothing essential happens in the absence of noise. (That’s not just me saying that, ask the former head of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.) Music is a simulacrum of murder. (Attali again.)

So one morning(!) we pulled together The Legend! and the Shady Ladies for a quick session in the garage. A few hours later we had a nice little pile of recordings. What is the sound of disagreement anyway? In Rich Jensen‘s view of utopia there’d be plenty of room for people to hate each other’s guts. That’s a second-hand paraphrase, OK Rich, if I’ve blown it, don’t hate me! The gift economy! Utopia! Bring Something to the Table!!!

Struggle in the Sea of Possibility

In “Struggle, Event, Media”, Maurizio Lazzarato discusses the 1999 WTO protests in Seattle.

The days of Seattle were a political event, which – like every event – first generated a transformation of subjectivity and its own mode of sensibility. The motto »a different world is possible« is symptomatic of this metamorphosis of subjectivity and its sensibility.

The difference between this and other political events of the previous century is radical. For example, the event of Seattle no longer refers to class struggle and the necessity of taking power. It does not mention the subject of history, the working class, its enemy capital, or the fatal battle that they must engage in.

He sees the event as the expression of a multitude of different interests rather than of a group or class consciousness. The steel workers union, the pacifist and progressive Christian churches, the black bloc anarchists, the kids excited to run in the street… they have divergent interests and motivations. There are different areas of overlap between them, but where they really converge is in this idea “a different world is possible.”

But for Lazzarato possibility is the only distinct idea that the protests represent – the vision of what those possibilities are and how they will be realized, he says, is left open:

It restricts itself to announcing that »something possible has been created«, that there are new possibilities for living, and that it is a matter of realizing them; that a possible world has been expressed and that it must be brought to completion. We have entered into a different intellectual atmosphere, a different conceptual constellation.


“Futuristic Way” – Al Larsen mp3 | text

But he’s looking at the event as a media event only. It was also a real event experienced by thousands of people. It was experienced by the protesters and the inhabitants of the city It was experienced by those the law enforcement personnel and those attending or working at the conference. I was in the streets of Seattle, in the churches organizing the actions, walking the no-protest zones, looking in the eyes of the National Guardsmen, trying to process what it means to me to see armed soldiers posted atop buildings. Yes, the protest event cannot be read as a whole – but can be read as a mosaic of interests and desires. The event does not stand solely for the idea of possibility but encompasses the varied interests of the participants – from environmentalism to an increase in the minimum wage, from fair trade to unionism, from pacifism to a revolution of desire.

If the event is viewed solely as a media event, then a big part of it is related to how the event can be theatricalized. Certainly, images of tear-gassed kids and grannies is an apt image for the ruthlessness of corporations in the developing world. But there are purposes beyond the media representation. What about the effect on the participants? There is education that happens at the protest. By which I mean actual information dissemination and discussion. Also, one should consider the physical memory that results from occupying streets en masse. The transformations occur on the street and in the armchair level. That is, the transformations occur as a result of firsthand experience and as a result of mediated experience.

I agree, possibility is huge. But how can the feeling of possibility translate into how we actually live in the world?

The most visionary people I know seem to operate as if they have seen the future. Having seen the future they know how to apply themselves in the present. By way of contrast, how many times do you see someone you know, perhaps because she would count herself an anti-globalizationer, smirk ruefully and gesture toward her Starbucks to-go cup? Would the choices come easier knowing that the future really is shade – grown – organic – fair – trade – served – in – reusable – mugs – by – employees – who – make – a – decent – wage – with – full – health – benefits?

Stability is an illusion; change is inevitable. To continue the example of the coffee-drinker, beverage consumption habits / consciousness / economics will continue to change, one way or another. For instance, not long ago the phrase “non-fat double-tall decaf mocha,” now uttered thousands upon thousands of times every day, did not exist.

In his 1974 feature film Space is the Place, Sun Ra is challenged by some youths who are skeptical of his glitter and cardboard regal presence. He says, “Not real? You’re not real. If you were real, you wouldn’t be fighting for equal rights – you’d have them.”

Someone told me, “There’s a word for that – delusional..” And yet, Sun Ra lived as much like an astral prince on earth as anyone probably ever has. And this bit of dialog I think shows he was well aware of the material difference between Kryptonite and cardboard… just not willing to admit a value difference. Defense mechanism, art statement, political resistance, delusion: does the classification of his strategy matter so much? He managed to live and work largely outside of cultural expectations.



Yes, we’ve internalized loads. And there are material and structural elements of the world we are undeniably subject to (Kryptonite is not cardboard). But for those of us claiming “a different world is possible” what does it mean today, right now, in our social relations, in our interactions, in our conversations and in how we maneuver within public space? Is the different world possible as in let’s wait and see or possible as in I am booking tickets today? A different world? When do we start living in it?

The Gasping End

OK Yes so I’ve been working in this “album” of “songs” – actually closer to spoken word – although intsead of my own voice it is the standard Macintosh text-reading software. Scroll down for two new songs in the text-to-speech style! Also: RFID, banging rocks around the mastodon carcass, Kafka freaking out, a host of related links, all that. Welcome to Warm Not Cold!!!

Music starts with the human voice. Well, that’s what they say. It could just as well start with listening. Leaves move against leaves. Would you shut up and listen to that???? So it comes down to two paths: music as the creation of ordered vibrations and music as listening for ordered vibrations.

OK. We start with creation: European geniuses and bureaucrats work long and hard to take loose rhymes and rhythms – products of social noise or spiritual excitement – and turn them into a string quartet, a marching band, a symphony: now everyone is reading from the same script. Someone says, “Do you have the music?” And what they mean is, “Do you have the script?” Then someone – probably Edison – starts to scratch lines in a wax cylinder. The physical energy of sound vibrations vibrates a needle while the cylinder turns against it. Later, you put a less-scratchy needle in the groove and spin the cylinder, setting off a set of analogous vibrations. If you’re quiet, and listen closely, you can hear – amidst the surface noise – an echo of the original sound. No electronic amplification necessary. Wow. Recording is born. Forget the script: music becomes an object holding the potential for recreating a sonic event. “Bring some music!” and what they mean is – “Bring some cylinders, some acetates, some cassette tapes!!!” Tapes – yes – because once you have electrical current coursing through wires you can start to effect that current through fields of electromagnetic vibration. Sound pressure encoded in electric current as amplitude, frequency. Measure that 44,000 times a second and pour the results into an array: a block of digital data. “Bring some music! Bring some data files for processing!” The data is the script for playback (which the device reads) and a record of the sonic properties (encoded samples of amplitude and frequencies): both at once. But our music – if it started with a voice – was born in our mouths and throats: right next to language. Even when we are “La la la” -ing we’re right in there with language. Signifying “nothing” but doing it with syllables speaks volumes!!!


“The Only Crow in the Tree” – Al Larsen – text | mp3
“Boom Boom Kah” – Al Larsen – text | mp3

We’ve come a long way from what we used to call music – back when it was just you and me banging rocks around the mastodon carcass, and, sure we’ve got music as fields of digital data – the script and the record at once – but this data doesn’t say anything about its origins in oral communication. How about an endless field of typing run through some standard text-to-speech software? The coded representation of oral communication and the playback script joined at the brink of nonsense: let it try to make English words out of everything – the more crude and off-the-shelf the text-reader the better. The semantics and the sonics – the script and the storage and the syllables and the performance – joined in a field of unicode text. Music starts with the human voice – and it ends with a text-reader endlessly voicing the accumulated internet? A full circle to the end of music? No social vibrations. No spiritual excitement. A mountain of data, an endlessly churning performance for no one at all.

But as soon as this vision is manifested it begins to fade into the background, just another gasping end, amidst gasping ends…

It’s 1912 and Kafka is having nightmares about communications technology: suppose a Parlograph called a gramophone on the telephone? The pornography of a blank postcard sent through the mail. The horror of being there and not being there. Noise and silence. Communication and unintelligibility.

But the specter of machines in communication doesn’t scare you and me. We’re certainly more sophisticated than that! And yet, there is a new music forming, and it represents a return to social vibrations, only without a care for human hearing: we live amidst a chorus of tiny devices, listening and transmitting back and forth to each other. RFID tags are just tiny things – not much more than a single circuit – embedded in our id cards, consumer products, pets. A passive RFID tag has no internal power supply but comes to life within the transmitting field of a transceiver. The incoming frequency gives the circuit enough power to backscatter a reply. The attention of the listener provokes a response. Performer and audience acting in concert. Call. And response. Cheap and small and proliferating at the rate of 150,000 an hour, the big companies are falling all over themselves to embed them in everything: every item in the store micro-tagged and ready to transmit. Take a moment – or 4′ 33″ – and contemplate this field of singing from a machine’s-ear view.

Our text reader continues to crawl the internet, programmed to turn typing into some sort of sonic semantic experience… meanwhile, the new music of ubiquitous computing builds and builds, humming exponentially more complex harmonics.

Surely, another gasping end… even now fading into the background.

Related Links

“In the Presence of Noise” in Relays: Literature as an Epoch of the Postal System -Bernhard Siegert

RFID production to increase 25 fold by 2010

Abe and Mo Sing the Blogs

The Online Diaries of Franz Kafka, 1910-1923

With Hidden Numbers – RFID-enabled sound performance

4′ 33″ – John Cage