Thursday, September 25, 2008

lau nau

In 2006, I hopped on a plane and flew to Helsinki on a mission to find the roots of this foresty psych-folk coming out of Finland. I was utterly fascinated by the sound. It wasn't just that I wanted to buy records - I wanted to breathe the air and see the light that was causing such a sound to be created.

Lau Nau, short for Laura Naukkarinen, is one of the more famous artists hailing from the way north. I was lucky enough to catch her performance at the Knitting Factory on 9/19/08, and lucky enough to have Matt there to film it since I was too busy being carried off to strange worlds by her songs :)

If you like her sound, be sure to check out Fonal Records. Along with some of Lau Nau's stuff, they're responsible for putting out Kemialliset Ystavet, Islaja, and Paavoharju, artists you may have heard of since they're gaining popularity nowadays (yes!!). Just be sure to support them, since I don't know what would happen to my music life if they ran out of money!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Monday, September 8, 2008


Jacob Kirkegaard is an artist with an interest in the scientific and aesthetic aspects of resonance, time and hearing. His performances, audio/visual installations and compositions deal with acoustic spaces and phenomena that usually remain inaccessible to sense perception. With the use of unorthodox recording tools such as accelerometers, hydrophones or home-built electromagnetic receivers, Kirkegaard manages to capture and explore "secret sounds" - distortions, interferences, vibrations, ambiences - from within a variety of environments: volcanic earth, a nuclear power plant, an empty room, a TV tower, crystals, ice... and the human inner ear itself.

A graduate of the Academy for Media Arts in Cologne, Germany, Kirkegaard has given workshops and lectures in academic institutions such as the Royal Academy of Architecture in Copenhagen and the Art Institute of Chicago. During the last ten years, he has been presenting exhibitions and touring festivals and conferences throughout the world. He has released five albums (mostly on the British label "Touch"). Among his numerous collaborators are JG Thirlwell, Ann Lislegaard, CM von Hausswolff, Philip Jeck and Lydia Lunch.

the conet project

"Static. Faint voices. Seven slow, monotonous tones. A pause. Suddenly, you hear music--one of those wind-up songs played by a child's toy. The melody repeats three times. A pause. Suddenly, you hear a female voice counting off the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0 in German. A pause. She repeats the numbers. A pause. The children's toy melody returns."

"So begins The Conet Project, perhaps the greatest collection of found art ever produced. This is not only a monumental work; it is also a monument, a testament to 50 years of Cold War espionage, a living document of the world's most secret agencies. That most of these agencies are still around today merely enhances the importance of this work."

"...Numbers stations transmit coded messages through shortwave radio. These messages are transmitted from places all over the world, yet the basic numbers station message is remarkably uniform. It usually consists of a voice (most often female) reading off a series of numbers. On many occasions, this reading of numbers will be preceded by a song--usually familiar (like the English folk song, "The Lincolnshire Poacher") or distinct (the weird children's toy music I mentioned earlier, which is called "The Swedish Rhapsody"), though there are signals without music and signals that simply transmit Morse code messages. Above all else, one thing remains constant: nearly every transmission begins on the hour, lasts between ten and fifty minutes, and is almost invariably repeated several times over a 24-hour period."

"What are these messages? Well, no one has ever come forward to prove that these stations are linked to spy networks, but almost everyone who has ever studied the signals believes that they are. But why would a spy network like the CIA or the KGB or Israel's Mossad or Osama BinLaden's Al-Qaeda--with all their money and resources--bother transmitting messages through something like shortwave radio, a cheap technology that would allow anyone in the world to listen in? There are two reasons. First, shortwave is not only cheap but also common, meaning a spy can easily carry around a good shortwave radio without attracting any attention whatsoever. Second, the messages use what is called a one-time pad, which is generally considered the most secure cipher ever created--provided that the sender and the receiver are the only ones in possession of the key to unlock the message."

comforts of home

domestic UFO detection of John Shepherd, who set up this station in his grandparents' living room in the mid 1970s.

(from Jacques Vallée's Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults)

the australian lyre bird

it can imitate cameras, car alarms, and even the sound of chainsaws cutting down its home.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

rock medicine

Paul Devereaux on archaeoacoustics:

"Canadian rock art interested us because of a traditional Algonkian Indian belief that manitous – spirits – lived inside rocks and cliff-faces, and that shamans in trance could enter the rock surfaces and meet with them in order to exchange tobacco offerings for supernatural power, usually referred to as “rock medicine”. (If the shaman failed to carry out this operation correctly, though, it was said he could become trapped in the cliff or rock he had spiritually entered and never return to his body outside. In our terms, he would die or go mad.) We wanted to test the hypothesis that such rock art marked venerated, magical places where the spirits could be heard; perhaps places where echoes were unusually strong. Had the Indians, like the ancient Greeks, believed echoes to be the sound of spirits calling, mimicking human-made noises to do so?"


"Man eating plants, most frequently inhabiting the jungles of Africa in popular fiction, may have been based on initial reports of plants that could trap and kill mammals, such as Nepenthes rajah.

However, there are unconfirmed reports, primarily from Latin America, that allege the existence of still-undiscovered species of large carnivorous plants. The most comprehensive compilation and discussion of such reports currently in print can be found in British cryptozoologist Karl Shuker's book The Beasts That Hide From Man (2003)."

(from wikipedia)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008


referred to as the trees of life, the upside down trees, and in antoine saint-exupery's le petit prince, the trees that could split small planets.

they held prisoners inside their trunks.

one bush legend has it that the god Thora took a dislike to the baobab growing in his garden and promptly chucked it over the wall of paradise; it landed below on earth, upside down but still alive, and continued to grow.

in another, the gods got so irritated by the vanity of the baobab, as it tossed it branches, flicked its flowers and bragged to other creatures about its superlative beauty, that they uprooted it and upended it to teach it a lesson in humility.

swimming cities of switchback sea

part floating artwork, part performance, part mobile utopia.

"Swimming cities of Switchback Sea is a flotilla of seven intricately hand crafted vessels that will navigate the stretch of the Hudson River between Troy and the New York harbor this August 15th - September 7th. Imagined as a hybrid between boats and bits of land mass broken off and headed out to sea, the Switchback vessels will make stops in towns along the river bringing performances and music. Over the course of three weeks they will make their way toward their home port - an invented landscape tucked into a niche along the East River in Long Island City, Queens.

The Swimming Cities is designed and organized by printmaker and installation artist Swoon. Collaborators include playwright Lisa D’Amour, the band Dark Dark Dark and circus composer Sxip Shirey." (from

(photos from nytimes)