Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Music to enhance taste of the sea

Heston Blumenthal is celebrated for creating increasingly unusual dishes
Diners have been given MP3 players at a top restaurant to enhance a dish.
Chef Heston Blumenthal, famous for his scientific approach to food, said the recording of breaking waves heightened the flavour of dish "Sound of the Sea".

The owner of award-winning Fat Duck restaurant in Berkshire, said research carried out with Oxford University revealed sound can boost taste.

"We ate an oyster while listening to the sea and it tasted stronger and saltier", Mr Blumenthal said.

Mr Blumenthal told Square Meal magazine that the tests carried out with Charles Spence at Oxford University "revealed that sound can really enhance the sense of taste".

Sound of the Sea, on the menu of the three-Michelin-starred Fat Duck restaurant, features seafood and edible seaweed on a bed of sand-like tapioca - all washed down with the sound of breaking waves.

Ruth Penycate, who sampled the dish as part of the restaurant's taster menu, said she was not expecting the musical accompaniment.

She said: "The people on the next table must have had the same menu - I'd just thought the guy was being incredibly rude listening to his iPod through the meal.

"The waiting staff bring iPod shuffles and invite you to put them on, and after a couple of minutes bring in the dish, which looks like a seashore and even smells briny.

"It definitely adds to the experience - the whole thing sets your senses going."

The restaurant has also planned whiskey flavour sweet gums served on a map of Scotland and edible crystallised rose petals adorning a silver rosebush sculpture for its menu.

Source: BBC.co.uk

Friday, April 20, 2007

Sonic Chav Deterrent

An oldie, but worth a post.

The Mosquito ultrasonic teenage deterrent is the solution to the eternal problem of unwanted gatherings of youths and teenagers in shopping areas, housing estates, car parks and anywhere else they are causing problems. The presence of these teenagers discourages genuine customers from going into shops, affecting turnover and profits. Anti-social behavior has become the biggest threat to private property over the last decade and there has been no effective deterrent until now.

Police and local authorities have hailed the device as the most effective tool in the fight against teenage anti-social behaviour, and those who have tested and bought the device have reported that police call outs to trouble spots were reduced by 80-100%.
MosquitoByteam website

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Music as torture

Report by Suzanne G Cusick

One of the most startling aspects of musical culture in the post-Cold War United States is the systematic use of music as a weapon of war. First coming to mainstream attention in 1989, when US troops blared loud music in an effort to induce Panamanian president Manuel Norriega’s surrender, the use of “acoustic bombardment” has become standard practice on the battlefields of Iraq, and specifically musical bombardment has joined sensory deprivation and sexual humiliation as among the non-lethal means by which prisoners from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo may be coerced to yield their secrets without violating US law.

The very idea that music could be an instrument of torture confronts us with a novel—and disturbing—perspective on contemporary musicality in the United States. What is it that we in the United States might know about ourselves by contemplating this perspective? What does our government’s use of music in the “war on terror” tell us (and our antagonists) about ourselves?

This paper is a first attempt to understand the military and cultural logics on which the contemporary use of music as a weapon in torture and war is based. After briefly tracing the development of acoustic weapons in the late 20th century, and their deployment at the second battle of Falluja in November, 2004, I summarize what can be known about the theory and practice of using music to torture detainees in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo. I contemplate some aspects of late 20th-century musical culture in the civilian US that resonate with the US security community’s conception of music as a weapon, and survey the way musical torture is discussed in the virtual world known as the blogosphere. Finally, I sketch some questions for further research and analysis.

Source/more info: Cusick's article

Clamor by Allora & Calzadilla

Clamor, 2006, a new work by leading artists Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla exploring the relationship between sound, music and war, has its European premiere at the Serpentine Gallery.

A large sculptural chamber, which the artists have described as ‘resembling a bunker, a ruin, a cave, and a sound booth’, hosts live performance events from a musical archive of moments when music has been used in military and political conflict.

For the live performances, held during the opening evening and regularly throughout the course of the exhibition, duelling musicians hidden inside the work itself will play historic military songs creating a monstrous montage of war music, somewhere between a symphony and cacophony.

The artists have created a pre-recorded 40-minute soundtrack, which will be broadcast from within Clamor during the course of the exhibition. It samples music from the Janissary bands of the Ottoman Empire, the resistance hymns of the Viet Cong, the ballads of the October Revolution, as well as contemporary popular music such as Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re not gonna take it’ used by American forces during the Panama invasion in 1989. Clamor stages a musical and corporeal investigation into the nature of these songs in the context of today’s global wars.

Allora & Calzadilla have been collaborating since 1995 and their photographs, videos, sculptures, installations and performative works address the challenging and conflicting effects of globalisation. The artists live in Puerto Rico.

Source: http://www.serpentinegallery.org/2007/01/forthcoming_allora_calzadilla_1.html