Friday, February 22, 2008

What it sounds like for a boy/girl ? or How i started to file her under misc, a tragedy in 12" 7" and cdvd formats

Men are from.... ? women are from.......?

It's easy: women dance around handbags, men can't.

...and now to add to the gender definition industry.

How we listen!
How do we listen?

According to Lesley Douglas, BBC6 head of music and a crack team of pointer-outers with super eyes, it boils down into two main camps -

MEN: Nerding over the producers suicide halfway through recording, compulsively collecting every last 7 inch where the word "bless" is used, etc. That is to say that men enjoy the overall stuff around a song and get enjoyment from the trivia. Reminds me of Losing My Edge by LCD Soundsystem - you know the one with the green label and the lightning bolt and Tim Sweeney and Yoko Ono kissing dogs in the background..... shit! I did it again.

WOMEN: Being swept into floods of tears by Tori Amos then swung into a Lambrini induced hysteria by um...Take That, Tom Jones, Girls Aloud (well you never know)... Emotional creatures at the mercy of cruel musicians who take them to the edge of ecstasy only for Stuart McConie to talk over the final seconds. Who enjoy each song without the baggage of whether they died in a plane or once supported their family by selling crack.

So for your own gender labeling please take a minute to take our test.

Are you a man or a women eh?

1) Kraftwerk or Joni Mitchell

2) Bannanarama or Nick Kershaw?

3) Debussy or Wagner

Now, bearing in mind you may not prefer either or like both. In this case i advise a peek down your front. Answers in the comment section.

As ever thanks to the Laura Barton at the Guardian for the article which inspired this little experiment.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008


"Priming in psychology refers to activating parts of particular representations or associations in memory just before carrying out an action or task. It is considered to be one of the manifestations of implicit memory. A property of priming is that the remembered item is remembered best in the form in which it was originally encountered. If a priming list is given in an auditory mode, then an auditory cue produces better performance than a visual cue."
so thinking about the applications of this.... hmmm... trade?

A person walks into a cafe which is playing just the same tune granny used to have on as she tucked them into bed. That person now feels warm and comfortable and at ease and ripe for selling lattes, muffins or Vashti Bunyan cd's. poor sod:
This person has been primed.

Last nights horizon was focused on choices and how they aren't ever really yours. (half shite talk from men in blazers or prescient future imagining Gibson readers) but also half scary Harvard business school graduates that will be making a killing, and worst of all you will ask them too.

Yes their example was of a warm drink and a cold drink but I'm more interested, of course, by music as a priming mechanism.

What's interesting is that we self medicate with music to prime ourselves all the time - think of the couple getting the mood right for a romantic dinner tomorrow night only to put on Goblin, Earth or Sunno))).
It won't happen! Or, if it does I can only expect that one of the participants will be dinner. No actually try it.

Funnily, there is a discussion knocks around my flat about what everyone will play at my funeral. Why mine i can't really say, but what seems to come to the fore is music which will either bring people into the correct level of Georgian maudlin black mood or the opposite and bittersweet the ceremony with all the fun I used to have. This sport has some real winners (I'm not telling) but what I want to know is - will I hear the Pointer Sisters one day as i approach the counter to buy a coffee only to corpse it???

So just watch when you're next in a shop and you start humming along - you're already beat.

Two Open Ears @ Instal 08

We've been asked by our good friends at Radio Magnetic ( to report on the wonderful annual Instal festival taking place in Glasgow this weekend. One of the leading experimental music festival's in the world, Instal brings together local, national and international artists, critics and curators to present a fascinating and varied insight into the music that has no boundaries. What we like about it is the way it's presented in such as way that can be enjoyed by the most hardened critic and uninitiated musical novice in equal measure - if you have an open mind and want to experience something different, challenging, and inspirational this festival is for you.
Basically, we're looking forward to it very much!

We'll post interviews, sets and other stuff we get our hands on after the event.. watch this space.

check - Instal - Arika webpage

Monday, February 11, 2008

Sonic Deterrent infringes on your human rights

Claims made by Al Aynsley-Green the government Children's rights representative last week have called for the ban of the controversial 'Mosquito' sonic deterrent that is placed outside shopping centres and other public spaces to stop gangs of neds hanging out and being a general nuisance to law abiding citizens who want to shop in peace.

I've talked about it in an earlier blog post here -
Sonic Chav Deterrent on Two Open Ears
MosquitoByteam website

The deterrent works by emitting high frequency pulses or tones that are only picked up by young people who have more sensitive hearing than adults (especially in the higher frequency ranges). The tones help to stop the children loitering for too long..

I guess it's the subliminal effect that Aynsley-Green doesn't like, even though I think her 'infringes on human rights' argument is ludicrous. her main point focuses on how these alarms may effect young children and babies who have done nothing wrong. I would say that she should look at the bigger picture and tackle the larger issues - Noise Pollution and unsociable behaviour in our cities.

The sonic deterrent isn't the only source of noise that may have an adverse effect on infants - any machine that creates noise will do - cars, coffee machine, pneumatic drills, TV, etc etc! For example, imagine raising a baby if you live underneath a flight path or on a busy street with bars or clubs creating noise after 10pm- surely the terrible effect this could have on a babies ability to get a good nights rest is a much more severe issue than the 5 seconds or so they might experience the Mosquito alarm as they go in and out of a shop?

Aynsley-Green should try and tackle the problem that these alarms are helping to combat - unsocialable behaviour by gangs outside public places. Surely this in itself is a bigger infringement on everyone's basic human rights?

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Music tastes: where are YOU from?

This article in the G2 section of the Guardian yesterday explores musical tastes as being defined by the location you live in. On first glance this seems to have a lot of truth in it - just look at the amount of music sub genres that are linked to a city -

Detroit Techno
Chicago House
Miami Bass
London Grime
West Coast Hip Hop
and more recently the sounds of Sheffield Bassline.

Does location create the music or music create the location?

Is the listener able to appreciate the music more because they can visualise an image of the particular location and imagine a 'scene' where everyone in that city is influenced by the sound of the music created? It seems to me a bit of a generalisation as most of the time the music linked to that location is only related to one (normally tiny) demographic.

On the other hand, the majority of musicians are influenced by their surroundings. The city they live in and the people they meet will be reflected in the music they make.

One interesting thing is that in a more globalised musical world, can this trend continue or will musicians become more influenced by global rather than local stimuli? Do musicians create music, consciously or subconsciously, to create an identity which represents their city? I would go so far to say that a city's very essence (culture, identity, economy) can be enhanced significantly by having a musical scene intrinsically attached to it, even if the reality is that the scene is generated by a minority band of locals. Usually this is centred around a single record label or collective (e.g. Underground Resistance records and Detroit - techno or Fence Collective and Fife - folk)

if cities do not have this musical identity, they are lacking a soul.

Laura Barton Guardian Article

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Positive Soundscapes: Re-evaluation of Environmental Sound

This looks like an extremely interesting and worthwhile multi disciplinary project based in Manchester.
Here is some info from their website:

In the acoustics community, sound in the environment, especially that made by other people, has overwhelmingly been considered in negative terms, as both intrusive and undesirable. The strong focus of traditional engineering acoustics on reducing noise level ignores the many possibilities for characterising positive aspects of the soundscapes around us. Desirable aspects of the soundscape have been investigated in the past, mainly by artists and social scientists. This work has had little impact on quantitative engineering acoustics, however, perhaps because of barriers to communication across different disciplines.

The team behind this project comes from a very wide range of disciplines – social science, physiological acoustics, sound art, acoustic ecology, psychoacoustics, product perception and room acoustics. They will apply their breadth of experience to investigate soundscapes from many aspects and produce a more nuanced and complete picture of listener response than has so far been achieved.

The aims of the project are:

  1. To acknowledge the relevance of positive soundscapes, to move away from a focus on negative noise and to identify a means whereby the concept of positive soundscapes can effectively be incorporated into planning; and
  2. The evaluation of the relationship between the acoustic/auditory environment and the responses and behavioural characteristics of people living within it

Check out their site for more info -
Positive Soundscapes Web

Blog: La Blogotheque

Check this French site out - La Takeaway Away Shows. They get a band such as Caribou, Animal Collective, The Kooks etc and get them to perform ad hoc in random out door or interesting locations. They film and record it and you can watch the finished versions on the site.
My particular favourite is Caribou and the mad frantic run by main man Dan Snaith to get to his drums which are positioned around the block in time to perform his drum solo.
This is interesting, site specific music with environmental sounds kept in the mix to enhance the experience. Plus, surprisingly good recordings in general.

La Blogotheque