Tea With Chris is a roundup of recommended links, posted every Friday. Here are a few of our favourite things from the Internet this week:
Carl: I’d like to share a couple of things I stumbled on while working on this profile of Stephin Merritt of the Magnetic Fields for Salon.com: He told me about a synthesizer he’s using created by Don Buchla, called the Source of Uncertainty, which generates unpredictable sounds based on how you vary the voltage. Or something like that. I don’t pretend to understand it, but I do like to see and hear it in action:
Second, at one point in our conversation (mostly not used in the piece) he went off on a tangent about the Thai Elephant Orchestra (that page will lead you to music and more). His riff, meanwhile, went a little something like this:
“Music is still something that’s done only by people – except the Thai Elephant Orchestra. There’s something called the Rock Cats playing here in Los Angeles, but people have to train them to do that, so it’s not necessarily not about people. Whereas the Thai Elephant Orchestra is really not about people, on some level. They’re not trained; they’re given instruments that they could play or not, as they felt like it. The elephants enjoy playing the harmonica – they inhale and exhale and they have fun with that. They use the whole harmonica at the same time, of course. And then they had these gigantic xylophones that they used more by strumming than by getting individual notes out of them. In the future of human-designed elephant-played instruments, they might want to have much, much larger instruments, in order to encourage the elephants to differentiate between the notes. But then that would be human manipulation in a deliberate way.”
Like a John Cage piece, the Source of Uncertainty or the Thai Elephant Orchestra, another way to create music that liberates it from the confines of human will turns out to be to slow it down exponentially. This has been a popular thing to do the past couple of years, perhaps most famously to Justin Bieber, but I’d never heard it done with a song or artist I had a close personal attachment to. I want to listen to this 36-minute-long version of Kate Bush singing Wuthering Heights first thing in the morning every day, as a kind of Zen practice.
Chris: This video mashup, by the Jigglypuff-guised Stephen Swift, is maybe the most insightful piece of music criticism that anyone’s produced on Grimes so far. Maybe.
Lisa Hanawalt owns the big-horses-with-tiny-horses beat.
If you live in Toronto and like dancing to Larry Levan remixes, you should come to That Time of the Month tonight. If you don’t like Larry Levan remixes, all I can give you is some Paradise Garage bootlegs and my pity.