six years ago today was the release of third rail of a one-track mind (variations on a theme).
i am very excited to announce that Cited (Original Podcast Soundtrack) is now available to download and stream!
i do hope you download it and give it a listen. as always, my albums are pay-what-you-can and you can even enter $0 to get it for free if funds are super tight (as is the situation for many of us during this pandemic).
this season of the podcast deals with the politics of expertise in the “post-truth” era—who is and isn’t considered an “expert” in different contexts and how it is leveraged in different ways (often times for bad). like “this american life” but rooted in history and science. the stories include from a hoax paper published by a scientist, indigenous people subverting the canadian government’s narrative at expo ’67, the makers of tamiflu buying influence at the CDC…
thru these stories, we see how what we are presented with as truth is often skewed—facts are manipulated to present certain favoured narratives. as this is one of the common threads running thru the season, i intentionally chose a sonic palette to reflect the wavering condition of truth bending under pressure by way of lo-fi and distorted sounds.
being a soundtrack, it’s not going to sit firmly in one genre or another. i’d say it moves around within the ambient articulations of the post-rock and lo-fi electronic genres, with some modern classical elements peppered here and there. if you’re a fan of mogwai, boards of canada, jóhann jóhannsson, a winged victory for the sullen, or the electronic duets by ólafur arnalds & nils frahm then you will certainly enjoy this album.
In honour International Drone Day, I will be performing two live improvised ambient drone sets — one at dawn as the sun rises, the other at dusk as the sun sets. The start times are 5AM and 8:30PM eastern standard time, with expected durations of about 45 to 60 minutes each (it will be governed by the actual sunrise and sunset). The YouTube stream links for each are below.
a few years ago (may 4th, 2014 to be precise) i was sitting in the pub when the thought occurred to me: what would it sound like if i looped every occurrence of the word “alderaan” from ‘star wars: a new hope’ overtop a wall of sound made up of all the duran duran songs at once.
i present to you alduran, alderaan — the fucked up result of such an experiment, along with every shot of alderaan for nice visuals. may the fourth be with you!
UPDATE: the youtube link is https://youtu.be/6FnfQUVlKPA
In honour of International Workers Day, I will be performing a live drone rendition of “The Internationale”. The performance is expected to be about 25 minutes (or so).
Long live international solidarity!
(The main event starts around the 16m20s mark)
this post was intended to go live over a month ago — on march 11th. unfortunately, i was in the hospital having my exploded appendix removed that day, so i wasn’t able to finish and publish it. but, as they say: better late than never.
five years ago today was the release of loch ness, an expressionist two-part drone piece about my adventure in 2014 canoeing the length of loch ness — solo — over a day and a half. the experience was a transformative one, to say the least. i can tell you, it certainly lives up to its reputation for being beautiful, haunting, and treacherous — qualities i feel i captured in these drone pieces. take a listen while you read my story…
it was just after midday when i put-in at fort augustus, on the western-most tip of loch ness and began my journey eastward along the 36.2 km (22.5 mi) long lake. with a surface area 56 square kilometres, it is the second largest scottish loch (second to loch lomond).
it was an uncharacteristically warm and sunny autumn day, and i actually managed to get a bit of a sunburn! but what started out as a smooth, easy-going paddle became a stormy hell after headwinds picked up in the late afternoon, creating waves one to two feet high. i was paddling alone and against the current. if i stopped paddling for just a moment to rest my aching shoulders, i would lose a whole canoe-length (16ft) of progress.
because of the high hills and tree lines which rim the loch, the sun effectively sets here around 7pm or so. the steep angle at which the hills meet the water is such that one can’t just make land and set up camp on a whim. the difficult challenge i found myself in was to paddle thru the stormy waters to find a spot accessible and flat enough to pitch my tent. fortunately i managed to find a spot just flat enough to work just as the sunlight began to disappear, leaving me to set up camp with my flashlight.
early the next morning i made some porridge, took in the beautiful scenery before me and set out to make up for lost time — i was at least five kilometres short of where i wanted to break for the night. before packing up, i took a few photos as the dense fog was beginning to lift. the water was so still across the loch, it was like glass. it was hauntingly beautiful and i would have loved to sit longer and take it in, but i still had 20 or so kilometres of loch ness to paddle before i made it to the river ness — a 10 kilometre snaking river that connects loch ness to the beauly firth at the city of inverness (my final destination).
by the time i arrived at the pick-up point to meet with the outfitter from which i rented the canoe, my body was so exhausted i could not even pull the canoe out of the water myself. the entire day i was paddling against the current, with but one single break to snack. after loading the canoe into the van, i was dropped off at the train station in inverness. i bought my train ticket to the town of keith where i was to visit a friend. i had time to kill, and resentment to extinguish. i said, “fuck you, nessie! i’m going to go eat one of your friends!”
i walked into the first pub i found and ordered a pint of stout and a plate of fish and chips — thus ending 19 years of vegetarianism. it was delicious.
i am excited to announce a new limited live experimental music series i am curating on the last thursday of february, march, and april.
“APPETITE FOR DECONSTRUCTION is a limited series curated by experimental artist Mike Barber. Join us for an evening of improvised experimental music. Each evening is divided in two parts—guest artists will perform their sets which will be sampled and used as the raw materials for Barber’s closing set. The audience will first experience the original source performances unfold live, then an improvised deconstruction of them immediately after.
for details, please visit mikebarber.ca/shows/appetite-for-deconstruction-no1/
five years ago today was the release of ama bala, a 22-minute single-track ambient/drone EP. it is the first release from my period experimenting with the technique of digitally granularizing a recording and then elongating the grains by a significant amount and smearing them together. if that description is obtuse, imagine i was taking a length of cassette tape and chopping it into wee (maybe one to two milliliters in length) pieces or ‘grains’–that is the granularization. now imagine i took each of those tiny snippits/grains of tape and physically stretched each one of them in length from 1mm to 100mm, then taped those splices back together in order. i’ve long been a fan of glenn branca, and the first movement (slow mass) from his second symphony has always been a favorite of mine. i was looking for my own way to carry out the deliberately long, drawn out yet subtly morphing tones without the use of any synthesizers, and this technique proved to be the way.
here is the first in a series of experiments layering manipulated voicemail messages, circuit bent radios, and other glitchy sources of data transmissions.
here is an excerpt (the last 12 minutes) from my set opening up the community performance portion of the toronto sound festival on november 23, 2019. an extended video will be posted in the near future.