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Vikursteinar

by chaircrusher

supported by
gtlokeb (aka: Hverheij)
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gtlokeb (aka: Hverheij) Explorations into darker edges takes the ambience towards remote directions, while technical expertise masters each soundscape with creative insights. Artistry prevails. Favorite track: Equinoxious.
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1.
STPVOA 07:59
2.
Heterodyne 05:16
3.
Orange Bird 08:05
4.
5.
Feedback 07:10
6.
Tile 06:40
7.
Vikursteinar 05:31
8.
Apopemptic 06:56
9.
Dashpot 08:37
10.
Equinoxious 06:51
11.
Fireworks 05:40

about

Vikursteinar means ‘pumice stone’ in Icelandic. I picked it out of a web page about Iceland, for the sound of it. All of the titles were chosen because they were either a National Day - and yes there is a national Orange Bird Day - or a word of the day.

A recurring theme in this album is samples of shortwave radio broadcasts, as can be listened to online, at sites like http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/. I love raw, noisy sound of shortwave radio and the unfamiliar music that plays on distant stations. I split the sample into fragments & shuffle them up to try and remove all but a hint of their original context. It makes acousmatic sounds of uncertain origin.I also do not want to unknowingly use religious music in a secular, plunderphonic way.

STPVOA
The main sound is of an FM synth voice. Beyond the DX7 tine piano sounds that dominated 80s pop music, there’s a whole world of evocative sounds one can make with FM. The main sound of this piece sounds like an underblown flute, or softly played saxophone. There’s probably a deep mathematical connection between wind instruments and low-index linear frequency modulation of sine waves, but I don’t know what it is.


HETERODYNE
Heterodyne uses the same basic elements of STPVOA. Occasional English words drop into the mix and decay as sustained tones with subtly morphing timbres float above them. There’s a sound that’s halfway between a drum & water dropping into a galvanized sink that spatters across the surface. I was trying to erase the foreground of the music, the subject. It’s meant to be overheard, as from a distance,

ORANGE BIRD
Guitar and sine waves. This piece depends on an system of multiple feedback paths, and in the later half it starts getting away from me, making sounds that I can’t find the source of, even though I put together the modular patch that creates them. The guitar was played live and then sliced and reordered semi-randomly. The predominant 6/8 rhythm is an artifact of a particular delay network, not planned. It’s a rhythmic ghost in the machine.

PINEAPPLE BEAT
This is very simple sounds, sequenced by an odd sequencer -- Jeremy Wentworth’s NoteSeqFu, which takes a single note sequence and 4 voices play through it, starting and ending on different notes, going forwards or backwards. Each pattern meanders through many permutations before they repeat, but they each have a consistent character, a harmonic gestalt.. The vocal samples function as a sort of counterpoint drum machine. Due to sloppy slicing the vocal notes have a flexible relationship with the underlying beat.

FEEDBACK
I tried and failed on these tracks again and again to make music that was mostly in the space between notes. You can hear that at the beginning of this track, but the notes get denser as it goes along. The beat is a plodding regular pattern. For each drum, the Euclidean sequencer has a number of drum hits spread as evenly in time as possible. For example 11 hits fit unevenly in 32 beats, but in a musically compelling way. Euclidean rhythms show up in indigenouse music all over the world. Euclidean sequencing was invented/discovered by ethnomusicologists, analyzing the rhythms in folk music around the world. Using this algorithm, the computer coincidentally gets the same result as generations of human drummers to make compelling hypnotic rhythms.

TILE
I luckily captured a Number’s station when recording from shortwave radio. This recording and another, of Chinese pop music are the backbone of Tile. Again I use FM Synthesis to subtly vary the timbre of long, sustained pitches. This follows the same rough pattern as other tracks on this album - synths, shortwave samples,, echoes reverb, but I think this has a unique mood.

VIKURSTEINAR
There’s a bouncy pipe organ feel to this song. It is in essence a slow motion techno track. The snare drum drum loop gets chopped in such a way that it sounds like the drummer’s drunk. Sometimes it makes for a stumbling almost-”When The Levee Breaks” groove, only the subside into off-time flams and rolls. The vocals get pitched up and down and seem to fit on the beat better thant the actual drums.


APOPEMPTIC
I’d been watching Youtube music theory videos - a more dynamic domain than you might imagine - and there was one about using 9th chords instead of 7thths. In other words C E G D instead of C E G Bb. This piece explores using 9ths as a base before branching out into my usual nonsense. The vocal samples are - I think - a women on Chinese National Radio teaching a class in Esperanto.


DASHPOT
This is kind of like being lost in the fog at night on the San Francisco bay. There is a steady beat but it’s a bit buried in random drum sounds and clattering echoes.


EQUINOXIOUS
C major plus flat 7th, a blues scale. This always felt like a hip hop beat to me, though it proves I don’t actually make hip hop beats.

FIREWORKS
The crash and crackle noises were recorded by my co-worker Mike Miller on the night of July 4th 2021. It’s the sound of people in his neghborhood lighting off fireworks. The chords are stacked 8 note chords fit to the Aeolian mode.

Love & thanks to Melissa, Sean, Theresa, Lucas, Rebecca, and Felix.

Thanks to Andrew Belt, Jeremy Wentworth, Eric Sterling, Antonio Tuzzi, Stoermelder & many others in the VCV Rack community.

credits

released August 15, 2021

Composed, realized & mastered by Kent WIlliams 2020-2021

Artwork: Helen Spielbauer

Graphic design: Charles Terhune

Sample of fireworks on 'Fireworks' by Mike Miller, recorded on his phone July 4th 2021.

Chopped and filtered voices recorded from Software Defined Shortwave radio from China, Iran, Tunisia and Voice of America http://websdr.ewi.utwente.nl:8901/

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chaircrusher Iowa City

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