The coolest fucking musical instrument you’ve heard of this year comes from (you guessed it) Japan; more specifically, Ghost’s Masaki Batoh

The coolest fucking musical instrument you've heard of this year comes from (you guessed it) Japan; more specifically, Ghost's Masaki Batoh http://www.tinymixtapes.com/sites/default/files/news-12-02-masaki-batoh.jpg

You’re about to learn a lot of cool things about Ghost frontman Masaki Batoh. It’s probably best to lay out the facts in bullet point form:

• In addition to fronting one of the great Japanese psych rock bands of our time and touring regularly, Batoh is a professional, working acupuncturist.
• Batoh commissioned a device called the Brain Pulse Music machine that essentially translates brain waves from the parietal and frontal lobes into sounds (and Batoh has mastered its use).
• Batoh has a new album, Brain Pulse Music coming out on Drag City February 28.
• Batoh is a badass who really cares about the people of his country.
• Watch this.

Brain Pulse Music (BPM) was originally meant to be a straightforward attempt to translate brain waves into sound for the purpose of creating music. Following the earthquake that hit Japan in March 2011, the project changed considerably. Once Batoh was able to return to his acupuncture practice, he noticed a distinct increase in the anxiety levels of his patients. Instead of just translating any old thoughts into sounds, Batoh’s mission shifted to translating the post-disaster mindset that he saw permeating society into music. By creating music out of the brain pulses within this framework, Batoh also sought to create a release valve to help relieve that newfound anxiety.

Here’s a little more info on the machine:

…[The BPM machine] consists of headgear and a motherboard. In order to see the immediate effects on the level of brain waves, a special set of goggles that project indicator lamps (synchronized with the motherboard) are worn during the performance of the recording session. The headgear is worn by the performer, which picks up brain waves from the parietal and frontal lobes and sends them, via radio waves, to the motherboard. The motherboard then converts the radio waves via a generator into wave pulses, which are then output as sound.

Needless to say, this is a very cool and intriguing idea that borders on science fiction. The intensity and emotion that the promotional video hints at is a good indicator of the heft that Batoh’s project brings to the table. While the tones that make up this music are electronic, the album finds Batoh releasing some of the most traditional folk-oriented music of his career, a reflection of the roots of where the electronic tones originated, the Japanese psyche.

Batoh is donating all proceeds from the album to the Japanese Red Cross in support of earthquake victims. If the concept at play here isn’t enough to get you to buy this, hopefully that should do it.

Brain Pulse Music tracklisting:

01. Kumano Codex 1: Shou (wind pipes) and Nambu Furin (bells)
02. Eye tracking test: BPM machines (2 machines at same time)
03. Kumano Codex 2: 9 people play Konchiki (small gong hit by dear horn
stick) walking in a circle
04. Kumano Codex 3: Kodaiko (small drum), Shakubyoshi, Hansho (Buddhist
gong), Kagura suzu (bells) and Shakuhachi (flute)
05. Kumano Codex 4: Odaiko (big drum) , Konchiki, Mokugyo (Buddhist wood
block), Hyoushi-gi (wood block) and Shakuhachi
06. Kumano Codex 5: Kin (Buddhist bells)
07. Aiki no Okami: BPM machines (2 machines), Plasma Thermin, Springer FX
and Norito (Shinto chant)

• Masaki Batoh: http://www.dragcity.com/artists/masaki-batoh
• Drag City: http://www.dragcity.com
• Japanese Red Cross: http://www.jrc.or.jp/english/index.html

CocoRosie want to play music to your silent movies, so draw on a mustache and fire up that camcorder

Austria’s Donau Festival has announced that their 2012 artist-in-residence, CocoRosie, will partner with Australian filmmaker Emma Freeman for a special live performance called Harmless Monster. The conceit is that you, the PEOPLE, can send in any video (without sound) that’s under five minutes, and if your video is chosen, CocoRosie will play a live score to it during the performance. The puppet masters in charge of selecting the film docket are Freeman (naturally) and Rupert Casady, one of the alter-egos of CocoRosie member Bianca Casady, who enjoys tarot cards and can see the future.

Without any additional constraints beyond the absence of sound, the possibilities of what you could send in are literally endless. CocoRosie tend to like unicorns, fake mustaches, and parasols, so if you can squeeze any of those items into your clip, you’ve probably got a winner on your hands. With Rupert on the judging panel, though, the final selections are technically already known…. If you think he’s conjured up a vision of your work, submissions should be sent using MediaFire to harmlessmonster.donau [at] gmail.com before March 30.

The festival goes from April 28 to May 5, with the Harmless Monsters concert taking place on the opening night. Other highlights on the bill include performances by Atlas Sound, Oneohtrix Point Never, and Squarepusher, among many others.

• Donau Festival: http://www.donaufestival.at
• CocoRosie: http://www.myspace.com/cocorosie

Sony bums people out by allegedly price-gouging Whitney Houston’s greatest hits album after her death, which sucks to hear because Sony was my hero

I know this is a contentious position to hold right now, but I think major labels might be… kinda shitty??? See, pretty much immediately following the death of singer Whitney Houston, the price of Ultimate Collection, her (you guessed it) ultimate collection of greatest hits, kinda-sorta-maybe, um, went up. Like significantly. Like from £4.99 to £7.99 (sayeth The Guardian), or roughly $8 to $12.

Yikes. Okay, so then, Whitney’s fans did what all civic-minded people do in 2012 and (you guessed it again!) complained on the internet. And on Sunday afternoon, the adults that run Sony responded, presumably by texting their nine-year-old children from the golf course and asking them to issue a statement because their parents were too drunk. The idea that these kids cooked up is that the price set on Ultimate Collection before Houston’s death was actually cheaper than it was s’possda be this whole time and that they were just finally (coincidentally) fixing it now. Yeesh. They also suggested that maybe when the record ascended iTunes’ sales chart in the hours following Houston’s death, the evil, fascist, artificially intelligent mainframe computer that runs iTunes raised the price itself automatically because of its popularity.

Yeah… uh, but then after that, I guess the parents came home, because Sony just admitted they raised the price. And then, after that, the price went back down to where it was because of spooky action at a distance. The end. OR IS IT???

• Sony: http://www.sony.com
• Whitney Houston: http://remembering.whitneyhouston.com

Montag offers up monthly single series on Carpark Records, but he’s STILL not my real dad

Canadian ambient artist Montag hasn’t put out any music under his own name in four years. He says he’s been working on other projects. Nice try, bozo, but I know the truth! You’ve been dating my mom! Hell, you even married my mom! Now you’re my step-dad! But you’re not my real dad. I don’t want to toss the ball and I don’t want to listen to your new singles series, Phases.

Sigh. Fine, mom. I’ll be nice to Montag (even if he’s totally not my real dad). Hey everybody, my step-dad has a singles series called Phases coming out through Carpark Records. On the last Tuesday of every month, he’ll put out a new single. The first of these is already out and it’s called “New Design.” That single’s B-side is a cover of new wave outfit The Spoons’ “Nova Heart.” If you’re interested in buying it and finding out more about Phases, check out Montag’s website for the series. While you’re at it, why not watch the “New Design” video? Because he’s not my dad, that’s why not!

• Montag: http://www.montag.ca
• Carpark: http://www.carparkrecords.com

[Photo: Jeremie Battaglia]

Sun Kil Moon to release new LP Among the Leaves this spring (even though the title is misleading and evokes fall)

I picture Mark Kozelek (a.k.a. Sun Kil Moon) riding a bicycle along a narrow road that curves around a rocky hill and overlooks the ocean, because that’s how I picture Northern California, which inspired much of Sun Kil Moon’s upcoming LP, Among the Leaves. The album’s 17 tracks, which Kozelek played almost exclusively on a nylon string guitar, reveal a candid sense of humor and continue his distinctively melancholy mood. It’s alt-folk that’ll be perfect for your coastal bike rides or walks through the woods or whatever else you might do for nature-y fun in Northern California. Among the Leaves will see a May 29 release via Caldo Verde Records — just in time for summer activities.

Among the Leaves tracklist:

01. I Know It’s Pathetic But That Was the Greatest Night of My Life
02. Sunshine in Chicago
03. The Moderately Talented Yet Attractive Young Woman vs. The Exceptionally Talented Yet Not So Attractive Middle Aged Man
04. That Bird Has a Broken Wing
05. Elaine
06. The Winery
07. Young Love
08. Song for Richard Collopy
09. Among the Leaves
10. Red Poison
11. Track Number 8
12. Not Much Rhymes With Everything’s Awesome at All Times
13. King Fish
14. Lonely Mountain
15. UK Blues
16. UK Blues 2
17. Black Kite

• Sun Kil Moon: http://sunkilmoon.com
• Caldo Verde: http://www.caldoverderecords.com

Explosions in the Sky tour, again proving themselves as a band capable of playing music

It takes a lot for any band to prove themselves to me, the writer of this amazing news article. The criterion has always been that the band must surpass my ability to make immature jokes about them. Luckily, Austin, Texas band Explosions in the Sky have decided to go on tour this spring just as I have become an outpatient at a treatment facility for people who are addicted to making immature jokes. Here’s a few examples of why I can no longer make jokes about the group:

• Ejaculation-related jokes “explosions in my eye, exploding on my thigh, etc.” – all trite and useless now.

• Jokes about Friday Night Lights – old, repetitive, and stale.

• Poking fun at post-rock – my great-grandma makes post-rock jokes all the time now, so it’s obviously not cool anymore.

• Jokes about guys being so “emotional” with their instruments – it’s okay to cry. And it’s time to stop being a jerk!

So congratulations, Explosions in the Sky! You can go on tour in support of your 2011 album Take Care, Take Care, Take Care (TMT Review) without anyone joshing you. Soak it in, guys!

Tourdates:

04.05.12 - Boulder, CO - Boulder Theater
04.06.12 - Grand Junction, CO - Mesa Theater & Club
04.07.12 - Salt Lake City, UT - In The Venue
04.08.12 - Missoula, MT - Wilma Theater
04.11.12 - Eugene, OR - McDonald Theater
04.12.12 - Reno, NV - Knitting Factory
04.13.12 - Indio, CA - Coachella
04.16.12 - San Francisco, CA - Palace of Fine Arts Theater
04.20.12 - Indio, CA - Coachella
04.22.12 - Flagstaff, AZ - Orpheum Theater
04.24.12 - San Antonio, TX - Backstage Live
05.25.12 - George, WA - Sasquatch Music Festival

• Explosions in the Sky: http://www.explosionsinthesky.com
• Temporary Residence Limited: http://temporaryresidence.com

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