#PM15

If you follow our social media accounts you'll know we are spending this weekend amongst audio greats at Podcast Movement. First time visiting this particular conference, and already excited for the next one. Yes, they have it set.

This kicks off a couple busy weeks as we are continuing to put out The White Whale every Sunday, have some work for other shows in the mix and are playing participant to the 24-hour Radio Race from KCRW next weekend. Yes, we have asked ourselves what we are doing. Too fun to take that reality check. 

If you are new to our podcast as of #PM15 please take a listen in whatever order you please. First season is chronological, but as conversation of the records and films speaks to listening and watching in whatever order you please we have designed each episode to be part of a larger whole that can be heard unto itself.

Cheers to all following and participating in this crazy business. We are having fun. If looking for us tonight we will probably be mixing some radio somewhere in the ether. Feel free to steal attention. 

FUNAYŪREI - A Reflection

by John R. Barner

About midway through mixing down the tracks on Hikikomori, the machines began to “talk back.” This is the only way I can describe the mixes beginning to augment relatively independently in the computer software. Often I would spend several days away from a mix, either getting busy with life outside of recording or taking time to think about a particular song’s structure or sound. When I would return to the song, there would be changes that I didn’t remember making in the recording process. Sometimes subtle—a bit of echo on a beat, for example—that was easily explained when in the midst of tweaking levels of effects. Others, however, were drastic and many of the songs on Funayūrei contain elements that I genuinely don’t remember adding or enhancing. It was actually quite creepy at times! The phenomena occurred enough that I began to research technical reasons why it could be happening, but turned up nothing to explain everything I was hearing. I did, however, revisit a few creative instances where sounds ended up on a recording without easy explanation. During the recording of Joy Division’s final album, Closer, producer Martin Hannett remarked once to Rolling Stone magazine that the piano line on the song “The Eternal” would be heard through control room monitors when there was no one playing the piano or even in the recording room.

John Balance and Peter Christopherson of the band Coil recorded a side project entitled ElpH. The central creative conceit of the resulting Worship the Glitch, is described in band’s Wikipedia page as “random musical compositions that were generated from their own equipment, either by itself or as an unintended yet pleasant byproduct of their own work” although Balance and Christopherson would often say that they felt these “random musical compositions” were anything but, and seemed to be “transmitted” by somewhere or something. After uncovering these examples, I let the machines (or whatever force was using them) take over and much of what made the final mixes remains unedited. Funayūrei was intended to be the darkest of the records and the most evocative of the traditional ghost story. In Japanese mythology, the funayūrei are the spirits of those who have drowned or died violently at sea and are seen as acting malevolently so that seafarers will join them in their watery afterlife. Reading these myths and legends were incredibly inspiring to both realizing my vision for the music and the recording process itself, which evolved to sampling and making field recordings of water in various forms and incorporating electronic voice phenomena or EVP—static field recordings said to capture ghostly voices.

For the latter, I was able to access several publicly available archives of EVP first broadcast on the Coast to Coast AM radio program once hosted by paranormal enthusiast Art Bell, which I first heard many years ago on a road trip to California. From these disparate elements, the final part of the Yōkai Trilogy was born.

LINKS:

Coil vs. ElpH, Worship the Glitch: https://youtu.be/WUp8tUlftW8

Art Bell on EVPs from Coast to Coast AM: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLA0978912DC43800D

Aokigahara - A Reflection

By John R. Barner

Around the time I had set for myself to start recording music for the first story idea, I happened to be reading a book called Kūhaku & Other Accounts from Japan, edited by Bruce Rutledge. In the book, I was introduced to Aokigahara, a dense forest at the base of Mount Fuji that was a popular spot in Japan for suicides. Within a few days, I saw a link for a short film produced for Vice magazine in 2011 that followed Azusa Hayano, a geologist researching formations around Mount Fuji, who regularly ventured into the forest and often returned having either successfully counseled or recovered the bodies of any of the 50 to 100 persons who travel to Aokigahara each year to end their lives.

What I was reading and watching was both profoundly moving and disturbing, and I took my inspiration from it and the music came together in a short span of time. The final mixing sessions also corresponded to the birth of my son, which added to the already dizzying flurry of activity. As I continued, I was mindful that the topic of suicide is a tender one, for myself and countless others. In no way did I want to cheapen or glorify the subject matter. I read more, researched, and tried to compose the music in a thoughtful and respectful manner. In this I was and remain deeply indebted to the thought of Simon Critchley, the philosopher and ethicist who said that suicide “introduces the possibility of an encounter with some aspect of experience…not reducible to the self” (from his Very Little…Almost Nothing, Routledge: 1997, p. 74).

In a way, that remains my hope for not only my fictional character that “haunts” these five pieces of music, or, rather, goes from living to ghost in the space of them, but also for those actual troubled persons that inhabit the very real woods of Aokigahara.

LINKS:

Kūhaku & Other Accounts from Japan:  http://www.amazon.com/Kuhaku-Other-Accounts-Japan-Rutledge/dp/0974199508

“Suicide Forest in Japan,” a Vice film:  https://youtu.be/4FDSdg09df8

Simon Critchley’s “Suicide – A Defense” given as one of the Durham Castle Lecture Series, Durham University, in December of 2014: https://youtu.be/SO5bBtO26Cw

The Yokai Trilogy on the podcast!

It's been a few weeks since we have written. We've been busy getting new content out in the world and it's limited the time to write a proper update. 

The White Whale season 1 is in full swing as of yesterday with the first episode introducing John Barner properly and the ideas that have built his trilogy. Brimming with tales of ghosts and mechanical malfeasance - this should be a pretty great ride.

You'll recognize music from the catalog and certain approaches to sound unique to the games we play. The storytelling will keep evolving as the conversation evolves and grows richer so stay tuned for some impressive arrangements.

Any of the original material we bring into the mix will also get a certain mixtape remix - as we've done in the past, though this obviously being the first with music original introduced in a podcast. So, what you hear will come back around again. New shapes and forms to embrace the ideas we come upon through this journey.

We're always looking for a way to give you new work and new perspectives.

Release of the final album, Funayūrei,is also fast approaching. Album is ready,  though release date has yet to be set. We are working tirelessly to finish up the films first so you will have the full experience from get go.

Other adventures are in the mix, but for now listen to The White Whale.