New documentary in production about electronic music pioneer Morton Subotnick

Morton Subotnick is an 84-year-old avant-garde composer whose pioneering electronic music, and approach to musicmaking, influenced the likes of Daft Punk, Kraftwerk, Four Tet, and countless techno artists. Subotnick helped Don Buchla design what was likely the first analog music synthesizer and used it to create his seminal psychedelic masterpiece, Silver Apples of the Moon (1967), the first electronic music work commissioned by a major record company, Nonesuch/Elektra. (Fan-made video below.) Just a few years before, Subotnick co-founded the iconic San Francisco Tape Music Center that became a creative home for Terry Riley, Pauline Oliveros, Steve Reich, and so many more incredible composers. And he's still making sounds. Now, Toronto's Waveshaper Media, the production company behind “I Dream Of Wires" and the forthcoming “Electronic Voyager" film about Bob Moog are working on a documentary about Subotnick. Support it on Indiegogo.

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Crosby, Stills & Nash's unused theme song for War Games (1983)

Crosby, Stills & Nash recorded this theme song for War Games, the seminal hacker film of 1983. The tune was heard in movie trailers and in this promotional video that aired on MTV but was apparently pulled from the film. The song, "War Games," was included on the band's album Allies. From the lyrics:

I am not so sure What you want me for Either your machine Is a fool, or me

Now there is no time to wait No time to think it over Take the path, believe the math You'll tell me when it's over

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Here's the Ozzy-Earth Wind and Fire mashup you never knew you needed

DJ Cummerbund noticed that the world needed a mashup of "Crazy Train" and "September," and the world became a better place. The mashed up video is icing on the cake. Read the rest

A brief history of goths

Given my own penchant in the 1980s for black clothing, black eyeliner, and Bauhaus, I was delighted by Dan Adams's TED-Ed video "A brief history of goths."

And if you find yourself in that delightfully dark place, please enjoy these classics:

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Soundgarden singer Chris Cornell, RIP

Chris Cornell, the singer of pioneering grunge/metal band Soundgarden, has died of apparent suicide. He was 52. Our thoughts are with his friends and family. When I saw Soundgarden play small clubs in the early 1990s, it was always an incredibly intense and, yes, loud experience. Cornell rocked. From the New York Times:

Mr. Cornell was born in 1964 in Seattle and helped form Soundgarden 20 years later. Sub Pop, then a fledgling record label, released the group’s first single, “Hunted Down,” in 1987, as well as two subsequent EPs. The group’s debut album, “Ultramega OK,” came a year later.

“Badmotorfinger,” released in 1991, benefited from the swell of attention that was beginning to surround the Seattle scene, where Soundgarden, along with Nirvana and Pearl Jam, were playing a high-octane, high-angst brand of rock ’n’ roll. Soundgarden’s musical journeys tended toward the knotty and dark, plunging into off-kilter meters and punctuated by Mr. Cornell’s voice, which could quickly shift from a soulful howl to a gritty growl.

Three of Soundgarden’s studio albums have been certified platinum, including “Superunknown,” from 1994, which featured “Black Hole Sun,” “Fell on Black Days,” “Spoonman” and “My Wave.”

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Are pop lyrics getting more repetitive? (hint: yes)

Colin Morris at The Pudding analyzed the repetitiveness of a dataset of 15,000 songs that charted on the Billboard Hot 100 between 1958 and 2017. It's true: pop music lyrics are increasingly repetitive. Read the rest

When Jimi Hendrix opened for The Monkees

"At one of the last shows, he finally flipped off the audience," says The Monkees' Mickey Dolzenz. "I don't blame him, frankly."

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The National: brand new song from forthcoming album

"The System Only Dreams in Total Darkness" is the first single from The National's forthcoming album Sleep Well Beast, out September 8. What a stunner. Four months is a mighty long time.

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With no music, A-Ha's "Take On Me" video is dark and disturbing

Musicless Musicvideo's Mario Wienerroither strips down A-Ha's 1980s anthem "Take On Me" and adds in appropriate sound effects. The result is rather strange and ominous.

Here's the beloved original:

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Trance legend Robert Miles dead at 47

Robert Miles, the Italian DJ behind 1990s EDM breakthrough hit Children, is dead at 47. Born Roberto Concina, he popularized a chilled-out form of trance that came to dominate European airwaves in the 1990s.

News of the Swiss-born Italian artist’s death was first reported by DJ Mag Italia, who claim he died of an “unspecified illness” but this has yet to be confirmed. Producer and longtime friend Joe T Vannelli verified the reports to the Press Association, saying: “Yes man, (it) is a tragedy.”

He later posted a tribute to the producer on his Facebook: “The tragic news of the death of a very talented artist of our time, makes me incredulous and upset,” Vannelli said. “I will miss the fights, brawls, criticism, judgements but especially your talent in finding sounds and melodies unparalleled.”

Children cost $150 to produce and hit Number 1 in twelve countries. Read the rest

Seattle: Death Cab for Cutie and The Decemberists benefit for ACLU and Planned Parenthood

On June 9 in Seattle, our pals in Death Cab for Cutie are joining The Decemberists and Sera Cahoone for a benefit concert at the Paramount Theatre with all proceeds going to the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) and Planned Parenthood. Tickets go on sale Friday (5/12) at 10am PT.

“We as Death Cab For Cutie are appalled by the divisive, xenophobic and misogynistic agenda the Trump Administration is attempting to implement in our country," says Ben Gibbard. "We are proud to be joining our friends The Decemberists and Sera Cahoone in support of both the ACLU and Planned Parenthood at this pivotal time in our nation's history."

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The Cure's first ever television performance from 1979 is killer

Here's The Cure performing "A Forest" live on television at Paris's Theatre de l'Empire on December 3, 1979. Robert Smith was 20 years old at the time.

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Willy Wonka dialogue as a sax and drum jazz duet

David Dockery performed a drum solo of the climactic scene in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Then Dan Felix upped the game with a saxophone accompaniment to the original. Read the rest

Press Play. Music Comes Out.

Stef Magdalinski (previously) (AKA, DJ at my wedding) writes, "I have a new music show 'Press Play. Music Comes Out,' on SF's finest community radio station, BFF.fm. I'm only on the 4th show, and still finding my feet (i.e. how the controls work), but this is my first show with a guest, Mole from old BB faves The Marseille Figs (previously), playing some brand new tunes from his kickstarter-backed double album, The DANGER ISLAND, their first new music in over 5 years... The show goes out on bff.fm 2-4pm on Monday afternoon, archive available shortly after and at your favourite podcast outlets soon thereafter... Read the rest

Interactive website teaches music fundamentals

I've been playing with Ableton Live's Learning Music website. It starts by showing you how to use an electronic drum kit, then moves to notes, chords, basslines, etc. You get to experiment on almost every page and see the structure of famous songs. A very cool learning resource! Read the rest

Drummer Buddy Rich hated country music

I played this video to watch Buddy Rich say mean things about country music (at 9:46 in) ("Anybody could play it on one string"), but his drum solo was a lot more fun.

Incidentally, here's Buddy Rich's classic dressing down of his band. Obviously the inspiration for the abusive band teacher in Whiplash. Read the rest

Amanda Palmer and Edward Ka-Spel's new album: "I Can Spin a Rainbow"

Amanda Palmer -- who appears on the audiobook for my novel Walkaway -- and Edward Ka-Spel of The Legendary Pinks Dots have just released a new, patron-funded album: "I Can Spin a Rainbow". Read the rest

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