Rare early Kraftwerk performances before they were showroom dummies

Here's a cool 1971 performance of Kraftwerk on Beat Club. This short-lived long-haired lineup included Florian Schneider, who passed away last week, the late Klaus Dinger (Neu!), and Michael Rother (Neu! and Harmonia).

And here is Michael Rother's eulogy to Schneider in Uncut.

“Florian had a unique metal construction onstage on which he assembled his effect units and a mixer. He played an electrified violin which he ran through a fuzz box and a wah-wah pedal, and a flute which he treated with delay and a unit that changed the pitch to one octave down. Especially this flute, and the way Florian played it like a crazy fast-forward bass, was thoroughly exciting and unheard before. Unfortunately, the sound engineers who did the recordings at Beat Club (TV) and Radio Bremen didn’t understand that Florian’s contributions to our sound were much more interesting and vital than my guitar playing, and so they put Florian too low in the audio mix.

“The trio with Florian, Klaus Dinger on drums and myself on guitar only lasted for 5 or 6 months but I remember some truly exciting concerts, and everything that followed in my musical life had a connection to this beginning with Ralf and Florian. After we separated in July 1971, Klaus and I continued as a duo (Neu!) and Florian got back together with Ralf Hütter.

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And here's an even earlier 1970 lineup with Schneider, Dinger, and Ralf Hütter.

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Avant-garde drummer Art Tripp talks about working with Zappa, Beefheart, John Cage, and others

I love the video interviews of composer and music educator, Samuel Andreyev. He shares an obsession with Captain Beefheart's Trout Mask Replica and he has so far conducted one-to-two-hour interviews with Magic Band members John French (Drumbo), Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo), and Mark Boston (Rockette Morton), all specifically on the making of Trout Mask. He's also done a brilliant half-hour analysis of the Trout track, Frownland.

In this installment of the Beef series, he talks with Zappa and Beefheart drummer, Art Tripp, about working with the crazed Captain, Frank, John Cage, and other avant-garde composers.

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The coolest thing you'll see today: The magical musical contraptions of Bichopalo

My friend Richard Gould introduced me to Bichopalo, a musical instrument sculptor from Valenciana, Spain.

One word: Enchanting. Two words: Pico and Verdi, his two pet birds who star in his creations. I needed this today. Read the rest

Noah Wall paints audio portraits using the structures of New York

Noah Wall, the artist and musician responsible for the highly-recommended Grotesque Tables II (and who has collaborated with David Byrne, St. Vincent, David Lynch, Maya Lin, and many others) wrote to tell us about his most recent project, an EP entitled Alloys.

Like so many, I’ve been inside my apartment for almost a month, handling anything from outside with newfound prudence. But recently I was in the open, manipulating and resonating foreign objects with hands and mallets and microphones. The result is a new project called Alloys.

Each of the ten songs is an audio portrait of an everyday public structure in New York. Made entirely of sounds derived from these structures, my subjects include bridges, an outdoor gymnasium, parks, playgrounds, piers, statues, an abandoned fairground, and a library bench.

I recorded with high-definition contact microphones that capture sound waves moving through solid material (as opposed to through air which is how most microphones work). In addition to my own interventions, many structures were resonating due to environmental factors like being ridden over, leaned on, rained on, and generally blown about.

Edited and arranged into ten compositions, Alloys is a rezoning of sound from public to private structures. All proceeds go to the NYC Low-Income Artist/Freelancer Relief Fund whose mission is to “provide support for low-income, BIPOC, trans/GNC/NB/Queer artists and freelancers whose livelihoods are being affected by this pandemic in NYC.”

You can listen to and buy the digital album on Bandcamp.

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Sonic Youth releases 12 of their live shows spanning their career

On Friday, Sonic Youth uploaded 12 of their previously unreleased live shows to their Bandcamp archives. The concerts span the bands career, from the late 80s to their final US show in 2011.

Lee Ranaldo writes of the project:

We have a couple of engineers and archivist people that we work with. But we’re still all interested in it, we’ve been maintaining a massive archive that continues to grow. Steve Shelley has been really active in it, and the rest of us a little bit less so, but I’ve been pretty active in helping put together the last bunch of packages that come out. In this case, this guy from Russia just said: “Hey, I’ve got this tape of the show” that we had never heard before, and he wanted to put it out. We kind of batted the idea back and forth of whether we wanted to go that route, and in the end, we gave him our blessings to do it. We’re working on an archival project around Sister right now, which is a massive thing we’ve been working on for a while. And two or three other things as well, something around NYC Ghosts & Flowers, and something around a particular concert we did at the Pompidou Center in Paris with Brigitte Fontaine and Areski [Belkacem] that we’ve been trying to cut the legal tape on and release for like a decade.

Read more about the releases on Spin. H/t Red Cell

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Making music playing barcodes using hacked barcode scanners

Colossal writes:

Designed to recycle outdated electronics, multiple musical projects by Electronicos Fantasticos utilize a version of the barcode system found on every package on store shelves. When scanned, each pattern sends a signal to its audio component, emitting the corresponding sound wave. The black and white stripes produce a variety of rhythmic and tonal noises in two instrumental projects: the Barcoder, shown above, and Barcodress, a pattern-covered gown that’s played when the wearer moves in front of the scanner. Artist and musician Ei Wada leads the design group, which said in a statement that its goal is to create an entire orchestra of similar instruments. To watch more of the barcode projects in use, head to Instagram and YouTube.

[H/t Jay Townsend]

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Ten great, groundbreaking avant garde records

I hate the horse-racing of art. I could never bring myself to declare "THE" ten most groundbreaking of anything. And especially something as subjective as avant garde art and music.

I look at this list and immediately think "What, no Glenn Branca? Magma? The Residents? SOFT MACHINE?" I could go on. And I could easily come up with ten more records that I think are as groundbreaking as these. But that said, this is a very good list of very important records. I have most of these in my collection.

The 10 most groundbreaking avant-garde albums of all time

I assume Boing Boing readers will have their own candidates and look forward to seeing what your choices might be.

Image: Screengrab of Henry Cow album cover. Read the rest

Spectacular "Ambient Walkman Symphony" and other tape-loop, circuit bent performances

Portland-based musician Randall Taylor, aka Amulets, creates gorgeous experimental music performances from modded Walkmans and old multitrack cassette decks playing handcrafted tape loops, live guitar loops processed through circuit-bent pedals, field recordings and other sound sources. He calls his portable setup, featured in the video below, the Suitcase of Drone. Absolutely stunning work.

From Austin's Dimension Gallery where Amulets created a sound installation that runs until August 14:

(Taylor's) current body of work under the moniker Amulets expresses his interest in the intersection between visual art and music. His physical cassette tape loops are like mini musical canvases. They create sonic tapestries in his mechanically performative installations. Using recycled tapes and players, he simultaneously fuses music, recycling, art, and nostalgia.

Amulets (Thanks, John Park!)

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A delightfully odd kinetic sound and word making machine

Dmitriy Morozov, from Moscow, makes machines that make music, kind of. Above, the Ball-O-Bol.

In Russian language, “balabol” is someone who talks a lot without much sense, one who lies, a big mouth.

This is a kinetic, sound-poetic electronic machine. By pressing a single control button, the sound is directed from analogue square wave generator to a horizontally mounted speaker. Depending on the frequency set by the control knob, the speaker makes a small ball jump, either faster or slower. The ball hits the piezo disk (sensor). If the impact force exceeds a certain threshold, a microcontroller registers this hit. The time intervals between the impacts are measured and, depending on the duration of the interval, a word is selected from the word bank in the memory of microcontroller. The higher is the frequency of strokes, the more frequently used word is selected from the bank. And on the contrary - less frequent hits generate more rare words.

The word bank is limited to a small number of words (about 1500), which is due to the memory capacity of the microcontroller. However, this fact does not prevent the periodic birth of completely meaningful lines from complete chaos.

His Motorgan is cool, too:

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