Sing along to this peppy little ditty about the fundamentals of Alchemical processes

In some weird alternate fantasy universe, this song would to taught to school children so that they can memorize their Hermetic fundamentals.

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The bizarre 1976 Cat Stevens song and video, Banapple Gas

My friend Mark Casale and I were talking about Captain Beefheart last night (as we are often want to do) and were yucking it up over the surreal late-night TV commercial for the Beef's 1970 record, Lick My Decals Off, Baby (which I posted about last month).

This prompted Mark to ask me if I'd ever seen the bizarre promo video for Cat Steven's 1976 song, Banapple Gas. I'd never even heard of the song. It was a track on Steven's ninth studio record, Numbers. Numbers was composed as a concept album, subtitled "A Pythagorean Theory Tale."

[Numbers] was based on a fictional planet in a far-off galaxy named Polygor. The album included a booklet with excerpts from a planned book of the same name written by Chris Bryant and Allan Scott. The booklet features pen-and-ink illustrations drawn by Stevens.

The concept of the album is a fantastic spiritual musical which is set on the planet Polygor. In the story there is a castle with a number machine. This machine exists to fulfill the sole purpose of the planet – to disperse numbers to the rest of the universe: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9 (but notably not 0). The nine inhabitants of Polygor, the Polygons, are Monad, Dupey, Trezlar, Cubis, Qizlo, Hexidor, Septo, Octav, and Novim. As the last lines of the book say, they "followed a life of routine that had existed for as long as any could remember. ... It was, therefore, all the more shocking when on an ordinary day things first started to go wrong."

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Listen to a 1980s teenager's Commodore 64 covers of Huey Lewis songs

It was hip to be square, even in 1986. Especially in 1986. Jma Mitch writes:

As a teenager in 1985 and 1986, I used my trusty Commodore 64 and the "Music Construction Set" program to create computer versions of a slew of songs by the greatest musical artist of all time: Huey Lewis and The News. Only Huey songs, that was the only artist I did. I recently (Feb 2020) was able to access my 35 year old C64 disks, many of which survived, including the ones with the songs I'm uploading to this channel. Some of the songs sound better than others, but these are the original unedited files.

More here: "Commodore 64 plays Huey Lewis (1985-1986)" (YouTube via Waxy)

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Madonna's "Justify My Love" with only Lenny Kravitz's backing vocals is excellent mutant pop

"Justify My Love" is a 1990 trip-hop tune by Lenny Kravitz and Ingrid Chavez with spoken vocals by Madonna and soulful humming and moaning by Kravitz. Someone mixed a version of the track sans Madonna and with Kravitz's backing vocals brought to the forefront. The above sounds like a compelling piece of "outsider pop," as described by bil-sabab on r/ObscureMedia.

image: transformation of chrisweger's original photo (CC BY-SA 2.0) Read the rest

Debussy's Clair de Lune on modular synth

In this video, Claude Debussy's Clair de Line is presented on a modular synthesizer. The accompanying Haiku says all:

from the modular, a landscape a wee sterile, just a reflection ~

The performer is ann annie, who can be found on Instagram and Bandcamp. There are only a few other recordings on YouTube, but they're all wonderful. Here's "North Wind":

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San Francisco Bay Area tonight and 2/21: David J (Bauhaus and Love and Rockets) solo shows

The great David J, bassist for Bauhaus and Love and Rockets, is playing two intimate concerts in the San Francisco Bay Area, tonight (2/18) at Santa Rosa's Lost Church and 2/21 at San Francisco's Lost Church. Buy tickets here. I've seen David play solo several times and it's always a lovely, witty, and rousing evening of current and classic songs and stories. David is celebrating his latest record, "Missive To An Angel From The Halls Of Infamy And Allure," that he has said may very well be his last. Above, "I Only Hear Silence Now," the new video from that album.

Meanwhile, the reformed Bauhaus has also announced a handful of life dates for 2020.

image credit: Mila Reynaud (CC BY 3.0) Read the rest

AI writes song lyrics at least as well as humans can

These Lyrics Do Not Exist differs from similar projects involving human faces, cats, etc., in that the AI-created results are no more uncanny than the real thing. You give it a topic, and select a mood – very sad, sad, neutral, happy, very happy – and a genre – country, metal, rock, pop, rap, EDM – and tell it to get cracking.

Here is the chart-busting hit, "Boing Boing", exactly as generated by the AI:

Verse 1 You came along you showed me My many seasons of different Boing, autumn, winter, boing You touch my boing

Pre-Chorus And oh, the rain it falls on me Soft boing rain on my skin

Chorus So beautiful with you, oh All of boing I look at you, wonder It was the boing of a boing

Verse 2 Take a walk on my heart Far away from all this Take a walk on my mind Fall in the boing of my life

Pre-Chorus So I am autumn, winter and boing And every month brings a new love

Chorus So beautiful with you, oh All of boing I look at you, wonder It was the boing of a boing

Bridge Gotta have a boing in my step, a dawn in my eye Gotta have genuine devotion

Chorus So beautiful with you, oh All of boing I look at you, wonder It was the boing of a boing Read the rest

Andrew Weatherall, Primal Scream producer, acid house legend, RIP

Legendary musical force Andrew Weatherhall -- who produced Primal Scream's seminal album Screamadelica, famously remixed the likes of My Bloody Valentine and Meat Beat Manifesto, and as a DJ helped turn the world on to acid house -- has died. He was 56 and suffered a pulmonary embolism. From The Guardian:

Following a young adulthood in the post-punk scene, Weatherall became a key figure in countercultural – and occasionally mainstream – British music after becoming one of the key DJs in the acid house movement of the late 1980s. He was recruited by Danny Rampling to play at London nightclub Shoom, and soon founded the record label Boy’s Own Recordings and the production outfit Bocca Juniors.

Further musical projects included the group the Sabres of Paradise, which splintered into the duo Two Lone Swordsmen with Keith Tenniswood, though perhaps his most famous musical work was with Primal Scream on their breakthrough 1991 album Screamadelica. By taking the band’s anthemic songwriting and adding samples, loops and the euphoric energy of Ibiza, Weatherall’s production made the album one of the most celebrated of the 1990s....

He spoke of the eternal appeal of DJing in a 2016 Guardian interview: “It’s quite vampyric, DJing. You’re never going to have that feeling of hearing that record for the first time again, but if you look into the eyes of someone who’s hearing it for the first time, it’s a nice vicarious feeling. But it’s not selfish. I think I’ve never lost that thing I had when I was 12 years old and inviting my mates round to my house.

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K. D. Lang stuns the crowd at Fire Fight Australia with "Hallelujah"

The crowd at this weekend's Fire Fight Australia was humbled by an intense, heart-felt performance by k.d. lang of her signature cover of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah."

Fire Fight Australia was a benefit concert held in Sydney to help raise relief money in the wake of the country's devastating brush fires.

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Witchy woman on the cover of Black Sabbath's eponymous first album finally identified

It is kind of hard to imagine that it's taken until 2020 for the identity of the woman on the cover of Black Sabbath's heavy metal masterpiece, Black Sabbath, to finally be known. The woman has been identified as Louisa Livingston. The image was shot by photographer and album designer, Keith "Keef" Macmillan.

The photographer opted for Oxfordshire's Mapledurham Watermill because it fit the band's sound in his opinion. Louisa told Rolling Stone:

"I remember it was freezing cold. I had to get up at about 4 o'clock in the morning. Keith was rushing around with dry ice, throwing it into the water. It didn't seem to be working very well, so he ended up using a smoke machine.

"It was just, 'Stand there and do that.' I'm sure he said it was for Black Sabbath, but I don't know if that meant anything much to me at the time."

As a teenage headbanger, I spent countless record-spinning hours poring over every inch of this haunting cover, completely enthralled by the creepy building and the beautiful green-skinned witch in front of it. It is probably a good thing that I (and every other pubescent teen listener) was ignorant of this fact:

"She wasn't wearing any clothes under that cloak because we were doing things that were slightly more risqué, but we decided none of that worked.

"Any kind of sexuality took away from the more foreboding mood. But she was a terrific model. She had amazing courage and understanding of what I was trying to do."

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Emerson, Lake & Palmer's prog rock epic, "Karn Evil 9," to be made into a film with Daniel Wilson penning the screenplay

According to a piece on Deadline, 70s prog rock behemoths, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, are having a movie made from their 30-minute sci-fi song suite, "Karn Evil 9", from 1973's Brain Salad Surgery.

Centered on a society that has drained all its blood with a dependence on technology, the film will explore the world controlled by a pervasive and dictatorial technocracy. The annual “Karn Evil” — a macabre rite of passage — is a young person’s once-in-a-lifetime chance to experience unbridled freedom, before subjugating themselves to the ruling class. When people stop returning from their Karn Evil experience, fear drives a revolution to topple the status quo and the artificial intelligence discovered at its heart.

The film is being produced by Radar Pictures, producers of the Jumanji films. The screenplay is being written by best-selling author Daniel H. Wilson:

Wilson, the author behind bestselling sci-fi novels Robopocalypse and The Andromeda Evolution, has adapted several of his works for the screen, most recently penning the script to Robopocalypse for DreamWorks and Michael Bay.

“I’m incredibly excited to partner with Ted and Radar to explore Karn Evil 9—a unique and thrilling world,” said Wilson. “I couldn’t ask for better collaborators and I can’t wait to help add the Karn Evil 9 franchise to the Radar family.”

Read the rest here.

Here is ELP performing "Karn Evil 9 Third Impression" at 1974's California Jam.

ELP fun-fact: "Karn Evil 9" was co-written by Peter Sinfield, the poet and lyricist best-known for his writing on the first four King Crimson records, including the hugely influential In the Court of the Crimson King and In the Wake of Poseidon. Read the rest

Man hacks his prosthetic arm to control music synthesizer with his thoughts

Bertolt Meyer wears a myoelectric prosthetic arm and hand controlled by electrodes attached to his residual limb that pick up impulses generated when he consciously contracts that muscle. Those impulses are then translated into control signals for the prosthetic hand. An electronic musician, Meyer had the idea to swap out the prosthetic hand for a DIY controller for his modular synthesizers so he can play music just by thinking about it. This is the SynLimb. Meyer writes:

Together with Chrisi from KOMA Elektronik and my husband Daniel, I am in the process of building a device (the "SynLimb") that attaches to my arm prosthesis instead of the prosthetic hand. The SynLimb converts the electrode signals that my prosthesis picks up from my residual limb into control voltages (CV) for controlling my modular synthesizer. The SynLimb thus allows me to plug my prosthesis directly into my snythesizer so that I can control its parameters with the signals from my body that normally control the hand. For me, this feels like controlling the synth with my thoughts.

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Smoking video for Wilco's Mikael Jorgensen and The Kin's Isaac Koren's sexy, simmering, and brilliant Nat King Cole cover

For the last couple years, my dear friend Mikael Jorgensen (Wilco, Quindar) and Isaac Koren (The Kin, Bråves) have been exploring their shared passion for the great American songbook and electronic music. They call their act Expandards and have been making the SoCal scene to great acclaim. These two are the real deal. Above, Expandards' new video for the tune "Nature Boy," written by Eden Ahbez in 1947 and originally made famous by Nat King Cole.

This burns. It burns so good.

Shot on location at The Record Parlour in Los Angeles. Written and directed by Trevor Tuttle; Starring Tari Elegele and Isaac Koren Read the rest

The 27-song playlist that Lou Reed made just before he died

The UK's Far Out Magazine has posted the playlists of 27 songs that Lou Reed was listening to when he died in 2013 of liver disease.

Reed continually kept his finger on the pulse of contemporary and popular music. Taking a hands-on approach to the developing technology around him, Reed controlled his own Spotify account which hosted several different playlists of songs he liked from the radio, or, alternatively, general songs he was listening to at that time.

Entitled ‘What I’m listening to’, Reed’s final contributions to his creative Spotify account was to curate two playlists for his followers. Combining some more predictable selections with the likes of Roy Orbison, Prince, Tom Waits and more, Reed also managed to raise a few eyebrows when he includes artists such as Nicki Minaj, Robyn and more.

Read the rest of the piece and access the playlists here.

Image: Danny Norton, CC BY 2.0 Read the rest

Watch Billie Eilish interviewed by an A.I.

Creative technologist Nicole He modified OpenAI's GPT-2 language model to generate questions for happy mutant pop star Billie Eilish and also write Eilish-esque lyrics. Vogue Magazine published Eilish's answers to the AI's wonderfully odd questions like: "Who consumed so much of your power in one go?" and "Have you ever seen the ending?" Read the rest

Marvelous mix of chill-out, ambient, and experimental sounds from DF Tram

My old friend and favorite DJ, DF Tram, pulls threads from from far-out jazz, psych, experimental ambient, spoken word, downtempo EDM, and avant-garde classical to create transgenre ambient mixes. A crate digger of the highest order, he has turned me on to countless artists, tracks, and albums that I'd never hear anywhere else. A collaborator with Alex Patterson, Mixmaster Morris, and Youth, DF Tram has toured with The Orb and performed at the most prestigious electronic music festivals in the world including The Big Chill, Glastonbury, and OZORA. Above is his live set from the 2019 OZORA Festival. Lose yourself.

Artwork at top: Imaginary Foundation Read the rest

Celebrate Valentine's Day with this playlist of love songs that other songwriters wish they wrote

Just in time for Valentine's Day, NPR's All Songs Considered spoke with a bunch of celebrated songwriters such as Phoebe Bridgers and M. Ward and asked them about the love songs that they wish they'd written — the masterful melodies and heartfelt turns of phrase that other poets envy and only dream to one day emulate.

It's also just a really great playlist of songs. And now it has me thinking of which song I would choose myself.

Since both "First Day of My Life" and "Love Song" were already chosen for this list, I think I'd have to go with "The Way I Feel Inside" by the Zombies or "She Is Beautiful" by Andrew WK.

What would you pick?

The Love Song I Wish I'd Written [Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton / NPR] Read the rest

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