Friday, March 19, 2010

NPR Airs Bimstein

NPR seems to love broadcasting Phillip Bimstein's music. Here's the latest news from Phillip:

I just got word that this week NPR's Hearing Voices will rerun their program "Prison: Life Behind Bars," which features an excerpt from Lockdown! (my techno tone poem based on sounds and voices of youths in detention). The show's on at different times all over the country, but here are a couple of places:

Salt Lake City, KCPW-FM 88.3 & 105.3, Friday, March 19, 6pm
New York City, WFUV-FM 90.7, Saturday, March 20, 6am
New York City, WNYC-AM 820, Sunday, March 21, 7am

Or you can listen to the whole show on the Hearing Voices site after March 24. And if you'd like to hear my Lockdown! techno tone poem in its entirety, please click here.

Here's what NPR sent:
Greetings from "Hearing Voices from NPR"

We are re-running:
HV037 Prison: Life Behind Bars

Here's our station list.

The audio will be online early next week.
Hearing Voices also reran their "Place Your Bets" program a couple of weeks ago, featuring excerpts from my Casino piece. You can hear the program here, and you can hear Casino's 1st movement here. Or if you'd like to hear all 3 movements of Casino on CD, I'm sure Starkland would love to hear from you!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blu-Ray: Superb Sound

Music fans seeking high quality playback may be interested in the ongoing success of Blu-ray and its superb sound potential.

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After Blu-ray won the format war in Feb. 2008, the public didn’t exactly stampede into stores for this new development. However, things have changed, and prices have dropped dramatically. Amazon’s best-selling DVD/Blu-ray model, Sylvania's NB530SLX, now sells for $80.  Amazon reports that sales of Blu-ray players are outnumbering those of standard DVD units. Among the top 10 disc players sold, 8 are Blu-ray. In fact, at this point Blu-ray’s household penetration is higher than that of DVD for the same period after introduction.

So what does this mean for music enthusiasts? First, the Blu-ray standards allow for a bunch of audio formats, including high-res surround sound formats like Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. For the technically inclined, this means lossless surround at 96 kHz/24 bit resolution. And of course all this comes with the outstanding video quality.

Yes, everybody expects we will all download media in the future. However, the ability to quickly download Blu-ray-quality content is probably 10 years off  (according to industry analyst Ross Rubin).

At a recent Blu-ray conference in LA, we learned that 65% of American households have at least one high definition television, and by now about 20 million homes have Blu-ray playback.

An exuberant Martin Scorsese attended the conference, praising the high quality of both the audio and video of Blu-ray, which is "as close as you’re going to get to replacing the theatrical experience at home."

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Referring to his 2008 Rolling Stones Shine a Light Blu-ray documentary, he was especially enthusiastic about the multichannel capabilities of Blu-ray because “it would transfer just that way to the home” with the surround sound in discrete and lossless DTS HD and Dolby TrueHD formats.

The Blu-ray Disc Association has also announced 3D specs for Blu-ray that allows backward compatibility with current 2D Blu-ray players.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Other Minds 15

It's a pleasure to report that this year's 15th Other Minds new music festival was a solid success. It's the 14th year I've attended this distinguished series.

In some ways, Carla Kihlstedt was the brightest star at Other Minds. Her piece Pandaemonium, which concluded the festival, was attractive, distinctive, well performed by the always on-top-of-it Rova Saxophone Quartet, and enthusiastically received by the audience. The piece employed 2 narrators describing reactions to previous advances in technology, as well as having the Rovans playing some percussion and haunting harmonicas, all of which worked well. The 30-minute work was commissioned by Other Minds and Rova:Arts; they are surely pleased with the results.

In the opening concert, Carla donned her performer's hat to simultaneously sing and play violin in a virtuoso performance of Lisa Bielawa's effective Kafka's Songs, which, unsurprisingly, was written for this unusually talented performer.

Any electroacoustic or surround sound fans in the audience were riveted by the expert command of the hall's full space by Natasha Barrett. She has extensively studied surround sound, acousmatic music, and ambisonics. The first piece, Mobilis in Mobili, referencing Jules Verne's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, contained recognizable sounds (water, waves, a sea chantey, an organ) that flowed around us.

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Natasha Barrett
Natasha's other piece, Kernel Expansion, was more abstract. Composed to premiere at the 43-loudspeaker Klangdome hall at ZKM studios in Germany, the piece uses ambisonics, octophonic panning, and sophisticated Zirconium software. Theory aside, the convincing envelopment and constant motion of sound within the overall space was thrilling. She's a master. The excellent sound emerged from 8 Meyer speakers.

I also enjoyed the piquant harmonies of Chou Wen-chung's The Willows Are New for piano, as well as the moody Epiphora (for piano and pre-recorded media) from Pawel Mykietyn. Both works were superbly performed by Eva-Maria Zimmermann.

Other pieces ranged from pleasant to uninteresting, to be expected at any such festival.

The Other Minds festival is unique; there's nothing else like it. Previous years have featured Philip Glass, Meredith Monk, Conlon Nancarrow, Ingram Marshall, Terry Riley, Tan Dun, Laurie Anderson, Henry Brant, Lou Harrison, John Luther Adams, Fred Frith, and many more.

Credit goes to the tireless, hardworking, ever-networking Charles Amirkhanian.

If you care about new music, plan to attend in 2011.

Monday, March 8, 2010


During a recent visit to San Francisco, I passed by a once-familiar storefront that was a sharp reminder how much the record industry has changed:

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Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Quality vs. Sales

In the new issue of Electronic Musician, Nathaniel Kunkel has some interesting thoughts about the ongoing problems of the music business (especially record labels). An excerpt:
"Movie-makers increase resolution and improve viewer experience regularly. Whether it’s IMAX, 3D, or both, it’s constantly more and better. And guess what? They are making money hand over fist.

"The music business is all about how many corners can be cut. Compress it more, don’t master it, use the fake drums­ - just get it done. All good ideas to save money, but often bad ideas from a quality standpoint.

"So without oversimplifying this, the people who focus on resolution in entertainment are making record profits, and the people who aren’t are going out of business. Coincidence?"
Read the full article here.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Best 2009 has Starkland, MinMax

Here's another finalized Best of 2009 list. It's great to see 3 releases from Starkland and MinMax here:

Joe Frawley Ensemble - Daughters Of Industry - Joe Frawley Music

Numinous - Vipassana: The Music of Joesph C. Philips - Innova or

The Ed Palermo Big Band - Eddy Loves Frank - Cuneiform Records or

Knitting By Twilight - Riding The Way Back ep - It's Twilight Time

Ganesh Anandan / Hans Reichel - Self Made - Ambiances Magnetiques

Iain Armstrong - Electroacoustic Works - CD-R

Deep Wireless 6: Radio Art Compilation - New Adventures in Sound Art

Paranoid Entity - 4Closure - Paranoid Foundation

Danny Holt - First Jump -Innova or or

R. Stevie Moore - Phonography - ReR

Beat Circus - Boy From Black Mountain - Cuneiform Records or

Markus Reuter / Ian Boddy - Dervish - DIN

Heiner Goebbels - The Italian Concerto - i dischi di angelica or

Jody Diamond - In That Bright World:  Music for Javanese Gamelan - New
World Records or

Susan Fancher - In Two Worlds - Innova (2009) or or

Travis Sullivan's Bjorkestra - Koch Records

Nik Baertsch's Ronin - Randoori  / Sha's Banryu  - Chessboxing Volume
1 / Nik Baersch's Mobile - Aer / - Ronin Rhythm Records

Hsia-Jung Chang - Inside The Piano: 21st Century Improvisations -
Mandala Studios or

Sandor Szabo / Kevin Kastning - Parabola - Greydisc

The Bad Plus feat. Wendy Lewis - For All I Care - Do The Math Records

Morglbl - Jazz For The Deaf - The Laser's Edge or 

Ozric Tentacles - The Yumyum Tree - Snapper Music

SoCorpo - On Becoming - self-release

Noveller (Sara Lipstate) - Red Rainbows - No Fun Productions or

Secret Saucer - Tri-Angle Waves - Salad Farm Studio

T.D. Skatchit - T.D. Skatchit & Company -
Edgetone Records (2009)

Charity Chan - Somewhere the sea and salt - Ambiances Magnetiques or

Radiation - UKZ - Radiation