A Slightly Differently Approach To Old Skool Remixing...
June 6, 2008 7:55 AM   Subscribe

I would have added this to the original post save for the fact that it's closed now. Anyway, this entry to the Radiohead Nude Remix Competition is innovative, interesting, awesome and nostalgic enough to warrant it's own FPP... I bring you Nude, played on ZX Spectrum, Epson LX-81 Dot Matrix Printer, HP Scanjet 3c and a Hard Drive array, the work of video artist James Houston.
posted by benzo8 (47 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
I wish there was an mp3 link. I love the original song, but this is something special right here.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 8:03 AM on June 6, 2008


As a diehard Radiohead fan, I've watched and listened to everything they've ever done, or that someone else did in tribute to the band, but that right there is the best Radiohead thing EVER. Thank you so much for posting it!
posted by dbiedny at 8:14 AM on June 6, 2008


Okay, the fact that the first 60 seconds are just static is probably a poor choice- I almost gave up. Glad I didn't, because it got really good. I didn't know the original, which I've now gone and listened to on Youtube, and while you can't really replace the more ethereal synth/vocals that Radiohead is known for, in a way I might almost prefer this version.

What was the hard drive array- how were those being used as speakers, exactly?
posted by hincandenza at 8:15 AM on June 6, 2008


I guess it starts with a full minute of annoying clicks and hisses so the rest will sound good in comparison?
posted by DU at 8:21 AM on June 6, 2008


I don't say this lightly, but OMGWTFBBQ.

That's just awesome.
posted by rusty at 8:22 AM on June 6, 2008


Well, the opening sounds are the ZX Spectrum program loading... You may need to be in your 30s to get that.

As for the hard drives, I think they're sitting on a vibrating platform which is being driven by the sound and they're merely resonating - if you watch the armatures, they don't move consistently enough to be to source of the sound, to my eyes.
posted by benzo8 at 8:26 AM on June 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


The full minute delay is part of what makes the music so incredible when it emerges. You're looking at a lot of old junk and hearing rudimentary "non-musical" sounds. This makes the music that follows not only seem "good in comparison," but downright miraculous.

The greater your attention span, the more devices an artist has at their disposal to fill you with wonder.
posted by [NOT HERMITOSIS-IST] at 8:26 AM on June 6, 2008


Most art is bullshit.

This is decidedly not bullshit.

Thanks for posting this.
posted by Pecinpah at 8:30 AM on June 6, 2008


Also very impressed. The distressed video is a nice touch, but maybe he should have shot it on VHS for authenticity's sake.
posted by fungible at 8:30 AM on June 6, 2008


I'm not saying it's not cool. I'm just saying that the intro was actually physically painful in my headphones. (And PS: I'm 35.)
posted by DU at 8:32 AM on June 6, 2008


Actually that distressed film makes it for me. With the exception of the scanner and the modern hard-drives most of the components in the film mesh quite nicely and remind me of old family home films done on 8 mm when having a spectrograph in your basement was high geekdom.
posted by Sam.Burdick at 8:34 AM on June 6, 2008


That was really good.
The bass/scanner is my favourite part but I don't understand how he got it to play the different notes, unless he sampled it.
The video is also beautiful, parts of it look like old reversal film. His other videos are quite nice as well.
posted by chococat at 8:35 AM on June 6, 2008


Fantastic.
posted by Jofus at 8:38 AM on June 6, 2008


excellent. agreed that the film quality really ratcheted things up a notch or two.
posted by dubold at 8:41 AM on June 6, 2008


How to make hard drive speakers:

One

Two
posted by Exchequer at 8:52 AM on June 6, 2008


Was this actually entered into the Nude Remix competition?
posted by Poolio at 8:55 AM on June 6, 2008


No, the remix contest has been closed for a while.
posted by blasdelf at 8:58 AM on June 6, 2008


No, the remix contest has been closed for a while.

That's what I thought.
posted by Poolio at 9:05 AM on June 6, 2008


That is really amazing. Wow!

Now I'm all excited to work on some music today. Thanks for the post!
posted by chimaera at 9:08 AM on June 6, 2008


chococat: With the scanners I've used, changing the scanning resolution usually affects the speed of the motor and changes the pitch of the sound.
posted by teraflop at 9:12 AM on June 6, 2008


Holy shit that is good!
posted by sveskemus at 9:29 AM on June 6, 2008


> The bass/scanner is my favourite part but I don't understand how he got it to play the different notes,

Those old HP scanners were pretty loud. Good, but loud. Like teraflop says, you could change the pitch by changing the resolution. In addition, duration of the tone is defined by the area to be scanned. Maximum pitch duration is the length of the scanning bed.
posted by ardgedee at 9:34 AM on June 6, 2008


Human beings can be so wonderful sometimes.
posted by saladin at 9:35 AM on June 6, 2008


chococat: With the scanners I've used, changing the scanning resolution usually affects the speed of the motor and changes the pitch of the sound.

Ya, I'd thought of that. I remember my scanner just getting way slower and grindier sounding when I bumped up the rez, but not actually changing pitch. You could be right, though...I don't use the scanner much anymore.
posted by chococat at 9:36 AM on June 6, 2008


hot shit
posted by shmegegge at 9:50 AM on June 6, 2008


The last twenty four hours have been a bit difficult, and this is beautiful enough to bring me close to tears.

It took ten years, but someone finally managed to capture in raw sound and video the broken devastation of the technological modern that was being mined lyrically in the late 1990s not only by Radiohead but other bands, most notably I guess Grandaddy. Those were the ideas that my musical tastes first matured on, and here someone's gone and distilled the pure expression of them in a wonderfully backwards way.
posted by kowalski at 9:53 AM on June 6, 2008


Colin Greenwood has posted the link to this on RH's blog, Dead Air Space. I'm guessing they love it as much as everyone else does. It's amazing.
posted by jokeefe at 10:42 AM on June 6, 2008


Here's an mp3 link.
posted by lubujackson at 11:06 AM on June 6, 2008


Totally ace. I have no idea what the original sounds like - is this version relatively faithful to it, given the equipment?
posted by jack_mo at 11:28 AM on June 6, 2008


As regards the mp3 link, I'm having trouble with it, either because the captcha is incomprehensible, or because it is more broken than the hard drives in the music.
posted by kowalski at 11:31 AM on June 6, 2008


I agree, that might be the worst captcha of all time. Here's an mp3 link that works better.
posted by lubujackson at 11:42 AM on June 6, 2008


oh. fuck. yeah.
posted by dersins at 11:53 AM on June 6, 2008


Totally ace. I have no idea what the original sounds like - is this version relatively faithful to it, given the equipment?

Yes, except for the poor choice of putting a minute of static and a blank screen as some sort of early computing in-joke.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 12:33 PM on June 6, 2008


Saw this on Engadget, and they don't post about music very often. Very very cool. The MP3 is good (thanks!), but it really just loses something when you don't see the scanner head moving, or the dot matrix printer clicking away.
posted by supercres at 12:58 PM on June 6, 2008


TheOnlyCoolTim: "Yes, except for the poor choice of putting a minute of static and a blank screen as some sort of early computing in-joke."

What's the opposite of 'get off my lawn'? ;-)
posted by jack_mo at 1:09 PM on June 6, 2008


That was exactly what I needed. benzo8, you've officially made my day.

*goes off to scavenge some old, dead hard drives*
posted by lekvar at 1:21 PM on June 6, 2008


I came by just to see if this had been posted yet, because even though it's all over the tubes today, it's incredible. Best of the web for sure.
posted by kyleg at 1:28 PM on June 6, 2008


chococat, teraflop:
Not quite on topic, but this is an amusing easter egg built in to the HP ScanJet 5p -- it can play "Ode to Joy".
posted by drfu at 1:28 PM on June 6, 2008


if you liked that you'll love this
posted by silence at 1:42 PM on June 6, 2008


That is honestly pretty amazingly cool.

But (unless I'm missing it) I certainly don't see anything on the artist's site indicating that he got this to happen in real-time. I'm thinking that at least some of the sounds were sampled and/or multitracked.

If I am missing something saying that that's not the case, please do point it out so that this guy can be made my god.
posted by 2or3whiskeysodas at 5:10 PM on June 6, 2008


Had to wait and hear this when I got home from work, and am glad that I did. Thanks for posting this here, not sure I would have seen it otherwise. I know some folks that don't read MeFi who will be happy when I email them the link.
posted by friendlyjuan at 5:30 PM on June 6, 2008


silence: that link is a bit NSFW (boobs)
posted by mkb at 8:44 PM on June 6, 2008


2or3whiskeysodas wrote: That is honestly pretty amazingly cool.

But (unless I'm missing it) I certainly don't see anything on the artist's site indicating that he got this to happen in real-time. I'm thinking that at least some of the sounds were sampled and/or multitracked.

If I am missing something saying that that's not the case, please do point it out so that this guy can be made my god.


The photo on his Vimeo homepage of all the gear set up with mics for recording at least implies that it was done in real-time, but I was wondering the same thing. Lovely as the video is, it might have been more impressive if it were just a static shot of all the machines blooping away together live.
posted by jack_mo at 5:53 AM on June 7, 2008


Man or Astro-man? a sadly-hiatus'd surf rock band included a song made with a dot-matrix printer on their final(?) album. The song's called A Simple Text File. I'd link it, but I can't find a streaming copy anywhere...

They'd "perform" the song live by wheeling a printer out on stage, and pointing a mic at it and then leaving to go get a beer or something.

Good stuff.
posted by sparkletone at 5:31 AM on June 8, 2008


I just got a press release announcing that Houston won the Newbery Medal and The Bram Stoker Award for his degree show work at Glasgow School of Art. The Newberry Medal is given to the top student in the final year.

Is it too cynical of me to think that this massive viral video hit he made might have something to do with the award?
posted by jack_mo at 10:07 AM on June 20, 2008


The cinematography is definitely what made it work for me.
posted by archagon at 6:06 PM on June 23, 2008


jack_mo: "I just got a press release announcing that Houston won the Newbery Medal and The Bram Stoker Award for his degree show work at Glasgow School of Art. The Newberry Medal is given to the top student in the final year.

Is it too cynical of me to think that this massive viral video hit he made might have something to do with the award?
"

Well, any modern artist will tell you that the business is 25% craft and 75% publicity these days, so maybe he deserved the award on the back of that alone... Of course, this means that success is no indicator of artistic ability, but you just need to q.v. with people such as Tracey Emin and Damien Hurst to show that that's the norm. If the rest of his work was of a similar quality to this video though, I think he might have plausibly won on merit too...
posted by benzo8 at 12:54 AM on July 2, 2008


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