Immersive VR Education – Culture File

Apollo-Demo-4

A few months ago, Irish company Immersive VR education ran a successful kickstarter to create a virtual reality simulation of the Apollo 11 journey to the moon. Put like that it sound kind unbelievable – we actually built a craft that travelled to the moon! Sure, we haven’t gone back in forty three years, but it’s damned impressive all the same.

If you’re lucky enough to own one of the oculus rift developer kits (consumer versions still haven’t hit the market), you can download a demo of the experience at Immersive VR’s site.

I sat down with Immersive’s founder David Whelan to try out this epic voyage, all from the comfort of a swivel chair in his Waterford based home office.

Download: ‘Immersive VR Education’

Concrete Cathedral

This weekend Little Gem Records launched the physical release of my documentary series ‘Mad Scientists of Music‘. The series is available now from Little Gem‘s store (located off Parnell Square, just across from the Ambassador Theatre), on their awesome ‘little gem’ mp3 player format. It’s an extremely limited release – so pick up a copy from the shop (or from me in person) while you can.

To celebrate the launch, and as part of the Na Hailtiri series of location specific improvised performance events, a bunch of artists featured in the documentary performed this weekend in an incredible abandoned space on the outskirts of Dublin. Performers included FYED (Fionn Wallace A.K.A. Fyodor and Ed Devane, A.K.A. Withering Zithering), Deathness Injection, Luxury Mollusc, Caoimhe Lavelle and Glotchbot. Thanks a million to everyone who played and came along.


More videos from the event here. Videos courtesy of Sebastian Dooris.

Ed Devane’s Dodeca Cycle – Culture File

Ed Devane, featured in part six of ‘Mad Scientists of Music‘, is one of Ireland’s most innovative musicians. Having moved away from producing rigid programatic electronic music, Ed is at the forefront of combining electronic sounds and analogue instrumentation. For his recent Dodeca Cycle piece in Dublin’s coach house exhibition space. Ed constructed an installation that allowed up to twelve people to collaboratively construct or accompany a performance. His work is centred around this opening up of musical collaboration, building on rather than escaping from the ubiquity and accessibility of electronic music. I spoke to Ed for Culture File.

Download: ‘Dodeca Cycle’

Postcards from the Edge – Episode 6 – Mad Scientists of Music

The final episode of the series looks at the future of Irish experimental music. We find out how techniques like ‘Live Coding’ (where computer programming during a concert, creates the music and visuals in real time), ‘Geocached Music’ (intrepid explorers following clues to discover hidden caches of music in the real world), and new interfaces like ‘Leap motion’ (which tracks users hands as they move through space) will change how audiences can interact with the music. This episode ties together the threads of the series, and offers a glimpse into the future of music, technology and creative collaboration.

Part 1 – Geocaching with Ewan Hennelly

Irish electronic musician Ewan Hennelly, formerly HERV, now known as ZPG, has combined his love of hiking and electronic music in an unexpected way. Climbing the hills and valleys of the South Downs, Ewan takes part in geocaching. Tracking down geocaches (tiny boxes for marked on an online map) with his GPS, Ewan leaves tapes of his experimental music for curious travellers to encounter.

Part 2 – Simon Kenny’s Inventions

Simon Kenny (Bitwise Operator) is a musician and inventor. He takes us on a whirlwind tour of his software experiments, working with a variety of groups like Galway Autism Project. Simon also shows off his cutting edge software synthesiser ‘Oscar‘.

Part 3 – Andrew Edgar’s Weather Machine

Andrew Edgar of Gamepak Collective has a dream. He wants to build a new kind of instrument, a ‘terrarium’ that can be teased into sonic life by musicians ‘like Gods of yore’.

Part 4 – Ed Devane’s Binaural Recordings

Electroacoustic musician Ed Devane has been experimenting with binaural recordings: Sending these hypnotic microphones out to vocalists all over the world. The results are beautiful and dreamlike.

Part 5 – Sebastian Heinz of Patchblocks

Patchblocks are a new invention, successfully kickstarted by Belfast based, German born Sebastian Heinz. Part synth, part midi instrument, they can be used alone or as a programmable effects pedal; with a huge library of community effects to download.

Epilogue – Success in music

Niamh De Barra and Roger Gregg talk about succeeding as an artist in the twenty first century.

Download:
Episode 6 – ‘Postcards from the Edge

About the Series

BAI logo mark colourMad Scientists of Music is a six part, BAI funded documentary series on Near FM. The show explores the world of Circuit Bending, Chip Tune, and Electroacoustic music in Ireland. Low cost technology, recycled instruments and a new attitude to tinkering embodied by the ‘maker movement’ are helping to reinvent music. A new generation of Irish musicians raised around computers, the internet and video gaming, see noise as something to be hacked, taken apart, and reconstructed. These artists build their own instruments, whether by recycling toy keyboards, modifying video game consoles, or attaching electronics to traditional stringed instruments. They often share their music online for free, and in doing so challenge our ideas about copyright and ownership. Their playful attitude to technology finds new uses for obsolete devices and brings the collaboration of musicianship to engineering and the arts.

Tracks Used

ZPG – Conjunx Endura
ZPG – Slow Cell
HERV – It’s OK I’m a collage
Oscar, Leap Motion Demo, Graphic Score Cam – Sounds and music courtesy of Simon Kenny / Surface Tension
Patchblocks – Sounds and music courtesy of Patchblocks. Including patch blocks demo track by Box Cutter
Weather machine – Includes the following creative commons sounds:

  • S: FishTank Bubbles.wav by skeetdawg | License: Sampling+
  • S: fish.tank_trickle.mp3 by dobroide | License: Attribution
  • S: wind3.wav by eliasheuninck | License: Creative Commons 0
  • S: spray_bottle.wav by stephendemaria | License: Attribution
  • S: Rain_06.wav by Q.K. | License: Creative Commons 0
  • S: Dolphin screaming underwater in Caribbean Sea (Mexico) by felix.blume | License: Creative Commons 0
  • S: kilauea-lava-01.wav by e__ | License: Attribution
  • S: Atari-Volcano-Erupting.mp3 by rambut | License: Attribution
  • S: Monks of Punakha Dzong.wav by RTB45 | License: Attribution
  • S: hair dryer.wav by Tomlija | License: Attribution
  • S: Storm200408.mp3 by csengeri | License: Attribution
  • This recording is released under a non-commercial, no-derivatives Creative Commons Licence.

    The Hacker in the Gallery – Episode 4 – Mad Scientists of Music

    This episode takes us on a tour of workshops and hack spaces, and explores the relationship of outsider electronic music to the fine art establishment.

    Teaser – Andrew Edgar takes us on a tour of the A4 Arts Collective.

    Part 1 – Ed Devane talks about the relationship between self taught musicians, hackers, artists and the “new music” (contemporary classical music) establishment.

    Part 2 – The Dublin Laptop Orchestra introduce us to their own unique take on electronic music. Performing using digital setups with midi controllers, the group focus on making a performance which combines physical movement with electronic collaboration.

    Part 3 – Stewart Geelon of Luxury Mollusc & Primal Barber Quartet introduces us to the Dublin ‘harsh noise’ scene, where electronic improvisers taking their queue from industrial and early 20th century avant-garde music, create challenging dark soundscapes from found objects.

    Part 4 – Artist Aine Belton, talks about combining language and musical sound to enhance the impact of poetry and creative writing. Aine, a trained musician and visual artist, became fascinated with combining music, language and visual media. This work has resulted in a practice which includes instrument making and zine culture alike.

    Interjection – Ed Devane talks about sound as art, the different purposes behind experimental music, improvisation from a visual art / sound art background, and the creation of work that elicits a ‘sense of awe’.

    Part 5 – Dublin postpunk-neokraut-nowave-neopsychadelic multi-instrumentalist improvisers No!, discuss collaborations at their open door Concrete Soup Experimental Music Afternoons in Twisted Pepper.

    Download:
    Episode 4 – ‘The Hacker in the Gallery

    About the Series

    BAI logo mark colourMad Scientists of Music is a six part, BAI funded documentary series on Near FM. The show explores the world of Circuit Bending, Chip Tune, and Electroacoustic music in Ireland. Low cost technology, recycled instruments and a new attitude to tinkering embodied by the ‘maker movement’ are helping to reinvent music. A new generation of Irish musicians raised around computers, the internet and video gaming, see noise as something to be hacked, taken apart, and reconstructed. These artists build their own instruments, whether by recycling toy keyboards, modifying video game consoles, or attaching electronics to traditional stringed instruments. They often share their music online for free, and in doing so challenge our ideas about copyright and ownership. Their playful attitude to technology finds new uses for obsolete devices and brings the collaboration of musicianship to engineering and the arts.

    Tracks Used:

    Ed Devane – Arcane
    Ed Devane – Feedback
    Dublin Laptop Orchestra – Wakey Wakey
    Dublin Laptop Orchestra – Beater
    Dublin Laptop Orchestra Live recording (Rehearsal, Trinity College School of Music)
    The Primal Barber TrioLive at Hunters Moon (curtesy of Deserted Village)
    Luxury Mollusc – Live recording
    Beets like – by Becca De La Rosa read by ESC Zine
    Slinky – by Jessica Maybury via Craiglist read by ESC Zine
    ‘The Spoonwriter’ by Áine Belton and Sharon White (2010)
    No! – Live recording (Twisted Pepper, Concrete Soup Music Afternoons)

    Bonus Episode – Beginnings – Mad Scientists of Music

    The is the first web only bonus episode of Mad Scientists of Music. Focusing on interviews rather than sound, these episodes feature clips, topics and artists there wasn’t space to fit into the radio series.

    We kick off with early experiences in technology, hearing from a host of folks about how early encounters with computers and electronics fuelled their interest in sound. A diverse collection of musicians, from Ewan Hennelly and Simon Kenny to MarQu VR of Gamepak Collective, give us their radically differing opinions of technology.

    Moving on to influences we hear how artists like Auteker and Aphex Twin inspired a host of Irish experimental electronic musicians.

    Ed Devane talks about moving from constructing his own instruments to collecting a unique set of sounds to manipulate electronically.

    Niamh De Barra talks describes how composers like Stravinsky helped steer the course of electronic music and why contemporary virtuosity pushed her towards electronic composition and performance.

    Meljoann talks about her diverse influences and combining classical and electronic composition.

    Oswald Green and Sebastian Dooris speak about the pleasures of understanding the physics of sound. And there’s a special exclusive track from Oswald right at the end.

    Download:
    Bonus Episode – ‘Beginnings

    Mad Scientists of Music is coming out, next week!

    So, after a very great while, but still much sooner than expected, my first documentary series ‘Mad Scientists of Music‘ is almost here.


    Quick and dirty promo – featuring the music of Bitwise Operator

    The final lineup of interviewees is ¡NO!, Deathness Injection, Andrew Edgar, John Leech Siam Collective, MarQu VR, Kieran Dold, Ed Devane (Withering Zithering), Patchblocks, Bitwise Operator, Ewan Hennelly (HERV / ZPG), Meljoann, Niamh de Barra, Luxury Mollusc, Primal Barbershop Trio, Colm Olwill (DJ PCP), Niamh Houston (Chipzel), Dr Eoin O’Dell, Roger Gregg (Crazy Dog Audio Theatre), Oswald Green, Julian Gough (Toasted Heretic) and The Dublin Laptop Orchestra.

    I’ve been hard at work over the last few days creating the press packs which will dutifully be sent over the top to die tomorrow. When you make radio programmes, especially for community stations, you’ve got a problem. No matter how good or bad, your show is pretty unlikely to get reviewed and hence listened to. As I’ve been working on this series for a year, gradually falling in love with a whole host of largely unknown Irish artists, this time I decided to do something to catch el jaded journo’s attention. Hence, THE ULTIMATE PRESS PACK O’DOOM. Containing: 1 cassette tape copy of episodes 1 & 6 of the doc, 1 wax sealed creepy letter from a mysterious personage, 1 set of exclusive and mysterious photos, and for three lucky journocritters an actual walkman to play said tape on. Big thank you to Seb of Deathness Injection for lending his tape duplication machine, and to everyone who helped me find a place to buy cassette tapes in Dublin in 2014 (hint: it’s Tower Records). Look out for the series on this site, and on iTunes from next week. Before then I’ll be posting the first web only episodes – a series of interviews about first experiences with music and technology. Watch this space.

    Broadcast dates: Thursday May 29th @ 5pm, June 5th, 12th, 19th & 26th, July 3rd @ 5pm

    ‘Mad Scientists of Music’ – April Update

    science

    It’s April and I’m closing in on a final shape for the show. It’s been almost a year since I started preliminary research and interviews for ‘Mad Scientists‘, an enormously self indulgent amount of time to work on a radio documentary series. And yet, I feel I’ve hardly scratched the surface of the Irish experimental music scene. Creativity is a process of continuous curation, in fiction and especially in documentary, where research and footage accretes into a melange of gooey information that threatens to overwhelm you. Several years ago I embarked on an ill fated project to document the experience of Irish refugees at the hands of immigration services. Ultimately I had to abandon the project. I was simply unprepared to deal with the responsibility of capturing the experiences of people who’d been so cruelly treated, made so invisible by our state, by our indifference.

    Maybe that’s why I switched to writing comedy. While the stakes are the same – failing or succeeding on the public stage, the consequences are purely personal. I’ve grown up a lot in the years since the documentary film flatlined. I find one of the positive aspects of getting older is an increase in organisational capacity – the ability to plan, to anticipate how long a task will take, to reassess a project as it develops. I’m still a disorganised shambles, and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but these days I get the things I start done.

    With that in mind, here’s where I’m at with the doc. I’ve got four thirty minute episodes almost finished, with two further episodes about half done. I’ve also pulled together a bunch of bonus content – four additional web only episodes, that will flesh out the musicians featured in the show, and focus on topics (like musical influences, nerd culture and so on), that the series doesn’t have time to fit in.

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    Episode 1 ‘Learning How to Listen‘, will take you on a tour of educational music projects. Starting at a circuit bending workshop in the Northside Shopping Centre, we stop by Roger Gregg’s eclectic home studio, before calling in on an instrument building workshop led by Ed Devane. We finish up with a visit to noise duo Deathness Injection’s incredible Culture Night mass collaboration, where hundreds of visitors to Exchange Dublin experienced the thrill of performing together.

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    Episode 2, ‘Growing Up Digital‘ will examine the impact of videogames on contemporary electronic music through the childhood anecdotes of a variety of performers. We’ll introduce you to chiptune – music made with retro consoles and home brew software, and take a tutorial in gameboy synthesiser ‘Little Sound DJ‘ in the capable hands of chiptune diva Chipzel (Niamh Houston).

    IMG_0890

    Episode 3, ‘Taking Toys Apart‘, starts off in Germany, in the home ‘laboratory’ of author and musician Julian Gough (Toasted Heretic). Then we’ll hear about the impact of the geography of consumerism on toy hacking, from Gamepak Collective founder Andrew Edgar. Andrew, MarQu VR, and John Leech will explain the genesis of Dublin’s first chiptune collective. Finally, John demonstrates the dark art of cartridge ripping.

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    Episode 4, ‘The Hacker In the Gallery‘, is still a work in progress. This episode will example the relationship between hackers, musicians and the world of fine art audio.

    Episode 5, ‘The Instrument of the Law‘, tackles copyright, sampling, and illegal art, introducing two fantastic unauthorised albums from Kieran Dold (Karakara), and John Leech (Siam Collective); and featuring the legal wit and wisdom of Trinity College’s Dr Eoin O’Dell.

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    Episode 6, ‘Postcards from the Edge‘, is still to be finalised. This episode will bring listeners some of the latest developments in electronic music, including a geocaching tour of Brighton and the South downs from Ewan Hennelly (HERV, ZPG), and an astonishing new software synthesiser under development from Dublin musician / programmer Bitwise Operator (Simon Kenny).

    That’s it for the radio series. For web listeners, four additional interview based episodes will be released during and just after broadcast of the radio series. ‘Beginnings‘ covers the early musical influences and development of musicians like Meljoann, Oswald Green, Kieran Dold and Niamh De Barra. ‘Copyrights & Copywrongs‘ delves deeper into Creative Commons and the much needed reform of Irish copyright law, and touches on the patenting of music technology. ‘Irish Electronic Scenes‘, examines a variety of recent underground music scenes, through the eyes of Colm Olwill (DJ PCP), the Gamepak Collective, and Ewan Hennelly. Finally, ‘Nerds vs Chicks‘, collects two fascinating conversations, around the role of nerd culture and gender respectively, in electronic music. These bonus episodes are pretty rough at the moment, and will likely consist simply of voices, without music or on location recordings, but they include some of the best anecdotes and most fascinating characters of the series.

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    I can’t wait to get the show out there, and introduce new listeners to the incredible artists featured. I’d like to thank everyone who participated in the show so far – Ewan Hennelly, Andrew Edgar, John Leech, MarQu VR, Niamh DeBarra, Niamh Houston, Meljoann, Colm Olwill, Simon Kenny, Kieran Dold, Seb & Emma of Deathness Injection, Roger Gregg, Ben Gaulon, Stephen Mcloughlin, Ed Devane an Eoin O’Dell.

    Mad Scientists of Music will be out June 2014, on Near FM, and online at this site.