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Messages - Brian Bieniowski

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Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« on: June 05, 2010, 05:59:13 AM »
Hey Brian, What made the Wolfgang Voigt performance so compelling?

It's hard to pin it down. It was a sold-out show and the audience was totally into it, which helps.  Everyone leaving felt blown away by what had happened, even though he was just manipulating samples on a laptop.  The imagery on stage (they had a little movie playing) really went with the music too.  I'd see a show like that weekly if it was equally intense.  At the bottom line, it was just hearing that incredibly potent music really loud with complimentary visuals in a nice theatre.  I don't look for much more than that in a show, honestly.  My concert write-up:

I'm not convinced that electronic music performance needs a shot in the arm, by the way.  I think we're running into the same old story of not enough people/fanbase to support a more elaborate live show that pleases every audience member looking for novelty in on-stage entertainment.  Techno artists sit behind computers all the time (and DJs aren't all that interesting to see either), and they consistently sell out clubs the world over, whether there's dancing or not. 

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Robert Rich Tour Blog
« on: June 04, 2010, 10:40:33 AM »
Over the years, I've been to quite a few live electronic music performances.  I've probably outclocked rock shows by now!

I can see the argument made that Dude Plus Laptop doesn't always make for great live experience, but most rock bands are so inconsistent live that it doesn't hold much water for me.  I watched Wolfgang Voigt "perform" Gas (essentially a CD listening party) and it was some of the most compelling moments of any music I've ever heard played anywhere. 

I think atmosphere goes a long way in these performances.  If they're in a nice place (Philly's St. Mary's church for example) or if the artist is "rich" enough to be able to bring interesting visuals, I find that I hardly even pay attention to the artist on stage, which seems preferable in this over-saturated age of retarded rock moves.  As with everything, I guess, personal tastes vary.

One of my favorite electronic music shows was Markus Popp playing Oval music before a Tortoise show in a crowded club.  I remember he had a big computer, because I think this was before the proliferation of laptops, so it was unusual to see a dapper fellow up on stage with just a computer.  Anyway, he played his gentle music over all the crazy talk and noise in the club and it was just a perfect furniture music kind of experience.  After a while you couldn't tell where music ended and audience began.

Oh, and here's a list of some of the many dead ends or red herrings or loose threads.

This was incredible.  I enjoyed watching the Lost finale, but after it was over I almost broke my brain trying to understand how the producers/writers thought they "wrapped it up."  Absolute unmitigated handwaving cop-out.  They should have ended it with the nuke going off at the end of Season 5.  Now THAT would have been satisfying ambiguity.

Had a terrific time at your place last night, Darren!  Robert played a terrific set and it was also a pleasure to meet Ben Fleury-Steiner and Scott Raymond from the forum.  Can't beat the location either (a mere 40 minute drive for me), though I have to admit I found your epic CD collection distracting to say the least!

Computers, Internet and Technology / Re: Dropbox is fantastic
« on: May 07, 2010, 06:08:15 PM »
I have dropbox, but don't use it all that often, only because I've just got the one computer.

I love Evernote, though, which is incredibly handy in all sorts of situations.

Glad to see a system with advance ticket sales!  Just picked up my Robert Rich ticket and I'm looking forward to the show.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 09, 2010, 03:14:30 PM »
the sight below - it all falls apart
(probably not as good as his debut, but i still need to give it time.. very good though)

I have to agree.  It feels slight, somehow, but I need to play it more.  The first album really grew on me, too.  I have to say, though, that the Joy Division cover was ... ill advised.

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: April 07, 2010, 06:24:18 AM »
Just about to get into the new Pjusk and Alva Noto...

Let us know how that Alva Noto is—I wondered if I should get one.  I love his Xerrox series stuff, but the more granular blippy music he does isn't really my cup of tea.

Everything and Nothing / Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« on: April 05, 2010, 03:49:27 PM »
Think of how efficiently people will Twitter and flame each other on blogs and forums now!

Everything and Nothing / Re: E-readers revisited 2010
« on: April 05, 2010, 05:38:33 AM »
I'm of two minds about the iPad.  On one hand, it is an impressive bit of gadget innovation, unlike anything we've seen before.  On the other ... it's hard for me to see the value in it for my own limited purposes.  I wish it didn't feel as though so many recent innovations were intended to create needs, rather than offer solutions for current societal maladies or inconveniences.  As it stands, the iPad currently seems to me to be today's fancy product intended for upper middle class consumers.  And that's fine by me—nothing new in the human world, of course.  I think the potential to make it a powerful and useful product is there; it definitely looks like what you'd expect a "future computer" to be like. 

I agree, to some extent, with previous commenters Mark and Forrest—the innovations truly need to be in content, and I'm not seeing enough of that just yet.  But I think it will come now that the technology is arriving to foster it.  While I think this device offers heartening support for troubled media (like magazines, for instance), it remains to be seen, from my perspective, if the flagging state of readership and literacy is going to be improved upon by a machine that costs hundreds of dollars, targeted toward people who can afford Apple luxury items.  The trouble has not been from a lack of books in the world, in my experience.

We're getting iPads in our office, I'm told, so I'll probably get to play with one later in the week.  We'll see if it makes me a convert.

Other Ambient (and related) Music / Re: Robert Rich: Ylang
« on: March 22, 2010, 08:32:12 AM »
Have a had a chance to listen to this a few times now.  Though it is not in the style of Robert's music that I generally prefer, I like it.  I would agree with Robert above about some of the world music elements.  I enjoy the vast majority, but, for me, the singing just rips me right out of the tranced-out mood the rest of the record has.  It's a little corny and overdone to my ears.  Other than that, I think this is another fine addition to the Rich catalog.  While I doubt it'll get as much play as other works like Fissures, it's certainly a CD I've played repeatedly and enjoyed over the last few weeks.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Hypnos Forum Weight-Loss Challenge 2010
« on: March 19, 2010, 07:02:37 AM »
I've always been a relatively thin guy (5'9" and around 156 lb as of Sunday), though after I hit my late twenties, I definitely had to start watching the beers and burgers or I'd get a little bit of a gut.  I'm an avid swimmer and I took up tai chi last year which is a really relaxing way to exercise.

Anyway, I find the following website really helpful for tracking both your exercise and eating habits:

You can track weight, etc., and share your progress with your friends.  And you might be surprised about the calorie payload a lot of your favorite foods carry!  Might be fun if a bunch of Hypnos Weight Challenge people started tracking there for regular "sharing" of their progress!

Now Playing / Re: Currently listening, part 1
« on: March 19, 2010, 06:27:41 AM »
Yeah, Engaged Touches is really terrific.  I think it might be out of print, though. :(

Speaking of Infraction, I just got former-Forum-regular Ben Fleury-Steiner's CD Keep a Weather Eye Open (with bonus 3" CDR).  This one's outstanding, especially if you're into the Celer albums we've been talking about.

Everything and Nothing / Re: How do you do?
« on: March 17, 2010, 05:37:31 PM »
Hey Brian, that's pretty big news -- you've been working there since you were a spry young fella.  And now not only a new job, but a whole new field!  Last time we talked about your job, though, you seemed ready for a change.

Definitely a big change for me.  I got my previous job right out of college at 23.  Spent a lot of good years there, but the writing was on the wall and it was time for a change.  Got a lucky chance in a new business and it's working out nicely so far.  I'm also getting a kick out of reading only the sci-fi I want to read.  There's definitely something to be said for having a hobby separate from your career.  ;)

Everything and Nothing / Re: How do you do?
« on: March 17, 2010, 12:40:56 PM »
Hi there,

Longtime forum member, since late 2000, I believe.  I'm thirty-three now, married, and living in northern NJ.

I worked in the science fiction field for many years as a managing editor of a literary magazine, but recently left that position to do interactive design and marketing with a firm here in NJ.  It's a completely different field, but I like to think I learn fast and the business is pretty exciting.

Personally, I'm an avid reader and listener of music, a writer, and I love to scuba dive (though I don't get enough opportunities!).  I'm looking into diving in the Dutch Antilles later this year on the isle of Bonaire, which is supposed to be heaven for sealife lovers.  This is starting to sound like a personal ad.  I put out regular podcasts on called the Quiet Sounds, just showering attention on a lot of the music I like.

I'm on facebook and twitter if anybody needs another friend on those services.  FB is under my name, and my Twit ID is asphalteden.  I also keep an infrequently updated blog at

Art and Literature, Movies and TV / Re: Now reading
« on: February 27, 2010, 12:31:49 PM »
I've always liked Neal Asher's stuff, but I have to admit I didn't catch The Skinner—sounds like fun.

That was intentional!  ;)

I often forget to post my own projects here, even though I'm on the forum all the darned time!

My latest, Quiet Sounds 28, is all about the mysterious genre of Hauntology ... the eerie and whimsical sound of aged and ageless BBC electronic music and television, now with a decidedly modern (and twisted) twist by today’s strangest artists, plus one orgy.

Download and let me know what you think!

1. “In Your Own Time” by Moon Wiring Club from Shoes Off and Chairs Away (Gecophonic)
2. “Main Titles” by John Gale from Dr. Phibes Rises Again! soundtrack (Perseverance)
3. “Rosy Retrospection” by The Caretaker from Persistent Repetition of Phrases (Install)
4. “Melancholia VIII” by William Basinski from Melancholia (2062)
5. “Grey Water” by Tor Lundvall from Empty City (Strange Fortune)
6. “Amoeba” by Woob from Woob (Em:t)
7. “Hotel Freund” by Black to Comm from Alphabet 1968 (Type)
8. “Warp/Warpable” by Deathprod from Nordheim Transformed (Rune Grammofon)
9. “Ten Years or Twenty” by Moon Wiring Club from Shoes Off and Chairs Away (Gecophonic)
10. “The Willows” by Belbury Poly from The Willows (Ghost Box)
11. “The New Mobility” by Belbury Poly from The Owl’s Map (Ghost Box)
12. “Dead Eyes Opened” by Severed Heads from ComMerz (LTM)
13. “The Devil Is in the Details” by Boards of Canada from Geogaddi (Warp)
14. “New Trumpets of Time” by Ariel Pink’s Haunted Graffiti from Lover Boy (Ballbearings Pinatas)
15. “Secret Admirer” by Freescha from Head Warlock Double Stare (Attack 9)
16. “My Game of Loving” by White Noise from An Electric Storm (Island)
17. “Salty Sun Tales” by The Focus Group from We Are All Pan’s People (Ghost Box)
18. “They Are in the Room with Us Right Now” by Roj from The Transactional Dharma of Roj (Ghost Box)
19. “Man” by Edward Williams from Life on Earth (Trunk)

Everything and Nothing / Re: Pressed CDs and independent artists/labels
« on: February 20, 2010, 07:39:59 PM »
I bought an ipod last year - except for discs mailed me as demos, I haven't added any new discs to my collection.   I've bought a lot of albums by download though....

To me this is sad. I look at Infraction's latest, some of the Celer releases (particularly Close Proximity...) and the Chihei Hatakeyama CD on Home Normal and think that if this final model is abandoned then I'll just walk away.

I have to agree.  Perhaps it is old fashioned.  I'm comfortable with it.  I feel the same way about books.

One thing I think is important to me as a consumer is the long term value of the object.  I want to know that the disc is going to last as long as I want to keep it.  While I've heard all of the arguments about the longevity of the CDR format, my own personal experience with a great amount of music on CDR is that they are unreliable enough (albeit seemingly at random) to be suspicious of.  Perhaps this is not compelling enough to force a judgement for many.  For me, I feel that the possibility of a disc failure in the future makes me more wary about taking risks purchasing music by artists I'm less familiar with.  I bought several Adam Pacione CDs before I felt I was a big enough fan to go the extra mile, take the risk, and buy the 3" CDRs.  Nevertheless, if those little discs fail in a few years, my confidence in the format will be exhausted.

I understand that artists can't always afford to release their own music on CD format, and I do not hold anything against them if they choose this way to release.  But I believe it should be understood that, as a consumer, I want to spend my money on a format that will offer me the long-term usage I expect from CDs.  If I'm presented with two ambient artists whose music isn't all that dissimilar in the grand scheme of music, but one chooses the CD format that will likely never fail and the other chooses the CDR format that may or may not fail in a year or two, it seems my decision is obvious.

After three iPod hard drive failures (all within two years of original purchase), I no longer buy iPods.  You can't expect a consumer with more than enough choices in entertainment options to continue to buy formats and technology that do not fulfill the consumer's individual needs.

Everything and Nothing / Re: Questions for artists and labels re: Piracy
« on: February 20, 2010, 12:24:04 PM »
There are so many facets to this discussion.  My first feeling was that even when there was no great amount of piracy, it was still hard to keep up with the latest releases (not counting limited budget), and I felt at one point in the early 00s that I'd heard too much and needed to take a break from it all.  But it's nothing compared to the amount released today—you can't even try, let alone succeed.  I wonder that this age of cultural overproduction is the real harbinger of doom.  But I think I'm biased, because I've never really been all that convinced by the long-tail theories.  I can't help but think of a recent Economist article that found an entertainment field of infinite choice lead to an increased amount of blockbusters, rather than more success for the marginal.

I think there is a lot good labels can do to try to keep their necks above this mess, and I really believe in the deep value of a curator-driven scene.  While I can understand a lot of the points and philosophies of the give-it-away artists and fans, I think the way the system works now (or worked at one time, I guess) is a good one that rewards the artists, the labels, and the listeners, when done honorably.  It's a shame that the "good guys" are getting edged out with no real decent model to replace what we've had in the past.

Helpful stuff to my mind would be to produce more traditional CD or LP releases, and less CDRs (to hell with cassette!), even if it means less music released.  As a fan and avid buyer, I like to see that money was invested, though at the expense of quantity.  I'm three times as suspicious of CDR releases (it has to be something incredibly special to get me to consider buying one), than I am of a CD or LP.  Great packaging and design is nice, but I wouldn't say it needs to be elaborate—some of the digipak releases have good photography and are awfully nice.

I think a large problem is that there is too much, and how could anybody keep up, even if they had any incentive to do so? 

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