What I didn’t get for Christmas…

…brought to you by The House of Automata run by Michael and Maria Start (a name far too good to be true) of Scotland. Their website boasts an array of creepy and not-so-creepy automata sure to distract you for the better part of an afternoon.

Automata hold a special place in the history of sound art. Think of them as very early, highly anthropomorphized attempts at audio reproduction (tin cylinders didn’t just fall out of Edison’s brain, you know). Jonathan Sterne outlines this history in The Audible Past, a must-read for everyone who works with sound.

P.S. — It’s my birthday soon….

Have a Noisy Merzbow Day!

It’s the holiday season, which means time to flaunt New York City’s cultural diversity.

A person can buy a Christmas tree off the sidewalk, see a Menorah car parade, eat Chinese food, get drunk with Santa [NSFW], buy things, or attend any number of Winter Solstice concerts.

But we, at Chez MEGAPOLIS, are still recovering from our favorite holiday, Merzbow Day!

What’s that, you say, I have not heard of this….??

Well, I’m glad you asked. This brand spankin’ new addition to the holiday calendar honors the life and work of Japanese noise artist Masami Akita a.k.a. Merzbow.

Don’t know Merzbow? 

Then I have a gift for you… Because this guy’s been revealing the hidden beauty of noises and other living beings since 1979. This traditional Merzbow Day anthem should give you a pretty good idea of what he’s all about.

WE LIVES! MEGAPOLIS Audio Festival Coming to NYC, April 19-21, 2013

Achtung! The beast of festivals from the upper east doth riseth again! It’s the day in audio art that will hereby only be remembered as “gwow“.

In 2009, Boston was rattled, and in 2010 Baltimore was smitten.

Today, we say, hear this: 2013 MEGAPOLIS NYC, specifically April 19-21, headquartered at the New School. The words have been spoken. Hear them with all of your ear-ness.

Also heed this most important notice:


Seeking audio artists of all shapes and forms. Installations + performances + tours + sessions + OTHERWORLDLY FUN.

Yet another combination of notices:
– Please LIKE LIKE LIKE us on FB.
– Please FOLLOW FOLLOW us on Tweetsville.

Lastly, please remember the simple equation:



! ! ! P.S. Registration and Travel Support Available ! ! !

The Media Arts Technical Assistance Fund is pleased to offer an opportunity for support toward registration, travel, and accommodations for New York State residents attending the 2013 MEGAPOLIS Festival. Please contact regrant[at]free103point9.org for additional information. The Media Arts Technical Assistance Fund is a regrant program of Electronic Media and Film at the New York State Council on the Arts, a public agency, and administered by free103point9.

100 years since the birth of J.C. (by Hethre)

No… not Jesus Christ…

I’m talking about the other J.C.—prophet of sound art, John Cage. This year has been a bash with centenary festivals everywhere you turn. The importance of this man to modern music and sound is undeniable. Cage’s voice still resonates from the past and continues to influence the work of composers, artists, and theoreticians today. Communities all over the world have their own unique ways of commemorating his legacy.

This Friday, September 7, The New School will honor Cage with a concert featuring members of the Sonic Arts Union. If J.C. was a prophet of sound, then you could say that these guys were sonic apostles. They incorporated Cage’s lessons and ideas into their own practices, and ultimately became major players in the sound art scene as well. Three quarters of this group, Robert Ashley, Alvin Lucier, and David Behrman, will be joined by Chris Mann for a performance that will blow your mind…

Really, take a look at the program notes that Lucier submitted for his piece:



enormously ampli[fi]ed brain waves and percussion

Music for Solo Performer was the first work in history to use brain waves for musical purposes. During a performance, a performer sits with electrodes affixed to his or her scalp. The signal from the electrodes is routed through at least sixteen audio amplifiers and loudspeakers deployed throughout the space. The speakers are directly coupled to percussion instruments, including tympani, drums, gongs, cymbals and found objects. During the performance one or more assistants channel the amplified alpha waves to loudspeakers and percussion instruments in various combinations.

Music for Solo Performer was first performed on May 5, 1965, at the Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University. John Cage assisted in the performance.

The set-up alone for this event is a massive undertaking. James Fei, Associate Professor of Electronic Arts at Mills College in California, will oversee its technical completion.

The event is free and there are no tickets. It is simply first come, first seated. So get there early!

If you can’t make it out to this event, there are other ways to get down with my main man, J.C. This app has received the official seal of approval from James Briggs III, audio engineer to the stars. It simulates a prepared piano, an instrument popularized by none other than, you guessed it, John Cage.

Further Reading:

Ashley, Robert. “The Influence of John Cage.” (2011)

Cage, John. Silence. (1961)

Kirn, Peter. “John Cage at 100: A Celebration in Words, Listening, and Prepared Piano iPhones.” (2012)

Pritchett, James. The Music of John Cage. (1993)