Archive | May 2014

TWSC Sound Collage – Kemayoran

Someday I’ll write a long post about how much I love sound collage, from the sophisticated ‘walks’ of Janet Cardiff to the avant-garde of the Art Ensemble of Chicago to the punk and tumble static of The Sun City Girls to the old vinyl albums that they used to make to demonstrate newfangled ‘hi-fi’ stereo sets, with those ping-pong paddles resounding out of each speaker (left right left right left right). As Dizzy Gillespie supposedly said, “I’m not interested in music, I’m interested in sound.”

But today I have the flu so all that will have to wait.

Recently I created a sound collage following the Third World Skull Candy aesthetic that I posted about previously.

The collage consists entirely of home-made field recordings from Jakarta plus the usual ‘found sound’ of orphaned and exotic music.

The youtube link is below or you can stream it on my soundcloud page.




The Driver (1978)

The Driver. Walter Hill. The director’s best early work, an update on cops and robbers that favors the robber. The cop, in this case Bruce Dern at his most electrically frenzied as a detective gone bad, matches wits with the outlaw, the titular ‘driver’, played by Ryan O’Neal. The characters remain nameless archetypes. LA by night is lensed straight from the noir playbook in heavy chiaroscuro and what, especially in our current digital age, seems like especially luminous 35mm film; the late seventies décor is so harshly lit that everyone’s hair appears to be made of Brillo. Some of the best car chases ever filmed contrast with performances that remain opaque and stagey. O’Neal must have been going through an especially deep cocaine and Quaalude interlude: his performance is stiffer than his usual wooden caricatures. But it works. He personifies a man incapable of emotion,  a machine that only comes alive when he drives. As an exploration of the outlaw ethos, the movie remains unsurpassed in Hill’s oeuvre. Pop culture bonus: The femme fatale is played by stunning Isabelle Yasmine Adjani, who also plays Lucy in Werner Herzog’s visionary remake of Nosferatu AND stars in the Luc Besson/Christopher Lambert cult classic Subway. Wow!

Fat stack of S’Black at Senayan Plaza bookstore

A fat stack of Singapore Black on the front table at Periplus Books at Senayan Plaza Mall, Jakarta. Right next to Fifty Shades Freed…oh bliss!

Third World Skull Candy

One of the fun things about working at SAE Institute is having access to industry-grade studios and software for creating digital media. In my spare time, I’ve been teaching myself audio post-production techniques using AVID Pro Tools and tapping into advice and knowledge from our audio lecturers, especially Yanda, who not only is AVID trained and certified, but is from Yogyakarta and I’m pretty sure possesses magical powers, specifically the ability to dematerialize and rematerialize at will (I have witnessed this with my own eyes), but I digress.

Part of this self-education process has been to create a production project that I’m calling Third World Skull Candy, which I’ve endowed with funky graphics, a pseudo-academic-sounding rationale, and even a meta-reference to another cut-up project.

Basically, I’m building noisy, drone, ambient music from samples of my rather ridiculously large collection of third world music. Believe it or not this is something that I’ve wanted to do for a long time and if there’s a positive popular reaction, I’m considering issuing these tracks commercially… stay tuned.

In the meantime, you can stream all the tracks on soundcloud:

Or you can watch the videos on youtube, for which I’ve posted the links below (all photographs and graphic design by yours truly).

Here’s the write-up from soundcloud:

Third World Skull Candy is an occasional sound experiment by DrG Supreme in lo-fi, drone, noise, micromontage, acoustic pixelation, and the time-varying distribution of spectral energy, guided by Tom Philips’s observation ‘The sound in my life enlarges my prison’.

 TWSC tracks are built entirely from samples of obscure, out-of-print, bootlegged, pirated, downloaded, or otherwise orphaned or broken or marginal music.

Headphones. Loud. Repeat infinite.”

Next up… I’ve started creating ‘sound collages’ using field recordings that I’ve made in Jakarta mixed with TWSC samples. I’ve also started ‘treating’ soundtracks of old movies.

At some point in the very near future, my fiction writing and my audio experiments will converge into a sort of enhanced audio-book type thing that will resemble old-fashioned radio plays. That will take a lot of time and effort.

Will this sell more books? Geez, I hope so.













Singapore Black in Jakarta

First sighting of Singapore Black outside of Singapore!

At Periplus Books in Kemang, Jakarta.

Impact (1949)

Impact. Arthur Lubin. Feminist film critics have pointed to Impact as a commentary on the male anxiety, the fear/attraction of the modern woman, of the post-war period. There’s the well-to-do wife who turns out to be a two-timing black widow; there’s the ingénue who starts out as a tomboy but eventually proves her innocence, honesty, dedication, and looks sweet in a dress. But what interests me are the odd ways the film anticipates Hitchcock’s masterpiece Vertigo (1958). Both are set in San Francisco and the same locations appear in both films, especially the neo-gothic front gates of the Brocklebank Apartments on Mason Street. The films share similar themes of amnesia and loss; each explores how self-identity shifts in relation to shifting circumstances. In each film, as the lead male character under goes these changes, the actors (Brian Donlevy, and, famously, Jimmy Stewart) are required to create different men, a protean feat. Each film is broken into separate compartments that match the changing identity of the main character; it’s like watching three or four different movies. Vertigo uses a precise color scheme to maintain coherence but lacking that technical extension, the b&w Impact shifts physical locations in improbable jumps signaled by paper-thin set changes (SF to Highway 1; a roadhouse to Idaho; Idaho to a courtroom). The gumshoes are gormless; the main character is too caught up in the action to investigate his own case, even when he is implicated (all these narrative elements show up in Vertigo, at least until the third act). In the end, it is the Chinese maid (played by silent film star Anna May Wong) who saves the day. Much like Vertigo, Impact is superficially exciting on first viewing; its sensibilities only become apparent on a second. By the third, you start to understand how the magic vibrates into genius.

More Music of Borneo

Four more uploads to my youtube channel, this time of an instrument called a ‘sape’ from Borneo. CDs from Kuching, Sarawak, Malaysia. Links below.

From CD: Traditional Music of Sarawak Ethnic Group

04 Sape Indu

07 Sape Kayan

From CD: The Olden Sound

04 Kayan Traditional Music II

05 Kayan Traditional Music III


Apologies, I don’t have more information about the artist or performance; the CD sleeves are in storage on a different continent.


About the sape:

“The most typical of Sarawak musical instruments, the sape, pronounced “sa-peh”, is a traditional lute of the Orang Ulu community or “upriver people” of central Borneo. It is traditionally used by the Kenyahs, Kayans and Kelabit tribes.

Carved from a bole of white wood which repels insects, the sape is a masterpiece of woodcarving. The carver, usually a musician, hollows out the body of the sape with similar tools used in boat-building to a length of about over a metre, and approximately 40cm wide.

Initially, the guitar-like instrument measured less than a metre, and had only two rattan strings and three frets. Today, however, it is common to find sapes with three, four or even five strings. The strings – slender wires used in fishing rods – are held by movable wood frets, and are tightened or loosened with wooden pegs.

The sape was once played solely during healing ceremonies within the rumah panjang (longhouses), but gradually became a social instrument that is used as a form of entertainment. The colourful jungle motifs that adorn the body of the sape mark this change in purpose.”


Buy one here:

Music links:


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