“Austin grackles, 3/13/08″ (download)
(file expires March 25th)
The most surprising music I heard during South by Southwest took place within 30 seconds of my first arrival on 6th Street: a tree full of grackles. The field recording I made the next day at dusk, across the street from Whole Foods, doesn’t quite capture the manic density of that first encounter. Composed more of the siren-like yelps (heard at approximately the 12 second mark on this track) that was more of a pitched conversation — as if the birds were in heated council — than the idle chatter heard here. Indeed, as 6th Street filled with meat marketeers and temporary stages, I never once found the grackles occupying that same tree, surrendering downtown to the tourists like the righteously pissed off locals they are.
“Drums, Sun, Birds, Bells” (download)
“Birds, News” (download)
As shaman-in-residence at Boulder, Colorado’s Naropa Institute, folk archivist/alchemist/animator Harry Smith once recorded the entirety of his Fourth of July, from fireworks to crickets. Here are two mono-recorded excerpts of Independence Day 2007. Sounds in the field include the distant bells and marching drums of a parade, siren blasts, low-flying airplanes, a layer of constant bird chatter, and breaking ocean waves. Despite the mono, headphones are recommended, nuances revealing themselves with each upwards nudge of the volume knob. On “Drums, Sun, Birds, Bells,” everything is dense. On “Birds, News,” a more ambient reading of the same gives way to chaos when the birds react to sudden sirens.
The Smithsonian edition of Smith’s Anthology of American Folk Music box set included his Fourth of July recording as part of the bonus features on one of the discs… except, so it seems, the “enhanced” multimedia technology, issued in 1997, no longer functions on current Macs. Oh, well. Anybody got an mp3?
Permanent link on archive.org.
“Meet the Mets” – Funny Cry Happy (download)
(Ruth Roberts and Bill Katz cover)
(file expires July 1st)
If anybody was wondering what a Funny Cry Happy arrangement of “Meet the Mets” would sound like, well, wait no longer. Conceived during the atrocious 4-14 stretch and recorded with a mite less mope following their three-game sweep of the A’s this weekend, it’s… um, I guess it’s something I made on a Sunday evening for the hell of it. Forgive the extra/dropped beats.