preconceived notions

april 03, 2004.

Probably there are a few of you that, like me, enjoyed Otis Fodder's 365Days project also because of the selections being, mostly, so very American. I don't know how true, nor how complete, but listening - as I continue to do regularly - to the daily selections of Otis and his curators for me does evoke some sort of a sonic portrait of the US of A; this is (part of) how it sounded over there, during the last, forty say, years of the last century. And a damn good portrait it is: home recordings, obscure records, obscure artists, great ones and tragically bad ones - though more often than not these are the touchingly sincere ones -, then the slightly or madly deranged ones, commercials, recorded greetings, high school bands, buskers ...

, Richard Hamilton, fragment of collage 1956

And if you do like that sort of 'Americana', I am pretty sure you will enjoy the Preconceived Notions, under which name Joe Mason from Chicago, Illinois, has been recording for about three years now.

"I bought my erstwhile collaborator, Dr. Sample, off Ebay," Joe writes. "He opened me up to a world of possibilities. Buying a friend's four-track with mixer opened up a few more. I discovered a fondness for using the sampler to lay backing tracks for spoken pieces lifted here and there. From old time radio shows to product instructions, media became my media."

Deeming the results of his efforts "with all the samples,[...] unreleasable", Joe decided to just give them away. "Take 'em, they're yours. Copy  'em, burn 'em, play 'em, re-sample 'em and spread 'em around," he says.

That's what the Preconceived Notions website is all about.

Mix'n'Match With Your Friends! the heading of the Preconceived Notion's web site's audio-page encourages us, then goes on to list 26 mp3-encoded tracks, ready for download.

The Preconceived Notions add up to some 90 minutes of free, fun plunderphonics. Musically, most tracks are built on simple loop-based backgrounds, hardly ever dense, but 'laid-back' and open, leaving lots of space for the "media": the spoken word, from radio- and television shows, promotional records, instructional tape ("Loadmatic"), film ("Be a Hu-Man"), a recording made at a brother-in-law's birtday party ("Prom" is one of my favorites!) ... but there's also the sound of a Mars Attacks toy ray gun ("At Grover's Mill"), and a 'modified singing bible alarm clock' ("Do You Think Christian Rock Is Alright?"), a fingerbeatz and a rap machine toy ("Ev'rybody Now!") ...

The site also has a page with a list detailing the sources for each of the tracks, but it is kind of hidden. I had to write Joe to ask for it.

"If you go to the page with the MP3s," he told me, "click on the dancing people at the bottom of the page. It will take you to the list." And: "I believe in listing your sampled sources. It's right to acknowledge them. However, I believe that audio material, once publicly released, is available as material for artistic expression."

We couldn't agree more.

[ hattip : Laure de Ricqles ]

[ added march 2006 : The Preconceived Notions web site has been discontinued and is no longer available. ]

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april 03, 2004.

"Soundblog is due to search engines"

That's what Google thinks of this here site... (sigh! ). According to [added aug. 24th, 2005: the late], that is. ... [added march 21th, 2006: ... it seems to have come back to life again ... but doesn't think much any longer ... ah well ... so Google used to think ... ;-) ]

And when I go through the soundblog's stats, I cannot but acknowledge the googlism's apparent wisdom. Indeed, the bulk of our traffic is coming from search engines. Topped by the honorable Google itself ... Ever since I wrote an entry on a couple of tapes - out of a box of cassettes that I bought on the Montreuil flea market - that contained the totality of a lecture (in French) on backward masked satanic messages in rock music, traffic to the SoundBlog more than doubled. And that only because queries related to that subject are pretty frequent, and the SoundBlog ends pretty high up in Google's ranking when you search for 'satan' and his 'messages'. It even wound up being first for more than a month, but that was due to a 'trick', that I stumbled upon unintentionally, and not at all in an attempt to consciously manipulate search results. But then Google 'got the trick', and subsequently 'dropped us' ... 'Satanic messages' queries still are the main entry-point, to the SoundBlog though. In an incredible amount of guises and variations. Like : listen to number of the beast backwards, or: downloadable stairway to heaven backwards, musique classique+Satan, Music Played Backward satanic Messages ... just to name a few.

But we've got ourselves a runner-up: bulimia! For there appear to be an awful lot of people in this world that are searching for pictures of bulimia ... and the soundblog has one on offer, even though I'm pretty sure ours is not what most of them searchers are looking for. ("Pictures of what people look like that are Bulimia," one of them asked Google even more explicitly. And then still ended up reading about Vincent Desiderio's 'Cockaigne'.)

Link to article on 'Google's secret power'

It is a fascinating pastime though, reading through that what all of you unknowns out there are looking for: you have a pretty car musics, where's and what fors, techniques for prepared guitar, how not sing by the nose, playable speeches of one of Hitler's speeches (sic), mixes letters into words, kentucky belle, her daughters soft odd shaped bed spit, interesting facts about don Giovanni, the noisy expensive carpet looks around, I want to listen to sirens, how to sound words out, how can I make a word search with my own order of letters?, double dutch translation, computerized karaoke recording booth, brady I'm a mormon, how is manou caused, the background of crickets in china, download free music morphine, drugs containing moi, meat papier machine, cricket histery, piano excercises, toute sorte de musique, his brothers round round expensive expensive beautiful clock got an i, a given olden slopy ram stares, whose white glove looks around, daughters hairy, odd shaped guitar, geluid en been, what devices are in used to play recorded musics, switzerland cowbell recordings, bill clinton speeches, stream liner trains, gallery garage visser, ten seconds, tomatis and mozart, three story manchine .... and more and more and all of it, somehow, lead to the soundblog.

You see, of course, it is all about content. The engines, their DBMS's and algorithms, they love content. And we do give them content. And then, given enough, and diverse enough of that, eventually any query will somehow lead up to us.

The true pleasure, though, is, to regularly observe that someone who came in looking for satanic messages, kept hanging around for the better part of an hour, visiting at least a couple of dozen of our other pages.

Okay. Enough of this.

Let's produce some content.

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