I can’t not share this one…

I’m not really a fan of latter-day ‘Weird Al’. I liked him better when it was just Al and his accordion—you know, ‘My Bologna’, ‘Yoda’, ‘Another One Rides the Bus’. But this new video he’s just come out with is all sorts of awesome. Don’t forget those Oxford commas, folks! Continue reading

Sometimes, I do other things

When I was a kid, one of my ambitions in life was to become a musician. Some of the other things I wanted to be were a writer, a photographer, a politician, an actor, a college professor, a psychologist, and a radio DJ—but I often came back to the musician thing, since music was really my biggest passion.

Unfortunately, even in the age of punk, I didn’t think that would be possible unless I learned how to actually play an instrument. At various times, I started learning the guitar, the piano, and the saxophone—but, for various and sundry reasons, never stuck with any of them long enough.

In college, I took music theory—and did extremely well. Still, I never did much to translate that into anything useful. I had a couple of Casio keyboards, but nothing really substantial.

One of those Casio keyboards was the SK-1, their first sampling keyboard—the one CNN spotlighted in a report that I first saw on their short-lived program This Week in Japan. During the six months between graduating from college and landing my first full-time job, I used that little keyboard to experiment with making my own music. The results were predictably crude, and even the best of the pieces I recorded would be unreleasable now, thanks to the relative speed with which the record industry clamped down on the practice of sampling..

It wasn’t until I was about a year into my first job in Tokyo that I bought my first real musical instrument, a Yamaha EOS B200 synthesizer. Part of the reason I chose that particular model was that it had built-in speakers, and I didn’t want to have to invest in a bunch of extra equipment. Anyway, in December 1988, I began making my own, completely original music for the first time. In those days, of course, there was no Internet to speak of, and there were only a handful of TV stations in the Tokyo area, so my free time was largely spent working on music.

By the time I left Tokyo in 1992, I was pretty happy with how far I’d come, so I invested in a new keyboard, and continued my activities. By 1994, I felt confident enough to put out a CD (no small investment at that time); over the next four or five years, I released several cassettes (which were far less expensive to produce, and could be made on demand), and even performed live on four occasions.

Real life, uncertainty about my musical direction, and an early morning burglary ended my brief musical career, but I still have just about all the material I’ve ever recorded. (The exceptions are a handful of pieces lost when a malfunctioning DAT recorder ate one of my tapes. It’s only thanks to the folks at Aiwa, who salvaged it as best they could, that I had the tape long enough to make a copy, thereby salvaging the rest of the material it contained.)

Most of what I released between 1993 and 1998 has been out of print for at least fifteen years now, except for a few pieces that were available for download from the now-defunct social media site Multiply (which morphed into an Asian online shopping portal before shutting down for good in 2013), the Weightlessness 10th Anniversary Edition CD that I produced in 2004 (yes, I still have some copies left), and a couple of pieces that I made videos for and uploaded to YouTube:

Fluorescent lighting

The nature of silence

In 2011, I started to upload some material to Bandcamp, but real life once again got in the way, and my ambitious reissue program stalled after two releases:


Live Anthology 1996–1997

Nearly three years later, I have finally uploaded a new compilation to Bandcamp—one that I’d been thinking about for quite some time.

Short Forms 1989–2004 collects 71 tracks, each less than two minutes long. As I was putting it together, I realized that it would present a pretty good history of my musical and sound art activities, from the more musically accessible early pieces to the later, more experimental pieces (including straight-up noise). Combined with a digital (PDF) booklet containing track listings, recording information, and liner notes, it pretty neatly encompasses several of my favorite pursuits: music, writing, photography, and graphic design.

The collection went live today. It can be found at http://tintymusic.bandcamp.com/album/short-forms-1989-2004. The PDF booklet is available only with purchase of the full album, but the tracks are available for streaming whether or not you decide to buy.

In any event, it feels good to put this stuff out there at last. Perhaps now I can get to making some of that out-of-print material available again.

(2 March 2014)

Not Everybody Loved Whitney Houston

Over the last few days, the death of Whitney Houston has been a frequent topic of discussion.

The Grammy Awards included a tribute; clips from her videos have been shown on numerous TV shows; the usual tabloids and celebrity-oriented magazines have put her on their covers this week; and, perhaps most predictably, sales of her recordings have surged to the point where she has even been back at the top of the charts in some instances.

An oft-made assertion during all this is that everyone loved Whitney Houston.

Sorry, folks. Not everybody. Not me. Continue reading

The Best Prince Album? Discuss…

Prince’s 1990 album, Music from Graffiti Bridge, typically gets mixed reviews. Even otherwise positive reviews will dismiss it as “one of his weaker albums,” “not Prince’s strongest work…”, “uneven”, “a mixed bag”, and so on. (All quoted phrases from reviews on Amazon’s page for the album.)

Continue reading