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New post on the blog!
The enormous light-filled void of Crystal Pixels was created by programmer Alessandro Ghignola as a place to be alone. The sky is filled with hundreds of strange, crystalline planets, orbiting a giant star, waiting for you to discover them.
It was never intended to be publicly released. It’s a messy game, frequently beautiful, often uncontrollable, and deeply personal.
Crystal Pixels (read on The Obscuritory)
If you stand on a pixel and look out into space, you can see all the other pixels orbiting the sun, framed by the weird structures around you. It’s a beautiful sight. It recalls the view of a city skyline at night. The sky is full of energy, but stranded out on this strange boxy planet, totally silent and so far from anything else, it feels lonesome.
That reflects the mindset of Ghignola, who told me he created Crystal Pixels as a place for solitude.
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Mixcloud GO! 1971: Pedantic Details for Nerds Like You and Me
First, some homage due. Back in the mid-‘00s, inspired by the sudden availability of seemingly the entire history of recording for “free,” me and my friends on the music bulletin board I Love Music got busy with our own obsessive historicizings by compiling a bunch of year-themed MP3 collections. We called CDR GO!s, after the great Bow Wow Wow song about taping music off the radio, replacing C30 etc. cassettes with CD-ROMs, own era’s hot, new, and legally murky ways to obtain music. Some CDR GO!s I remember fondly were devoted to 1966, 1968, 1972, and 1988. I myself did one for 1984, which now strikes me as too pedestrian, and much later, the year 1950 (not the decade, damnit), which I’m still quite proud of but OH MY GOD don’t listen to the Spotify version. Too many songs left the service after the playlist was published, so what’s left is now false metal. (I’ll likely recreate it on Mixcloud at some point.)
But really, the idea behind Mixcloud GO! 1971 is primarily Jonathan Bogart’s. He did a 6AM-to-6AM mix for the year he was born, 1977, and listening to it was one of my aesthetic highlights of 2015. The thrilling thing about his mix was that you lived with it: songs were selected and placed based on how they reflected the possible moods and activities of a “typical” day, whatever that is. Starting at 6AM, as prescribed, meant that, for one example, I was listening to music about eating dinner while I was out buying dinner; I was listening to a song about the IRT while I was riding that very same subway. Even as a 24-hour artwork, it respected the contours of everyday life. Something should also be said here about Christian Marclay’s The Clock, which I’ve something like twenty times in three different cities.
Recordings eligible for inclusion in Mixcloud GO! 1971 include:
Any live recording from 1971.
Anything from the Western classical tradition composed in 1971, but recorded and released in 1971 or afterwards.
Anything from the Western classical tradition recorded in 1971, but composed in 1971 or before.
Any jazz recorded in 1971, and released in 1971 or afterwards.
Any other kind of recording made public for the first time in 1971…unless it was sitting around in the vaults for more than a couple of years. The oldest thing here, a folk-raga, was recorded in 1968 but released in 1971. Anything older than that seems contrary to the spirit of the project. “Made public” can mean “released on a record” or “appeared on a movie or TV soundtrack.”
Anything recorded in 1971 but released years later.
Yeah, jazz and classical get treated differently, partly because their academias and fandoms track recording date information way more assiduously than rock and pop do; plus, by 1971, multi-track rock and pop recordings are often things to which one particular recording date can’t be meaningfully attached—look at the tortured history of the Beach Boys’ “Surf’s Up” for an extreme example—so the release date is as good a metric to use as any. I would also argue that classical music and jazz, in 1971, even with guys like Miles Davis and Glen Gould, have a very different attitude towards studio recordings, treating them as quasi-live, as something like commemorations of non-studio events (as well as events in of themselves), like the time that one guy was touring with that particular quartet, or when that soprano and that tenor teamed up with that conductor for a run at the Met, and oh my God, it was heaven.
My definition of “jazz” and “classical” may be both overly expansive and not terribly consistent. Sucks to be me, right?
Release, recording, and composition dates were gleaned from discogs.com, Wikipedia, and album liner notes, except when I found information that seemed more authoritative, like an artist’s own website. If I get things wrong, tell it to your nearest wall.
There’s a lot of music missing from Mixcloud GO! 1971 because there was a lot fucking terrible music released that year. There’s a lot of important and influential music missing because, well, this isn’t a goddamned history lesson. I’m not really sure WHAT it is, but it’s not a history lesson. There’s a lot of music I really love not on it for…well…a variety of reasons: issues of length, thematic appropriateness, variety. Like, I always say Miles Davis is my most favorite rock & roll band of all time (yes, all irony intended) but I didn’t include anything from Jack Johnson because it was recorded in 1970 (see above), and more importantly, the thing is utterly unexcerptable.
And I excerpt A LOT, without shame. Sometimes it just means removing extraneous live-in-the-studio chatter and sometimes it means chopping off twenty minutes to highlight the exciting or just plain useful bit.
I say this mix collection has 330-plus tracks with “no artists repeated” but there are a couple of arguable exceptions and one definite, deliberate exception. To say more would ruin the surprise.
I did research on and off about the music of 1971 from about, oh, sometime after the Pulse shooting to late last year; I began actually putting these mixes together the beginning of this year using Audacity, as well as MP3Gain to figure out sound leveling. I purchased nearly everything I used from iTunes, though some obscurer things come from Soulseek and even YouTube. Exactly one track was ripped from vinyl by myself. If a track came from a blog or YouTube, I’ll provide a link on this Tumblr, and on Mixcloud, if there’s room.
Each mix is accompanied by a picture from a 1971 National Geographic. The one above comes from an AT&T ad.
I thought there’d be more country and reggae and soukous on this thing but…
I am never, ever, ever doing this again.
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