Archive for February 16th, 2012

February 16, 2012

The Belleville Three

belleville three by ed grace

The three individuals most closely associated with the birth of Detroit techno as a genre are Juan Atkins, Kevin Saunderson and Derrick May, also known as ‘The Belleville Three.’ High school friends from Belleville, Michigan, the trio created electronic music tracks in their basement(s). Eventually, they were in demand at local dance clubs, thanks in part to seminal Detroit radio personality ‘The Electrifying Mojo.’

Ironically, Derrick May once described Detroit techno music as being a ‘complete mistake…like George Clinton and Kraftwerk caught in an elevator, with only a sequencer to keep them company.’ The location of Belleville was key to the formation of the three as musicians. Because the town was still ‘pretty racial at the time,’ according to Saunderson, ‘we three kind of gelled right away.’

February 16, 2012

Emil Schult

computer world

Emil Schult (b. 1946) is a German painter, poet and musician. He is most famous for his collaborations with the electronic music band Kraftwerk. He has created most of their sleeve designs since 1973. He also co-wrote the lyrics of some famous Kraftwerk songs.

For a short while around 1973, Schult also played guitar in the group; this was to be short-lived, since Schult by his own admission is not quite good enough to be a professional musician, and since the group had started to develop its synth-based sound it no longer had any use for a guitarist.

February 16, 2012



Kraftwerk (German: ‘power plant’ or ‘power station’) is an influential electronic music band from Germany. The group was formed by Ralf Hütter and Florian Schneider in 1970, and was fronted by them until Schneider’s departure in 2008. The signature Kraftwerk sound combines driving, repetitive rhythms with catchy melodies, mainly following a Western Classical style of harmony, with a minimalistic and strictly electronic instrumentation.

The group’s simplified lyrics are at times sung through a vocoder or generated by computer-speech software. Kraftwerk were one of the first groups to popularize electronic music and are considered pioneers in the field. In the 1970s and early 1980s, Kraftwerk’s distinctive sound was revolutionary, and has had a lasting effect across many genres of modern music.

February 16, 2012

Trans-Europe Express


Trans-Europe Express‘ is the title track of Kraftwerk’s 1977 album of the same name, and released as a single at the time. The music was written by Ralf Hütter, and the lyrics by Hütter and Florian Schneider. The track is ostensibly about the Trans Europ Express rail system, with technology and transport both being common themes in Kraftwerk’s ouvre. The track has since found further influence, both in hip-hop by its interpolation by Afrika Bambaata (via Arthur Baker) on the seminal ‘Planet Rock’ and by modern experimental bands such as the electroclash bands of the early 2000s.

The musical elements of the suite have been described as having a haunting theme with ‘deadpan chanting of the title phrase’ which is ‘slowly layered over that rhythmic base in much the same way that the earlier ‘Autobahn’ was constructed.’ The song’s lyrics reference the album Station to Station and meeting with musicians Iggy Pop and David Bowie. Hütter and Schneider had previously met up with Bowie in Germany and were flattered with the attention they received from him. Ralf Hütter was interested in Bowie’s work as he had been working with Iggy Pop, who was the former lead singer of the Stooges; one of Hütter’s favorite groups.

February 16, 2012

8-Bit Operators



8-Bit Operators: The Music of Kraftwerk was released in 2007 by the group 8-Bit Operators on Kraftwerk’s US homelabel Astralwerks and EMI Records worldwide. It features cover versions of Kraftwerk songs by several prominent chiptune artists. Inspiration for the project as quoted by Jeremy Kolosine (credited as Executive Producer of the release, and noted founder of the early 80’s electronic group Futurisk and chipmusic band Receptors.) ‘Well the first thing that comes to my mind when I saw a gameboy show was Kraftwerk’s Computer World Tour from 1981, where four of them played various handheld devices during the song ‘Pocket Calculator.’ Plus it came up in a print from a Glomag quote, and an 8 Bit Weapon April Fool’s joke that backfired.’

This Kraftwerk covers compilation was somewhat unique in the fact that Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hütter selected the final track line-up, ‘So Jeremy was a little nervous when meeting Kraftwerk’s Ralf Hütter after a concert by the group in New York last year. He passed along to him a sample of the compilation. Later Hutter said he enjoyed it and even offered some editing suggestions.’ In a subsequent interview, when asked about the 8-Bit Operators release, Ralf Hütter responded, ‘It is mind stimulating, the minimum/maximum coming from sound levels and thoughts and ideas. Like ‘Autobahn’ and ‘Trans-Europe Express’ are very basic and elementary ideas, but they offer a pattern or concept for improvisation.’

February 16, 2012

Blip Festival


The Blip Festival is a festival that celebrates chiptune music with musical performances, workshops, and screenings of movies. It has been held annually since 2006 in New York City. In recent years, there have been international versions of Blip Festival held in Europe (Blip Festival Europe) and Asia (Blip Festival Tokyo).

The festival is curated and organized by 8bitpeoples, one of the foremost labels in the chiptune scene, as well as local arts organization The Tank. The New York festival (referred to simply as Blip Festival) has switched venues several times, beginning in 2006 at 15 Nassau Street in Manhattan, then moving to Eyebeam Art and Technology Center in 2007, and then being held in Brooklyn at the Bell House in 2008 and 2009.

February 16, 2012




8bitpeoples is a DIY record label/arts collective centered in New York City that focuses around the 8-bit aesthetic, which is heavily influenced by vintage videogames. 8bitpeoples was founded in 1999 by Jeremiah ‘Nullsleep’ Johnson and Mike ‘Tangible’ Hanlon. It is currently run by Johnson and labelmate Joshua ‘Bit Shifter’ Davis. Many artists who have appeared on 8bitpeoples have also appeared on compilations on other labels, most notably Astralwerks’ ‘8 Bit Operators’ compilation, a collection of Kraftwerk songs as done in the 8-bit style. 8bitpeoples is also involved in the organization of the Blip Festival, which features 8-bit musicians, often including those on the 8bitpeoples roster.

They provide the vast majority of their releases for free via their website, including printable covers and inserts so that anyone can manufacture a hard copy of their releases.

February 16, 2012


cat by melody newcomb

Self-domestication refers to the process of adaptation of wild animals to humans, without direct human selective breeding of the animals. The term is also used to refer to biological processes in the evolution of humans and human culture. Wild animals may self-domesticate when tame behavior enhances their survival near humans.

Tolerating or even enjoying the close approach of humans in order to feed near them, and a lessening of natural adult aggression, are two aspects of tameness. An environment that supports the survival of tame animals can lead to other changes in behavior and appearance as well. Smaller skulls on tame animals have been noticed in other species.

February 16, 2012



In Buddhism, rigpa  is the knowledge that ensues from recognizing one’s nature. The opposite of rigpa is marigpa (ignorance). In the ‘The Tibetan Book of the Dead,’ the same term refers to the fundamental innate mind in its natural state of spontaneity and purity. It is translated as ‘intrinsic awareness,’ and is described as giving a meditator access to pristine cognition or the buddha-mind itself, and it stands in direct contrast to fundamental ignorance, which is the primary cause of rebirth in cyclic existence (reincarnation). The direct introduction to intrinsic awareness is a distinctive teaching within the Nyingma school. This practice is a central component of the Esoteric Instruction Class of Atiyoga, where it is known as Cutting Through Resistance (Khregs-chod).

‘A Dzogchen Master STARTS with ‘direct introduction’ with everyone. If they don’t ‘get it’ then one starts to use all the infinite methods and means to help bring about the experience of Rigpa. When one has the experience of Rigpa, then one confirms the validity of one’s path now being ‘remaining with Rigpa’ as path.’

February 16, 2012

Feiler Faster Thesis

Camel News


The Feiler Faster Thesis (FFT) is a theory in modern journalism that the increasing pace of society is matched by (and perhaps driven by) journalists’ ability to report events and the public’s desire for more information. The idea is credited to American author Bruce Feiler and first defined by journalist Mickey Kaus in a 2000 ‘Slate’ article, ‘Faster Politics: ‘Momentum’ ain’t what it used to be.” Kaus describes two trends: the speeding up of the news cycle and the compression of the schedule of primaries for the 2000 U.S. general election, writing: ‘Feiler’s point is that we should put these two trends together–and that when we do, Trend 1 considerably softens the impact of Trend 2.’ Kaus uses the observation to reassess the concept of momentum in politics, suggesting that there are now simply more opportunities for turns of fortune and that voters are able, for the most part, to keep up.

The idea is based on James Gleick’s 1999 book ‘Faster,’ which makes the argument that the pace of Western society, and American society in particular, has increased and that ‘a compression of time characterizes the life of the century now closing.’ Gleick documents the ways technology speeds up work and the time people spend doing various tasks, including sleeping. He points out that ‘we have learned to keep efficiency in mind as a goal, which means that we drive ourselves hard.’ Gleick’s key observation is that ‘some of us say we want to save time when really we just want to do more.’

February 16, 2012

Bruce Feiler

the council of dads

Bruce Feiler (b. 1964) is a popular American writer on faith, family, and finding meaning in everyday life. He is also the writer/presenter of the PBS miniseries ‘Walking the Bible.’ His latest book, ‘The Council of Dads: My Daughters, My Illness, and the Men Who Could Be Me,’ describes how he responded to a diagnosis of cancer by asking six men from all passages of his life to be present through the passages of his young daughters’ lives. ‘Walking the Bible’ describes his perilous, 10,000-mile journey retracing the Five Books of Moses through the desert. ‘Where God Was Born’ describes his year-long trek retracing the Bible through Israel, Iraq, and Iran. ‘America’s Prophet: Moses and the American Story’ discusses the significance of Moses as a symbolic prophet throughout four-hundred years of American history.

Feiler completed his undergraduate degree at Yale University, before spending time teaching English in Japan. This experience led to his first book, ‘Learning to Bow: Inside the Heart of Japan,’ a popular portrait of life in a small Japanese town. Upon his return he earned a masters degree in international relations from the University of Cambridge in the UK, which he chronicled in his book ‘Looking for Class.’ His early books involve immersing himself in different cultures and bringing other worlds to life. He also entered the world of a traveling circus for ‘Under the Big Top,’ which depicts the year he spent performing as a clown in the Clyde Beatty-Cole Bros. Circus. Feiler is also credited with formulating the Feiler Faster Thesis which states that the increasing pace of society is matched by (and perhaps driven by) journalists’ ability to report events and the public’s desire for more information.