Accidental Surrealism in Japanese Supermarket

Supermarkets are fascinating to visit in Japan!

Presume the second jar is chillis, any idea what the first one is?

Huge daikon! I have some planted in my garden at home, can’t imagine they will reach this size!!


click image to see larger version/slideshow…





shot with Fuji TX2/XPAN2 in Kansai, Japan 2016

JAPAN sticker data dump

146 images in this little gallery…

history of Japan

wish Bill Wurtz had been my teacher at school!

Forms of Japan


This truly gorgeous new book arrived today: Forms of Japan by Michael Kenna – I preordered it when it was announced, I’ve been lucky enough to buy a couple of his earlier books when they were released & then seen the secondhand price escalate rapidly… I dont buy them as a financial investment, but it is frustrating to discover a book you would like to own is suddenly US$400!! He is a profound inspiration to me, so this is more of a creative investment….


Kenna shoots mostly at night & using a medium format Hasselblad 500, and I remember reading a funny story about him setting up what turned out to be a very long exposure shot on the roof of a hotel he was staying at. He went back downstairs & when he returned he found access to the roof was locked, and spent the rest of the night attempting to get to his camera before the sun rose & blew out his exposure!
Quite amazing to see a photo such as this one: Eleven hours, TeKaha, Eastlands, New Zealand



Field recording Japanese Summer Insects at Lake Unagi

While in Kyushu we went exploring in our rental car into Lake Unagi, which google earth reveals to appear as a crater lake…



We stopped along the side of the lake & I went for a fly & shot a few photos…


Once I flew high enough & could look out to the coast the crazy rock formations could be seen in silhouette


We drove around to the end of the road, passing a few geothermal vents with steam plumes but it was when I stopped the car & got out that the sound overwhelmed me!!!


If you look to the bottom right of centre you can see my little Sony D100 sitting on the ground and OMG the insects were so loud! I’d recorded some insects up Mt Rokko and Mt Maya and the gain was set for those but the density & volume of these insects were such that it was peaking like a rock band!!!

The alien world is revealed even more when slowed down…

And some of the recordings I made on Kobes Mt Rokko and Mt Maya:

First a ratchet sounding insect, at real speed, then half then quarter speed

Second, a cicada/semi that to me sounds like a laughing chainsaw – real speed, then half & quarter speed

Lastly an insect with a pulsing call, the rhythm is revealed at quarter speed…

Japanese Motion Graphics 2014

My excess baggage arrived today, one week from Japan via post isn’t too bad (& definitely better than the Y197,000 Cathay Pacific tried to charge me for one extra 20kg bag!?!!) So I now have all the books I bought while travelling and have just been digging through the Japanese Motion Graphics 2014 book & DVD… So I’ll post a few highlights as I discover them… More info/buy the book here.

While checking out other work by these artists I also found this useful site: Japanese Film Database “offers information on Japanese films released in period from year 2002 to 2013 together with contact details on Japanese film industries, bilingually in Japanese and English”




Abe Shinosite





2014 GREETINGS from flapper3 on Vimeo.


Kai Fujimotosite


Takuya Hosoganesite

Takuya Hosogane MotionReel 2011 from Takuya Hosogane on Vimeo.


Takuya Inabasite





[BRDG015] EVE from BRDG on Vimeo.


Hiroshi Kondosite

Eye know from Hiroshi Kondo / STNW on Vimeo.


Teppei Kosekisite


Takuma Miyamotosite

Nyolfen – Dancing in Blue from gupon on Vimeo.


Random Field recording in Japan

A few sounds from my travels – I’ll leave posting the industrial sounds until I have that library ready to release next year, but these are some random sounds I captured during my time in Japan.

1. Jack Hammers at Umeda
This sound I heard in the distance & as it was intermittent I wasn’t sure what was creating it… It sounded heavy & powerful & was echoing around the streets in a way that made me think of Godzilla snoring or something… As I got closer it became apparent, workmen were replacing concrete steps & were using jack hammers to break apart the old steps…


2. Kids in the park
Across the street from my girlfriends apartment is a park which the local kids play in – I recorded a few ambiences, but one day whatever game the kids were playing involved lots of screaming. At first I wondered what the hell was going on, but when I played back the recordings at half speed it made me think of some alien jungle…


3. Distant Sirens
Another day I was recording some ambiences from home and suddenly lots of sirens started going off. When walking to the local train station via a different route than usual I discovered there was a fire station a dozen blocks away, but what intrigued me about these fire engine sirens was the extra tone: after each rise & fall of the siren there was an answering tone, that was almost musical in nature…


4. Electioneering
With upcoming elections in Japan it was quite common to hear cars drive by, with loud hailers blaring out electioneering… One day I came out of Yodobashi in Umeda & along the block was a big political rally from which the speech was echoing around amongst the buildings… And not being able to understand what was being said made it seem slightly sinister, when I am sure it wasn’t!


5. Train passes
I love the sounds of trains in Japan – there are so many different kinds of trains, and of course depending on tracks the same train can also emit very different sounds (eg there is a section on the MidoSuji subway track that gets really loud in the mid frequencies at a certain point between two stations) One day on the way home I stopped by a train crossing and recorded a few local train passes, waiting for the occaisional express train between Umeda, Osaka and Kobe. The first one that went by overloaded my levels so I had to stay & wait for the next one quarter of an hour later…




All recordings made with a Sony PCM D100


Why do an Artists Residency, Japanese translation

Arigatou to Hidemi for completing this Japanese translation – English version is here




レジデンシーが提供するもう1つのカギとなる要素は時間です。たいていその時間は固定された期間です。その時間は普段しなければならないことから離れたものであり、またあなたの“普段の”生活からも離れたものです。時間はあなたのアイディアに集中するものであり、それらを探求するものであり、調査し発展させ新しい作品をつくり、最終的には発表や展示するためのものです。私の場合、かなりたくさんの調査の後、2013年の9月から10月まで小豆島での2か月間を過ごし最初のアートレジデンシーとしての仕事を完了しました。小豆島は日本の瀬戸内海にある1つの島で、特定非営利活動法人アート・ビオトープとともにアートレジデンシーの活動をしています。2つ目に私は2013年の11月から12月の2か月をLittle Huiaにて過ごし、オークランド地方の公園のアートレジデンシーの活動を完了しました。Little Huiaとはオークランド近くのワイタケレ山脈公園の中にあります。

Little Huia








一旦あなたの申請書が送られてしまうと、次に来るのは待つこと…そして待つことです。たいてい申請書の締め切りまで数か月の期間が設けられていて、何の連絡もありません。t。この待つ期間、レジデンシーは横に置いておいて自分の生活を続ける十分な時間になるでしょう。私が2つのレジデンシーに応募したのはとにかくそれが私にとっての望みだったからです。というのも万が一1つのレジデンシーの参加資格がもらえなくても、もう1つのレジデンシーに望みを持てるからです。そして 2つの全く違ったレジデンシーから参加許可をもらえるよう申請書を提出しました。2つのレジデンシーには申請の過程の中で類似点もありましたが、どちらも要求していた主要なものというのが具体的でユニークな、また発展したアイディアでした。どちらのレジデンシーでも参加資格をもらえた時、私が極限まで到達できるよう私はたくさん考え、リサーチを行いました。




Little Huia



Little Huia

日本に到着するといつもがやがやしています。しかし初めて小豆島行のフェリーに乗ったとき(過去に2回小豆島に行ったことはあったのですが、レジデンシーの1人として到着することは以前と違った気持ちでした)私は子供の様に大興奮していました。さらにこの1週間以内に期間限定の生活を築きあげるということは面白いことだなと感じていました。地元のみなさん手助けとサポートありがとうございました。Little Huiaでも同じことを感じていました。生活を築くというのはなんて驚くほど速いものなのでしょう。
そして今から述べることが両方のレジデンシーに共通していたレジデンシーの特性です:あなたはレジデンシーに着くとすぐに地元の人々のサポーティブネットワークを受けることができます。その地元の人々はもちろんあなたに手助けをするために存在するのですが、また彼らはあなたに成功してもらいたいと思っています。難しい状況に陥った時ほどポジティブに、心を開いて協同的に行動することは生活において非常に貴重なことなのです。 例えばたくさんの新しい人々に出会い、様々な状況下で新しい関係を形作ることなどです。これらはクリエイティブな考えに良い影響を及ぼし、本質的に言えば人間の魂にとって素晴らしいことなのです。
次に私が味わった新事実はコンセプトから現実への変化です。Little Huiaでのレジデンシーに参加している際にそれがはっきりと明確になった特定の場所を覚えています。それはちょうどここでした。

Little Huia


Little Huia


Little Huia

始めにプロセスについてです。プロセスを練る際に今まで経験のないことをどのように行っていくのかということを学びました。何を進んで行うのか、何を行わないのかはっきりさせることです。私はかつて完璧主義者だと責められていましたが、私は違います。私は実践主義者です。しかし私が‘これで十分’と受け入れる度合いは他の誰のものでもなく、私の考えが基準になっています。 新しい教訓ではありませんが:‘忍耐’はとても大切です。 例えば小豆島を撮影した20秒間のフィルムは低速度撮影ではなく通常の撮影にもかかわらず6時間もかかっています。もし人々がこのショットを見て、フィルムに映っている演技者のことを聞いたとしても、演じている人は誰1人として存在しません。すべてがリアルであり、だからこそ時間がかかったのです。



次に、そして最後にこの2つのレジデンシーから私が学んだ最も重要なことは最も重大な発見でした: アーティストとして成長し、芸術家としての全作品を明確にしています。私が発展させてきた私自身の作品は、当たりを這いつくばって発見し、壁にぶつかって、目的と方向性を持って歩いています。レジデンシーの経験がなければ私はそれを持っていなかったでしょう。そしてその孤独がこれから訪れる深い何年もの時を与えてくれるのでしょう。

Little Huia


Little Huia

そして重要なアドバイスをします:ほとんどのレジデンシーでの募集は年に1度しかありません。ですからもしあなたが興味を持ったのなら申請書の締め切りをしっかりと確認しましょう。なぜわたしがこれを言及するかと言いますとオークランド地方の公園でのレジデンシーの締め切りが 2月17日と迫っているからです。ちょうど1か月ほどしか時間がありません。-より細かい情報はこちら link


Thank you! Arigatou gozimasu!

JAPAN – Design 1

I can only presume its the combination of a large population and a highly evolved aesthetic but if you have an appreciation for graphic design wherever you are in Japan you tend to be constantly surrounded by great examples of interesting & inspired/inspiring work. Not actually understanding what some signs mean is also a factor – you are forced to ponder its meaning and design on a different level than purely extracting information…. So wherever I went in Japan I always had my little Canon s100 point & shoot camera at hand, to document such things for my own reference if nothing else, but I’ll share a few that made me smile…


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Japan random signage


Acoustic Epiphanies in Japan

Before I left New Zealand I had a vague plan to try and update my blog after each major excursion within Japan, but that only lasted the first week or so…. Every day has been so full of amazing experiences that I just haven’t had the time to stop & write about them, and five weeks later the backup folder on the desktop of my laptop just passed 205GB, and thats only photos and video – all my field recordings are backed up to external drives….

So instead of trying to be too chronological I figured instead I’d connect a little theme that has been spread across three excursions, acoustic epiphanies and while I have recorded some of them I’m not going to post those sounds because I think the description (and your imagination) is going to be of more benefit – these are places that really have to be experienced first hand. So consider this a short itinerary, a trilogy of locations for any traveller in Japan fascinated by beautiful and complex acoustic experiences.


1. GCans
Having booked for the tour a week in advance (essential due to its popularity!) last Thursday, we caught the train out to Saitama (approximately an hour from Tokyo) to go on the GCans tour. Based on some photos I had seen many years ago I’ve wanted to do this tour for a very, very long time – 10+ years, so that I could also take photos but more to hear the space.
While the tour is free there is a safety requirement that you either understand and can speak Japanese, or come with someone who does. So I am indebted to Hide Aoki for being an excellent companion & for also very ably wrangling my recording gear, while I ran around like a kid in a candy store!

So we arrived out at the GCans site a little early & were issued our ID cards, and once all the other people arrived were given a detailed explanation of the purpose of GCans…


Basically, due to the Tokyo metropolis being sited in basin shaped region with very large rivers on each side of it, flooding had been a major problem in the past – especially when a Typhoon hits. So the GCans Project is a solution to that problem – it is a very large scale excess water management system!!



From the display room we could see through a window into the control room, and the images on the monitors combined with the video we were shown meant I was itching to actually start the tour… But all in good time, as next we were shown a very impressive multi screen presentation… and then taken up to the roof for more explanantions…




And to see a very impressive solar generator… impatience levels rising…



Until finally we all donned hard hats & walked 500m down the road to this innocuous looking building….


My heart sank when I saw this sign – NO PHOTOS? You have got to be kidding!?! I abided by their request by not taking photos, but I left the camera hanging round my neck rolling, shooting video as we entered… But I soon came to realise that it was because the stairs were steep and slippery that stopping to take photos in that area was banned…



So slowly we descended until we walked out into one of the largest interior spaces I have ever been!!!




The tour guide proceeded to give us another lecture, and as it was in Japanese & I couldn’t understand it I zoned out and listened as her voice became this gorgeous drone as the reverb built up… hearing her talking, it felt like a 20 second reverb but it was only when she finished and we were given some ‘free time’ to walk around that I could do some hand claps and really listen to what was happening in the space…


Hide was carrying my bag with my Sound Devices 744 and pair of Sennhesier 8040 mics, so we seperated a bit so I could take photos/shoot video & do handclaps from as far away as possible while he recorded…


Being in such an amazing space was really mind and mood altering – I felt really ecstatic & this complete sense of wonder took over… With 20 people in the space there was essentially a reverbant drone forming, but each hand clap would trigger widely spaced delays… It was a bit like being inside the highest resolution reverb device ever!

And it changed peoples behaviour in funny ways, for example this guy became obsessed with trying to levitate!?! But I’m not one to judge as I imagine I had a slightly crazed look on my face the entire time we were down there too!


Suberashi!! If you are visiting or live in Tokyo I strongly encourage you to take time to experience it for yourself!


2. Taya Cavern
The following day we took another trip underground, but this was at the other end of the scale spectrum, revisiting a location I had been to before but this time I wanted to record in high resolution. Taya Cavern is a 40 minute train ride from Tokyo to Ofuna Station and then a half hour walk…


Many hundreds of years ago Buddhist monks carved a series of tunnels into this mountain, the main purpose being the creation of a series of meditation rooms…


As you enter the tunnels, slowly the temperature drops and exterior sound falls away until you are left in a very quiet state…. but you only have to make any kind of vocal sound in the tunnels to realise that each meditiation room is also a resonating chamber!


The monks created vents for air and a drainage system for water but it was only when we were about as far in as you could go that we arrived at the location I wanted to record – a short dead end which had a very sparse but deeply resonant water drip.. I set up the mics and we retreated back down the tunnels, to minimise recording our own breath and movement and I stood with my eyes shut, listening and counting the drips…


Once I had counted 100 beautifully resonant drips I returned & retrieved the recorder, and we carried on…. eventually arriving at a chamber with a fast running little stream (recorded close and wide)


And then slowly we made our way back out to the bright light & dense sound of the exterior world… again somewhat altered in mood by the experience…


Taya Cavern is a highly reccomended side trip from Tokyo, fairly easy to access and can easily be added to a trip to Kamakura, but a great contrast from the intensity of Tokyo!
Directions here


3. Teshima
Lastly is a fantastic location on the island of Teshima, in the Seto Inland Sea. Teshima is a smaller neighbour island to Naoshima which I have visited many times before, but this was my first visit to Teshima and I was drawn here by the photos of a large scale artform, I guess it could be called a building or gallery, but it functions more as an installation…

Being an island obviously requires a ferry trip, which on a sunny day is such a great way to travel..


We loaded the coordinates into the car navi and cruised along the quiet country roads until we arrived at Teshima Art Museum


What an intriguing looking building – like a ufo has landed or a large blob of white has been dropped on the landscape… but it was hard to tell its scale or purpose from a distance…


Expectation grew as we followed the path through a small forest…


At the entrance we were given a short lecture: no photos inside, please take off your shoes..


And then… the step inside and…. OMFG!!! The perceptual shift walking through that entrance was almost overwhelming! The building was large, very large – maybe 20 metres from one end to the other, and the ceiling was maybe 3 metres high at the centre, but the ceiling sloped down to meet the floor at the sides…. All of the interior surfaces were super smooth, almost like porcelain… And with those 2 giant ovals cut out of the ceiling, the light inside was just exquisite… But that wasn’t the most outstanding thing….


The acoustics inside there were the strangest I have ever experienced!!! The way the ceiling sloped differently in every direction meant at no point was it parallel with the floor, but with such smooth surfaces everything was highly reflective. All of this meant the large space was full of the most complex delays I have ever heard. Even the smallest sound, a shuffle, a sniff, a whispered word, all would trigger this randomised series of delays that travelled off in all directions until they decayed into rapid flutter echoes…

Of course the exterior ambiences leaking in through the large oval openings were also being altered, and when we visited there were maybe a dozen people in the space all being very quiet, but all contributing to this soundscape that was as amorphous as the architecture.
What a work of absolute genius!! Believe me when I say this, my hyperbole is a fraction of how you feel in the space… We stayed inside for an hour or so, slowly moving around in the space…

Another aspect to the space, and apparently a source of inspiration for the design I can not show you as you can only see it inside, but the photos here or here beautifully illustrate it! The project is the work of Tokyo-based architect Ryue Nishizawa and Japanese artist Rei Naito… and that inspiration takes the form of drips of water… Scattered across the surface of the floor of the space are tiny faucets, randomnly leaking drips of water. Because the surface of the floor is so smooth, and very very gently sloped towards tiny drains, these drips of water appear to randomnly move across the surface, almost like beams of light…

I’ve raved about Naoshima before, and I dearly love the idea of locations being developed as art locations, so if you need the perfect excurision in Japan that combined nature and profoundly inspiring artworks, then you should make time to visit Naoshima and Teshima! And next time I am in the area I will visit Inujima


Some more detailed information about Teshima Museum here


Went for another trip up a cable car in Kobe, this time to a beautiful herb garden & walkway back down the hill…





This made me laugh, especially having spent the last 4 months working on EMPEROR with Tommy Lee Jones! Boss make the best ice coffee in a can!






Hydroponics in the subway? Why not!? I stopped & shot a nice timelapse of people streaming past… will post when I work out what soundtrack it suits…


Ditto for the fishes….


Set out for the Umeda Sky Tower one afternoon & walked past a building I recognised…


The reason it looks like the freeway passes through this building…


.. is because it does!


The view from on top of Umeda Sky Tower is breath taking – the sprawl goes as far as the eye can see…


Open air view from the 40th floor!


I shoot a timelapse as the light drained from the sky… and city slowly lit up!








JAPAN Field Recording – Mt Maya Insects

Mt Maya Insects


Mt Maya Insects


It was a beautiful sunny day when we went on the rope way up Mt Maya in Kobe – 30+ degrees and the insects were singing their little hearts out! Love how alien they sound when slowed down (and that distant crow!) First at quarter speed:


JAPAN MtMaya Insects QuarterSpeed by timprebble


JAPAN MtMaya Insects HalfSpeed by timprebble


JAPAN MtMaya Insects RealSpeed by timprebble


Recorded with Sennhesier MKH8040s and Sound Devices 744 recorder

Mt Maya Insects



First week in Japan has been subarashi! The previous Window Seat post belies the relentless discomfort of travelling in cattle class (burn the rich! & steal their business class seats!) but the first beer & dinner erased all the pseudo suffering… Anyway first some visual evidence of my first week, then a bit of the Nara International Film Festival and then… some seriously GREAT news!!!

Day 1 = a recce up Mt Maya in Kobe
i love Japan!


Recorded some beautiful Japansese cicadas/semi & I’ll forever refer to this particular recording as the Japanese Steve Reich Cicada recording as the stereo spatialisation & phasing of their calls was absolutely hypnotic… will post some recordings later in the week
i love Japan!


Came across this odd character hanging out on his little orange tarp…. instantly named him ‘drunk gajin’
i love Japan!


Seems we weren’t the only ones to notice his profoundly inanimate behaviour..
i love Japan!


i love Japan!


Discovered Japanese teapots make ok iPod resonators…
i love Japan!


This fish looks a little sad, but wait until you see the video of its final tasty moments…
i love Japan!


Koto store in Nara…. sorely tempted!
i love Japan!


NARA International Film Festival – NIFF
i love Japan!


We got to walk down the red carpet in support of Tusi and THE ORATOR/O LE TULFALE which was screening in competition…
i love Japan!


And what a fantastic opening ceremony!!!
i love Japan!


On the right Naomi Kawase the motivating force behind the festival & Palme D’Or winning director for whom Nara is both her home & inspiration..
i love Japan!


The bicycle powered cinema was pure genius! One night the chosen film was E.T. and while it is decades since I last saw it I remembered the ‘bicycle across the moon shot’ but had totally forgotten the whole bicycle chase at the end of the movie.. So, along with most of the audience I laughed & cheered on the people riding the bikes, who were VERy enthusiastically generating power for the projector!
i love Japan!


And the great news? Tusi & THE ORATOR won the Golden Shika, the penultimate award for NIFF!! And along with the award is also the opportunity to shoot a feature film in Nara!!! Sugoi!!
i love Japan!
Sincere congrats to Tusi and everyone involved in making the film!!!


And a few random Nara photos

i love Japan!


i love Japan!


i love Japan!


i love Japan!


Its considered good luck to squeeze through the base of this pillar!
i love Japan!


1am = closing time after a great night out!
i love Japan!


Arigatou Nara for a great weekend I shall never forget!

100 Soundscapes of Japan

“In 1996, as part of its efforts to combat noise pollution and to protect and promote the environment, the Ministry of the Environment designated the 100 Soundscapes of Japan (日本の音風景100選?) There were 738 submissions received from all over the country and the 100 “best” were selected after examination by the Japan Soundscape Study Group….”

See the full list here

What a beautiful idea! Wouldn’t it be great if every country did this?

And some of the sounds listed are so intriguing eg “Isobue whistling of female divers in Ise-Shima area (伊勢志摩の海女の磯笛?)” Of course I did a quick search, and from an interview with the author of a book on these women of the sea:

“The whistle is a distinct method of breathing for ama, and also acts as a way to rest and prepare for the next dive. The whistle also helps to maximize the number of dives, which could be as many as 50 in an hour. The whistle sometimes sounds like ‘painful gasps’…

And from a PDF of a very interesting article by Kumi Kato: WAITING FOR THE TIDE, TUNING IN THE WORLD

“The whistle sound, and the word itself (isobue), are said to be specific to the Shima region, whereas other regions refer to it as a belly breath (haraiki) and a fast breath (hayaiki). Women said they “feel better with the whistle and this breathing pattern becomes habitual even on land eg working in the fields or running up stairs”. In group diving situations, the whistle is also a way of subconsciously identifying and locating each other, providing safety as well as respect for work territories.”

Another intriguing sound listed: “The sand at Kotobikihama Beach (literally “Harp-Playing Beach”) called “Nakisuna”, makes a musical or singing sand when you walk on it”

And some sounds carry the gravity of history: The wind in the camphor tree at Sanno Jinja, Nagasaki that survived the atomic blast… “One of the two pillars of the Sanno Shrine Torii was toppled by the A-bomb blast. The blast also blew away the branches and leaves of the two camphor trees in the precincts of the Shrine, which were then more than 500 years old.”

Japan Field Trip – Random Pix

random japan photos

I wandered past this very interesting building when recording back streets in Osaka, and the sign below just intrigued me more! Turns out to be HQ for kinetic sculptor Susumu Shingu – check out his beautiful works here

random japan photos

random japan photos

The interviewers microphone cover made me laugh!

random japan photos

Angry firemen are angry!

random japan photos

At last! A video game I might actually want to play!

random japan photos

random japan photos

random japan photos

random japan photos

random japan photos

random japan photos

random japan photos

random japan photos

random japan photos

random japan photos

Best new bit of Japan travel advice from me is that if you don’t want to worry about your data use while in Japan, rent the gadget on the left – shown for scale beside my non-iPhone – its a portable wifi modem & router from Japan Mobile Rental who have an office at Narita and Kansai airports so you can book it, prepay via paypal for the number of days you need it, and then return it easily. Unlimited data, battery is good for about 4 hours of continuous use and you can network up to 5 devices to it! With this I used google maps on my iPad, got email on my iPad, cellphone & laptop etc all without any roaming charges at all! A great service, especially knowing you otherwise have to be a resident in Japan to buy a local sim card.

Japan Field Trip – Okayama Haikyo

Its odd how cyclical life can be – when researching locations for my record trip I latched on to the idea of recording some Haikyo sites (Haikyo = “ruins” in Japanese and is now associated with urbex/abandoned buildings) in the hope of capturing elements to help recreate the desolation of Tokyo at the end of WWII. Until working on this film I was pretty much ignorant of just how much destruction occurred in the firebombing of Tokyo in WWII (more people died in the Tokyo firebombing than in either of the atomic bomb blasts) and reading eye witness accounts as part of my research made me deeply sad and also appreciate anew the unfathomable human cost of war…

Tokyo 1945

cc photo via wikipedia

I checked out a lot of the Japanese Haikyo sites and made contact with Florian at Abandoned Kansai asking him: “what is the sound of haikyo?” He kindly wrote me an incredibly inspiring reply and then shared a google map with me of some of his favourite sounding haikyo locations… and one immediately seemed familar: La Rainbow Hotel & Tower

Back in 2005, myself and a couple of friends had a lost weekend very near that very location! It was one of my arbitrarily auspicious birthdays and on the way to my favourite place in Japan Naoshima we went & stayed in an old beach front resort hotel in Okayama for a couple of nights. I loved it: when we walked in the front door the staff were wearing hawaiian shirts, and best of all, being mid week, the place was almost deserted – so we had this epic old hotel (that felt like it was straight out of a David Lynch film) all to ourselves!


The ceilings in the hallways were really low, which made it feel more than a little surreal…


Quite close to the hotel was a huge theme park


And there it is! That huge vertical tower in the middle of the photo below is the Haikyo La Rainbow Hotel! Apparently the hotel and tower was closed back in 1997, so even when we visited the theme park in 2005 it had already been abandoned for 7 years….


So eight years later following Florians advice I find myself back at the same location for an entirely different reason!


Holy phallic symbol!


After I’d done some recording I did a quick bit of exploring – quick because the car was parked right out front & I wasn’t too sure how much time we’d have before someone came along & asked what exactly we were doing there! At the base of that tower was this huge cylindrical structure that totally puzzled me as to its purpose, but when I met up with Florian back in Osaka he explained that it used to travel up & down the length of that huge tower, and that when exploring the site someone had found a box of old postcards with some night time long exposure photos showing the cylinder lit up! Florian also explains: “It was attached to a tower 150 meters high (the highest observation platform of its kind in the world when it was built – not only in Japan!) and it was moveable not only vertically, but the platform was also able to spin around the tower. 23 meters in diameter the viewing cabin offered space for 150 guests at a time”


While some people might consider wrecked old buildings an eyesore, to actually visit one is quite an experience. The sense of nostalgia and the feeling of the vast number of lost memories, of lives lived in such places, is overwhelming – they have an emotional ambience that is palpable & hard to fully appreciate until you’ve been there… And as nature slowly takes back its land, we start to get a glimpse of what earth will begin to look like, after humans have become extinct…



I didn’t venture far upstairs but much of the interior was covered in graffiti


And outside there were some completely random debris – whos bag was that? What was on those cassettes? The ultimate found sound source material?


Despite the barbed wire, the front ‘gate’ was wide open & with ignorance being my primary excuse I just drove in, quickly set up & recorded, packed up & made ready for exit…


Here is some of the ambiences I recorded here – unfortunately that same theme park was operating, so there are only moments of useable material. Amongst the birds you might notice the familiar twang of guy wires – the wind seems to rattle the vertical cables still tensioned to the tower… If we had more time I would have returned late at night or at dawn…. but we had other places to visit…. But its kind of interesting, looking at an old abandoned hotel while hearing a operating theme park in the distance, like ghostly ambiences… (note: all the sounds in the video are from this location but theres 2 or 3 overlapping layers)

Haikyo Okayama La Rainbow Hotel from tim prebble on Vimeo.

If you’re interested, here are some other excellent Japanese Haikyo sites:

Abandoned Kansai
(along with all the other amazing locations I have to point out these two kiwi theme parks found by Florian: Yamaguchi NZ village and Hiroshima NZ Farm park – surreal!!)

Michael John Grist

Total Japandemonium

Forbidden Kyushu



And an important consideration: The Hazards of Haikyo and Urban Exploration

Of if you’d just to see some quite amazing haikyo eye candy, try this link:


Please feel free to add a comment with links to other Japanese Haikyo sites?

Japan Field Trip – Shopping

This is getting towards the end of my Japan Field Trip Posts – will post a few more sounds next week, but no trip to Japan would be complete without enjoying some shopping!


The first thing I bought in Japan was actually for use in the soundtrack of the film – I had on my list to record some Fūrin, small wind chime bells that are often found “under the corners of roofs of temples, palaces and homes” and on my first day in Kyoto, as we walked up the hill to Sanzen-in temple, my ear was caught by these:

Furin from tim prebble on Vimeo.

On the way back from the temple I went in and was so appreciative of the shopkeepers patience as I wanted three different sizes with sympathetic tones, and I auditioned maybe half a dozen to find the right combination….

The following day we got a rental car and from Kyoto drove to the town of Uji looking for a Haikyo location up in the hills that Florian had given me. But he also tipped me off that Uji is famous for very high quality organic green tea and as we were running late we literally raced to get to the tea store before it closed: “Tsuen tea has been served since 1160 and is still sold in what is the oldest tea shop in Japan, and possibly the world — the Tsuen tea shop”



The next day I had a lunchtime meeting in Osaka, so I went into the city a little early and visited Tower Records and within ten minutes I realised I had forgotten what its like to visit a record store that actually has contemporary non-mainstream releases i.e. somewhere you can actually discover new music! My inbox is regularly full of news of music releases but it just isn’t the same as walking into a record store, wandering over to the genre section that most interests you, putting on headphones & discovering new music! So I picked up three beautiful CDs:

Seiji Takahashi – N41
Seiji Takahashi | N41° Album Trailer by Seiji Takahashi

Ametsub – All Is Silence
ametsub – all is silence (album preview) by experimedia

Akira Kosemura – Manon (original score for a dance/theatre performance)
MANON O.S.T – trailer (ACT 2) by Akira Kosemura


On the way back to the train I stopped by a book store and found a gorgeous book on Japanese Architecture, but unlike a number of other such books that I own, this book (An Awesome Atlas of House Building Solutions by Satoshi Kurosaki) is very practical and is really intended as a resource guide for anyone planning to build a house… And the day I can afford to build a house/studio you can be sure it will be a Japanese architect who designs it!




Next bit of retail therapy/inspiration came via a visit to the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Ebisu, to see a new exhibition by one of my favourite photographers Rinko Kawauchi



I learned long ago that along with the inspiring art, most big galleries and museums also have a shop which often have books & DVDs that are impossible to find anywhere else! So after enjoying the exhibition we ducked into the Museum shop & parted with some more yen for a copy of the book associated with Kawauchi exhibition:


Plus I also found a copy of a DVD by my other favourite Japanese photographer, Sugimoto Hiroshi whos work I first experienced on Naoshima….


Last stop? Yodobashi camera in Akihabara! I hadn’t actually seen Korg Monotrons in person before – they are so fun and have since become my little ‘zone out’ tool when waiting for my ProTools to do something (restart, export etc)


Lastly, Satoko bought me & my nieces/nephews this fun toy


Those are little galvanic contact points on each of its appendages!


So what are all these? Modern atefacts? Tourist indulgences?


They are inspiration, to sustain me until my next trip!

Japan Field Trip – Shishi-odoshi

I’m a little embarrased to say the first time I became aware of what a Shishi-odoshi is was back when I first watched Tarantinos film Kill Bill – there is a fight scene between Uma Thurman and Lucy Lieu in a snow covered garden and the tense battle of wills & swords is punctuated by the presence of a Shishi-odoshi in the garden…

Shishi-odoshi literally means “scare the deer” and it “consists of a segmented tube, usually of bamboo, pivoted to one side of its balance point. At rest, its heavier end is down and resting against a rock. A trickle of water into the upper end of the tube accumulates and eventually moves the tube’s centre of gravity past the pivot, causing the tube to rotate and dump out the water. The heavier end then falls back against the rock, making a sharp sound, and the cycle repeats. This noise is intended to startle any deer which may be grazing on the plants in the garden.” If you’d like to make one, details & plans are available here

Before my trip I had done a bit of research as to where I might find one to record, but most of the locations I found online were in cities and accordingly I was keeping an ear out for one when travelling in some of the more remote and smaller towns that we stayed in. But it was on my second last day in Japan that I found one, when staying in the mountains of Nikko….

Japan Field Trip – Shishi-odoshi from tim prebble on Vimeo.

This was actually not in a temple or near a tea house, which is where you would usually find one – it was in a sort of living museum which had lots of examples of traditional buildings… We also came across what looked like an Uber-Shishi-odoshi! According to the info guide, this was actually used for pounding grains….

Japan Water Mill

Another very interesting water feature found in Japanese gardens is the Suikinkutsu – I never managed to record one, but this video explains what they are and how to make one…. persevere to 0.45″ to hear what an incredibly beautiful, evocative sound they create!!

Japan Field Trip – The gentle art of perseverence

Whenever I go out recording ambiences there are two primary factors that concern me: the wanted and the unwanted. I might find the perfect beautiful sounding location only to have it completely ruined by a single unwanted element. Sometimes those unwanted elements are provided by nature eg wind or rain and sometimes they are human. A few times i’ve been out recording beaches and had my recording opportunity blown by some complete dick person who turns up with their wet bike and proceeds to race around making a whiny noise for an indefinte amount of time. At times like that I secretly wish to switch over to a weapons recording session: “ground to sea mortar recording, take one!”
In these situations sometimes it can be a battle of the wills – how long are you prepared to wait for the unwanted noise to go away? Can you out last them? I had this very situation when I was recording in Japan a number of times, but no better example exists than this one. We’d tried recording at a number of locations in Onamichi but were thwarted by people every time. So we headed up into the hills, following the navi into what looked like pristine bush. I suddenly noticed a gravel road that wasn’t even on the navi, so we drove down there a kilometre or more but at the end of the road could see a couple of vans parked away in the bush…. Hmmmmm wonder what they are up to? All seemed quiet, so I reversed out & went back to an earlier clearing we passed, parked & got out to have a listen. Wow!!! Incredibly beautiful birds, insects and even a pair of crows were calling out…. So I quickly set up my gear…


I hit record, and within 20 seconds I hear this sound – a sound a bit like a tiny chainsaw… I immediately jumped to the worst conclusions – someone was going to proceed to use their chainsaw continuously for the next 3 hours, or race their dirt bike, or whatever it was.. and totally ruin any chance of getting clean sound. But then this came into sight:

ARG!!! So thats what those people in the vans were up to – messing with their remote control aeroplane! I started having my weapons fantasy & could imagine the beautiful silence just after the rifle shot… but then I thought about it a bit longer and came to two conclusions: first, those little planes have little fuel tanks & will only fly for a few minutes…. second, I’ve actually needed the sound of a remote control aeroplane before so best I keep recording!

Sure enough within 3 minutes the plane flew away back to where the vans were parked & all was beautifully quiet again. Hit record for a new set of files and recorded these beautiful sounds:

The crow is very recognisable but the other bird with the almost backwards sound of a pure tone ramping to a short song I think is the Japanese Bush Warbler heard mostly from Spring onwards…


This isn’t my video but it beautifully shows the bird in action:

“Due to the lack of a diaphragm and vocal cords, the birds perform breathe with a fixed lung like mechanism of the bellows, and vibrates at least equal to or more than one pair of muscles which adhered to the tracheal ampulla to make a FM sound.”


Japan Field Trip – Oishi!

Imho it is impossible to visit Japan and not rave about the food! In my youth the only Japanese food I knew of was sushi, and even with the accumulated experiences from my trips to Japan I still love sushi… But it was just the start of a life long exploration of a fantastic and highly evolved cuisine! Oh, this post is going to make me hungry….

In reverse order, for lunch before I flew out of Narita we went to a kaiten sushi bar that I’ve been to before, on the top floor of the Yodobashi Camera store in Akihabara (there was some shopping that had to be done too!)

Slowly I am learning the Japanese names of my favourite sushi, and this is my current favourite: hotategai (scallop)



At a few places we stayed I was asked if I wanted a western breakfast, I always politely said no, thank you… but I thought to myself why would anyone want to miss out on a breakfast that looks & tastes like this!!! I was also reminded of a great quote about travel by James Michener: “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.”




I love visiting supermarkets in Japan – I’m not quite sure what some of these things are but they look fascinating!!!




Dinner in Onomichi




mmmmm sake!


A great restaurant we went to in Kyoto: Rojimon







Lunch at Sanzen-in, Kyoto




Had some great news recently, THE ORATOR (the Samoan film I did score & sound design for) is screening at the Nara Film Festival in Japan in September! Which is just after we finish the final mix for THE EMPEROR so I have booked my next trip to Japan – I can’t wait!



Japan Field Trip – Pachinko

This was another recording I did for fun, and not for the film. As far as I know Pachinko only exists in Japan – certainly there are similar phenomena in other countries (slot machines, pokies etc) but I don’t think the sonic element is quite the same….
You know you are near a Pachinko parlour first due to the noise – imagine fifty or a hundred glam pop metal bands all jamming at the same time… then image lots of garish flashing lights… then imagine someone slipped you some LSD and you don’t know where you are and thats a little like walking into a pachinko parlour. You’re not quite sure whats going on but in this surreal environment are rows of people glued to shiny mechanical machines….


Apart from them being completely perplexing, what makes the sonic element extra fascinating is when someone enters or exits a Pachinko parlour. So when I walked past a relatively small parlour (some of them are HUGE) I stopped, set up my mics & shot some sync video… Now bear in mind you really need to play this so its nearing the pain threshold when the doors open…

Apparently the Japanese government estimate the annual revenue from Pachinko is US$378billion!! So its not some minority hobby…. but I find it fascinating that after a hard days work people would go and submit themselves to an environment that is so loud and dense with sound… but maybe thats the point, to become lost in the noise…
Heres a nice quiet description of how you play the game:

Japan Field Trip 5 Trains

These recordings I did purely because I was there, for example the Shinkansen from Osaka to Tokyo takes approximately three hours so of course I am going to record some of the trip… But I did a couple of other train recordings too, since Japan has one of the best train systems on the entire planet! As a simple comparison: New Zealand and Japan have almost the same land mass, but compare the populations: Japan 127 million vs New Zealand 4 million. But an even more interesting comparison, Shinjuku station in Tokyo is the busiest station in all of Japan, and back in 2007 every day an average of 3.64 million people passed through it, so that is almost the entire population of NZ passing through just one of the many stations in Tokyo, let alone the rest of Japan!
Along with being an incredibly well organised and efficient means of transport throughout Japan, the train system is also responsible for a lot of very interesting sounds. As I said, I wasn’t in Japan to record trains but I just couldn’t help myself – as I had purchased a 7 day JR Rail pass (only available to tourists and must be purchased before arriving in Japan) it meant for 7 days I could travel anywhere at no additional cost…. So here are three recordings I made, for nostalgia/virtual tourism if nothing else!

The subway is the primary means of transport within Tokyo and Osaka, and as soon as you learn the system, accessing the city becomes easier. And it was Osaka that I ventured amongst first. I got off a train at Higobashi Station and was about to walk upstairs and out the exit when the subway train gave a blast on its horn as it left the station & I felt compelled to stop and record it. Of course I only had to wait 5 minutes for the next train to arrive and after turning my levels down enough to not overload the recording I managed to cleanly capture the arrival, the horn and the departure.

Higobashi Station

Higobashi Station

After my time in Osaka I next relocated to Tokyo using the Shinkansen aka bullet train, which travels at 240-300kmph using magnetic levitation – basically like flying very close to the ground!



The last train recording I did was on the main Tokyo subway, the Yamanote line, which runs in a loop around Tokyo intersecting at each station with all the other Tokyo train lines.




The first few times I came to Japan I paid for subway trips the old school way, ie by calculating the fare for each trip & buying a single ticket. But I soon wised up – in Osaka there is the ICOCA card and in Tokyo the SUICA card – both act as debit cards that you load with some cash and then swipe past a sensor as you pass through a subway gate before getting on a train. And then similarly swipe at the gate again when exiting and the fare is automatically deducted from the credit on your card. This makes life so much easier – none of the stress of miscalculating your fare and then having to do a fare adjustment before exiting etc… As soon as you arrive in either city I would strongly reccomend getting the appropriate card! And if you are a tourist the JR Rail Pass can be a great way to affordably see a lot of Japan – its available as a 7, 14 or 21 day pass and can be used on most (but not all, you have to be vigilant) subway and Shinkansen lines…

Japan Field Trip 4 Ryokan

The night we stayed in Onomichi we stayed in a very beautiful traditional Ryokan – if you need a good reccomendation it was Nishiyama-B

So I took the opportunity to record all of the doors, as we needed them for the film…

Japan field recording

The front entrance door

Japan field recording

Interior Shoji doors:

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

Interior Fusuma doors:

Japan field recording

The windows were interesting – the glass was held in without any putty and rattled very nicely so along with opens and closes I also did a few careful recordings of rattles & shakes…

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

I also recorded some footsteps & movement on the beautiful Tatami floors – not to actually use but as a reference for our foley team

Japan field recording

I also recorded some footsteps and movement on the wood floors too, which had some beautiful creaks

Japan field recording

Meals were included in our stay at Nishiyama and they were fantastic – this was breakfast! Oishi!!

Japan field recording

With regards to foley, it is historically interesting that footsteps/foley were often used as a warning device in Japan. For example all of the grounds surrounding the Imperial Palace in Tokyo are covered in a fine crunchy gravel – it is impossible to take a single step without making quite a lot of sound and this is a deliberate feature of the Palace, so that back in the day no one could sneak in without being detected by guards. I also read of a temple that had famously creaky floorboards – known as a Nightingale floor or uguisubari for the very same reason: “Dry boards naturally creak under pressure, but these floors were designed so that the flooring nails rubbed against a jacket or clamp, causing chirping noises” – there is a lot more info along with examples here

Suspect I’ll have to visit one of these next time I visit Kyoto:

Daikaku-ji temple in Kyoto.
Ninomura Palace in Nijo Castle in Kyoto.
Chio-in temple in Kyoto.
Toji-in temple in Kyoto.

Japan Field Trip 3 Nikko

Down to my last days in Japan and I hadn’t recorded any insects at all – too early for cicadas and had only heard crickets/higurashi once in Onamachi… so on Thursday we caught the Shinkansen to Nikko – about an hour out of Tokyo and a truly beautiful location…

Japan field recording

Thanks to not actually adjusting to local time, it wasn’t too hard to wake up early – this photo was taken at 4.30am (ie 7.30am NZ time) and I recorded some beautiful dawn birds which were slowly joined by insects as the sun came up & the temperature rose…

Japan field recording

The Nikko area has a lot of onsen/hot pools and the resort we stayed at had beautiful outdoor pools – recording 45min of insects while soaking in hot pools is my idea of multi-tasking! Bliss!

Japan field recording

There was a historical village nearby which we went to have a look at, but as soon as we got near it I heard a distinctive Japanese sound that was on my list to record: a shishiodoshi! – I shot some sync video of it so will post it next week when I get time…

Japan field recording

We drove quite a way through the mountains of Nikko… the contrast with Tokyo could not be apparent!!

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

This road was literally off the map for the car navi! It is somehow reassuring to know that even with the huge population in Japan (127 million) that within an hour or two of central Tokyo you can find absolute quiet, shared with only birds and insects..

Japan field recording

Recorded beautiful birds & insects here!

Japan field recording

One distinct advantage of having a vehicle when recording is that I could leave the mics all rigged & cabled in the boot, and when we came across a likely spot, I could be in record within a few minutes of stopping. The rental car we got for the Nikko trip was a hybrid and I have to say I really enjoyed driving it – when we cruised slowly up these remote roads with the windows open, listening to the environment, the car was almost silent with just the gentle sound of the tyre movement… On foot or train/bus we simply could not have reached many of these locations, and with all the gear rigged it meant we could stop & do a lot more recordings in the time available than if I had to set up from scratch each time…

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

This was back in Nikko township, in an area known as the Kanmangafuchi Abyss due to it being a narrow valley with a mountain river surging through it.

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

Posting this while waiting for my flight from Auckland to Wellington… captured over 50GB of material, time to get busy!! Arigatou gozimasu to all the wonderful people I met during my travels!

Japan Field Trip 2

Japan field recording

on the Shinkansen:
Japan field recording

recording in Asakusa, Tokyo with Sommeya Kazutaka, Takuma Ito and Hide Aoki
– a great night!

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

sneakily recording an Izakaya
Japan field recording

Japan field recording

Kamakura – Hokoku-ji Temple
Japan field recording

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

Yasuijiro Ozus grave at Engaku-ji in Kita Kamakura
Japan field recording

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

Japan field recording

recording exterior school in Kita Kamamura
Japan field recording

Japan field recording

recording ext bars with Miki from NSSJP
Japan field recording

Japan field recording

Off to Nikko and Gunma today…

Japan Field Trip – Kansai

Three days in Japan and already too many stories to tell & no time to stop & tell them, so for now some photos will have to do!









Takahashi City:








Inland from Onomichi and up a road that was off the map as far as the car navi was concerned! But got the best recordings so far here..



Japan Field Recording Trip

1. What the….?
I’m off on a field recording trip to Japan!

2. Why?
Collecting ambiences for THE EMPEROR by Peter Webber


3. Where?
As the film is set in 1945 I’m mostly going to spend time recording in rural areas and small towns in Japan, my itinerary is: Wellington > Auckland > Osaka > Kyoto > Okayama > Onomichi > Osaka > Tokyo > Ofuna > Kamakura > Tokyo > Kiso Valley > Nikko> Tokyo > Auckland > Wellington…


With huge thanks to Florian at Abandoned Kansai I’m also visiting a few haikyo locations, one of which I can’t share the location of, but this one in Okayama is going to be very interesting!! I’m planning to meet up with Florian in Osaka and while in Tokyo I’m also aiming to meet up with some kindred sound recordists: the guys from Nature Sounds Society Japan (check some of their recordings here) and Hide Aoki (check some of his recordings here) – I am so looking forward to it!!

4. How: Tim’s Field Kit v4
As per each of my previous off shore field trips, my recording setup has evolved somewhat – not wanting to be the gaijin lugging huge amounts of baggage around the Japanese train system means I have put a lot of thought into compacting my setup, and making it scaleable…

Kit 1 – stealth
Sound Devices 722 + DPA 4060 + a pair of Rycote Lavalier Windjammers

Japan record kit

Kit 2 – walk about/semi-stealth quad recording
Sound Devices 744 + 302 + MKH8040x2 + DPA4060x2 + travel tripod

Japan record kit

The tripod I’m using is an amazing little device: it weights only 780g and collapsed is only 350mm long but fully extended the mic sits at 1090mm!

Japan record kit

The model is the SLIK SPRINT MINI II GM and Bhphoto have it for only US$76! – of course you also need an adaptor to go from camera thread 1/4″ to mic stand thread 3/8″ – I am using a Manfrotto adapter 088LP adapter – bhphoto has them for US$8.90 so for about US$85 you have a very stable, light compact mic stand. Compared with the Manfrotto nano light stands the tripod weighs 780g vs the nano 930g, but the reach of the latter is a lot to gain for 150g!

Kit 3 – 6 channel
744 + 302 + 722 + 8040×2 + DPA4060x2 + MKH70x2 + tripod + 2 nano stands

Japan record kit

I’m taking two different bags than on previous trips – after taking my recorders etc down to the local photography store and testing out every option they had, I settled on a Lowe Pro Classified AW250 bag – its accessible from above and is big enough to hold the 744 + 302 + 722, along with the pair of 8040s, the tripod, the DPA 4060s and my little camera…. and yet it just looks like a normal laptop bag (ie. it has room for laptop too)

Japan record kit

Japan record kit

Japan record kit

The bag I’ve found for the big MKH70 mics & stands will be especially useful when I ditch my hard suitcase (necessary for checked baggage but a PITA to lug around… Thankfully Japan has great luggage courier services!), as it has room for basic living stuff as well…

Japan record kit

It also cleverly has some backpack straps hidden in the back of it, very useful when I need to go for a bit of a trek….

Japan record kit

I’ve applied the Tim Neilson approach to the Rycote handles using tennis racket handle tape to secure the XLRs more reliably… And the other upgrade I’ve done is on the camera front. I decided I wouldn’t have room to take my Canon 7D and lenses, but while researching cameras I came across the new version of my trusty little s95, namely the Canon S100 and while the lens & functionality has been improved (it now shoots 1080p!) Canon has also cleverly added GPS functions! So now I’ll be able to track on Google Earth etc exactly where each sound was recorded!

Japan record kit

So when you compare this to the rig I took to Papua New Guinea and to Samoa it is less bulky and much lighter…. One of my first aims was to reduce the number of stands I was carrying – taking six stands to PNG was a little nuts in hindsight! One of the other options I experimented with involved using a grip head to mount boom arms, to spread/space the DPA4060 omnis…

Japan record kit

It kind of worked, and although that grip head is aluminium it still added up in weight… But even more importantly I would still need two nano stands… so it ended up not being the best option for this trip. If you’re interested the grip head is this one: Impact KCP200 2.5″ GRIP HEAD and the boom arms are these: Matthews EXTENDABLE BABY STND EXTENSTION 18-54″

I also experimented with a K&M 236 4-MIC BAR to mount both MKH70s on one stand but came to the conclusion that I like the ability to capture discrete elements with the MKH70s when spaced & pointed wherever I want them, hence the two nano stands. When I am recording 6 track I’ll place the DPA4060 omnis in the sides of MKH70 Rycotes so they will be much better spaced as well.

Japan record kit

Given the amount of travelling I’ll be doing when jumping between record locations, I suspect I may well assume the Japanese habit of sleeping on trains (but maybe not to the master 5 level of the last guy in this set of photos) but you can count on some definitive recordings of the Shinkansen!

And lastly no, I haven’t booked (or have the budget) to eat at Jiros, but I am so looking forward to enjoying some regional Japanese food – oishii!

And a philosophical sidenote for anyone who has made it this far…. Believe me when I say this, there are far more “convenient” ways of recording useable sound than what I am evolving… One pair of mics and a single recorder means you end up with what you get – a single point of view or perspective. But its a long way to go, to experience & record sound in only 2 dimensions. What interests me is multi faceted: capturing the moment, capturing aspects of the spatial dimension and then, choosing what to do with it all afterwards, when it is in context. A single recorder and a pair of mics would be so much easier to travel with… but if such things were ‘easy’ and convenience was the primary goal then anyone could do it (& they’d likely turn up with a portable recorder with built in mics or an iPhone app)
I’ve lugged my MKH70s across three continents now, why? Well, when Sennhesier released the new generation of MKH80X0 mics I rejoiced, not because of the MKH8020 or 30 or 40 or 50 but because I was deluded and hoped for a new generation of the MKH70 i.e. a mic that exhibited the same focus & side rejection of the MKH70 but was tiny, almost pencil in size… So when they finally released the MKH8070 I was slightly non-plussed. The new MKH8070 is almost the same size as the MKH70 – how can that be? I don’t pretend to understand the maths but I can well appreciate that complex physics is like that sometimes. It seems an omni mic is far easier to miniaturise, as the DPA 4060 illustrates….. but when it comes to the incredibly complex mathematics of a sound source within a complex environment it seems 20+ years of evolution have not helped the MKH70 get smaller. Every time some random stranger or kid is curious enough to ask what I am doing, and I give them the headphones… It is when I point at the MKH70s and switch monitoring channels so they can hear them that a big grin spreads from one ear to the other…. It seems that when it comes to capturing an image of what you see, there are many, many options – all of which do the job to varying degrees… But, when it comes to focusing & isolating elements it seems there are far fewer contenders eg check this article on the role the Sennhesier MKH816 played in the Thin Red Line….

This explains it a bit: “The length of the interference tube determines the frequency above which most of the improvement in directivity happens. The following chart is derived from Figure 6.4 in Eargle’s Microphone Book.

0.8 meters (31.5 inches) – 900 Hz
0.4 meters (15.75 inches) – 1,800 Hz
0.2 meters (7.9 inches) – 3,600 Hz
0.1 meters (3.9 inches) – 7,200 Hz
0.05 meters (2 inches) – 14,400 Hz

Help Japan

Help Japan by buying a compilation of music by some of my favourite artists (eg aus, Peter Broderick, Ryuichi Sakamoto, Sawako, Goldmund, Max Richter) – For Nihon is $20 (mp3 or FLAC) for a good cause!


For Nihon


Tims Travel Tips: Japan

A friend is off to Tokyo soon so I thought I’d collect up a few recomendations for him… Tokyo is often most peoples arrival & exit point for Japan, but if time allows I highly reccomend visiting Kyoto and Naoshima…


Getting around Tokyo:
1. Narita Airport is about 90minutes train ride from central Tokyo; the best way to get into town is to catch the Narita Express (N’Ex) train. You buy a ticket at the airport but they also do a special cheap deal for the N’Ex ticket plus a Suica card thats good value….

2. buy a Suica card as soon as you arrive (as above)
They are like an EFTPOS card except you put money on them & then you use them to pay for subway… it makes it easy to use the subway as, presuming you have credit on your Suica card you never have to worry about what the fare is (usually you have to work it out & prebuy the right ticket…) You just wave the Suica card past the scanner (stand by an entrance way & watch other people use theirs) and there are machines in the entrance of all train stations for refilling your card.

3. Tokyo has a main circular subway line called the Yamanote line which goes between all the main areas/suburbs – you’ll use it lots to get around…

4. Its important that you note what EXIT from a subway station you are wanting eg a bar or art gallery might say on their map:
take East Exit Shinjuku Station or take the No.2 exit Ueno Station…

5. Finding places can be tricky – most websites will have an access map with directions from nearest Subway station – it pays to print out the map & address so you can ask people, even if they dont speak english or as a last resort jump in a taxi & let them find it for you!
UPDATE: having an iPad and a wifi portable modem is imho essential in Japan! Google maps is excellent (& even tells you what time next train is leaving on any planned route)

6. Rent a wifi modem! Apart from email & keeping in touch, its essential for google maps, website access & directions etc…. These can be picked up (& returned) from whichever airport you arrive at/leave. I’ve used this company: Japan Mobile Rental 4 or 5 times now, and highly reccomend them – excellent service!

7. If you need a Hotel in Tokyo one of my favourites is Sutton place as its right beside Ueno station (on Yamamote line)… More expensive (depending which floor you stay on) I also really like Hotel Metropolitan which is close to Ikebukuro Train Station – improtant note: you can often get better discounts via booking.com than if you walk in off the street. I stayed in a very nice hotel, then tried to extend my booking and they couldn’t match the discounted price on booking.com (so I rebooked online) – just be aware of how far your potential hotel is from the nearest Yamanote line station, especially during your first visits to Tokyo it simplifies access if you are close to the Yamanote line.
I also highly reccomend staying in a traditional ryokan at some point during your visit

My favourite things to do in Tokyo:

1. ICC Gallery near Shinjuku station
Best art gallery in the whole world, especially for digital art! (& a note for soundies: they have an anechoic chamber!) Its a 20-30 minute walk from Shinjuku Station although I tend to catch taxi there/walk back as means you dont get lost quite so easily… But getting lost is half the fun! Also very useful is the Tokyo Art Beat website which lists all the current exhibitions. Also very useful is the book Art Space Tokyo

2. Mori Tower – Roppongi
Another good contemporary art gallery but its also on the 53rd floor & you can buy a ticket for the gallery that also gives you access to the 360 degree viewing floor! This is good to do in first few days to give you an idea of the sheer scale of Tokyo – also good to do at dusk & watch the day turn to night & Tokyo light up! For other art gallerys/events: ArtBeat website lists all current exhibitions on in Tokyo

3. Ghibli Museum (Mitaka station on Chuo line)
This is a fantastic place to visit – a museum & theatre for Miyazaki animated films; you have to prebook as its hugely popular, especially at weekends, but its so great!

4. Yoyogi Park on a Sunday (Harajuku station on Yamanote line)
Lots of people go to the park on a sunday & especially kids in weird cosplay costumes & lots of bands (eg every 50m a different genre band)
A few examples:

5. La Jetee – the best bar in Tokyo!
A friend introduced me to it & you would otherwise never find it! Its tiny, upstairs, holds ten people max & everyone there tends to be film people…. Tarantino has a sake bottle kept there etc… its run by a French/Japanese woman who speaks a little english if she has to… I’ll scan the map sometime as its otherwise impossible to find, it is in an old part of Shinjuku called Golden Gai – full of tiny tiny bars….. Address is: La Jetee; 1-1-8 Kabukicho, Shinjuku-ku

Kyoto is definitely worth visiting – catch the Shinkansen/bullet train from Tokyo in about 3 hours… There are literally hundreds of temples in Kyoto – I’ve been to maybe a dozen or so over the course of 3 visits, many are not open to public or are only open via appointment or at certain times of year… They are so beautiful words can not express the experience. A few I reccomend visiting are:

Daittoku-ji (a good first one to visit as close to central Kyoto) which is a collection of temples including Daisen-in, Ryogen-in & Koto-in

Ryoan-ji beautiful but often busy with busloads of tourists… has a zen dry garden with 15 stones, but no matter where you stand you can only ever see 12 of them!

Kinkaku-ji (the Golden Pavilion) – beautiful, park like grounds

Naoshima is the ultimate art destination – its a small island in the Seto Inland Sea & contains two major art galleries, both designed by Tadao Ando, plus a dozen art houses; traditional houses that have been rebuilt as installations by noted artists… Each time I’ve been to Naoshima we got a rental car from a town called Okayama and drove to the port of Uno, where we caught a ferry over to Naoshima. Then its easy to explore the island in the car…. basic Naoshima info etc here
If you do rent a car, get one with a NavMan in it & ask the rental company to enter the phone number of your destination. Then the Navman will display map of how to get there – we didnt use any other maps at all!

Places to go on Naoshima:
Chichu Art Gallery (Tadao Ando designed gallery – so so beautiful!)

Bennesse House Art Gallery

Miniderma Art House (James Turell/Tadao Ando)

The first two times I went to Naoshima we stayed at a hotel on the mainland & just went over for the day, but last time we stayed at the very flash (& youch! expensive!) Bennesse House beach Hotel, also designed by Tadao Ando….
But, its on a beautiful beach & just along from it were some great little cheap cottages which is where I will stay next time….

I’ll post some info about Osaka, Kobe & a few other places I’ve been in Japan & recommend…
Check my photos from travels in Japan here – if you go back through previous photos/visits you can get a feel for many of the places I have been in Japan… I cant wait to return!

I’ll reformat this & find a better place to keep it & update it…

A great online source of info and advice is the Japan Guide site

Japanese Motion Graphics

I love animation, motion graphics & VFX….. but only when they blurr your sense of reality – not, as seen in many big budget & dumb Hollywood flicks, but more often as seen in short films and music videos where the artistry overwhelms the techniques and budget… heres just two examples of work I saw while in Japan, total genius that I was never even aware of beforehand….



FX Recording in Japan with a Zoom H2 Recorder

Unfortunately just before I left for my trip to Japan my Fostex FR2 recorder died. Although I wasnt planning to take it and my Sanken shotgun mic & Rycote with me, I did want to be able to record sounds whiel travelling. For the next film project I will replace the FR2 with a Sound Devices 722 or 744 but I was after a small, portable, cheap alternative and luckily ZOOM released the tiny H2 recorder at just the right time. I read a great review here and bought one at Yodbashi camera on my first day in Tokyo.

The crucial specs that intrigued me were: it can record 24 bit audio, up to 96k and it has 4 mics built in enabling quad recording. And it costs only US$200!!! The idea sounded too good to be true and given the cost I was quite prepared to be sorely disappointed, but no! This unit performs amazingly well. But don’t get me wrong – it has none of the resolution of a seriously good mic, but theres the cost issue again – my Sanken CS5 stereo shotgun mic alone costs 8 times the price of the H2. You can’t expect miracles, but it does a remarkable job & is so easy to use.

I always used the H2 in 24 bit 48k Quad mode and was surprised to find it didnt have a gain knob but a switch – the gain could only be set to Low, Medium or High and I would say 90% of the time I left it set on High. The H2 also runs on penlite batterys and in total I recorded over three hours of quad recordings over a six week period and used just two sets of batteries. The advantage of no moving parts – it records to a flash card.

Ok so what does it sound like?
When you listen to the recordings in isolation the H2 sounds good and you can definitely perceive the surround components. But it leaves a slightly nagging feeling that some vitality or detail is being lost. It is a bit like listening to an ipod. With nothing to compare it to, an ipod sounds fine. But put it up against a good record player through good speakers and the short comings soon become apparent. This became obvious when I met up with a friend who was recording sounds for a dance project in Tokyo. He was recording with a Sound Devices 744 and a very nice Schopes mic in Rycote and when I compared some of the subway recordings he had made with mine it was like chalk and cheese – his recordings were more vital, detailed and alive. And so they should be, there is a US$5000 difference in the setup – its a bit like saying a Mercedes drives better than a Mini.

So the only complaint I have about the H2 is this: it doesnt sound like a million bucks!

There are a few little things that annoyed me, but none were critical eg the unit is very light plastic and any handling transfers directly to the mic, so dont try clicking the button to turn up or down the headphone monitor level or mic gain or you will get mic bumps in your recording. I also found it a bit odd that the LCD display is facing the same way as the front mics. So for example if I was recording a train pass, I would have the LCD screen pointed away from me & couldn’t see it. I prefer to know if I am clipping digital record levels while I record and it would make more sense for the LCD screen to be facing the same way as the surround mics. Virtually swapping the front and back mics doesnt solve this problem either as the front mics are set 90 degrees apart, whereas the surround mics are 120 degrees.

But the proof is in the pudding, so have a listen to some of my H2 recordings – as someone wise once said to me “Trust your own ears, only” so I will post some 24bit 48k quad recordings plus MP3 stereo versions of the same, incase you are only interested in instant gratification…

Zoom H2 Recordings:

H2FX01 Train bridge Shinjuku LR + sLR – recording underneath a train overbridge near Shinjuku Station – I love the aggressively percussive nature of this sound! There were some homeless people sleeping under this bridge & I couldnt help thinking about the city as an oppressively loud environment….
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 9MB

H2FX02 Train int Yamanote Line LR + sLR – this recording in onboard the train on the Yamanote Line – it helped me with my pronouciation hearing these annoucnements each day….
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 35MB

H2FX03 Temple singing Kamakura LR + sLR – this recording is from a temple in Kamakura – I love the bells!
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 28MB

H2FX04 Temple Ambience Kamakura LR + sLR – a quiet temple ambience with mainly just insects & crows
download mp3 or download Quad .AV 16MB

H2FX05 Temple Ambience Kamakura LR + sLR – ditto
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 12MB

H2FX06 Temple Ambience Kamakura LR + sLR – ditto but much more arhthymic… note the mic bumps
for long ambience recording best to plant the H2 & walk away for a while…
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 20MB

H2FX07 Int Shinjuku Station LR – busy busy busy Tokyo – the human river that is Shinjuku Station
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 14MB

H2FX08 Int Taya Cavern LR – this is a recording of water drips inside Taya Cavern, an amazing network of caves carved out by Buddhist monks a long long time ago… I figured the sound of these drips would not have changed over the centuries – the place filled me with quiet…
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 13MB

H2FX09 Train to Ofuna LR + sLR – INT the train back to Tokyo from Ofuna & Taya Cavern, I had my ipod on & kept hearing weird strings everey time the train stopped & started again… turned off the ipod & realised it was the train – what a beautiful pitch ramp! The next station also sounds like its called “Kooky”
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 48MB

H2FX10 Jidai Matsuri drums Kyoto LR + sLR – Jidai Matusir is an annual festival where people dress in traditional costume from various ages & parade through Kyoto… some playign music, as in this recording
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 20MB

H2FX11 Temple ambience Kyoto LR + sLR – this is a quiet temple ambience near Daisen-In zen temple, I loved the pitch in the sound of the pigeon, had I looked up & discovered he had a flute I would not have been surprised.. the footsteps of the woman walking past gives some indivation fo the H2 ability to record spatial ambience but also notice the mic bumps – it was hot & I was getting tired – too much beauty! Wouldnt be a problem with a mic in a Rycote…
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 19MB

H2FX12 Temple insects Kyoto LR + sLR – another quiet temple ambience, mostly insects & distant city….
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 13MB

H2FX13 Temple insects Kyoto LR + sLR – another quiet temple ambience, mostly insects & distant city…. This is another example where 24bit helps, but a betetr mic & preamp would reveal a lot more detail & spatial information… the image feels smeared
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 13MB

H2FX14 Temple bell Kyoto LR + sLR – a temple bell and I had the H2 practically inside the bell
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 19MB

H2FX15 Subway train INT Tokyo LR + sLR – this is recorded interior subway & as opposed to the Yamanote Line in Tokyo which is above ground, I loved the shreiks, graunches & pitch ramps that the Tokyo underground subway produces…
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 18MB

H2FX16 Monkeys Shodoshima LR + sLR – recorded quite wide because I preferred not to get bitten by one of them, towards the end of the file there is an outburst from one of their vigilantes/guardians over on the Left…. to translate: shake tree = F+CK OFF BIPEDS!
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 18MB

H2FX17 Birds Shodoshima LR + sLR – beautiful frequency sweeps by a number of birds, recorded by a temple built into a rock face where we experienced a zen buddhist fire ceremony – something so beautiful I won’t ven try and use words to explain it…
download mp3 or download Quad .WAV 18MB

So what an amazing device! My only wish is I could buy the exact same unit with US$1000 mics in it. And the true comparison, I think, should be between carrying a recorder/mic or not.
I am so happy to have all of these recordings, and no doubt some of them will make it into a film one day, but imagine the opposite ie no recorder, no mic….these would all be sound memorys, slowly fading as time passes with no ability to reference them – I know which i prefer… US$200 well spent! And its like the size of two cell phones… and it makes you listen, be quiet and listen… I stopped counting the number of times I suddenly realised I had stopped breathing & was starting to hear my heart pouding in my chest, why? Simply because of the sonic beauty of engaging with the environment in Japan…. a joy to behold!

Note: the visual record of my travels in Japan is here: steampunk.co.nz/travelzen & includes the best 50 or so photos of the 2,600 I shot in my six weeks of travel..

Detritus 447

▶ How to be a responsible music fan in the age of streaming


▶ ah so thats what the elements for the blaster in BladeRunner were!


▶ Slaves To The Algorithm: How Facebook is throttling underground culture


▶ a Rycote lens case, for microphones? perfect for all those Schoeps owners that change climates


▶ interesting, and maybe unintentionally revealing interview re ableton LIVE 10 – this bit stuck in my craw: “….instead of hardware” – read it & see what you think… do these people somehow think hardware is not an integral part of a studio? Working ITB is hardly news to anyone, but it is preceded by musicians working OTB for decades… And maybe it is news to ableton (I doubt it) but we are currently in an “OTB resurgence” of epic proportions. Seems an odd strategy given current events…. why was that statement not “….integreated seamlessly with hardware” If I count the synths/outboard in my studio, the ratio of what I use would be hardware to software 2:1 maybe 3:1…


▶ “There’s no more feeling of jumping into a whole new world on the internet anymore — everything looks exactly the same.”


▶ In Conversation: Quincy Jones – heh heh “Paul was the worst bass player I ever heard”


▶ I have zero interest in Cruise Ships – being trapped on a ship with a lot of other tourists sounds more like hell to me.. But wow!!! Guntu is a floating hotel in the Seto Inland Sea of Japan is incredibly beautiful, almost like a dream…



Detritus 444

Christine Sun Kim, A Selby Film from the selby


▶ GORILLA MODE- What Amazon means for the rest of us


▶ interesting app: XronoMorph is a “free OS X and Windows app for creating multilayered rhythmic and melodic loops (hockets). Each rhythmic layer is visualized as a polygon inscribed in a circle, and each polygon can be constructed according to two different mathematical principles: perfect balance and well-formedness. These principles generalize polyrhythms, additive, and Euclidean rhythms. Furthermore, rhythms can be smoothly morphed between, and irrational rhythms with no regular pulse can also be easily constructed”


▶ Bleep 100 tracks of 2017 – some new favourites!


▶ love his comments about ‘style’ – very relevant to film sound design…


▶ Denis Villeneuve’s Top 8 Films Of 2017


▶ via the mention by Villeneuve above, I am late to the party but these short films by Neill Blomkamps Oats Studios are quite amazing! Volume 1 – Rakka is embedded above, watch full screen with decent speakers (Seal Vocal at 17.03?) and check out the others on Youtube


▶ this is so beautiful, it almost feels like a hoax/fake history: gorgeous work by artist Thomas Wilfred (b.1889) whos primary medium was light – love the descriptions of his performances as “Cadenzas of Color,” “Symphonies of Silence,” and “Unexplored Sensation.” Check it out here


▶ great life advice for 2018


▶ Nice interview with Nils Frahm about his new studio at Funkhaus


▶ Spotify, about to launch public IPO and sued for 16billion! Relatedly there was a great discussion on Twitter recently, initiated by someone asking musicians what their returns from Spotify were… but I can’t find it now, anyone remember?


▶ a vinyl selection by David Bowie c2003


▶ Business Skills for Artists is a professional development curriculum designed to teach business skills to artists in all disciplines — the Work of Art Guide and Workbook are available for free HERE


▶ interesting concept: The main reason for this project is to provide the artist with complete anonymity


▶ infamous DOP Christopher Doyle in his own words


▶ New principles of good design?


▶ quite a beautiful modular synth desk reminds me of Radiophonic Workshop


▶ “…it’s like London buses. It had got to the point where I was going to give up, that was it when it happened. I find that happens a lot in life, with various things, it’s when you take it to the point that you think you can’t take it anymore, that’s when it finally happens.” – guess the artist


▶ the social dramas of Kokako (native NZ bird) on Tiritiri Matangi (bird sanctuary)


▶ inexplicable Japanese commercials


Favourites from 2017





Favourite Films from 2017:

Loveless by Andrey Zvyagintsev
Leaning Into the Wind: Andy Goldsworthy by Thomas Riedelsheimer
Bladerunner 2049 by Denis Villeneuve
Your Name by Makoto Shinkai
Dunkirk by Christopher Nolan





Favourite Tech from 2017:

Trixon 1966 Vibraphone
Isla Instruments Kordbot
Buchla Music Easel
Polyend Perc Pro
Vocu VTE2000 Tape Echo
Orthogonal Devices ER301 sound computer module
SSF Entity PS and BDS modules
Mutable Instruments EARS modules
Artic Wolf Twin Modulator pedal
Fujifilm Natura S camera
DJI Mavic Pro + Goggles
Outline app for OSX and IOS
Keyboard Maestro macro app for OSX
Seasol for my vege garden!





Favourite Radio shows/blog mixes/podcasts from 2017:

bbc: Giles Petersen
bbc: Benji B
bbc: Mary Anne Hobbs
bfm: Stinky Jim
ninjatune solid steel
nts: Young Turks
Dubtechno blog
Insight podcast
Hello strange podcast
Echo Garden podcast
low lite mixes





Favourite Music from 2017

Akira Kosemura – Our Own Picture
Alice Coltrane – World Sprituality Classics
Ametsub – Mbira Lights 1
Another Channel – Pressure
ASC – Eccentric Orbits
Babe Roots – Babe Roots
Basic Rhythm – The Basics
Bibio – Beyond Serious
Bonobo – Migration
Brendon Moeller – Arcadian Rhythms
Brian Eno – Sisters
Burial – Subtemple
Burnt Friedman – The Pestle
Carl Craig – Versus
Clark – Death Peak
Coldcut & On-U Sound – Outside The Echo Chamber
Coppice Halifax – Q Trax
DeepChord – Auratones
Dmitry Evgrafov – Comprehension of Light
Don’t DJ – Nagoya
Don’t DJ – The Essence Of Our Being Is To Overcome It
Don’t DJ – Wiedergänger Zwischending
Drake – More Life
Dub Syndicate – Displaced Masters
Dub Tractor – Hello Ambient Wash
Eluvium – Shuffle Drones
Emptyset – Borders
Equiknoxx & Mark Ernestus – Mark Ernestus Remixes
Falty DL – Wondering Mind
Federsen – The Myth
Floating Points – Reflections – Mojave Desert
Four Tet – New Energy
Giriu Dvasios – Dub Vibes Vol. 1,2,3
Grad_U q- Redscale 09
Gradient – Dub Trips
Heavenchord – From Silent Constellation
Heavenchord – On A Beach Of Infinite Worlds
Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – Book of Sound
Ishi Vu – Green Is the Color of Love
Jon Brion – Lady Bird OST
John Tejada – Vertex
Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – The Kid
Ladi6 – Royal Blue 3000
LCD Soundsystem – American Dream
Loess – Pocosin
Martin Nonstatic – Granite
Mica Levi – Delete Beach
Mount Kimbie – Love What Survives
Murcof & Vanessa Wagner – EP03
Mr. Cloudy – Depth Studies
Nathan Fake – Providence
Max Cooper – Chromos
Paul St. Hilaire & Rhauder – Derdeoc
Peverelist – Tessellations
Phaeleh – Lost Time
Photay – Onism
Porter Ricks – Anguilla Electrica
Portico Quartet – Art in the Age of Automation
Ryuichi Sakamoto – Async
Sampha – Process
Scuba – Old Media New Society
Sean Julian – Sounds of the Birch Forest
Second Woman – EP
The Necks – Unfold
Theme – Scenes 1-4 EP
Tilliander – Compuriddim
Tomoko Sauvage – Musique Hydromantique
Upwellings – Tales From The Underworld
Valgeir Sigurðsson – Dissonance
Woodkid & Nils Frahm – Ellis
ZZZZRA – Immanence





Looking forward to 2018:

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda by Stephen Nomura Schible
LadyBird by Greta Gerwig
Shakmat Four Bricks Rook module
Dadamachines Automata Toolkit L
Koma Field Kit FX
KV Gear Vixen mixer





I don’t get to as many films as I would wish, so please do comment with your favourite films from 2017
Then I can add them to my ‘must see’ list for 2018!



Jeremy S. Bloom Def add “Call Me By Your Name” to your film list








Blue Planet Sky by James Turrell – 21st Century Museum of Art, Kanazawa, Japan
Fuji TX2/XPAN2 + 30mm lens + Superia 800 (view full screen!)

If you have never experienced a work by James Turrell yourself, then this photo falls on deaf ears. Google “James Turrell” and identify one of his works that is closest to you, and make a plan to go visit it. I can’t describe the experience and I have never tried to photograph one before, but this photo captures only a very tiny essence (like 0.000000001%) of the experience.



Detritus 440

▶ love miniatures!


GleetchLab 4 is now released! Thanks Giorgio


▶ Some of Jaki Liebezeit’s best drumming outside of Can


▶ John Malkovich recreates famous historical portraits



▶ I retweeted this gif on Twitter (of a piano key mechanism) and (someone/pls comment, i will credit) replied as they wondered about the existence & effect of physical latency on piano players…
#fascinating #non-pianist_OR_professional??


▶ beautiful work by Tokyo based, Polish illustrator Mateusz Urbanowicz – check out “Tokyo Storefront” series at his site, which reminds me of the occasional photo series on Instagram by Kyoto Journal: Small buildings of Kyoto…


▶ a great read: Stockhausen in Japan – listen to the piece he composed at NHK Studios while there:


▶ From the same site, I found this quite interesting, especially in this age of over-sharing: “When it comes to my work methods, I really use time a lot. Like, I’ll do a song and I’ll work on it for half an hour, and I’ll just leave it and I’ll work on some other song. A week later, I’ll be like, “Am I ready? No, I’m not ready.” Three weeks later I’ll be like, “Today is the day.” And I’ll maybe work on it for only half an hour. I think there’s a window that you feel you can actually add to that conversation, and then when you’re just going into some routine, or some conveyor belt behavior, just stop. Just go and have an orange juice or something. Just leave it. What I’m trying to say, in a very clumsy way, is that if you wait, and look at it again in three months time, you can be the other person that sees it from the outside. You can be both the maker and the critic. The way to be both of these things yourself is to use time….” – guess the artist?




Fuji Natura S photos

I think I mentioned just as I arrived to Japan I bought a new little film camera, a Fuji Natura S and I figured I’d share some photos shot with it after having the negatives & 26GB of hi rez scans arrive yesterday.

The Natura S is a tiny and relatively rare film camera, as it was only released in the Japanese market, accordingly all the menus are in Japanese but being a point & shoot camera it is very easy to use…
And it is tiny! Literally small enough to fit in the palm of your hand, the camera also features a fast, wide lens – 21mm and F1.9 – and was designed to cope with shooting in low light. Fuji released a film Natura 1600 at the same time, and the camera has a special mode when it detects a combination of low light and fast film (800 or 1600 iso)

To get an idea of how small this camera is, compare the size with a 35mm film cannister:


Here are a few photos I shot with it, while in Japan… I was/am still learning to shoot with it, but its size & low light ability meant it rapidly became the one camera I always had with me, even if just going out for dinner and leaving my camera/sound bag at home…
Note the quality of the bokeh in these.. and the colour rendering with Natura 1600 – these have had only a tiny amount of post, small tweaks to contrast/black levels…. click photo to see larger version







This photo has a strong sonic memory attached… I was walking through quiet back streets in Kyoto and saw this dog tied to a door of a shop, I could hear the owner inside talking to the shopkeeper… I crouched down to shoot a photo and the dog jumped for joy, running a few steps towards me and thereby forcibly pulling the sliding door open, with a loud bang… The dogs owner came running out & apologised, to which I apologised and gestured I was trying to take his photo, it was my fault etc… The owner then got the dog to calm down, and pose for me… but I knew any sudden movements & the dog would be jumping around again…. Who’s a good boy?







For all the film emulation and post production in the world, I simply do not believe I would achieve the same results shooting digital. I love the bokeh, colour rendering & grain in these photos and while it is a long time since I used a point & shoot digital camera, it is a pleasure to have a Natura S and be able to shoot film rapidly, and instinctively even in low light… I’ll post some low light stills once I’ve been through all the scans…



TX2 Contact Sheets

Fuji TX2/XPAN2 with 30mm lens and Fuji Natura 1600 film:








Fuji TX2/XPAN2 with 30mm lens and Fuji Superia 800 film:








Fuji TX2/XPAN2 with 30mm lens and Fuji Velvia 100 film:











Very very happy with these! Some are bracketed exposures, and a couple of duds (set up & metered for long exposure but shot a few without my Lee Big Stopper actually attached – doh!) but a pretty damn good hit ratio… Again will wait for hi rez scans to arrive before tweaking…

And a few are from NZ – I had already shot half a roll of Velvia 100 before when I went to Japan

Lead lined

I am getting packed up to head home, and went in to Yodobashi to stock up on film… but was a little worried about unexposed film getting XRayed… It apparently isn’t a problem with low iso film, but this time I am taking a dozen rolls of Fuji Natura 1600 home as well as a few rolls of Ilford 3200… Thankfully the helpful staff at Yodobashi pointed me to this lead lined bag, which will be interesting when checking in at the airport!

Failing all else, the bag has its contents written in English & Japanese, so when passing through security at KIX it will make it a little easier to ask for hand inspection…

Kanazawa 2

Beautiful to wake to the sound of the sea, the tide having come in while we slept…

And then breakfast!

We tried to book the large private onsen for dawn, but it was already booked, so managed to get an hour from 8.30 to 9.30…

After checking out we went for a walk, first to the look out above the ryokan, then along the clifftops and down to a rather psychedelic cave, open to the sea…

We headed back along the peninsula and decided on oysters for lunch

We booked lunch for 2pm and even then had to wait until 2.30pm to get in… which wasn’t as bad as the couple in front of us, who hadn’t booked & had been waiting for 90 minutes!

It was a really fun and oishi lunch – basically we ate oysters after putting them on a BBQ with very hot coals in it… After a random amount of time an oyster would open & was then ready to eat… but occasionally a particularly well sealed oyster would open by exploding! The restaurant provided paper aprons and gloves to wear, so as not to get burnt or splattered…

We’d booked to stay that night in Takaoka, and went to a local izakaya for dinner… I love visiting places in Japan where they are very surprised to see a gaijin…

And of course as I could not read the menu at all, my girlfriend & the waitress had a good laugh at my expense as Shirako was ordered…

If you dont know what it is, I suggest you order it and try it before asking google!

On the way back to the hotel that night we took a shortcut through the train station and stumbled across this great musical instrument, a set of tuned & numbered chimes… with a piece of music noted by number… I of course did my best slightly drunk Philip Glass impersonation…

From here we headed back to Kanazawa, as I was keen to revisit the great Kanazawa Art Gallery

This last work, outside the gallery is a fun sound art installation. Each of the megaphones are connected to another via underground pipes, so little kids had great fun working out which was connected to which, and then shouting & singing into them…

Kanazawa 1

While staying in Japan I always like to do a road trip, to get away from the cities and explore some of Japans diverse environment… While researching this trip I stumbled across the idea of visiting Noto Peninsula, and thanks to a Reddit comment discovered an incredible ryokan to stay at, right at the tip of Noto Peninsula… After managing to get a booking we headed off, first a 2.5 hour train trip from Osaka to Kanazawa, then picking up a rental car and driving 2.5 hours to the ryokan…

Of course that 2.5 hour drive more like 5 hours due to stopping often for photos, but it was also a reminder of how much I miss being near the ocean, and when the opportunity appeared to drive along the beach, well…. how could we not!

Next stop was Hatago Iwa “The rocks are considered sacred and are connected by a shimenawa, a rope used in Shinto to mark the presence of sacred spirits”

These were difficult to photograph and we ended up spending an hour or so here – I shot a roll of film, trying different angles & exposures with my Fuji TX2/XPAN and Lee Filters, can’t wait to see the results!

Just as dusk fell we arrived at the ryokan Lampnoyado – a 400 year old ryokan, right on the edge of the Japan Sea… The access is so difficult and steep that there is a carpark up top of the hill and a car picks you up to deliver you down to the ryokan….

Our room was literally on the waters edge, opening the doors let the sound of the ocean in

We had also opted for a room with a private onsen/hot pool.. bliss!

One aspect of staying at a traditional ryokan is the fact that dinner and breakfast are usually included, and as this ryokan was expensive (about triple what I would usually spend on a hotel, but YOLO right!?) I was very much looking forward to dinner… And it was simply divine, a multi course experience of local fresh fish and vegetables… beautifully prepared, every element was a subtle explosion of flavour



Once you are old/experienced enough to have travelled a bit (those two are not mutually exclusive) I/maybe you tend to reflect on what circumstances lead to the best discoveries and experiences… Sometimes the best things are carefully planned, scheduled & booked and sometimes they are completely random… But one circumstance I have repeatedly found productive is to be on the way from A to B, deliberately, but with a flexi timeframe… Under these circumstances great, unexpected things become possible. I would also add, most likely you need to be on your own, slightly hungover but optimistic… an ‘anything is possible’ frame of mind. Difficult to frabricate, but when you feel it you know it!

Last night I formed a vague plan: go to Kyoto to visit an exhibition (kinetic art utilising ferrofluids, so the odds for a great day are already looking great!) and then revisit a temple I love & blow a few rolls of film…
These two events could be achieved in 2.5 hours, but I allowed half a day. Plenty of time to wander, get lost, hail a taxi, get dropped off, get lost again etc etc…

And so this morning I caught the Hankyu train to Umeda, and then switched to the Kyoto line. Arrived to Kawaramachi Station, got my google maps trajectory sorted after walking half a block in the wrong direction and eventually started walking through back alleys in the direction of the art gallery where the ferrofluids were doing their thing… The path eventually involved walking through covered shopping malls, at which point I started to zone out…

I noticed the window display of this shop but didn’t stop until about 100m later… then turned around and went back – what was that over size acoustic guitar/bass??

Wandered into the store & started drooling… it is so rare to be able to see AND hear such a huge range of instruments, many times I’ve had to just take a punt based on a photo & some faith….

And so great to see traditional Japanese instruments, actually available for purchase!

A few things caught my eye/ear: this small granite xylophone, and the tongue drum beside it…

I really loved the dull tone of the wooden tongue drum, but then noticed these tuned stones on the floor

And what the hell are these things? (some kind of african pod rattlers?)

But most of all, my ear was drawn to the shelves of temple bells/singing bowls

The absence above the biggest coloured ring is where the singing bowl I bought usually resides… it instantly reminded me of a Japanese temple gong/bell, but apparently mine is actually from Nepal. And OMG it resonates like a mofo!

I never took a photo of them but they had a huge collection of kalimbras….

And other stuff… (damn those big/shallow frame drums sounded great!!)

And gongs

Lastly, a photo of the owner, Koizumi Masakai, adding up the 10kg of resonant metal I ended up choosing… He was super helpful, and we both spoke just enough of each others languages to easily discuss our shared love of the universal language of music.

Here is the card for his store, which has the address and site address

I checked their website and it seems they are happy to ship internationally, and given how amazingly affordable, inexpensive & super efficient Japan EMS shipping is, I think I will be ordering more…

And revisiting next time I come to Japan.

Arigatou Masaki san

website link: KOIZUMI_GAKKI

google maps link: MAP LINK

Ryoji Ikeda & Eklekto – Kyoto Experiment 2017

This is not a review, as that requires some kind of critical analysis which I dont really have any interest in… But I would like to share a little of what the experience was like, as it transcended any description and it was also very different than listening to the preview below…

I’ve experienced a number of works by Ryoji Ikeda over the years, from gallery installations to live concerts to a screening at Kyoto Experiment a few years ago… While his oeuvre is well defined, and often includes extremes (volume, frequency, minimalism) the idea of experiencing his first works written for percussion intrigued me enough to book my tickets for Japan – what form could such work take? And would/could it be as extreme as the screening & concert which were so loud as to resonate my internal organs…

The large theatre was packed, I would estimate an audience of 1,200 people and eventually the doors were closed and as the lights dimmed, the audience settled to a collective state of anticipation…

After a few minutes of near darkness the stage lights came up as two guys walked out on to the stage, which was empty except for two seats. They sat down, settled, and began:

Body Music [for duo], op.4 (2016): I

Body Music [for duo], op.4 (2016): II

Body Music [for duo], op.4 (2016): III

What the low resolution stream of these recordings does not reveal is the beautiful acoustic and spatialisation, of two extraordinary percussionists creating an exquisite interplay of sound and rhythm, hocketing and at times almost phasing in their accuracy and timing. Each piece was enthralling, the audience practically held their breath and joining the rapturous applause after each piece felt strange, in the sense of it being a prolonged call & response with the actual performance.

Some parts of these pieces reminded me of Arvo Parts work, for example Sarah Was Ninety Years Old and I slowly developed a desire to actually see the shifting patterns and waveforms, so as to analyse and verify my theories as to their construction… Accordingly I ordered the vinyl from the Vinyl Factory

Next the concert moved on to the Metal Music pieces:

Metal Music, op.5 (2016): I. triangles [for duo]

Metal Music, op.5 (2016): II. crotales [for duo]

Metal Music, op.5 (2016): III. cymbals [for quartet]

All three of these pieces originated in a form of pointillism: single, discrete very quiet gestures slowly rising in power created a transition between the senses. At times you could clearly see percussionists striking their instruments, but starting from very soft, gentle gestures that were initially inaudible.

The almost granular textures created a kind of dream state in me, especially the start of the cymbal piece was so evocative and the piece as a whole felt like a perfect metaphor for Ikedas work, as an ever evolving texture that via constraint refused to crescendo, until the dramatic transition to the ending…

Overall a truly fantastic experience – beautiful concepts and ideas by Ryoji Ikeda powerfully executed with poetic restraint by Eklekto Percussionists: Alexandre Babel, Stéphane Garin, Lucas Genas and Dorian Fretto.

I won’t be listening to the stream again, it is a perfect example of how data compression diminishes the true power of music. Next time I hear this will be ex vinyl!

Day 1

After a great night out in Auckland with friends (back to hotel 2am) and then a 10 hour flight, plus 2 hours prior check in and then a few hours getting through customs, immigration and via Narita Express to Ikebukuro, Tokyo I was very, very happy to finally arrive to my favourite AirBnB

A few duty free drinks, and a quick dinner followed by some very high quality sleep… and despite the 4 hour difference I managed to sleep in & adjust my internal clock… next step:

A bit of 35mm film shopping & some GAS denial, and then:

Back to the apartment to have a jam on the piano, load cameras and get ready to head out & meet Hide san for dinner & revisit La Jatee…

re the Natura 1600, as I understand it that is a film that is only available in Japan and was designed by Fuji for a specific camera, the Fuji Natura S, which I also managed to buy via a Japanese auction site… and am now just waiting patiently for it to arrive… Its a tiny 35mm full frame camera that fits in the palm of your hand, but has a gorgeous fast f1.9 21mm lens – perfect for late night, low light shooting!

Check some of the photos shot with it here

Two HISSandaROAR Libraries Released

AMB013 CAVE AMBIENCES 14GB of multichannel Cave Ambiences is now released

FX003 ELECTRIC GOLF CART MiniFX Library is now released

Use coupon code ‘KANPAI’ for 33% discount, expires Oct 14

As per the HISSandaROAR Email, I leave soon for Japan and plan to record a library of INTERIOR Ambiences – stealth recording in museums, art galleries, bars, cafes, restaurants, train stations, shopping malls etc… But I am also open to requests, especially from owners of our JAPAN CITY Ambience Library, for example one element I will capture is close up recordings of pedestrian crossing signals – comment or email me if there is something you’d like me to try & capture? I am also aiming to record some Suikinkutsu, their acoustic resonance reminds me of my Mutable Instruments RINGS modules (or maybe that should be vice versa)



5×5 Velvia

Velvia 100 is my favourite colour film, and I managed to order 5 boxes of 5 rolls via a recent sale… The unreal part is what this would have cost me, if I paid the retail price! I almost ran out of Velvia when down South & bought a couple of rolls at a retail camera shop…
They charged me NZ$48 per roll or $225 for a box of 5! So 5 boxes of 5 would cost NZ$1,125! Compare that to Yodobashi where 1 roll of Velvia 100 costs Y1,220 (NZ$15.45) and a box of 5 costs Y5,330 (NZ$67.49) – so my stack of 5x 5 rolls x Velvia 100 in Japan would cost N$337.45… not $1,125

For B&W film I stocked up via BHPhoto, since apparently low iso monochrome film doesn’t have the same issues as colour with XRays… and not many local shops actually stock Kodak TriX400, let alone TMax100…

Camera shops in NZ currently sell Kodak TriX400 for NZ$15/roll…
BHPhoto stock it for US$4.95 = NZ$6.87 & Yodobashi stock it for Y937 = NZ$11.86

Camera shops in NZ sell Kodak TMax100 for NZ$16/roll…
BHPhoto stock it for US$5.09/roll = NZ$7.07, Yodobashi stock it for Y880 = NZ$11.13

Kodak is presumably manufactured in USA (which explains why its cheaper to buy it in the USA) and same vice versa for Fuji, in Japan… But that local NZ pricing on Velvia 100 just seems excessive…

My “beer” fridge



Why 35mm is booming – And what might happen next – By Stephen Dowling
35mm films you can still buy today – part 1
35mm films you can still buy today – part 2
35mm films you can still buy today – part 3

rePost: The Art of the Reveal (from 2009)

I’m fascinated by the Japanese word ‘ma’ – partly because like many Japanese cultural terms it defies translation (eg see Marcel Theroux’s cornball attempts to learn what wabi-sabi means) but here goes a vague attempt: wikipedia tries to define it as negative space, or as a “gap”, “space”, “pause” or as “the space between two structural parts.” But as this post on Mefi illustrates, thinking of it as a negative space is not intrinsic to its meaning. A perhaps better definition: ‘Ma means an interval in time AND space, but it is much more than just a blank space. When ma is used in conjunction with the arts it relates to rhythm (it was originally a concept related to music). It can best be described in theater as a dramatic pause in spoken lines, in music it is interpreted according to each musician’s taste and how one wishes to space the notes. In painting, the empty space (ma) is used to enhance the whole of the painting.’
But the definition that has intrigued me most, since reading it years ago (& I am damned if I can find a link to the source) is this: “Ma, for its part, is generally translated as “space,” but it can also mean “time.” It refers to the space between events, as it is being perceived by someone, as well as being expressed by an artist. It is not an abstractly calculated space, as is conceived by Westerners, but rather a sensory, and I would even suggest, a “sensually” perceived space.
An example will better describe this concept. Let’s say you are invited to attend a tea ceremony. You enter the tearoom. The room is quiet and almost undecorated. It has a distinct meditative feeling. You notice in one corner of the wall in front of you all the necessary equipment and utensils for the tea ceremony. There might be an empty square covered by sand in the middle, instead of the traditional tatami (straw mat) over which, hanging from the ceiling, could be a metal pot. You turn your head to the left and you notice behind you in the corner of the wall the calligraphy of an old haiku. Below it stands a flower arrangement. Beside it hangs a beautiful kimono. When you entered the room, you noticed first the tea ceremony equipment because they were the most striking, but upon investigating the room, your eyes gradually noticed these different elements of decoration, some of which even took you by surprise because they were subtly placed out of sight.
The ma refers to that perceptual space between each of the elements that your eyes encountered while gazing through the tearoom, intentionally created in this manner by the designer of the room. Each of these elements purposefully solicited your mind in a timely manner since your senses do not notice all simultaneously, but one after another…. The ma is thus the perceptual space as our eyes notice things that entice our minds to wander and wonder upon each of these items. This flow of time is part of the concept of naru, as your discovery of the different elements gradually adds to your experience of the room. Their arrangement within the room, and between each other as you gradually attend to them, is deliberately created with this purpose in mind. In this sense, the ma refers as well to how the artist or designer aesthetically succeeded in creating this sensory and sensual impact through this particular arrangement. In music, ma refers to the silence between musical phrases, as well as how each of the phrases is performed.”

Before I ever read that description, or even knew of the term, I experienced something akin to an element of the same concept in Japanese architecture; what I began to call ‘the reveal’. The first time I went to Naoshima, a small island in the Japan Inland Sea, was purposefully to visit the art gallery designed Tadao Ando. I hadn’t experienced his work before, but in my research for the trip what I had seen in books was so strong that it prompted me to pursue the experience. When you arrive at the gallery (the Chichu Museum) you first park a few hundred metres from the entrance & purchase a ticket & are briefed on the rules of entry (no photographs etc) and then walk up the road to the entrance.

Walking past the gate, you come upon a concrete wall with a door, built into the side of the hill. As you walk inside you enter a lift and then descend a floor, and in the process realise that Tadao Ando is now in control of your senses. And what a master he is! Just a simple example, walking along a long corridor that slowly amplifies your senses via its minimalism (bare concrete walls, natural light entering via hidden recesses) you approach a larger space…

And around that corner is revealed to you, as though in a postcard, the entrance to the Monet room.

Now Monets painting are beautiful to see in any appropriately lit space, but here they are sublime. But what struck me repeatedly as I explored this amazing gallery (& its worth noting, there is no electric light in the gallery at all) was this concept of Tadao Ando controlling my perceptions & revealing to me the contents in a beautifully controlled manner. As I experienced more of his work & other Japanese architects I became more & more interested in what I called ‘the reveal’ but which obviously had far deeper cultural meanings…

So I have a vague sense of the term ‘ma’ but what is a reveal & how can it be applied?
Definr provides two meanings for the word reveal: first ‘to make visible’ and second; ‘to make known to the public information that was previously known only to a few people or that was meant to be kept a secret’

After leaving that Chichi Museum totally buzzing I remember thinking it was a little bit like Tadao Ando held in his closed hand the most exquisite jewell, and he slowly opened his hand to reveal it to us… But of course I began thinking as to how it applies to music & sound and not coincidentally the first post I ever made on this blog, back on 18th Sepetember, 2006 was a quote from Goethe which I have used for the last decade or more as my email signature: ‘I call architecture frozen music’

So to state my case, I am less interested in buildings that look like frozen music than I am the reverse. How can the deeply resonant creation of such beautiful architecture influence the creation of music and sound? Now there is no answer to this question, its a life long exploration, but visiting the Chichu Museum then & on repeat trips has kept me thinking about the reveal. In music the most simplistic reveals are those that are immediate. All songs reveal themselves to the listener, under the control of the composer & the mix, but two recent tunes I heard made me think of them as great examples of establishing a mood (walking down that darkened corridor) and then revealing the true intent (turning the corner). The first use of the reveal is what is often termed ‘the drop’ in dubstep; the tune is by Shackleton – In The Void; it beautifully sets up the beat, but just wait for the drop @1.35

An example from a different genre is via the Warp artist Bibio in the song Lovers’ Carvings which starts out almost as a folky guitar song, but @1.28 reveals a beautiful mood shift.

I think what I am talking about is primarily to do with a specific aspect of structure and form – my examples are in music but undoubtly it occurs in all art forms, obviously including film (on a moment by moment basis, but also in the transition between acts) but also in experiencing nature,as James Turrell explains in an interview;

Places: The only way you cannot engage places that have power is by leaving them … but does one’s arrival play a role?

Turrell: The Grand Canyon is one of those places. It’s possible to come up to the canyon in such a way that you don’t even know you’re arriving, and then suddenly burst upon it. I like to fly up the Colorado River to this canyon which you have to climb into through a tiny valley. I fly through the bottom of that valley in a slow climb to a small opening; as you fly through the opening, boom, suddenly you’re in it, and the ground falls away for 5,000 feet.
So the approach can order your experience. You can come in through the side door of one of the places we’re considering and have a different experience than if you enter through the front door; you can reorder it as you get in, but entry is important. We do learn in this culture not to see afterimages. But in any situation your previous experience is important. If you went from a rather pink room into a very pale green one, at first the intensity of the green would be very high because you loaded that green room with a green afterimage that came from seeing the pink room. Size matters too. Coming through an opening into a big space – in Canyon de Chelly, for example, there are some areas like this. Conversely, there are natural places that wouldn’t have power were something manmade not there. Borobudur and Split have this quality…. I think one of our greatest conceits is to feel we’re not a part of nature. We feel victimized by technology. Well, we’re technology. It’s as though the coral that creates the Great Barrier Reef were appalled by the coral. The Great Barrier Reef is coral. We build cities, and that’s what we are. We’re crustaceans that make these shells we inhabit. You can see New York from space about as well as you can see the Great Barrier Reef.”

Form in music is fascinating, especially once you step outside the verse/chorus structures of traditional or popular song writing. I’ve recently been reading a book called Arranging Techniques For Synthesists by Eric Turkel and it has a great section on Form, heres an excerpt:

Form is one of the more difficult of the six musical elements to define or describe. We don’t ‘hear’ form; we feel it. We are least aware of form when an arrangement flows from introduction to ending in an exciting, engaging way. We occasionally become aware of it when sections don’t flow together and end up with a sense that something is missing or not connecting. Form is like a blueprint from which we develop a solid structure. Weak form leaves us with a feeling on incompletion caused by a flaw in the blueprint, which inevitably leads to structural damage.
Form is the division of space or time into units or distinct sections. We set these divisions up at specific lengths for technical and aesthetic reasons. Form is the silent yet pervasive force that holds an arrangement together….

Over the years I’ve come across many means of visualising music, most purely as a means of entertaining the eye but the Shape of Song serves both that purpose and as a means of helping to identify form in music, check it out (you can also upload MIDI files of your own to analyse)

Erik Saties Gymnopedie no.2

Kraftwerk’s Pocket Calculator

Bjork’s Human Behaviour

Detritus 419

▶ James Turrell | Art + Film Honorees


▶ hmmmm declassified nuclear test footage


▶ imho The Wire Magazine has been the best music magazine & resource for a very long time now, and regardless of a plethora of websites it remains as relevant as ever.. But due to an address change mistake on my part, I only recently got the last 12 issues and have been so enjoying reading them… and just a heads up, the February 2017 issue 396 has a great interview with Edward Artmiev – ‘Soundtracking Tarkovsky’ – fascinating!! And yes, if you’re allergic to paper you can read The Wire via your device


▶ Great back story to one of New Zealands first/best guitar distortion pedal makers


▶ re United Airlines appalling behaviour & the media coverage


▶ Cannes lineup announced



▶ handy VPN comparison spreadsheet and if you really want to get your privacy on, read this


▶ quite possibly the best review you will read of Ghost in the Shell


▶ DIY waking dream machine


▶ love this idea: local video store starts an adopt-a-movie scheme


▶ “I try to remember that making is fundamentally as natural as breathing.”


▶ The man who interviewed the wind
(The Guardian is one place where commenters actually have a sense of humour!)



How many balls do you have in the air at the same time?

In some ways life was easier when I was solely working on film sound design – there was usually only one schedule with a very clearly defined deadline, and a series of smaller deadlines preceding it…
If the schedule had to change usually a meeting was called and any issues were raised and solutions were found… So while the film required juggling priorities (eg a run through of subjective elements with the director being more urgent than finishing an ambience pass) there usually weren’t too many balls in the air…

But now?

Just before I returned from Japan towards the end of last year, I sat down and made a list of the projects that I wanted to make a priority for 2017… when the list reached seven major projects I stopped being excited and started to worry a little bit… but the list kept growing and I am now working on over a dozen projects, some of which are actually multiple sub-projects eg for HISSandaROAR I have two libraries very close to finished, two other libraries fully recorded, two more clearly defined and recording scheduled, and another nine started… So just that one project – HISSandaROAR – is currently made up of 15 projects, each in varying stages of development…

Of course some of the projects sit in limbo, waiting for their turn…. But part of my aim for 2017 is to dispense with multi-tasking, and to pursue the idea of multiple mono-tasking – one thing at a time!

Anyway, the point of mentioning this, is that I have come to the conclusion that my current organisational systems work fine for an individual project, but the time has come to gain some skills at multiple project management. So if you work in an environment that works on multiple projects and has great systems in place I’d love to know how you achieve it?

Many of my projects are personal i.e. I am my own client, but even then for two of the projects I am collaborating with a software developer/coder… Other, more recent projects are commissioned work with inherited schedules, deadlines and approvals…

So while I don’t need a full blown design studios management system, it seems to be the direction I am heading… My research thus far has mainly been online, for example this article has made me trial the Omni apps as well as look into Basecamp and activeCollab amongst others…

Suggestions, especially from first hand experience are most welcome!

A few interesting/relevant links
– the best solution to writers block ever!
– the case for going to bed at 2.30am
– Isaac Asimov wrote almost 500 books in his lifetime — these are the six ways he did it




or of course via email if easier


Muko River, Amagasaki, Japan
Fuji TX2

Contact sheet

In the digital world the use of thumbnails as a standard UI visual shortcut is taken for granted… but its precursor is one of the many beautiful aspects of shooting film: the contact sheet. I can still clearly remember the nervy thrill of opening the first roll of film back from the lab – Ektar 100 on my Contax T2 – one glance at the contact sheet and my worries were gone!

Ever since I’ve become addicted to that thrill, the only downside I discovered was that when you order scans of your developed film they don’t scan the contact sheet or maybe they will if you ask? I’d like to have it, purely as a quick overview of what was on the roll… But it also prompted me to do a little research on the subject…

You can order prints of the original contact sheet from some of Magnums most iconic photos, for example have a look at this gorgeous contact sheet – “Audrey Hepburn behind the scenes during the filming of American musical comedy ‘Funny Face’, a film released 1957. Photographed by David ‘Chim’ Seymour for Coronet Magazine while in rehearsal in 1956….
Reproducing the original without alteration and enlarged to a 16″x20″ paper size, these Magnum Contacts offer a unique insight into the methods by which our photographers produced some of their best known images, by clearly showing the sequence of frames and the marks of the editing process on each sheet.”

If you do a Google image search for “film contact sheet’ there are many, many contact sheets from famous shoots, as well as some very clever uses of the contact shoot…

Ditto for this Pinterest collection – I love seeing them marked up by the photographer eg this one of Hendrix by Gered Mankowitz, 1967

When I was in Japan last November I went to an exhibition by Rinko Kawauchi and bought a 2013 book of hers called SHEETS which “attempts to retrace Rinko Kawauchi’s steps in this world through a reassembly and re-editing of her filmstrips as a reinvented whole. Cinematographic at heart, the sequences of randomly selected contact sheets offer a real-life time lapse, a resurrection of moments in the personal history of the artist and immortalised in some of her more significant publications.”

Another use of contact sheets has been as the primary image itself, such as this LP I bought the other day in a junk store… I thought it was such a great cover I didn’t actually mind if the music was terrible/contained no sample gems..

Photography by Jim Shea

Some artists have made such clever use of contact sheets their primary work, creating composite images – check out the works of English artist Martin Wilson or German artist Thomas Kellner

There is a quick guide to making a contact sheet here but what about a digital contact sheet? Apart from taking a screenshot in LightRoom or Adobe Bridge or any other app that displays your images as thumbnails, there is a handy Photoshop Action that can automate creating a contact sheet from a folder of photos… if you’ve never looked you may not even know this handy script exists:

Just set up the parameters, point it at the source folder of images, hit go and watch it build your contact sheet for you…

Late Xmas Presents

Worst time of year to be receiving mail but having seen the tracking stall I was very happy to see two boxes appear at my front door!

Managed to find these in Japan & buy them – shipping was surprisingly not so bad… The two VTE-2000 I got for 36,500yen (US$310) and 35,500yen (US$302) – one has rack ears, both came with power suppleis although one is 110-240v and the other is 110v only…. freight via EMS Japan > NZ cost me 7,423 yen (US$63)

FWIW the new price of the VTE2000 when it was available was ¥59,800

I got inspired to find one of these weird MC09 after seeing a live set by Kyoka

2015 01 20 Kyoka Live from studio r° on Vimeo.

New Year might get a little loud!


10,045 Xmas presents have just been delivered, and as there are some fun & quirky sounds in the present I thought I’d post them here too…

CICADA Kamikaze flying wing buzz hits light shade
One evening last summer a rather confused cicada somehow got in my house and was buzzing around the lights in my studio. Occasionally it would hit one of the glass light shades, each of which has a different pitch, so I thought I might as well set up my microphones… I love the thrum of its wings, but the recording slowly turned into a weird random percussion track….

CREAK METAL Fireguard shrill
The house I rented in Charleston earlier this year while recording Cave Ambiences (one of the new libraries coming in 2017) had a fireplace and while it wasn’t actually cold, one night I decided to light the fire for entertainment (its better than most TV!) As soon as I opened the metal fire guard I stopped in my tracks at the horrendous metal shriek it made. So of course the next night I set up my microphone and recorded about an hour of various moves & hits with it….

DEBRIS Impact Cane chair throw
DEBRIS Impact metal drum hits
DEBRIS Impact recycling bottles cans hit rattle

I like the Japanese idea of O-souji, the end of year custom to clean your house so it is ready for the New Year. My house has a covered back porch which over the course of 2016 has slowly filled up with various crud. So before I clean it all up I decided to throw it around & record it!

DRAIN water drips wave booms
My neighbor here in Plimmerton knows about my sonic obsession and one day mentioned this great sound he had heard down in the local park. There is a stream that flows through the park and out to the sea via a large covered drain, maybe 500m from the park to the ocean. We had a very large king tide one day, so at high tide I wandered down to the park with my 722, 8040s and boom and stuck my microphones down between the grating of the drain. The tide was so high the waves were making a great soft BOOM sound every so often…

GONG 1A Soft mallet hard hit
GONG 1B Soft mallet soft hit
GONG 1C Medium mallet medium hit
GONG 1D Hard mallet medium hit

In the photo the gong you are hearing is the largest one, direct in front of the microphones. I rented these gongs from a local percussionist and am going to spend some quiet time over the holidays, exploring & recording them for a new HISSandaROAR library in 2017. So if you have a gong sound you’d like email me! (I also plan to deep sample each gong for velocity layers and round robin, for release on FoundSound.com when it launches in 2017!)

SUCTION CUP Shower matt INT verb
This shower matt was in the same house as fireguard grating, and as the bathroom was one of those tiled wet rooms, it made some great sounds as it released from the floor! I’d like to record more of this, without the bathroom reverb!

WIND Boatyard yacht whistle rattle flap
This was recorded at Plimmerton Boat Club during a Northerly gale, which in NZ sounds ferocious but is actually quite warm (unlike the Southerly direct from the South Pole) – I suspect this recording could be great source material for Doppler-izing!

Detritus 408



▶ mmmm ER301




▶ apparently they have ID’d that mysterious sound coming from the Mariana Trench!


▶ no doubt you’ve seen radio.garden posted elsewhere, where you can supposedly explore radio stations from all over the globe… but you have to ask yourself what kind of global radio stream aggregator can only find 2 radio stations in all of Japan?!? Even a very simple Google search finds dozens… #WTF? #APIfail?




Was just feeling nostalgic for such incredible Japanese food as I enjoyed on my recent trip & thought I would share a few things I picked up along the way…. When lunch looks like this, the idea of returning home starts to make me feel a little anti-homesick


One coping mechanism in the past has been to make a note of what I really enjoy, and to research how I might be able to make it myself at home… And one important factor in many Japanese food is rice.
I’ve owned a rice cooker for many years, but it was just a normal rice cooker – it worked ok for normal rice, like you might have with a curry, but for sushi rice it was always a bit lacking… And if you’ve watched the great doco Jiro Dreams of Sushi you will know what an art cooking rice is in Japan so I started doing some research.
First stop was Yodobashi where they had a huge selection, but I noticed they were all 110V only… after asking one of the staff I was directed to the export models (in a totally different section) and after much discussion and research settled on this model: Yojirushi NP-HIH10


The cost was Y37,000 (=US$325) and I freighted it off home via EMS, paid a little duty & GST when it arrived in NZ, and its been frankly awesome! It has about ten different settings, depending on the kind of rice.
Using the sushi setting it took about 45 minutes to cook a cup of rice, and once cooked it was super sticky, almost forming balls for nigiri straight away. I was surprised by the time involved, but after a few more uses discovered it doesn’t vary eg half a cup took the same amount of time. But maybe this isn’t surprising as it heats up slowly, and cooks the rice under pressure – a far more sophisticated method than my old rice cooker. I’ve since cooked normal white rice and it came out very light & fluffy, so all & all a very worthwhile upgrade!

Next mission was to make these salmon sushi


Many times I’ve watched sushi chef use those small gas burners to lightly blast salmon, the same gas burner that is presumably used for making creme brulee… so it wasn’t hard to find a similar burner at local foodie supermarket Moore Wilsons. And it is unreal how the flavour changes, with even a very quick blast – oishi!

Next on my agenda was to find a source & method of making ice tea. Since I was in Japan in summer and often lugging lots of equipment around with me, staying hydrated was a challenge and after much research the best solution that I liked was ice Jasmine tea.


Apart from buying it at Combinis the times I really noticed how great it was, was when having ramen where they always had a jug available full of ice. And it wasn’t that the flavour was strong, quite the opposite – many ice tea have an after taste that I dont really like. But weak jasmine ice tea was just perfect, so I did a bit of shopping in Japan and bought a few packs of Jasmine tea bags, but then had to do some research as to the best way to cold brew it.

Turns out the solution was ex Australia and a company called T2 who along with many flavorus of tea, also sell these very handy ice tea jugs which work with tea bags or loose tea leaves…


I leave 2 tea bags in the big T2 jug for about 8 hours and the result is the perfect summer drink!


One food I cannot find locally is hotate – we have scallops in New Zealand, but they just are not like the Japanese variety… oh well, cant win them all!


I love clam miso soup, and plan to try an experiment using local clams (& maybe mussels) with miso..


I also bought a few soy holders but never found a soy jug as cute as this one – love its form


Last food photo makes me laugh… it was taken about 10pm the night we camped out on the shore of Lake Biwa. Along with a tent etc we rented a charcoal BBQ which took quite a while to get going, due to simultaneous wind, light rain, and too many beers… As some of the yakitori we bought was chicken, I was very keen to make sure it was very well cooked… hence not eating until 10pm…


The small spicy sausages were also delicious, and we kept most of them to eat for breakfast… But I was woken in the middle of the night by our tent rustling and only woke enough to make a noise & scare away whatever it was… Not soon enough to save our leftovers though! I hope the cat, or whatever it was enjoyed them!


Sugoi!! Super happy to have finally bought a device I’ve been hunting for, for over a year! The VOCU VTE2000 is a tape echo with one special feature that none of the Roland or Korg tape echos have:
a pedal/cv input for echo/tape speed!



Like my Fuji TX2 I have somehow lucked in again, buying a device that is 20+ years old but has hardly been used. The seller said this had been used less than 20 hours total, and looking at the head & roller it would seem to be true!



The parent company are interesting, VOCU now primarily make power supplies for guitar pedals and apparently ceased making tape echos due to access to parts. But the website for this model & the VTE1600 are still online, have a look here for the VTE2000, which lists the new price as ¥59,800 = USD$529. Shame they aren’t still made as there would be plenty of demand for them… Page for VTE1600 here (They did sell the VTE2000 outside Japan as HIWATT Custom Tape Echo CTE2000) There is a link to a PDF of the VTE2000 manual in Japanese here

A few google translations from that site:

– Control of echo time by the expression pedal, such as loop recording function, packed with unique features not found in conventional machines.

– Foot switch: Echo on / off, recording on / off

– The longest echo time about 2000ms.

– Head configuration: Erase × 1, recording × 1, short echo playback × 1, Long echo playback × 1

A side note: if you are into film cameras the you probably know of Japan Camera Hunter who is based in Tokyo & will source film cameras to request.. Current stock is listed here (check the Nikkor fisheye lens!! and the xPan 2 full set)

Wouldn’t it be great if someone did the same service for synths & outboard gear, especially devices like this VOCU tape echo that you very rarely see outside Japan…

Heres some (slightly wacky) sounds from one (not my vid)

update: wow – just found a second one from the same source!!

update: put the manual through google translate, english version here

update: english manual for the HiWatt version here

Vinyl love


Since I got back from Japan I have been massively re-organising my studio & my house, inspired by the brief objectivity you get from arriving somewhere familiar but after having not seen it for 2 months. Needless to say I left it in a slight state of chaos & that chaos is now being sorted!

One conclusion I came to is this: my house is 2 story, and basically anything downstairs I do not tend to use very often. My foley/recording room gets used occasionally (intensively for periods & then not much) but one thing that struck me was how much I miss listening to vinyl…. And as my turntables & vinyl collection are all downstairs I decided to remedy that fact!


So now my modus operandi is: if its not in use, it goes downstairs. If I am using it, or plan to then it goes upstairs. I think it might be a useful mental paradigm!

But ah fck what a pleasure it is to listen to vinyl again! The blue vinyl in this case is POLE – R album I bought as a double 12″ in London, which must mean it was back in 2001…


The lefthand deck is an SL1200 but the right hand one is a Vestax PDX2000 – I used to have a pair of 1200s but sold one to buy the Vestax, after using one in a record store & loving the fact it had a backwards button, and very wide pitch control… great for sampling, or just for listening in strange ways…


But this isn’t some technical fetish – its the music that matters. And its been a pleasure diving back into my vinyl collection – if I can find them on online I’ll post a few tracks I’ve been listening to recently…

Relatedly last night I was struck by how beautiful the play out locked groove was at the end of a Dub Syndicate album – it had a thump & a click as kick/snare in nice timing, but it was the spatial stereo clicks & pops that made me sit & listen to it for a while… & then start jamming on the piano…

Found a 7″ of this classic

& this Flying Nun classic

Kyoto, sideways


This is one of my favourite photos from my whole 2 month trip to Japan – I love the bokeh from 35mm film, to me the photo feels a mysterious landscape… until I rememeber its all sideways, and the ground/footpath is the right of the photo!

Contax T2 + Tri X (click image for larger version)


While I was in Japan I got slightly caught out by a tide, after jumping across a very small stream an hour later I needed a stick to check how deep the stream was thanks to the incoming tide – it was up to my knees & rapidly growing deeper… Another hour and maybe it would be up to my waste? I felt like a bit of an idiot, although knew I wasn’t in serious trouble as there were people fishing nearby….

But if you do any recording or spend any time exploring at beaches, or venture on to rocks this article is worth a read for your own safety: Tides and safety – the rule of twelths

On my way to Akashi I noticed this great structure out on a jetty


So on the way home I got off at a station and bought some beers at a combini and wandered along the beach as dusk fell




keep your data safe

After posting those stats on my data generation during a two month Japan trip (106GB of field recordings, 428Gb of photos & video) a couple of people asked me how I manage my data while travelling, so here is my methodology & associated tech. Warning: there are no great revelations or shortcuts – it is all fairly simple, and boring… but it works!

The basic requirement is to keep your data safe – so that means creating clones in two, preferably three separate places, as soon as possible. And, at crucial times, keeping them separate ie physically separate.

A final caveat, no doubt there are better ways to do this, and if at any point you read this & think ‘WTF, why doesn’t he just get a thing, or do this then comment & help us evolve for the next trip!

Backup for me = [laptop] + [2 x 2TB drives] + [bag of cables]

In a nutshell, I use a 2013 macbook pro laptop to clone data asap – it has 2 x usb, 2 x thunderbolt and a built in SD card reader. I carry two LaCie rugged 2TB hard drives, which power off the bus and have both USB3 and FW800 connectors – available in NZ here


My sources of data:

sound devices 788T – 8040×2 ORTF + 8020×2 spaced omni = 4 x 24bit 96kHz
sony d100 = 2 x 24bit 96kHz

sony a6300 capturing 4k, 1080p/24fps-120fps + JPG+RAW stills
contax T2 shooting TriX to neg x TIFF hi rez scans
fujinon TX2/xPan2 shooting Velvia50/TriX/400Pro to neg x TIFF hi rez scans

Each of these create different amounts of data, at different rates (especially shooting film) but my aim is at the end of every day, or as soon as the data is available, to transfer on to one of the 2TB drives, and then backup to a clone on the other 2Tb drive.

I have a strict folder naming policy of ‘DATE-DEVICE-DESCRIPTION’
For example the top level folder might be called:

201610 JAPAN TRIP Master

and sub folders labelled
20161107 a6300 Kyoto
20161107 788T Kyoto

The date is generated via a TextExpander shortcut, so the format is consistent.
And I don’t reorganise the contents – this backup is strictly chronological.

On the second 2TB hard drive I have a folder labelled
201610 JAPAN TRIP Clone

And I use a simple OSX app called FoldersSyncronizer to backup from the Master to the Clone.

My Sound Devices 788T has a large enough hard drive in it that I also leave the original data on the device, so for all sound recordings I have three separate copies of the data.

For video & photos, after a week or so I have to clean off the SD cards – it amazes me that as per the photo of the hard drives above, in less space than my business card I have 2 x 128GB and 1 64GB SD cards.

If I was only shooting photos JPG+RAW, I could probably cope leaving the data on the SD cards, but when it comes to shooting 4k video or 120fps 1080, it chews through data… So I tended to let the SD cards fill up, and switch to the next SD card, backing up daily but only then cleaning the SD card after doing an extra check that all data had been transferred.

So thats about it. The only other point to make, and it is an important one, is with regards to the physical location of your backups. While I was in Japan I stayed the first week in Tokyo in one apartment, then six weeks in an apartment in Osaka, then 1 week in a different apartment in Tokyo. So including my international flights there was four times when I was relocating with everything I owned and all data with me. Now it is stating he obvious but, at those times my data is at most risk i.e. if both hard drives were in the same bag as my 788T, and that bag got stolen.. then all of my data is gone.

So my final comment is when travelling/changing locations, place your three copies of data in three different bags. For my international flights, two sets of data went via each of my checked baggage suitcases and one set travelled with my as carry on.

Worst case scenario, travel insurance would replace my recorder & cameras. But there is no such possible insurance to replace data that will never exist in that form ever again.

In an ideal world I would also be uploading my data to a server as/when I had time… But this is rarely possible while travelling eg I rented the fastest 4G LTE wifi modem I could find, with no data cap. But all mobile data is assymetrical and is geared for fast down/slow up. The only other way would be to find a friendly ISP and pay to do a rapid data dump upload, but good luck negotiating that with my sub-primary school Japanese language skills 🙂

Oh, one other thing: those 2 x 2TB drives also contain Carbon Copy Clones of OSX from my laptops internal SSD… so if I had a devestating drive crash or had to replace the SSD in my laptop while travelling, I have a CC OSX copy to reinstall back on to a new drive. That laptop wont be doing many backups if its internal drive died!

Mass Transit

While the incredibly highly evolved train system in Japan is what makes almost every part of the country accessible, there is another aspect that works hand in hand with the train system, something every large city could take notice of (I’m looking at you especially Auckland!)










Komiyama Books

My last day in Tokyo felt weird – partly as I had checked out of my Air BnB apartment by 10am and put my two cases & backpack into coin lockers & was then kinda homeless, floating in Tokyo until my flight home that evening…. I had planned to go recording but rain was forecast so I flagged that idea & did some shopping instead, heading first to Komiyama Books which is a secondhand book store specialising in photo and art books… International shopping info here


I went with no specific intent, other than hoping to become aware of some Japanese photographers but when i came across a whole section of rare Michael Kenna books my credit card took a beating!


Michael Kenna early works 1976-1986


Michael Kenna catalogue from an exhibition in 1990

Upstairs were different floors/sections – I think third floor was fashion books and top floor was rare prints… and a robot


Fantastic store – I could have spent hours & many thousands of dollars here!!

Last stop was Yodobashi to stock up on film…. esp after checking the price of Velvia 50 back in NZ


After some great sushi for lunch I had an hour to spare, so headed back to Ikebukuro where my bags were stashed and went & sat in the sun in a nearby park… and had a classic Tokyo experience!


A friend had mentioned this park as a mecca for people playing Pokemon Go and sure enough there were quite a few people standing around, staring intently at their phones… but the most surreal thing that happened was when a young woman turned up, put her bag down in the exact centre of the park, plugged her headphones in and then proceed to practice dance routines for the next 30 minutes! It was kind of cute, especially as no one else could hear the music… Most people just ignored her but every so often she’d do some routine that involved hand claps and she would catch peoples attention briefly…
How great, that people can do such things & no one really bats an eye…

Eventually I went & retrieved my bags from coin lockers (momentary panic when one of the lockers would not unlock… I stashed that bag the previous night & ahar – the locker needed feeding for day 2 before it would release my bag, phew! Glad I didnt leave it until the last minute to learn that!!) Then on to the Narita Express, a cruisy 90 minute train ride to the airport and homewards bound…


Two months in Japan


106GB of field recordings
428Gb of photos & video…


backup to NAS,
then the editing begins!

The Crows

Earlier today I went for a walk through Yanaka Cemetery, thinking it might be a possible recording location for quiet distant city…. but the rain arrived early & I didn’t get any recording done, but it was still a valuable recce for a future mission…. and peaceful, if a little damp


Not sure if these crows have been watching too many Hitchcock films or what, but they definitely owned the cemetery…


With halloween being such a big deal in Japan wouldn’t it be great to be able to summon a murder of them to Hachiko crossing!?




really missing my 400mm lens & a DSLR for these shots….

That feeling…

While finishing (& the release) of a project is intensely satisfying, one of the next best feelings is the journey home after a great day capturing new material.

Today was one of those days


My first mission was always going to involve some luck: I wanted to revisit Taya Caves, for the eventual CAVE AMBIENCES Library, with my 788T recorder and quad mics. The first worry I had was will they let a gaijin carrying about 15kg of gear in two bags, into the caves? This is a site of huge historical significance and if the wrong person was working in the ticket booth I would not be doing any recording…


Thankfully a lovely woman was working this morning, who seemed very surprised to see a gaijin visiting the caves, and even more surprised to learn I was from New Zealand, nevermind that it was my third time visiting the caves.


My second worry was other people – I know these caves are so resonant that if one other person is in there with you, then the chances of recording clean sound are near impossible. When I walked into the carpark entrance a guy on a scooter was just leaving, and after buying my entrance ticket I noticed an elderly couple who looked like (maybe) they had just finished their visit to the cave…


So I walked in the entrance and in to the first beautiful location, far enough in that the external world disappeared and I was left with the cool air and beautiful melodic drips of a cave carved by hand by monks… except I also heard voices…. hmmmm….


I remembered that the prescribed route through the caves is a giant loop, so I waited quietly and slowly detected that one of the voices was a small child and if there is one thing I know to be true, it is that I have more patience than a small child. So I set up my mics and waited….


Slowly the voices grew quieter until they disappeared – I hit record and walked 100m around some corners, up the tunnel (so my breathing isn’t a feature of a the recordings)


I dont know if other recordists do this (feel free to comment, lurkers!) but when recording I often count. A thousand and one. A thousand and two. I was hoping for a bare minimum of 3 uninterrupted minutes. My spirits lifted when I reached four minutes… I got distracted in other thoughts…. I started counting again… I got to five thousand and one… returned to the recorder. 19 minutes? WOW! Great!!! This was one of the most melodic cave drips I’ve heard, super happy that the 10 minutes I thought I was counting was actually 19 minutes of uninterrupted recording!


I quickly scouted ahead, checking what else was worth as significant, and then decided to record a wider ie more distant perspective of the same melodic drips. Relocate, hit record, walk up the cave & start counting… six thousand and one… six thousand and two…. return to recorder, 11 minutes!?! OK there is some time dilation happening here…. interesting…


Moving on…. to location 3


The beautiful sound of a small distant waterfall reverbating in this chamber stopped me in my tracks.
Set up the mics, hit record. Start counting… relocate close to the source:


While I left the recorder rolling I stealthily scouted ahead & verified this was the last recording location, so eventually returned and packed up my gear and exited the cave, somewhat altered by the experience of being underground in cool damp air for 2 hours…


While I had been inside the caves, the staff at the ticket office had changed and the young shaven head monk jumped slightly when I suddenly walked past ‘arigatou gozimasu’


I have a theory of local travel, especially when lugging gear: catch a taxi to the location, walk back. This method means you arrive at a location fresh & full of energy, and can do your best work. Taya caves are about a 30 minute walk from Ofuna Station, so while you could walk there, you will arrive hot, sweaty & a little tired already.


But that taxi ride to the location also gives you a chance to get a feel for the lay of the land. How far & where do you need to walk on the way back? What opportunities exist, to sidetrack away from busy roads…


To get away from a busy road I followed this walking/cycling track through paddocks where the remnants of a rice harvest were still evident…


and what I suspect are lotus plants?


I love lotus root salads, and while I know lotus flowers usually grow in water, lotus root that is eaten maybe grows in soil? If so I want to grow some….

Paddocks were also growing… brutalist concrete sculptures?


Next time I visit Taya Caves I suspect a new train line or motorway will run through these paddocks… further on I met a partially formed support, and instantly wanted to grab a sledgehammer & climb up there & hit the reinforcing bars to see how they were tuned..



A friend & HISSandaROAR supporter got in touch, enquiring if there was any chance of me recording ‘small town Japan’ for an upcoming doco he was due to start, so rather than walk directly back to the station & back to Tokyo, I walked through the back streets of Ofuna, stopping to record some lovely quiet ambiences


Usually harsh mid day light is dreadful for photos, but I loved the surreally large shadows being cast here:



One of the ambiences I tried to record in Kyoto, but was thwarted was the birds in a bamboo forest. In Kyoto I recorded for 15 minutes and 12+ minutes had distant helicopter all over them, so I considered that a lost opportunity. But while wandering through these back streets I heard those same birds in the distance, so i followed my ears




These birds were quite screechy, and while there was a bit of wind I didnt capture any great bamboo creaks or knocking – but I did capture those birds!


On the way to Ofuna this morning the train passed through Yokohama, and I read how the Yokohama station is “the fifth busiest in the world as of 2013,[1] serving 760 million passengers a year” so I figured it was worth a stop on the way home…


I love how Japanese freeways have these diffusers attached – it really does soften the direct sound of cars passing, resulting in a dense thrum of traffic….

I walked down & along the waterfront, eventually ending up at this lovely park. Set up the mics and recorded for 15 minutes before a mother & two small kids arrived & set to blowing bubbles which drifted past me in the afternoon sun….


Today = 10.6GB of sound in quad
11.2GB of video & photos

It was a great day!

Me & my tired legs will sleep well tonight

Ramen #26



Thoroughly delicious ramen for lunch – it was the second time I’ve been to this tiny ramen joint, but this time they had a poster proudly displaying they were in the top 50 ramen restaurants in Japan… and a quick search of Tabelog verified they are #26 for 2016… amazing when you think there must be hundreds of ramen shops in Japan!


If you are visiting Japan the Tabelog site is very useful for finding great restaurants… as is GuruNavi

Industrial Sakai


After some Google earth vs maps research I headed off this morning to explore industrial parts of Sakai… Managed to find a train station that got me within 4 blocks, on a cute train line that was only 3 stops long – I guess built to deliver workers to & from the same industrial area I wanted to visit… Next step was crossing this bridge, where I found my first ambience to record


Through & under the bridge I could hear some huge loud clanks & bangs, and it soon became apparent a ship was loading itself with a crane & a big set of claws…


I recorded this perspective for 10 minutes but decided it was a sound worth pursuing so tried to get closer to it…. But after walking for 20 minutes it soon became apparent I couldn’t get closer from the factory side, but I did find this weird green compressor thing:


It seemed to be constantly building pressure, and then every 14 seconds would release a blast of air and carry on, ad infinitum… I recorded for 10 minutes and started to think of it as a weird set of lungs, wheezing away…


Any idea what could create these patterns? It was on the footpath, so couldn’t be vehicle wheels…. my only thought was… snails?


My super power = recording through security fences


Eventually I started to get tired – lugging my mics & recorder & camera in 28 degree heat takes its toll, so I wandered back across the bridge and walked along until I found a clear spot away from traffic & directly across the water from that ship! Set up the mics & proceed to lie down in the grass & shade & snooze for 20 minutes while I recorded it = best perspective yet!


Along from where I was set up, there were a few elderly gents fishing & one came wandering along to see what I was doing – without saying anything I gestured the headphones to him….


It is always so nice to see someones face light up when they realise what you are doing! Funnily enough in all of my recording in Japan plenty of people obviously see the mics and I see them glance at me & think WTF? But rarely does anyone approach me, the few previous times were two photographers in Ginza, and a security guard in Shinjuku (who asked me to leave) – the only other was an elderly lady in Amagasaki who was very sweet and I gave her my headphones for a listen but didnt have my camera ready to take a photo of the reaction….

One thing I do love with my little Song a6300 is silent mode – unlike DSLRs that have quiet mode which really is nowhere near silent, the a6300 being mirrorless can be truly silent. This helps if trying to stealthily capture a photo of someone, but also means that while I am recording I can potter around taking photos without having to edit out the shutter sound afterwards… WIN WIN!!



Caught the train back to Namba station & wandered outside and recorded some pedestrian & traffic ambiences…



Its my last week in Kansai so am rapidly making a to do list, and suspect I will come back to this intersection with my XPAN/TX2 and shoot some long exposures of those crazy diagonal pedestrian crossing markings…


One of the temples I visited in Kyoto this week provided an unintentional reminder of how beautiful feedback can be…. This particular temple has a massive hall/meeting room with a famously painted ceiling….. but the only way to view this ceiling is to take a guided tour…. And when I fronted up for the tour I was advised the tour was ‘Japanese only’ – NO PROBLEM I said & paid my 500 yen.

When we were led into the hall space, the ceiling was indeed beautiful… and our guide proceeded to explain in great detail the back story for the ceiling – or at least I can only presume so, as my slim grasp on Japanese language was not of much use here…. But what was unintentionally beautiful was that she was using a microphone, with speakers feeding/replaying into the large hall chamber….

Every time she paused, the reverb would start to feedback (presumably some compression or limiting was occurring in the PA system) and slowly I started to pay more attention to the feedback, than to what she was saying….

And slowly, it became a concert of slowly evolving reverbant feedback – her voice providing the somewhat relentless input, and the speakers feeding back into the reverbant space providing the beautiful sustained tones…

It made me think

Fave AirBnB search term?


Just booked an AirBnB apartment in Tokyo for my last week in Japan at the end of the month… while searching I stumbled across an apartment with a grand piano but the dates didn’t work, but it made me stop & think… & then search obsessively until I found this apartment… Sugoi!

At least finding the right building in the street won’t be difficult



Well… I am now a very happy new owner of a new old Fujinon TX2 (aka Hasselblad xPan II) – I have been itching to get a medium format film camera and have been checking out Hasselblad 500c options while in Japan.. but I’ve had a nagging doubt about lugging *another* large camera & lenses around with me…

Getting used to shooting with the relatively tiny Sony a6300 has been welcome relief, and every time I pick up my 5D3 it feels like a weighty beast, which is both good & bad…. Good/great if you are in your own country and all the gear is within easy reach of the car.. Bad if the location/s are remote…

One of the definite downsides of the Sony a6300 is that the decent Zeiss lenses are all ‘focus by wire’ ie control of focus is based on software, and for me this is not a ‘feature’ I will ever get used to. I had doubts about ever being able to use manual focus (aka myopia paranoia) but this issue was resolved by using beautifully engineered lenses that were designed to be focused manually. And I don’t necessarily mean expensive lenses eg the old Takumar 50mm lens out performs many spendy Canon L lenses when it comes down to ‘feel’ and subtle tweaking of focus, but my Zeiss ZE full frame lenses are a joy to use. So while I love using my little Sony a6300 and can achieve good results with it, it feels like a toy and a compromise when it comes to manual control of lenses.

But wow this Fuji TX2 – it feels weighty compared with my Contax T2 (which I also love, but it doesnt really encourage my ideal style of shooting ie bulb mode long exposures via cable release) but the TX2 in use in panoramic mode feels a little like an invite to a Sergio Leone movie… You can switch it to ‘normal’ 35mm mode and shoot like a rangefinder, but in panoramic mode it is more than a little bit unreal and is very inspiring to shoot with….

After visiting Yodobashi Umeda to get a few essential bits (CR2 batteries, UV filters for the lenses, a camera strap etc) I jumped on the Chuo line and headed out to Osaka port and blew a roll of Ektar 100, shooting some side by side long exposures between the a6300 and the TX2, using the same settings, and then varying the exposure on the TX2 as a test…

As with any new tool, have got to use it enough to develop intuition… but lets wait until roll #1 is back from the lab!

In the meantime check some of these gorgeous xPan/TX photos: flickriver:xpan

ps: I did the frame count check and this TX2 has only done 250 exposures total since new, which is apparently what you can expect when new as they do a similar number of calibration test shoots… unreal to become best friends with a decade old camera of such extraordinary conception!

Three Exhibitions in Tokyo

Managed to get to three exhibitions while in Tokyo, first was an exhibition by photographer Rinko Kawauchi at 916 Gallery



I own a couple of her books but while at the exhibition I managed to buy a book titled SHEETS containing series of contact sheets/prints


Then headed to Ebisu, to visit the Tokyo Museum of Photography which has been closed for the last year or more for refurbishment. The relaunch & opening included a large scale exhibition by Hiroshi Sugimoto which was almost overwhelming…


Many years ago I visited this museum and at the excellent museum shop had found & bought a beautiful photo book by one of my favourite photographers Michael Kenna and I had noticed a new book by him released by the same Japanese publisher, called In Hokkaido but when I asked at the shop they said it had already sold out… I know his books sell out & secondhand prices escalate rapidly, but the very helpful staff suggested trying the Tsutaya Daikanyama T Site book store so after a quick phone call we headed to Shibuya and success!



I could have spent many hours at this beautiful book store… but we had another exhibition to visit, off to Roppongi to 21 21 Design Site for an exhibition titled DOBOKU: Civili Engineering





There was a video interview playing with the rather quirky engineer who as per the photo above seems obsessed with modelling various forms of hydro dams using Japanese curry!


This scale model is of Shibuya station, and in a way it shows both how complex and how tiring it can be to find your way around such large scale underground stations – if you don’t pay attention to exactly where you are needing to go, you can do a LOT of walking!

If you are ever in Tokyo, a super useful website & app is TOKYO ARTBEAT which lists all current exhibitions, and to give an indication of how vibrant Tokyo is, there are currently 90 photo exhibitions on! That site is also useful even when not visiting, as a way to observe & research Japanese artists…
The app is very useful as it also provides directions and map, and can suggest exhibitions in the same area as your current location.


A similar site and app exists for Osaka, Kyoto & Kobe: KANSAI ART BEAT

Tuesday = sugoi!

How much fun can you fit into one day? I’m not sure but I think I maxed out today…. Started off waking to heavy rain, which in NZ would likely be bleak but in Japan in summer it was still 28 degrees… Had my first Uber experience – had to run a block to find him after he stopped getting closer, (also had to pay 1.8x rate due to demand) but all good from there…. Next stop:


I found Symphony Salon online as I was keen to pursue my theory about how travel affects the pysche, by renting a grand piano for a few hours & seeing what would happen…. Lovely people there gave me the keys to one of their piano rehearsal/concert rooms with a 1985 Steinway grand piano at very reasonable rates…


So I arrived, set up quad recording rig and improvised for the first half hour… just getting used to however I was feeling and how the piano was sounding. Then plugged in my iPod with a few guide audio cues into channel 5 of my 788T and set about kind-of overdubbing to some music I have in slow development… Then switched to metronome app and improvised to a few different tempos, recording the click to ch 5 again….

A thoroughly enjoyable & maybe even productive two hours!


I have another two session booked for Friday, as figured I needed to try it out, see what happens & then have some time to listen & play around with the results…. and then iterate it…

Finish the session, pack up & meet a friend at ICC Gallery, the highlights of which were two installations, first “Chijikinkutsu” by AKAMATSU Nelo – a room lined with glasses of water, with a sewing needle floating on the surface of each glass and a small electromagnetic coil attached to the side. Something was randomnly powering on the coils, attracting the needle to hit the side of the glass making a tiny ‘ping’… it was such an exquisite pointillistic orchestra of tiny sounds I wanted to lie down & fall asleep to it!


The second great installation was more challenging: a VR project The Mirror by FUJII Naotaka + GRINDER-MAN + evala…. I won’t try & explain it, other than to say it very cleverly manipulated perception and the medium itself, playing with variable lag/delay and merging ones visual sense of self with that of perception….

Outside the ICC Gallery/NTT building is a complex intersection with a freeway running across it, which I’d noticed on previous visits had a lovely diffuse busyness to it… so I set up and recorded for 15 minutes or so….


Weirdly I had recorded more than enough & was shooting some video when a security guard turned up & told me to pack up…. I was happy to oblige, 15 minutes earlier and I would not have been!


I then found a couple of other locations with varying degrees of busyness and distance, and recorded some other valuable additions….


Then the rain started again, and Shinjuku just looked even more beautiful & crazily busy!



Yakitori for dinner and then headed to La Jetee bar for a few drinks…





Also shot another roll of TriX amongst all of that….

Arriving to Tokyo

I know all the cliches, about it being about “the journey” & not the destination…. but when the initial journey involves checking in at 6am with a hangover, the destination is the focus that makes the 12+ hours of cramped bored suffering on a plane worthwhile…

By the way, my hangover was partly due to hanging out with my dear friends ian & eddie in Auckland – check out Ians fridge, all the food groups covered here:


It was a great relief to eventually arrive to Tokyo station and make my way to my favourite familiar LOHAS SUPER HOTEL! (you know its a favourite when you dont even have to tell your devices the wifi password, they have remembered it since last time!)


And when I checked in I didn’t even need to ask – having ‘pre-ordered’ this lovely nondescript box was waiting for me:





This trip to Japan (& especially Tokyo) is going to be busy!

Tomorrow is day 1 recording quad ambiences (8040 ORTF + 8020×2 spaced omni to SD788T) in Tokyo and for the last month or two I have been obsessively researching the aspects of Tokyo I am aiming to capture…

And along with sound recording, I also have a number of music projects planned while I am here….all part of some subconscious master plan that hasn’t been revealed to me yet… but this Make Noise 0 Coast is one small part in the puzzle…. more to come!


While the sights and sounds are always welcome, I always also LOVE the olfactory response – leaving a chilly NZ peaking at about 10 degrees C yesterday, to arrive to Tokyo which was 29 degrees C at 6pm is like a great big warm hug…. but its only when you eventually get off the planes & trains and walk to your destination for the night/s that you get time to pause & fill your lungs… that sweet mysterious smell of a new adventure!

Here we go!

Detritus 399

▶ korg plugkey seems like a nifty idea, shame they aren’t bi-directional…


▶ pills!



▶ these are beautiful, almost look like calligraphy: the stark beauty of Japan’s soaring Cormorant population


▶ nice analogue studio – Kyle Dixon working on the ‘Stranger Things’ score


Wallwave Vibrations by Loris Cecchini


▶ love these tiny Japanese turntables


▶ Great interview – i love MUBI – but especially this part of this interview:

NOTEBOOK: When discussing your work, you are always replying in plural…

TARR: You have to know that Béla Tarr is a brand, not only me. First of all, it’s Ágnes Hranitzky, László Krasznahorkai, Mihály Vig and me. These four people were working together for thirty years and we were doing what we did. That’s why I prefer to reply in plural. I have never said any of those are my films because that is not true.

NOTEBOOK: How did the creative process work? Did you divide the tasks or everything was a collective effort?

TARR: Well, I had the final decisions all the time, but they have really big sensibilities and somehow, when we were talking about the life, situations or anything, they had the same point of view. Of course, Mihály is a musician and László is a writer. Even though we have a different language, we somehow think about the life together, not about a film.


Spatial Bodies

Spatial Bodies by AUJIK depicts the urban landscape and architectural bodies as an autonomous living and self replicating organism. Domesticated and cultivated only by its own nature. A vast concrete vegetation, oscillating between order and chaos.
Music specially composed by Daisuke Tanabe.
Filmed in Osaka, Japan.


Detritus 396

▶ is it ethical to kick a robot?


▶ hearing a ripple in space time



▶ useful MW thread: best sounding software vocoder?



▶ Graham Dunning – Whale Attack


▶ help Jan Svankmajer make a new film


▶ I want to go here: sleepy Japanese town built inside an active volcano


▶ interesting read/listen of 3 composers work


▶ warning, title may contain clickbait: the loudest sound in the world would kill you on the spot


▶ interesting new plug: Frosting



Detritus 395


▶ xkcd message in a bottle


▶ remix the track Run (121bpm) from Olaf Stuuts new album, download stems at bandcamp here


▶ wearable subwoofer?



▶ love this concrete music – 3d printing a mould


▶ How the songbird learns its melody – also baby birds learn while still in the egg!


▶ fascinating interview with Hauschka re methodology, randomness & notation….


▶Anime before it was “ANIME”


▶ fascinating interview with theatre composer Stefan Paul Goetsch, I especially found the discussion of adapting modular synth composition for orchestra very interesting! Via & thanks to papernoize


▶ love this 3D Printed Zoetrope by Akinori Goto! more info at This is Colossal


▶ was reminded of this today – hiarial!


Detritus 389

▶ I love slow films but a seven hour trailer? for a 30 day long film!?


▶ rip


▶ free Exposure app by LEE Filters for Big Stopper users


▶ double Double Bass?


▶ WTF? People are selling rain from the day Prince died


▶ Unreliable Ltd? Over Normal Ltd? Unsustainabubble Ltd? Random Rubbish Ltd? Guess the artist?


XOXX Composer


▶ love this: site specific pin hole cameras


▶ no prizes for guessing the #1 of this listicle: 25 best Japanese film makers


▶ I get a weird sense of satisfaction outputing an AAF or OMF for myself when picture editing… ‘he’s going to enjoy this one!’
@JonathonKing “It’s mess … but I’ll let the sound department fix that shit up …”
@Me “I hear he likes a challenge….”


▶ wow, so glad I never took up that Apple Music trial period, seems odd that they basically trick us all into agreeing to their terms & conditions (has anyone ever read, let alone understood all of their T&C?) when if the same was applied in the real world, this issue would be like Apple breaking into my house & taking all my vinyl away!
Relatedly I am rapidly getting tired of the whole software/data as a (dis) service concept – two useful apps I like & have used have changed their business model, with both TextExpander and Freedom apps becoming subscriber apps. End result, neither are so valuable or irreplaceable that when my current install stops working I will take up their subscriber models and will instead find an alternative that is NOT a SaaS!
Its a sad day when an otherwise good app is resold with no real benefits to users, in a naked attempt at accelerated capitalism.


An instrument per film

The reward for pretty much every film I have worked on, aside from the work itself, has been a musical instrument. Sometimes it has been acoustic (eg my double bass from Perfect Strangers back in 2000) and sometimes both (eg the my Korg SV1 piano in 2011 for The Orator). In more recent times it has often been modules…

For my current project (score for Tusi Tamasese new film ONE THOUSAND ROPES) I’ve added a number of incredibly well executed Kontakt and UVI instruments, as well as a few random collections of small ethnic instruments (via TradeMe), but this? This is the reward for my current project:


The rabbit hole just got even deeper….
And yes, it will definitely be appearing in the soundtrack!



I managed to pick up the Buchla Music Easel secondhand via MW forum, ex someone in Melbourne who bought it in 2015, so it is practically new. Also included is the Wifi card and a Synovatron CVGT1 Eurorack module, which means I can store/recall/edit patches via iPad and also connect to and from my Eurorack modular synth…


FWIW here is Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith on the Buchla Music Easel:

and Giorgio Sancristoforo:

Have to confess to one other addition – it wasn’t particularly on my radar, but I simply could not avoid it…


Its a fairly rare MultiVox MX-450 pedal synth, which appeared on Trademe and made me think hmmm…
It fits the criteria for a future project, and who knows – it may well end up in a duet with the Music Easel! Suprisingly it has CV inputs and is made by the same people who made one of the rarest (non-working) synths I own, the Firstman SQ01 – which was a fore runner to the TB303. I’ve had a local tech look at my SQ01 with no success, so I may have to take it to FiveG in Tokyo sometime… but I love the idea that two such idiosyncratic synths originated from the same Japanese company in the 1970s and have been in someones cupboard in New Zealand until this moment!

Detritus 387

▶ free Mt Kimbie sample pack and remix/writing competition here


▶ great concept, very ‘zeitegiesty’ as someone said the other day – is that really a word form?
photos with the phones removed


▶ Not all that wander are found


Seances presents a new way of experiencing film narrative, framed through the lens of loss. In a technical feat of data-driven cinematic storytelling, films are dynamically assembled in never-to-be-repeated configurations. Each exists only in the moment, with no pausing, scrubbing or sharing permitted, offering the audience one chance to see this film before it disappears….

Check out Seances here (thanks Anthony) – quite amazing/disturbing/brilliant!


▶ if this doesn’t melt your heart then you must be dead already!


▶ Each Perc system can control up to three beaters, and you can connect multiple systems over MIDI to add more beaters. Polyend plans to ship Perc in September 2016. You get a controller and one beater for 799 euros (about $907 US as of today) and 200 euros for each additional beater.



“they don’t know anything about computers or the electronic music culture of the West, or even rock ‘n’ roll, or even rhythm & blues, all of this is very foreign to them”guess the artist?

▶ “When the song went to No 2 in the UK, my artist friends told me I was selling out, but just months later the term being used was “crossing over”. I’d gone from an idiot to a visionary.” – guess the artist #2?


▶ wow would love to experience this installation: time is TIME – Tsuyoshi tane states that; ‘the goal was to show that there is an absolute quality to time. in the universe and on earth, it has a fixed measurement yet every one perceives it differently’


▶ Good on Apple for adding a mute button to Safari! Amazing that it took until version 9


▶ great interview with John Lurie


▶ so can your Apple watch do this!? Didn’t think so


Faulty bass

Picked up a bargain – listed as a “faulty bass guitar” so I didn’t pay very much for it at all (not that its worth a lot anyway as apparently this bass is a Hofner clone made in Japan, Silver Star were a sub brand of Tokai)

The faulty part didn’t amount to much – the 1/4″ socket was loose and making the connection intermittent, I didn’t even need to resolder it – just tighten it up…


Detritus 383



▶ Sound art exhibition? or a bunch of old tech? either way you can buy it for $70 and maybe sell it to an art dealer… or maybe not…


▶ “….all of this is done without any sound. He says that some interesting things happen when he turns the sound on.” – guess the editor?


▶ The Art of Time


▶ the South Island of New Zealand drawn like a subway map – funny thing is that if we had the population of Japan that would likely be real!


▶ Life imitiating art/cartoons? A Grafitti artist painted a road runner tunnel on a wall & someone tried to drive through it


▶ Akko Goldenbeld created “a scale model of the city of Eindhoven and assigned it the role of sound recorder; the buildings create a score. Placed on a revolving wooden cylinder the buildings set little hammers in motion that play the keys of a piano. And turning and turning, the city makes its voice heard: from loud to soft, long to short, high-pitched to low, translating the urban developers’ three dimensional reality into an aural experience. Stadsmuziek (City Music) makes you tune in to the ensemble-playing that is environmental planning….” or something…


▶ there is an important lesson here for anyone who is making & sharing things online – own it & self host it, all these ‘free’ sites (FB/Tumblr/Instagram etc etc) only exist to profit from your use.. and they can be gamed… own it & self host it!


▶ love these toy dinosaur photos


▶ The *difference* between hearing and listening via SonicField (thanks StevieG!)


▶ fascinating analysis of the orchestration of Johann Johannssons score for Sicario


Ansel Adams: Photography With Intention, by The Nerdwriter – support his video essays on Patreon here


▶ “I’m not at all concerned about the future of AI”


▶ I think this might be the most amazing, sad, prescient thing I have ever seen – ready for the apocalypse?


▶ for people who take themselves a little too seriously….

OMG there are more of them!

too funny!!!


▶ great idea, love to see a Making Of vid where they show all the people who must have come up to them asking WTF are you guys doing???


▶ this is like one of those gopro vids except without the dumbass music – just the sound of australian insects & MTB tyres ripping through the forest floor….


Detritus 382

▶ First audio recordings from the Mariana Trench i.e. 36,000ft deep


▶ The Music Startup Meltdown


▶ classic!


Roden Crater – Alpha East Tunnel (if/when I ever manage to revisit the USofA, it will be to visit Roden Crater)


▶ Face swapped Mulder and Scullly look like a great synthpop band via


The Piano’s piano sells for just NZ$1,000 at auction


♥ Ozu


▶ Japanese bird species provides the first example of non-human syntax


▶ Someone thought it would be a good idea to fly a drone at 11000ft – it wasn’t!


The concept of 2020 is very simple:
1. Generate a million sound/sequence variations from a single, small idea.
2. Make entire beats in just one screen. (without scrolling or switching windows)
The 2020 Kickstarter project will be funded on Tue, Apr 12 2016


▶ the extremely high cost of being a perfectionist? the day will come when perfection cannot be achieved, then what?


▶ Spike Lee shares his NYU teaching list of 87 essential films every aspiring director should see


▶ useless facts: How much would it cost to buy one of everything on Amazon? Answer = $12.86 billion if you’d rather avoid the clickbait


▶ Two of the winners from the NY Drone Film Festival 2016 – others here

(great to see a drone video with excellent editing/post!!)


Detritus 381

Landthropologic, Earthworks In Motion from Paul Johnson via Colossal


▶ 10 buildings with extraordinary acoustics


▶ wow – Japanese farmer in Hokkaido is sick of people trespassing to take photos of a tree (know as ‘the philosophers tree’) so he cut it down 🙁


▶ very funny/sardonic reviews of the Oscar films



100 Pedals!? via dangerous minds


▶ SSD reliability in the real world: Google’s experience


▶ the art of anticipation


▶ love this – thanks Georgi @eesn


Wintergatan – Marble Machine (music instrument using 2000 marbles) via gizmodo


Detritus 376

▶ wouter van Veldhoven: four tape recorder techniques for minimal techno: looping, delay, reverse delay and saturation


▶ interesting news that Kodak are releasing a new Super 8 film camera, but OMG it is so fugly… compare it with the Beaulieu on the left… The new Kodak one looks more like a small fridge


▶ A bird feeder/acoustic amplifier?


▶ via Expressivee


▶ interesting mallets for playing gongs


▶ word substitutions that make reading the news more fun: xkcd


▶ I’ve seen the gold vinyl that was sent with the Voyager 1 back in 1977 but had never seen the 116 images included to give ‘aliens’ an idea of human life



▶ 10 minute interview with Carter Burwell


▶ wow – highly stroboscopic short film


▶ 20 great movies with very little dialogue


▶ wow – Tri-X is 62


▶ Millenials & music – a funny rant about a lost generation (lost to corporate ‘music’?)


▶ interesting article about the influence of Japanese art & design on Bowie


relatedly I have a small wooden drum thing I bought in Vietnam that works similarly – it has a sprung beater & you hold the spoon part up to your mouth and as you change the shape/volume of your mouth it varies the pitch… I’ll upload a video demo of it, hmmm NEVER! 😉


Favourites from 2015


Alex Humann – Dawn
Burial – Temple Sleeper
Cio D’or – Yocta To Yotta
Daniel Stefanik – Genesis
DeepChord – Ultraviolet Music
Donnacha Costello – Love from Dust
Floating Points – Elaenia
FKA Twigs – M3LL155X
Hudson Mohawke – Lantern
Ibeyi – Ibeyi
Jamie xx – In Colour
Leafcutter John – Resurrection
Luke Vibert – Bizarster
Mark Ernestus’ Ndagga Rhythm Force – Lamb Ji
Masayoshi Fujita – Apologues
Max Richter – Sleep
Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm – Collaborative Works
Portico – Living Fields
ro noise – Orion – SSI117
St. Germain – St. Germain
The Orb – Moonbuilding 2703 AD
Vilod – Safe In Harbour
WNDFRM – Formal Variant

+ special thanks to Giles Peterson and Benji B and Alex Cowles and The Wire and RNZ Concert for always opening my ears…



FAVOURITE films/tv:

The Salt of the Earth by Wim Wenders
Cemetery of Splendour by Apichatpong Weerasethakul
A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence by Roy Andersson
The Knick – fascinating stats




– flying (& landing) my drone on a tiny fishing boat, Kagoshima, JAPAN
– shooting a shipwreck in pre-dawn Motueka, NZ (waist deep in seawater)
– cast & crew screening of my ARATAKI short film
– walking/circumnavigating Quail island
– spending my 50th with my nearest & dearest
– flying my drone up to an erupting volcano, Kyushu, JAPAN
– hearing (& recording) an Okarito kiwi, NZ – see/listen here
– eating a salad from my own garden (most days of summer, thus far!)



Erbe Verb


Wow – just four days, from when I ordered the Make Noise Erbe Verb module from Clockface Modular in Tokyo, until it was handed to me by local courier in Plimmerton, New Zealand – that is dangerously fast!! I am used to waiting patiently for a week or two for such things to arrive – even when I’ve bought modules from Australia!
The Japanese postal system certainly makes NZ Post seem pretty basic – in Japan you can choose a time for delivery of goods, including after work & into the evening… Great to see they are also super efficient with international post!


Pounds of Gold

This is a music video I shot & contributed elements for back in August when I was in Japan, a great song by Stillhead from his new album due for release soon – crank it up! Some of the shots were from monorail in Tokyo and Osaka, others are from the Shinkansen – I was shooting with my 5DmkII and Zeiss lenses, with camera sideways, in portrait mode….
Check out the album preview here

Parallel lines cross at infinity

The first work I ever experienced by Carsten Nicolai was back in London in 2000, looking through the Time Out guide as to what concerts & exhibitions were on I came across mention of a german artist and his ‘Sound Art’ work, so I went along not knowing what to expect…


The work involved a series of shallow water filled trays, lying on top of a grid of subwoofers – you heard and felt the deep tones before entering the gallery but the lighting was such that the patterns formed on the surface of the water were projected on to the walls of the gallery… It was one of those beautiful minimalist concepts, where what appears as a simple idea creates profoundly complex outcomes. It was beautiful and despite it being a decade and a half ago, I remember it like it was yesterday….


So when I read of a new book Parallel lines cross at infinity documenting his work I instantly tried to order it but the publisher would not ship to this part of the world so I waited & eventually ordered it via Amazon – thankfully the wait was worth it!


I’ve managed to see a number of his works over the years, usually in Japan and while I have also seen Alva Noto perform a few times (both here in NZ once & in Kyoto) it is his sound art practice that interests me more.


This is a hefty book with beautifully photographed works, an interview spread across five or six pages and a career long documentation of his works… Highly reccomended!


Music for a Tuesday

▶ Nils Frahm – full concert from Montreux Jazz Festival 2015


▶ music for 16 Korg Volca keys?


▶ kangding ray // acto


▶ OMG Japan: Rare & Experimental Japanese Pop 1980-1989 via Listen To This!

Chiemi Manabe – Untotooku
Miharu Koshi – L’amour…Ariuwa Kuro No Irony
Hiroshi Satoh – Say Goodbye
Colored Music – Heartbeat
Minako Yoshida – Tornado
Ryuichi Sakamoto – Kacha Kucha Nee
Mariah – Shinzo No Tobira
Yukihiro Takahashi – Drip Dry Eyes
Sandii – Zoot Kook
Haruomi Hosono – Ohenro-San
Osamu Shoji – Jinkou Station Ceres
Neo-Plant – Kisagari Koharu
Inoyama Land – Wässer
Aragon – Horridula
Asami Kado – Kagami No Naka No Zyugatsu
Tamao Koike & Haruomi Hosono – Automne Dans Un Miroir
Hiroyuki Namba – Hiru No Yume


▶ Guide (& Youtube playlist) to Dub Techno




FUJI (不死) from Joanie Lemercier on Vimeo.

“Fuji” is part of Lemercier‘s ongoing artwork series on volcanoes. It combines a large scale hand drawn landscape depicting the Fujiyama,
augmented by a layer of projected light. The abstract narratives are inspired by the legend of Kaguya Hime, a folk-tale from the 10th-century
and a key element in Japanese culture. It gives an imaginary and poetic vision of this story in an immersive environment.

a 14 minute audiovisual installation by Joanie Lemercier
music by Paul Jebanasam
production by Juliette Bibasse

more info here

Detritus 365

funny, but not half as interesting as tales of his recordings & instruments etc….


▶ humans versus algoirthms: who makes the better mixtape?


▶ Willie Christie on the Fripp/Eno NO PUSSYFOOTING album cover


▶ great long read on books – digital and real… and frankly, having just moved my X00 books from upstairs to downstairs I have a whole new appreciation for my own personal ‘real’ library…


▶ Listening to the wind on Gunkanjima


▶ “I often make decisions from a gut feeling. This has been the more successful path in business, rather than engaging in heavy market analysis that often looks backwards. I think it’s necessary to have a feeling of where things will go. Then you can create something new….” – fascinating tour of the Zeiss factory and interview with Dr. Winfried Scherle, ZEISS Executive VP…
“I believe it’s advantageous for the artist to have a really good lens and then make modifications to reduce some of the perfections by modifications. It never can work the other way around. You can’t take an inferior lens and add a filter to make it perfect.”


▶ a house built on calculus?




How to charge your batteries twice as fast

Sounds like click bait right? Well it isn’t – it actually works, but if you haven’t guessed already the solution is VERY simple:


Buy more chargers!

I’ve met a few people who have bought a new camera & proudly showed it to me & when I ask how many batteries they bought I’ve been surprised when they say one & have no idea why they should have bought at least one spare battery. Imagine you’re on holiday and back in your hotel room after a full on day exploring & taking photos – your *one* battery is charging… and suddenly something amazing happens, so amazing no one will ever believe you unless you can document it, you grab your camera hit the power button & nothing happens…. oh right, your *one* battery is still charging…

But if you’re out shooting or recording a lot, having a lot of batteries is a necessity and keeping them charged & ready can be a bit of a chore. I actually have four chargers for the batteries I use with my Sound Devices recorders, but I do have two recorders and a LOT of batteries which take quite a while to charge… So if I suddenly decide to head off on a recording mission tomorrow I can get at least get 4 large capacity batteries fully charged in a few hours.


Sound Devices recorders = 10 batteries & 4 chargers
Canon 5D = 8 batteries & 2 chargers
DJI Phantom 3 = 6 batteries & 2 chargers

And while I only have one charger for my iPad & iPod and one for my iPhone I do have two USB batteries which carry a lot of power & can easily recharge my iPhone a few times over – essential for travel with long flights!


A few other observations about batteries:

– DJI are soon releasing a charging hub for the Phantom 3 batteries, which you can plug four batteries into and the device charges the fullest battery first, then switches to the next fullest etc etc… this is such a great idea, I could shoot for weeks with my 5D and its batteries but the Phantom chews through batteries fairly rapidly (each battery = 25 min flying time)

– I love how on the Shinkansen they have a power outlet by each set of seats – makes sense as a lot of people in Japan travel for business and the transit is a work time too. One stint on my flight home I managed to upgrade to business class for not much and was surprised they didn’t at least have a USB outlet at each seat…

– Seen these fake power outlet stickers? You’d really have to be a bit juvy to go stick them on a wall at an airport, just to seek entertainment as desperate travellers try to plug in their devices

Old skool


Love this photo from the National Library NZ on Flickr of “Japanese merchant, identified as “Mr Shojiro”, holding an abacus, taken between 1867 and 1869.”

Anyone with a few more 3d/comping skills than I care to swap that abacus with a TB303?

You will make my day