Amoeblog

Interview With Dave Tompkins About His New Book - How To Wreck A Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War II to Hip-Hop, the Machine Speaks

Posted by Billyjam, April 13, 2010 04:50pm | Post a Comment

"Ever since the first bored kid threw his voice into an electric fan, toked on a birthday balloon, or thanked his mother in a pronounced burp voice mutation has provided an infinite source of kicks," writes author Dave Tompkins in his just published new book How To Wreck A Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War II to Hip-Hop, the Machine Speaks (Melville House/Stop Smiling). The recommended hardcover Dave Tompkins How To Wreck A Nice Beachbook is an exhaustive in-depth study of the history of the vocoder (and other voice mutating and vocal altering technology) that the author, who has been obsessed with the sounds and effects emitted by vocoders ever since he first heard "Scorpio" by Grandmaster Flash & the Furious Five and "The Raven" by the Alan Parson's Project, spent a full decade researching and writing.

The result is a unprecedented historical study of the vocoder that should appeal equally to music fans, tech heads and also history students. Currently on the road promoting the book, Tompkins will be doing a lecture and slide show and playing music tonight in San Francisco at SOM Bar at 2925 16th Street along with hometown DJs B-Cause, Centipede, and Freddy Anzures. His set is at 10pm and on Thursday he will be at the HotWax party at 222 Hyde St. in San Francisco. Earlier today I caught up with the author to ask him about his book and the obsession that led him to write it.

Amoeblog: What inspired you to write this book?

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KRAFTWERK FOUNDING MEMBER FLORIAN SCHEIDER LEAVES GROUP

Posted by Billyjam, January 6, 2009 06:06am | Post a Comment
                                                         Kraftwerk "Die Roboter"

After a forty year musical partnership the two founding members of Kraftwerk, Ralf Hutter and Florian
Schneider,
who officially formed the influential Düsseldorf, Germany group in 1970, have gone their seperate ways. As reported yesterday by KraftwerkTechnopop.com, Schneider has decided to leave the group to pursue other projects. Meanwhile Kraftwerk will continue to perform and record after his departure.

Schneider, who played flutes, synthesizers, electro-violin, and programmed computers, first met Ralf Hütter in the late 1960's when the two were both students at the Düsseldorf Conservatory. Initially the group played more in the Krautrock vein before altering their style to more techno/synth pop/rock for which they became famous. Besides merely playing their instruments, they also created many of them. Kraftwerk is perhaps the most widely influential band of the past several decades, with their influence being felt in every genre from new-wave to hip-hop to techno and other strains of electronic music and beyond.

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I AM A ROBOT & I WANT TO SCORE A VOICE ALTERED HIT SINGLE

Posted by Billyjam, November 26, 2008 01:30pm | Post a Comment
thr33 ringz t-pain
Last night as I was listening to, and really really trying to like, T. Pain's latest over-produced and overly guest heavy new album Thr33 Ringz I quickly determined that Mister Pain is still painfully over-using that vocoder like voice altering program which I had hoped would have stayed back in the summer of 2007 when near every damn rapper had some digitally altered ear-piercing robot voice effect prominent in their sing-songy rap hit single/video. I thought or rather hoped the fad was long over. But I was wrong.

Apparently here at the end of 2008/cusp of 2009 this gratingly annoying vocal effect is still very much alive as proven by such current hits as the T. Pain featuring Lil Wayne single "Can't Believe It" --  found on the R&B singer's aforementioned recently released new album.

But let's leave T. Pain alone. Even more painful to these hip-hop loving ears is Kanye (the artist formerly known as a hip-hopper) West, who kanye westrecently, in an interview about his rap-free new LP, announced that "hip-hop is over for me" and who dedicates his heartbreakingly-hard-to-listen-to entire new album (808s and Heartbreak) to (like T.Pain) singing through the vocoder like autotuner effects. Jeesh. I guess his hanging out with Daft Punk just rubbed off on him way more than anyone could have ever anticipated. Below is a clip of Kanye performing a track off this new album on Letterman earlier this week. Disappointing? Hells yeah and not coz the autotuner is a bad piece of musical recording/performing equipment. But like anything in music, as in life, it comes down to how you use it, or rather don't use it (3 words Kanye: "less is more").

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