Dust & Grooves, Sheila B

Really enjoyed this Dust & Grooves interview with Sheila B - a Brooklyn vinyl collector who's spent a hefty chunk of time amassing 45's from 1960's girl group, French Ye-Ye singers and Japanese Pop gems.
Aside from being a collector and skilled DJ, as evidenced by this mix, she also runs an ongoing blog over at Cha-Cha-Charming that shares many of her findings. She may prefer vinyl as her format of choice but I love this quote on being a music collector:
The joy of listening far exceeds my need to have it on record. The song is the cake, the original vinyl record is the cherry on top.
Well said. Dive into that interview - even if just for the photos! Plenty of amazing record covers to enjoy.

Ryan Schude

Nice writeup from Vantage on the photography of Ryan Schude. Aside from having a load of great examples of his elaborate work there's some nice insight on how he goes about setting up these shots. The most impressive thing is that, while staged, they aren't heavily composed in Photoshop, this is actually captured in the moment.

There's a fun lightness to the work and often a bit of surreal lighting. Dive into Schude's Tumblr for some more traditional work and inspiration or hit up his official site to really immerse yourself in the Tableaux Vivants.

Making Mr. Man

After the release of Nahnee Bori's latest album, Mr Man, I was curious how composter and creator Cody Uhler managed to put the whole thing together. Where better to go than but the source for insight. He was kind enough to field some inquiries about making the album and provide some insight that gives me even further appreciation of the album.
Can you talk about the technical creation process with making this record? It has such a unique blend of instrumentation, I'm curious how you came to bring them together.
CU: I really wanted to exploit sub par virtual instruments and digital voices. One of my favorite instruments to use was an old garageband saxophone. I filtered a lot of the high end frequencies out to create a really ambiguous woodwind/brass instrument. I became really fond of the stiff, angular sound it presented. These kinds of sounds were perfect for layering and weaving a dense, kinetic auditory fabric. While the virtual instruments and voices laid the groundwork for the compositions, I could pepper in found and recorded samples, synthesizers, and real recorded instruments. I liked the obvious juxtaposition of organic content to artificial. It really brought out the stark, comical aspects of the fake instrumentation.

Can you discuss the more emotional process? Where was your head at in creating this?
CU: I was feeling very ponderous. I wanted to make music that sounded like 80's and 90's kid's show background music that gets completely out of context and control at times. I imagined that most of the music was played by a group of weak, little creatures or people. There's something really endearing and hopeful to me about that concept. The ambiguous tone of the assorted digital voices were perfect for creating a mood that seemed benign, yet magical at the same time.

You had a distinct vision for the cover art that Rachel Briggs was able to bring to light - do you feel there is a dichotomy between the sound of the record and the art or would a forest of animals make songs like this?
CU: The cover art is an incredible fit to me. The group effort of the birds surrounded by all of the ornamental details translates the music wonderfully. The detail that really ties it all together is the empty opening in front of the conductor. It's warm hue and emptiness nails the overall emotion of the album.

What's next for you? You seem to have blended Lotic Prattle and Place quite elegantly with this - what would the next Nahnee Bori record be like?
CU: I'll probably blend concepts and techniques of the past three. With each album you gain a new set of tools to use on your next idea. I've been wanting to synthesize old country music with electronic elements for a while now. I'm haunted by the idea of a lonely cowboy traversing the cosmos on horseback.

WhiteAlbum

Everything old is new again. Right? Such is the case with White Album - an app that takes up to 24 photos at a time and then mails you physical copies of said photos. No previews, no retouches, no filters.. just point, shoot and get some photos later.

I won't lie, I think it's an interesting idea. The transient nature of all the photos we take is actually a bit sad. Even your best selfie only exists for a few days, at best. Having a physical copy of something gives you a reason to revisit it later, even if it's just during the rare occasions that you look through a photo album. When's the last time you went deep diving into your digital photo archives (and, no, Timehop doesn't count).

Having a large party of people use this at a single event seems the most worthwhile reason to try it out but I don't see any harm in making an effort in photographing the people in your life and holding on to it, physically.

Project Blue Book Collection

Project Blue Book was the name that was given to the official investigation by the United States military to determine what the Unidentified Flying Object (UFO) phenomena was. It lasted from 1947 - 1969.
There are 129,491 pages from some 10,000 cases within the vaults of The Project Blue Book Collection pertaining to government led research regarding UFOs, all browsable with a few clicks. It is an unwieldy amount of information to consume and doesn't organize itself in a way that presents some grand conclusion of compiled data. It's just all the reports of strange sightings from three decades. That being said, it's still great to see all put into one spot.

Pick a decade and then find something nearby where you live. Here's one from 1950's in Brooklyn and one from Nashville - both perfectly enjoyable reports of strange activity.

Raindrop.io

For whatever reason, I'm compelled by the idea of using a third party service to catalog various ideas, web destinations and inspiration. I've used Dragdis for some time for that purpose with enjoyable results but recently switched over to Raindrop as the experience seemed to hide itself in the background a bit more.

The downside to both experiences is that they don't seem to have shareable collections - should I just be sticking with Delicious or, even better, native bookmarks? Are these services just fancy-pants displays for links?

Friday Videos - Jan 23rd, 2015

I really need to start making these lists even weirder. I mean, you've probably seen all these top hitters already, right? I should start deep digging and just make this a bizarre compilation. We'll see if I can manage that. In the meantime, here's some distracting entertainment: I tried but failed to find this on Youtube. It's really the cream of the crop this week.

Without.

The Without app has a rather sweet story behind it. You can read the whole thing here (which I recommend you do) but the gist is that developer Jeremy Schoenherr found himself in a long distance relationship and wanted a way to keep in touch with his lady without going through the traditional seemingly naggy routes. So, he made an app that allowed him to keep in quick contact without feeling like a heel.

Turns out, the concept works for people that are in relationships in the same town as well. So, he fleshed it out a bit and put it in the app store. Now anyone can try it out. I think the story behind it seems so pure and heartwarming, it's hard not to love.

8-Bit Dash

The offerings over at 8-Bit Dash are oddly compelling. Full browser animations of landscapes and gameplay displaying the time and a cheery message. It is, obviously, meant to be a screensaver but it's also equally entertaining to browse through them all and become entranced by the looping bits of animation. At least for me.

Failure: Pledgemusic

One of my favorite bands from the mid-to-late 90's, Failure, recently reunited for a tour to celebrate their album Fantastic Planet and have, apparently, gotten along well enough to start recording a new album. I am always heavy with skepticism when a band tries to regroup and add to an existing legacy of well-loved music.

However, that being said, the likelihood of my backing this Pledgemusic project to get updates on the creation and a copy of the album first is high. It's just as likely that the 17 years they spent apart making music could inform the new stuff in a brilliantly enjoyable way. Hopefully.

Poetweet

Had a nice romp yesterday having Poetweet generate random sonnets based on my Twitter stream. The results are hardly ever a cohesive work (it's like a computer generated them) but there's consistently a stanza or two that stand out. It can also serve as a nice reminder of some of your more absurd pontifications into the Twitter universe.

Begone Dull Care

No single frame of this 1949 animation from Norman McLaren - Begone Dull Care - can properly capture the feeling it generates. Immediately following the credit sequence is an unrelenting onslaught of beautiful abstract paintings mixed with the random familiar elements (birds, arteries, plant life, etc). It's important to remember this is from 1949 and McLaren was breaking new ground with animation, particularly animation sync'ed with sound.

Do yourself a favor and enjoy the above and then deep dive into more goodness from the creator.

via The Sitting Architect.

Strafe

I saw the Kickstarter project for Strafe making the rounds yesterday and have nothing but the best things to say for their trailer. It is, 100%, a pitch perfect rendition of early 90's game trailers but with that slight extra twist of manic expression that comes from 20+ years of reflection. It's on par with this gem, and that's saying a lot.

The project itself is a lofty one - $185k for a first person shooter with randomly generated levels. But, given the scope of the game, and the potential reach it needs to find its audience I don't think it's impossible. If you consider yourself a indie gamer, this certainly seems like a good idea for backing. If not, enjoy that commercial and consider backing just as payment for that joy.

Is Ux The Key To A Long-lasting Business?

I've been attempting to educate myself a bit lately on best practices for UI/UX and ran across this piece on 52 Weeks of UX - Is UX the Key to a long-lasting business?. The answer is, of course, Yes. But there's a really nice quote from Clayton Christensen's book The Innovator's Dilemma that I found worth sharing:
"But what if the firm was driven, not by the goal of short-term profitability, but by the goal of continuous innovation in service of finding new ways of delighting customers? The new bottom line of this kind of organization becomes whether the customer is delighted. Conventional financial measures such as maximizing shareholder value are subordinated to the new bottom line. Profit is a result, not a goal."
The lessons from the article seem fairly obvious - make a happy customer experience - but the implementation is far more nebulous. Mostly, I just like the idea that if you make something that is driven by that desire to make customers happy, monetary success can follow. Maybe that's a pipe dream but it seems like an aspiration worth having.

1767 Designs

Over the weekend I stumbled into the works of 1767 Designs - a Nashville based furniture designed focused on using reclaimed wood from local homes for new projects. If you were unaware, Nashville is having a rather huge growth boom right now which results in a lot of near-historic homes being torn down to make room for some, subjectively, disappointing condos. It's a real bummer but it's great to see someone like Patrick Hayes doing his part to take a piece of that destruction and make something new and beautiful.

Look at these creations! I love these tables.. awesome stuff.

Why Use Node.js?

Recently I've been investigating Node.JS a bit - mostly reading high level tutorials and insights like this one. I'm mostly comfortable in frontend tech like Javascript so it seems like a good fit for me but, on the whole, it seems that it's not an appropriate tech solution for all projects. Anyone have any experience or insights into using Node.JS that they wish to share? I'm curious if I should continue down this path or look elsewhere.

Friday Videos - Jan 16th, 2015

The list is short this week but, hopefully, no less amusing. In fact, if you dive a little deeper into the first offering, I think you'll find your day sufficiently filled with distraction.
  • Raccoon thug - If you are unfamiliar with the term Unexpected Thug Life, prepare to do some deep diving. Enjoy this Vine account, this Subreddit or just some excellent compilations.
  • Thug Life Magic - no, seriously. You gotta get into this. When there's a gem, it's real good.
  • Ideas Are Scary - this GE commercial is weirding me out. I get that's the point but those first few shots of the baby idea are creeeeepy.
  • Tiny Queenstown - been awhile since I've watched a relaxing tilt-shifted timelapse video, so I thought I'd indulge in this New Zealand beauty.
  • Black Rivers - The Forest - I'm not overwhelmed by the new Doves project Black Rivers yet but so far all the offerings have been solid. This is yet another one.
  • 7 Things You (Probably) Didn't Know About The Big Lebowski - I'm a fan of trivia style fact morsels, this youtube account continues to have them in spades (without being overtly annoying like many of its ilk).
Let me know your favorite UTL video.. there are so many to enjoy.

A Dreadful Start

Lately I've been spending a lot of my gaming time playing A Dark Room, a text based adventure that unveils itself more and more over time. I thought it a fluke to see some text adventure making its way into the app store but A Dreadful Start has confirmed my suspicions - text adventures are back.

That's right, it's a Choose Your Own Adventure read-and-click experience all through Twitter accounts. Definitely clever and surprisingly fun.

via Will.

Mac CURVED

The folks at CURVED/labs took it upon themselves to fuse the latest Mac designs with the Apple "Lisa" from some 30 years ago and the results are surprisingly clever. It's an iMac with a bit more personality, without a doubt.

The promo video is a little cheesy and the practicality of a machine that's iPad heft but immobile is questionable but that's all getting too far into the weeds.. the concept should be applauded for it's wink and a nod to the past with a nice eye on something a bit futuristic. Well done.

CEA Bundle

I'm making a concerted effort to post more content that's available via VHX here on my site as I am happy to see so much interesting stuff bubbling up. Hopefully you will as well. For instance, this Chief Executive Artist Bundle features three short films by Ondi Timoner (We Live in Public, Dig!) focusing on the likes of Amanda Palmer, Russell Brand and Shepard Fairey. Those three are, without question, interesting figures. Even if you don't particularly like them, their approach to the world and how they've traversed their careers is worth having a look at. The three films together are only $10, I imagine well worth the price.

Poster Club

I'm loving what's going on over at Poster Club - a Glasglow collective of friends and designers who pick a random word and then illustrate openly on a theme. "Deconstruct" comes up as the word of choice - how about a cheeseburger exploding? or type exploding? or fallen magnet letters? The possibilities are endless and the styles cover a wide range. Definitely looking forward to more work and, hopefully, some prints making their way out into the world.

HT Revgoomba

Mini Mansions - Any Emotions

I can safely say that I played Mini Mansions first single from their new album, Death is a Girl in the heaviest of rotations and I'm still not tired of it. So, when I saw that they released a new track and video for Any Emotions, I was in. The one take video features Colin Hanks going through a range of emotions, landing on absolute bonkers by the end of it. It's yet another reason to be excited for The Great Pretenders, out in March.