Year: 2018
Original Format: MP3

This is a test of the American Magic and Dread emergency broadcast system. If this was a real emergency, you’d already be dead.

This is a weird one. The brief here was just to try things, see how they work out. It goes to some strange places, but comes in for a soft landing eventually.

Playlist after the jump.


Theme from Is This Thing On?/American Magic and Dread
I made this for a putative podcast that never really got off the ground. But it seems like it should be the theme song for something.

Rock’n’Roll Station (excerpt)/Jac Berrocal Feat. Vince Taylor
Cited by David Bowie as one of the inspirations for Ziggy Stardust, Taylor was a British rock star who later had an acid-fueled mental breakdown and claimed to be “Mateus, the new Jesus’ son.” In 1976 he contributed vocals to this recording by French experimental musical Jac Berrocal. The operative words here are “everything is possible.”

Sine/Kode 9
Do we really have to kill everybody? Well, if you say so.

Dub Revolution/Lee “Scratch” Perry & the Upsetters
You say you want a revolution? Well this is what it sounds like if you put Scratch at the controls.

Just a Test/The Beastie Boys

Billie Jean (AMD Slowdown Mix)/Casey Driessen
Somewhere in there you may recognize the melody of Michael Jackson’s hit song, filtered through the fiddle of virtuoso Casey Driessen, filtered through a 45 to 33 RPM conversion algorithm.

Fly Robin Fly (AMD Slowdown Mix)/Silver Convention
A vintage disco 45, again converted to 33 RPM. Not sure why I love that sound so much, but I do.

Moving in Stereo/The Cars
One of the late, great Ric Ocasek’s finest compositions. Also puts one in mind of Phoebe Cates’ breasts, never a bad thing.

Close Mic Check Encounters/Tomita & Cornelius
Why combine these tracks by experimental hybridizer Cornelius (Keigo Oyamada) and his countryman, electronic pioneer Isao Tomita? It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Test Section Announcement/Elliott Mazar & Loren Rush
A bit of behind-the-scenes dialogue from the 1983 CD “demonstration disc” The Digital Domain.

Why waste time on perplexing intangibilties like taste and intuition?

Walks Into (excerpt)/I’m Not Jim
A peculiar collaboration between author Jonathan Lethem and Walter Salas-Humara of the Silos.

Lions Are Growing/Charles Shere
Also from The Digital Domain. Words by Richard Brautigan. About as far out into intergalactic space as we’ll go here.

Testing the VOR/TV et al
A field recording from the college days. VOR stands for “voice operated recorder,” the spotty function of which lends this its peculiar staccato quality.

Give Yourself a Stereo Checkout/The Bran Flakes
“I’m over here with a piano and a very pretty girl.”

Waap You Wah/The Upsetters
Scratch at the controls again.

Hallo/DRC Music
DRC stands for “Democratic Republic of the Congo,” whence Blur and Gorillaz frontman ventured to collaborate on this track.

Les Dirigents Africains/SMOD
SMOD stands for “Sam, Mouzy, Ousco and Donsky,” the names of the gentlemen in the band. Manu Chao is also involved.

Puppy Toy/Tricky
That’s a singer named Alex Mills cutting some unfortunate bastard down to size.

Turn This Thing Off/Andy Kaufman
Good Morning, Sweetheart/Jeff Bridges & Susan Geston
Both Andy Kaufman and Jeff Bridges manage to piss off their significant others with tape recorders, though in rather different ways.

Fixing the VOR/TV et al
In truth, it never did get really fixed.

Tape Recorder Man/Momus
Oddly hypnotic and a real crackup, if you listen closely.

Bricks & Whistles/Shriekback
The thought process that led to this being included here can no longer be traced. But there’s nothing to be done about it now.

Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy)/Brian Eno
Just because, if you’ve made it this far, you’ve earned it.

4 comments on “Is This Thing On?

  • Willis

    I’ve been needing good playlists for listening whilst I (try to) escape reality on motorcycle trips. I think this should do nicely!

  • Justin

    Great post.

  • xian

    Whatever happened to the Silos?

    • Bill

      It looks like Salas-Humara put out a solo album a couple years back, and Rupe was in Cracker for awhile. Last Silos album was is 2011.

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