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Summer House & New Weaving

I participated in Summer House last week, a show curated by Nicole Lavelle at her family’s house in the woods of Lagunitas, CA. It was a fun mix of an art show, performances and readings, creative hangout BBQ session, local explorations, and camping, that stretched for a week in between two Saturdays when the house was open to the public.

For my piece I wove a hammock on site, using an enlarged and modified backstrap loom, and including fabric that people donated. Pics below.

The finished product:

Getting started at home:

Took a walk up to the spillway and did some sunset jams:


Shared from better-space
download/iPhone

Art, Events, Main, weaving @ 12:14 pm August 26, 2014

Summer Mix 2014 (for Raphy)

Summer Mix 2014 (for Raphy)

My friend and fellow artist Raphy Griswold and I have had an ongoing mail art / cassette exchange going for the past few years. This month I put together my latest contribution, and decided to digitize it before mailing the original copy. I treated my broke self to a $20 cassette deck at the local thrift spot for my birthday, and this came together pretty quickly after that. Freddie McGregor, Style Council, and James Gang records that I picked out of the dollar bins this year, plus a realization that Future is on every rap track I’ve liked in the last three years. The Repo Man Soundtrack cassette cost me three bucks at Amoeba, but was worth it to be pumping Suicidal Tendencies while driving a Volvo sedan around L.A. And the flip side, listening to Mac DeMarco, driving the same Volvo up to a campsite in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Enjoy the pause-edits and the shredding.

Here’s some of the stuff Raphy has made for me in return:

Main, Mixtape, Music, Uncategorized @ 11:08 am July 29, 2014

‘Coolest Sound Ever’ and Other Search Terms

Back in August 2013, I curated and hosted this short screening of Youtube videos at Machine Project in Los Angeles. From their site:

Bennett will present and lightly host ‘Coolest Sound Ever’ and Other Search Terms, a short mix of found YouTube videos that documents humanity’s numerous and mildly successful attempts to capture auditory phenomena on consumer grade video equipment and cell phones. From the mountains to the valleys, from the gongs to the Disney cruise horns, from the air raid siren enthusiasts to the castle cistern free jazz, this mix brings us close listening for the short attention span.

This event is part of Machine Project’s All-Echo Weekend, as part of the Echo Park Rising festival.

Here is that same set of videos as a Youtube playlist. (At the time of the original screening, none of these videos had ads on them. Since then some have been added.)

Other search terms include gong, organ, echo, noise, siren, horn, horn battle, yelling, reverb, and chanting.

Art, Events, Main, Music, Talk @ 3:28 pm April 17, 2014

Americana Rebajada

Last July, I was deep in a pit of intense work stress, when my friend Mikey put a new mix online. Made “on a rare Monday morning I had to myself,” Mikey’s Waiting for Takeout Mix was a fantastic blend of genres, edited as needed, lightly mixed, and peppered with weird interstitial moments. It was perfectly familiar and exotic at the same time, comprised of vinyl and field recordings he harvested while touring the world as a working musician. It made me miss my friend, but it propelled me too. I set it on repeat, lashed it to the rickety stagecoach of my mind, and like a trusty workhorse it dragged me out of work morass and back onto the steady path. I texted him to say thanks, and he replied “U make one now.” So it was on.

I’m always impressed how much the diaspora of used records is a dead-on grassroots indicator of social, ethnic, and populist history of a neighborhood. (Has anyone published a paper on that?) The differences were stark when I relocated from NYC to Los Angeles in November 2011 – goodbye bachata, hello ranchero. Besides the 70s pop, classical music, and “dead white people’s favorite crooners” that makes up the bedrock of all the cheapo bins in this country, Southern California displayed a distinct strata of American Country and Western. For mi gente there were loads of Mexican LPs with each track’s style conveniently notated on the back of the record, making it easy to spot the cumbias and skip the baladas if you want. There were more rare flashes of locally produced New Age music, and a preoccupation with Hawaiian albums, souvenirs of the go-to California family vacation (well, after Disneyland) and reminders of a land beyond the sunset somehow even more chill than our own. And I did catch a few outliers – always makes me curious to think which retiree dropped off a late-career cassette from Mina, Italian pop star who withdrew from public performances for 27 years, at the Angel View Thrift Mart in Palm Springs, or what’s up with the dude selling these homemade noise cassettes and Japanese prog records at an otherwise inconspicuous fancy-pants Pasadena yard sale?

The mix gelled when I started digitizing some straight-to-tape recordings I had been making off my kitchen radio, trying to capture the texture of 2012-13 Highland Park airwaves, just hitting record and trying to catch something live in the moment. The bits of ads, sports radio dudes mouthing off, NPR droll, and a particularly geriatric, marble-mouthed sales pitch that introduced me to SoCal used car colossus and noted marketing stuntman Cal Worthington (R.I.P.) provided the glue for the tracks.

Two months after I finished putting this together in September 2013, a job opportunity had us on the move again, so I shelved it until we’ve had some time to get re-settled in Santa Cruz. Without really meaning to, this mix has become an ode to living in Los Angeles, as well as the promised reply to Mikey. Enjoy.

Americana Rebajada
(stream)

Tracklist below:
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Main, Mixtape, Music @ 6:54 pm March 9, 2014

Adult Piano

This mix is the long-shelved follow-up to Wine Coolers from 2009.

After finishing that mix there was a lot of good stuff on the cutting room floor, and I was still really caught up in r&b album cut close listening. But my interests were getting more granular, focusing on a great bridge, the particular palette of synth drums in a Stock, Aitken & Waterman production, deep interludes, or the breathy whispers of an introductory narrator. I was amassing collage material for another mix, maybe akin to a syrupy version of something the Kon & Amir On Track series – “these aren’t all samples, but they could be.”

I had played Wine Coolers for George Langford of Javelin, who I knew had flipped a million good bad r&b tracks and could appreciate the vibe, and I suggested we work on some edits for the next iteration. At the time I was partially employed, George was off tour and still a few months out from the birth of his daughter, so we spent a couple carefree weekdays at his home studio, drinking too much Chemex coffee and trimming tracks. At some point George found a piano instruction book in his basement with a strong flower vase theme and a soft focus and the title was set.

I took the project files home and there they sat for the next few years. We formatted the mix for release on tape (hence the two sides) but I never got it together and/or didn’t have the money. I moved across the country, and at some point when I was in L.A. and obsessed with screwing everything, I went back and relaxed a few over-zealous edits, exported each side, slowed everything down 15%, and made myself a tape for the car. That kept me happy for a while, but it has been gnawing at me since, so here you go. Enjoy.

Adult Piano
(stream)
edits by bennett4senate and George Langford

Tracklist below.
(more…)

Main, Mixtape, Music @ 11:30 am January 28, 2014

Writing for Artbound


I recently wrote series of articles for Artbound, the arts and culture outlet of L.A. public television station KCET, in preparation for an episode of their show about The Machine Project Field Guide to L.A. Architecture. The articles were edited largely from interviews that I conducted with the artists last summer when I was producing the project, and include a lot of fun details about the inspiration for and making of each piece.

Links here:
Jmy James Kidd and the Sunland Dancers on Flat Top Hill
17 Weird Pool Performances Your Swim Coach Doesn’t Want You To Know About
Jacqueline Gordon’s L.A. Food Center Soundscapes
The HafoSafo Chorus and the Sunset Foot Clinic Sign Online
Cliff Hengst’s Semi-Fictionalized, Drag Double-Decker Bus Tour
Sara Roberts’ Clump and Whistle

Art, Main, writing @ 10:31 pm January 21, 2014

Next Punchline 30 Miles, HDTS 2013


I showed my piece Next Punchline 30 Miles at High Desert Test Sites 2013. It consists of a joke told across two billboards, spaced 5 miles apart on a desert road outside of Joshua Tree, CA.
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Art, Main @ 12:53 pm December 5, 2013

Frontier Fellowship

I recently spent six weeks in residence as the Frontier Fellow at The Epicenter in Green River, Utah. This is a cross post from their blog that I wrote reflecting on my time there. Originally posted on 11.10.13 at http://ruralandproud.org/epicenter_blog/ffrbw/
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Biking home at sunset

I first came to Green River in February 2012 to visit my friend Ali Osborn, who was here as a Frontier Fellow. A drive through the San Rafael swell in the morning light, a few West Winds breakfasts, and walking an open field in the shadow of the Book Cliffs was enough to get me to apply for the Fellowship this year. I’ve happily spent the past six weeks watching Green River turn from summer to fall, working on a variety of projects, and trying to put my finger on what makes this tiny town so darned interesting.

Frontier Fellow Dylan Adams unloading supplies for the Seed Spittin’ contest. Hay bales and Book Cliffs looking especially picturesque. Snackin’ at Crystal Geyser.

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Art, Main @ 11:03 pm November 17, 2013

www.sunsetfootclinicsign.com

This past August I launched www.sunsetfootclinicsign.com, which is the first web-based project I’ve done in a while. The site is an accurate recreation of the Sunset Foot Clinic rotating sign on Sunset Boulevard in Echo Park, Los Angeles. Commonly known as “The Happy Foot Sad Foot Sign,” locals say that the sign has the power to predict the fate of your day, depending on which side you see first when you pass by.

Please click through to the site and the About page there to read some of my reflections on L.A., signage, history, Zippy, memory, neighborhood preservation, and folklore.

This project was part of The Machine Project Field Guide to L.A. Architecture, a series of site specific performances highlighting unique architecture throughout the city, which I produced on behalf of Machine Project and Creative Director Mark Allen. To celebrate the launch of the site, I teamed up with Jessica Cowley, who organized a Public Space Singalong underneath the sign. Read more about that event here, and see the video below:

Hafosafo Chorus & Sunsetfootclinicsign.com by Jessica Cowley and Bennett Williamson from machine project on Vimeo.

Art, Main, Music @ 10:54 pm

Awesome New Place radio – April -> August 2013

Hey guys, I’ve been continuing to make radio. Here’s an update – recent episodes of AWESOME NEW PLACE:

April 13 2013 (Live at Ooga Booga): http://www.kchungradio.org/archive/2013-04-13-ooga-booga/bennett_4_senate_at_ooga_booga-2013.04.13.mp3
June 9 2013 (really blown out for some reason): http://www.kchungradio.org/archive/2013-06-09/Awesome_New_Place-2013.06.09.mp3
June 25 2013 (Fill-in for Feature Phone): http://www.kchungradio.org/archive/2013-06-25/feature_phone-06.25.2013.mp3
August 11 2013: http://www.kchungradio.org/archive/2013-08-11/Awesome_New_Place-08.11.2013.mp3

Tracklists below.
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Main, Music, radio @ 12:30 pm September 6, 2013
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