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Dan McPharlin

Posted by Scott

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I’ve been following Dan McPharlin’s work for a few years now, ever since his miniature synthesizer models started showing up on Matrixsynth. I fell in love with his perfectly crafted, perfectly photographed (seriously, the photography is almost cooler than the work itself) paper music machines. But after being introduced to his graphic/illustration work he quickly became one of my favorite artists. His illustrations are very reminiscent of another favorite of mine, Roger Dean, and are evocative of that prog-rock driven 70’s sci-fi art scene that, when done right, is just downright incredible.

So it’s been great to see Dan’s work start popping up all over the place, like here, here (Prefuse 73 cover), and here (Jakub, you really should have know better!). Beyond the visual beauty of his work, it’s just great to see someone being creative with such a novel medium. He brings the mind and eye of a designer to a world previously reserved for 60-somethings hiding out in their basements building model railroads. To see him wrap all this up and successfully translate that future-past-that-never-was aesthetic into commercial projects is a good thing indeed.

You can check out more of Dan’s work at his flickr.

On a side note, he’s posted some shots of his home/work-space here. Are you kidding? Amazing. My house looks like it was built of scraps from a 19th-century Troller Boat that ran aground in front of a hippie commune. Seriously, parts of a boat were used in the construction of this house, I am sure of it. Anyways, I am disorganized at best, slovenly at worst and I don’t think I have the skill set to keep such a meticulously minimalist situation like that up for any length of time. If I win the lottery I will get one of those modernist prefabs and put it in front of this house. I’ll then carefully place completely unusable angular furniture and German-designed objects all around it. Finally I will place a single synthesizer with wooden endbells and an analog sequencer on a white table with a molded plywood chair in front of it. When people come over I will tell them that’s where I get all my work done and then I will sit them down at a walnut coffee table with various important looking design books stacked neatly on top of it and expound on typography theory and then chastise them for not understanding the difference between kerning and leading. After they leave I will go back to my real house and eat a sandwich in my basement and watch Adult Swim and then not clean up the plate for a week or so.

ISO50 Newsletter – May 2009

Posted by Scott

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The May edition of the ISO50/Tycho newsletter is out! You can view it here. If you’d like to receive them automatically, you can sign up here.

Also a quick correction. If you received the email version of the newsletter, some of the dates for the upcoming Tycho shows were wrong, here are the correct dates:

5/16/09 – Tampa – Back in Black Exhibition
5/23/09 – Detroit – Ghostly 10 Year Show
5/26/09 – Toronto – Ghostly 10 Year Show

Wes Anderson Trailer / Student Project

Posted by Alex


Video Link

It’s hard to believe, but somehow my spring semester is coming to a close this week. The film festival project, which I’ve written about previously, finally has all pieces completed and accounted for. The last element added into the mix was a festival trailer (shown above). Originally, I planned to create a few more ancillary products to flesh out the brand, but these fell through and I had to move on the trailer option late in the game. I teamed up with my friend Phil Mills, a local actor here in San Francisco, and we set about writing, shooting, and editing the film last Sunday afternoon.

We were allowed to base the trailer on just about anything we wanted, so long as it advertised our hypothetical film festival and carried through the visual style of our brand. There were a multitude of directions this could take; we thought the most fun way would be to shoot a Royal Tenenbaums-esque short, and then just throw as much craziness as we could at it. Phil plays T. Allen Fenway, a fictional character we made up to live in our Wes Anderson film festival world. We wanted it to remind you of Wes Anderson, make you laugh, and eventually turn you on to the festival. The 3rd person narrator, use of Futura Bold for all titles, extravagant setting, and full blown randomness were all utilized to aid in conjuring this look and feel.

The equipment for this project was sort of all over the place. I luckily had a video camera lying around (usually relegated to filming stationary Youtube videos) and I figured I might as well take it out for a real test drive on this project. I used the Panasonic PV-GS250; an older handheld consumer camcorder that doesn’t have much in the way of image quality, especially compared to the newer HD models. I considered renting a Panasonic HPX-170, but was deterred by the expensive daily rental rate. I figured I’d make it work with the little guy and try my best to fix things up in post. I had also recently purchased a continuous tungsten lighting kit and this helped with the indoor shots greatly. (I am planning to do a post on video lighting after some more tests.)

I edited this project using iMovie ’08, the disastrous upgrade to iMovie HD. I had never used the upgrade before and was very disappointed to find that the program had basically been downgraded into an almost unusable trainwreck. (No waveform mixing!?) I had to stick with it, for the increased flexibility with titles, but it was not a pretty sight. Once the project was edited and all cut together, I procured Final Cut Pro (sadly too late to edit with) and Color. I sent the final output through Color and it was a great help in getting the trailer to look the way it does. Color is an amazing application and I feel like I just scratched the surface of its capability. It basically provides the same color editing functionality you have in Photoshop for still images, but for video. I worked on each shot individually, and first tried to clean up the stale color the camcorder captured, and then tweak it just enough to provide that timelessness of Wes Anderson films. Of course, the program’s power is limited by the image quality of the camera, so some edits weren’t possible without destroying the integrity of the image. (Exposure or saturation edits for example looked terrible.) The basic color editing functions (below) were enough to give the final product the look I was hoping for.

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I had done a few test shots and some basic story-boarding prior to the shoot, but we were pretty much shooting from the hip the whole time. Phil is a great actor and he knew exactly what I was going for with this project. As we are both avid Wes Anderson fans, we didn’t have to do too much in the way of research or planning prior to the shoot. The order in which we completed the trailer was probably completely backwards (we wrote it after we shot it) but it ended up working out and provided us with many a happy accident. Despite the fact that this part of the project was not “graphic” design in the traditional sense, it was definitely the most fun, and my favorite part of the semester.

Video Link

Stones Throw Podcast Feat. Dam Funk

Posted by Jakub

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I feel like we need a good dose of funk and soul sometimes on this blog and Monday couldn’t be a better day for it. This weekend I went to see the Stones Throw Label Showcase at Le Poisson Rouge featuring Dam Funk and James Pants, the crowd was pretty good given the fact they played the Natural History Museum the night before. Dam Funk really stuck out for me as a DJ, he kept the crowd in it by singing over every track and his personality was something you could never hate, he only wanted everyone to have a good time. Below is a super raw mix but the tracklisting is pure class, enjoy.

TRACKLIST
1.THE ANTILLES – “I’ve Got To Have You” :: Creole / ‘83
2.GODMOMA – “Godmoma Here” :: Elektra / ‘81
3.CIRCLE CITY BAND – “Magic” (instr ver.) :: Circle City / ‘83
4.UNO – “Boogie Beat” :: Tryon Park / ‘80
5.RAH BAND – “Messages From The Stars” :: TMT / ‘83
6.SIDE ON – “Magic” :: Beggars Banquet / ‘83
7.SAVANNA – “Never Let You Go” :: R&B / ‘82
8.ZALMAC – “I Get Down” :: TSOB / ‘82
9.VAUGHAN MASON featuring BUTCH DAYO – “You Can Do It” (instr. ver.) :: Salsoul / ‘83
10.WIZARD – “It’s On” :: Chocolate Cholly’s / ‘82
11.GASTON – “Everywhere a Funk, Funk” :: Chocolate Cholly’s / ‘81
12.CAROL CHINNETE w/ The Concrete Band – “Cyanide Love” :: Zilco / ‘84
13.AARON BROOMFIELD – “Polyphase (Instrumental Poly Rythums) :: Mountain / ‘83
14.*WYND CHYMES – “Baby You’re The One” :: Shakin’ / ‘80 (*’D-F’; The 1st selector on the west-coast, maybe all of the U.S., to play this particular ‘original press’ rare 45″ out!)
15.INDEX – “Starlight (The Break)” :: Record Shack of London / ‘81
16.FIREFLY – “Show Me Tonight” :: Emergency / ‘82
17.NEXUS – “Stand Up” (instr. ver) :: Mr. Disc / ‘83
18.JAMES PANTS – “Ka$h” (instr. ver.) :: Stones Throw / ‘07
19.THE VERDICT – “That’s Where I Come In” :: Nuance / ‘8?
20.PEE WEE – “Be My Girl” :: Streetwise / ‘82
21.BARON ZEN – “Burn Rubber” (dãm-funk Remix / instr. ver.) :: Stones Throw / ‘07

Stones Throw Podcast Feat. Dam Funk

Slum Village+Hudson+JDSY+Fleet Foxes

Posted by Jakub

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Whenever I can sneak in a little J Dilla on the blog it makes me smile, I feel like its never a bad thing or that someone would ever say “you know what, there is too much Dilla being played”, actually I don’t think thats ever been said, i’m going to google that phrase…nope no one has ever said it.

Just picked up that Hudson Mohawke EP on Warp on vinyl last week at Other Music but i’ve been looking for this track in the stores. The middle of the track gets a bit too airy and distant for me but the vox with those keys in the last 45 seconds makes it all worth sharing with you.

One of the most avant producers i’ve ever met is Joseph Sims aka JDSY, his aesthetics might come off as a darker Dan Deacon or a unkept geocities site that holds a hidden message but his music is unlike any other. The choices for sounds and melody patterns on his releases give me goosebumps.

Why can’t there be a great AM Gold internet radio station online? that plays Fleet Foxes and Gordon Lightfoot all day and night.

Slum Village – Players

Hudson Mohawke – Star Crackout

JDSY – Smoke and Mirrors

Fleet Foxes – Mykonos

Pin-Up Girls In Stereo

Posted by Scott

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These pin-ups are from the amazing Vintage Knob collection. There’s plenty more of these to see over there along with the more basic fare: close-ups of audio/visual equipment sans hot girls. That Marconi one up there is the best thing I’ve seen in a while; wall size print coming up as soon as they deliver the 9900. Seeing stuff like this always gives me mixed feelings. It just reminds me of the wealth of beautiful images out there that are just lost to time. Can you imagine being able to get the original negatives to these shots and do serious enlargements? It’s nice that sites like The Vintage Knob are making these available in some form, but 72dpi Jpegs just don’t cut it for print output.

Synth Pioneers Pt. 1

Posted by Sam

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Hello, ISO Massive. I’m Sam – Scott and Jakub may have mentioned me before as SV4. I’ve worked with Jakub for a long time at Ghostly, and I have the distinct pleasure of releasing Scott’s work as Tycho on my label. Today, Scott and Jakub have humored me with some column space.

My musical history is all over the place from Hip-Hop to Italo to IDM to Funk, and i’d love to bring some of my favorite lost/forgotten gems to the table…

What i love about the ISO50 headspace is that it evokes a long-forgotten, if not imaginary, past. To my ears, these songs all share that elusive quality: it’s music from a time you think you remember, but were never alive to see.

Paul Hardcastle was a jazz guy with an electro hip-hop influence; dude was nice with a drum machine. You can still hear “Rainforest” and “19” on both late-night urban radio and at your dentist’s office. Daniel Wang put me onto this track and I later found the LP at a used-record store in Berlin. I’ve never found the opportunity to DJ with it, but it’s amazing to pretend there’s an audience that would want to get large to this.

Paul Hardcastle – Stop The Clock

Mike Oldfield is best known as the guy who made “Tubular Bells,” the eerie synth classic which was later adopted for the Exorcist movies. This cut is amazing – it makes you want to drive a speedboat as slow as it will go and watch the coastline.

Mike Oldfield – Foreign Affair

The Alan Parsons Project catalogue has some of the best “dad pop” of the ’70’s and ’80s. Parsons, a studio wizard with a great beard, was a production maverick and could write an amazing hook (“The Eye In The Sky” will make you feel like you’re at the mall waiting for your mom to run errands circa 1985). This track became big in disco DJs’ crates because of its endless groove and largely instrumental composition.

The Alan Parsons Project – Mammagamma [Instrumental]

Marc Moulin is criminally underrated and passed away last year. He is perhaps best known as part of the pioneering Belgian electronic group Telex, who have been immortalized by their Italo-style classic “Moskow Diskow” Moulin’s Placebo Years CD was reissued a few years back by Blue Note in Europe, but it deserves a much wider re-release. Moulin’s own work is more on the jazz-fusion side, but it’s heavy on the electronics, which is probably why he’s been sampled a lot – especially by J Dilla.

Marc Moulin – Balek