Jeff Kolar – Doorbell

Jeff Kolar - Doorbell

The doorbell signals the arrival of someone or something, good or bad news, friend or salesperson, package or bill. Obviously the doorbell is not sentinent, but it’s sound in responded to so quickly that it seemingly takes on a life of its own: welcomed or unwelcomed. Our interpretation of this small electronic sound is now reworked by Jeff Kolar on his Doorbell release. Part of a permanent exhibition at the Elsewhere Museum in Greensboro, North Carolina, Kolar spent two weeks exploring the sounds of the museum’s vintage Yamaha organ. Kolar then created twelve tracks of sounds which he incorportated with a reconstructed doorbell system that museum vistors can play.

Of Kolar’s three solo releases this past year, Smoke Detector, Car Alarms and, now, Doorbell, the latter is probably his most accessible work. These tracks are bursts of 20 seconds, but usuallly are not comprised of one sound, rather they are built on a duality of organ sounds that are in opposition or accord to each other. Using this constructed sonic polarity, Kolar’s work mimics the listener’s response to our own doorbells.

In social media posts, Kolar has suggested listening to Doorbell on repeated or random loops. While writing this review that’s exactly what I did, building a huge playlist of the four-minute album and then shuffling it so that some tracks repeated after each other, other sounds became familiar, and some seemed fresh or new. For the track I include with my reviews, I decided to randomly select twelve tracks and put them together as one four-minute track to illustrate what I have been listening to and, maybe, using Kolar’s guidenance, demonstrate the preferable way to experience his work.

Artist: Jeff Kolar
Album: Doorbell
Netlabel: Panospria
Release Date: December 2015
License: CC BY-NC-ND
Download mp3: zip

Jeff Kolar – Car Alarms

Jeff Kolar - Car Alarms

Jeff Kolar of Chicago is the founder and curator of Radius, an experimental radio show that features 50 plus artists from over 20 countries. That would be enough for any person, man or woman. But not enough for Kolar as he is also an accomplished sound artist. Some of his outpout, which has been reviewed here, is based on circuit bending. But in listening to all his work, Kolar is more than that, he is deviates sound, he is an aberrant of audio.

His latest work, the self-released Car Alarms, was done in conjunction with the exhibition “Hot OS” curated by Miguel Cortez at the Cobalt Studio in Chicago. If you are familiar with Kolar’s other circuit bending work such as Smoke Detector,
Hallmark Cards Vol. 2: Happy Birthday To You, and Ice Cream Truck Songs, you have a might have a good idea where this is going. But no. Maybe it is the source, but Jeff Kolar is able to surprise the listener even when the subject is as mundane and annoying as car alarms. He liner notes write that “Car Alarms deconstructs classic multi-toned and high-volume horns, sirens, klaxons, and verbal warnings to challenge their effectiveness as public security alerts.” Funny that Kolar mentions the ineffectiveness of the car alarm as its objective today is not longer safety, rather it is to either wake people up at night, annoy your neighbors or just drain your car battery.

In Car Alarms, Jeff Kolar breaks down the sound of the alarm into four parts: buzz, chirp, wail and yelp. What a fantastic set of sound categories for these sonic disturbances. Kolar then takes each of the sounds dismantling and rebuilding it into an audible digression that has more meaning than their original intent. I’ve only listened to Car Alarms once in the the playlist Jeff Kolar as set out. I find myself putting the album on random and listening to it that way.

Kolar also released a magnet in a limited set of 50 to go along with his free release of Car Alarms. One could buy the magnet or even contact Kolar about circuit bending your car’s alarm system. I’ll probably have to settle with one of these magnets and throw it on my refrigerator that begs the question, “What Kolar’s refrigerator sounds like?” Do any of Jeff Kolar’s home appliance produce their manufactured sound?

Artist: Jeff Kolar
Title: Car Alarms
Netlabel: Self-Released
Release Date: June 2015
License: CC BY-NC-SA
Download wav: SoundCound

Toasted Almonds

Jeff Kolar - Ice Cream Truck Songs

When I first came across Jeff Kolar’s self-release Ice Cream Truck Songs I really didn’t know what to expect. Kolar is the director of Radius, an experimental radio program, and he has put out some very interesting work in the past such as Start Up/Shut Down which I reviewed here and Touchscreen which I should have review here. So given my brief history of listening to Kolar’s work, I knew he would be able to transform these short annoying songs into something else.

Most ice cream trucks in the United States play the same songs over and over again. This repetition of songs is because most trucks use the same music box,  the Digital II, which is made by Nicholas Electronics. For more about the history of ice cream truck music — yes, there is a history —, please read this short article by Daniel Tannehill Neely, “Soft Serve: Charting the aural promise of ice cream truck music” (pdf).

In Ice Cream Truck Songs, Kolar speeds up, slows down and chops up the classically irritating songs to make his own twisted sound of the summer. He follows along with the classic playlist: “The Entertainer”, “Turkey in the Straw”, “Little Brown Jug”, “Sailing Sailing”, “Camptown Races”, “Redwing”, “Brahm’s Lullaby” and “La Cucaracha”, but that is the only thing similar. In listening to a track such as “Camptown Races”, which you can listen to below, Kolar destroyed and rebuilt the track into something totally unrecognizable but more delightful.

A word of warning, Ice Cream Truck Songs is only available on Soundcloud, so you’ll have to download the tracks individually. I’m pretty sure you can do it.

Artist: Jeff Kolar
Title: Ice Cream Truck Songs
Netlabel: Self-Release
Download: SoundCloud

Hit Any Key

I’ve been trying to write a review for the past week or so about a new Creative Commons album, but no matter how hard I tried the words weren’t coming out. And then I released that the reason why I couldn’t write the review − the album didn’t inspire me. So I trashed that attempted review and I am moving on to an album that does excite − Jeff Kolar’s Start Up/Shut Down on the netlabel Panospria.

Lately I’ve been enamoured with literal computer music, that is music generated from computer sounds and noises such as Valentina Vuksic’s Tripping Through Runtime (Zeromoon) (review) or Gregrory Chatonsky’s podcast on Radius. Kolar’s two pieces focus on the bootup and shutdown processes of computing through various OS’s — Windows (3.1, 4.0, NT, 95, 98, Me, XP, Vista, 7, 8) and Macintosh OS (10.0 Cheetah, 10.1 Puma, 10.2 Jaguar, 10.3 Panther). From my reading of the liner notes, Kolar takes the manipulate the sounds while  keeping them in real time to bring together two five-minute tracks of these processes. Not only is it interesting work, it’s beautiful as well.

[mp3j flip=”y” track=”Jeff Kolar’s “Shut Down”@”]