Featured Artist: Craig Colorusso

On June 26, I had the pleasure and privilege of viewing Craig Colorusso’s Sun Boxes installation in the courtyard of Important Records headquarters up in Haverhill, MA.


Detail of Sun Box

A Sun Box is a self-powered loudspeaker, equipped with a solar-panel as its sole source of power. Each Sun Box contains a Single-Board Computer with a chip that emits a single, looped pre-recorded guitar tone of a given duration, as played by Colorusso. In this installation, there were 20 Sun Boxes placed across a field, each with a different guitar loop of a unique tone and duration which, by Colorusso’s own calculation, would take about 7 months for all of the boxes to realign at the beginning of their respective loops. Kind of like biorhythms with a fuckin’ attitude. What this means is that walking through the field of boxes yields a continually evolving aural experience, subtly different for each listener at any point in the field along any path, even if a listener exactly retraces their steps. The tones emitted by the Sun Boxes combine with the local landscape to create a rich multi-sensory temporal experience. A short video of the experience is below. It was a truly magical experience. Keep track of when and where the Sun Boxes will be deployed next here. ut the immediate future for Sun Boxes:

Sun Boxes in Turners Falls.
9 days 3 locations 20 boxes

Nov. 5-7 Lawn of the Great Falls Discovery Center
Nov. 12-14 Peskeomskut Park,
Nov. 19-21 Lawn at the beginning of the bike path

Craig’s music and art spans the better part of his life, from his early work of the early 1990’s with his band China Pig through his long, conecptual current projects. After touring the US tirelessly in bands such as China Pig, Olive Grain and Diving Bell, Craig found himself in one too many bars. Although loving music – especially loud distorted guitar driven music – he found himself in a dilemma about the presentation of sound. So the sound installations such as Tagmusik (24 Hour performance in Bethel CT)and Maschine (a composition for instruments and off-set presses) came and the concept was pushed further with CUBEMUSIC and MB 89.

With MB 89, Craig attempts to play a continuous piece of music that spans the greater part of his life. Unlike a composition with a discrete beginning and ending that may be played over and over, MB 89 is a composition played once, continuously; spaces between performances are to be treated as musical rests. Instead of many starts and finishes there is constant music.

According to Colorusso, “MB 89 is not to be merely conceived, written, and performed…It will be an ongoing endeavor for the rest of my life.”

The first MB 89 performance was a series of live radio broadcasts on the UMASS radio station WMUA. Mike Burke, WMUA DJ extraordinaire was a neighbor and friend of Craig and so every Thursday in August 1997 MB 89 was broadcasted from Mike Burke’s radio show. Since then, the presentation of MB 89 has evolved into a timeless environment for people to enter and exit at will. The concept for this installation is to create a space of subtle movement where people can be part of the environment and absorb MB 89 any way they like. Three Cylinders of metal and fabric will stand in a room, from within the cylinder will be a Bass Clarinet generating a drone with electronics. Lights will accompany the drone. The performance is presented in 4-hour increments and is designed for the audience to come and go as they please.


Detail from MB 89 installation

The details are still sketchy, but this fall should witness the exposition of Colorusso’s Time Remap Sessions, a project that re-organizes time, environment and architecture. Eleven short pieces of Colorusso’s audio backing visuals by artist David Sanchez Burr. The piece is designed to be in a gallery setting with 11 monitors playing simultaneously as loops. A gallery tour is being planned for the fall 2010.

Below is one of the eleven visuals comprising the Time Remap Sessions installation. A gallery tour is being planned for this fall. A place to definitely be…

Finally, in addition to his work in audio-visual and multimedia projects, he has also released several audio pieces in traditional formats. Below are the two complete tracks from his Strap Parts 10″ vinyl recording.

Strap Parts, Part 1

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Strap Parts, Part 2

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Strap Parts was reviewed in the magazine everyone loves to hate (but secretly loves,
even if it does cost fucking ten dollars an issue now)
The Wire. Issue 260 October 2005:

“Craig Colorusso has been around for a while in all manner of guises, but his newest thing may be his most interesting yet. Strap Parts (Muud 10″) is a set of two solo guitar inventions that begin with the same gentle strokes, then evolve in very different ways. [Strap Parts One] lets feedback build around its gentle curves, concluding in a question more than an answer. [Strap Parts Two] resolves itself a bit differently, lingering over long notes that jet slowly down so much that it almost sounds like mid-period Loren Connors at times. A superior effort.”

Featured Artist: KiloWatts

Our featured artist page takes a more in-depth look at an artist who has caught the eye of Jukebox Heart. Here we feature KiloWatts.

KiloWatts, aka James Watts, is a native of Dallas, TX, but currently resides in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He began as a young lad playing the piano, took up making music with trackers during his teenage years, and has since continued exploring digital expressionism via electronic music. He is one half of KiloWatts & Vanek, of Holophon Records in Germany, a glitch-pop project with wide appeal.

He is a part of Artificial Music Machine, based in Austin, TX, with which he creates his most intricate and thoughtful work. He is a staunch supporter of file sharing, and played a part in the setup and launch of Soulseek Records.

Musically, he likes to move you emotionally with deep vaporous melodies, annoy you purposely with noisy musical dishevelment, and entertain you with an irresistable pop appeal – but not all at the same time. He enjoys a distinct storytelling quality within his music, almost as much as making asses move. There are worlds to be explored in his ever growing body of work.

Featured here are four tracks from his albums ‘Problem/Solving’ and ‘Routes’.

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This is Track 4 from the album Problem Solving, called Rocketeer.

Problem/Solving is an introspective and inspiring aural conglomeration of a thousand different experiences, taking sharp turns through calm somber reflection and gutwrenching chaotic confusion – a blend of exquisite melodic structures, lush ambience, and engulfing rhythms.

Problem/Solving shows us in CD form exactly how the whole can be more than the sum of its parts. It eloquently captures the myriad dichotomies of the human condition – knowledge and confusion, destruction and creation, reflection and progress… Driving rhythms give way to abstract sonic imagery. Subtle soundscapes mesh seamlessly with playful experimentation. These disparate elements, each masterful in their own right, come together to form nothing less than an inspired sonic journey.

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This is Track 8 from Problem Solving, called “Easter Lily”

Exciting with experimental urban textures, the rich moods of KiloWatts music has high appeal. This occasionally just takes the top of your head off and explodes into ecstatic highs while retaining a deep ocean reverberation. Echoing caves, haunting melodies and sultry beats mingle with tangible notes of refined delicacy. Just when I thought this album might only be instrumental, a ghostly angel’s whispers appeared. The heaviness of the first track melted away into ethereal bliss. ‘Algae’ is wildly creative. ‘Enter Lilly’, featured here, is awash with oceanic textures, waves washing over nature sounds. ‘Last Horrah’ is sensual and exotic with emotionally complex rhythms. ‘E Suffix’ has warm reverberations and interesting timing with ghostly vocals that mingle with the music in intriguing ways.

The label, Artifical Music Machine, partly run by him, has an impressive roster of artists including Afreet, The Aleph, Book of Shadows, Dreamtigers, Gift Culture, Inversion Effect, Limiter, Merzbow vs. Tamarin and Static Storm System.

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Track 5 from the Routes album, called Subway.

Routes is a travelogue, a record of places and destinations that crackles and pops with the urgency of perpetual motion (check in, check out, get on a plane, take a boat trip). The eighteen tracks of Kilowatt’s latest (some are ambient field recordings of conveyances) seamlessly flow as a fascinating aural trip that isn’t the sort normally put together by your local travel agent. Mixing glitch and complex programming with warm downtempo and psychedelic loops, static and the sound of the rails with boarding announcements and lilting melodies, KiloWatts takes all the stress out of travel.

‘Subway’ arcs us across metropolitan boroughs, clicking and flexing with a futuristic groove, a Kundalini snake rhythm that matches the rolling percussion of the trains. Hiccups and catches in the sound allow for the injection of melodic parts into the mix as if the car is start-stopping for more passengers.

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Track 10 fron the Routes album, “Safety In Numbers”.

‘Safety In Numbers’ turns the packed dance floor into a slow-moving mass of accidental humanity. Elbows and shoulders brush, voices connect, eyes meet. The breakbeat climax sends hearts in a frenzy — new routes are planned, new destinations chosen, rendezvous are agreed upon.

The common thread running through all of his music is an uncommon sense of narrative. We move from track to track with a new world unfolding on the fall of each beat. having just returned from the sea. With tides urning and earth’s quaking and waves crashing, Routes sees James Watts as having just returned from a journey; he can tell you stories…

Another New Category: Jukebox Heart Featured Artist

The featured artist category takes a closer look at one of the artists in Jukebox Heart. We kick off this new category featuring the artist known as Colleen.

Parisian sound sculptress Colleen’s music is more atmospheric than a room full of nervous ghosts. Her liking for 17th Century instruments is obvious and itself fascnating. Whether it’s the viola da gamba (a 7-string ancestor of the cello), the spinet (a variation of the harpsichord), the clarinet, crystal glasses, the guitar, or simply a sample, Colleen’s creations have always used the lush, mesmeric qualities of a bygone era to evoke the atmospheric gloom of the ethereal music she makes today.

It seems a shame to tarnish the delicate perfection of Colleen’s music with words – this is music that needs to be listened to late at night, free of everyday distractions. You’ll find yourself entranced by a mesmerising spider’s web of sounds that sound like they’ve been beamed in from another place, another time.

Colleen’s simple but effortlessly charming music is an entrancing potion laced with magical details – naïve instrumentals filled with warmth, melody and soul, played on a broken music box, a glockenspiel or a guitar, phasing in and out, on the verge of collapse. Above all, this is wonderfully human. Another girl, another planet.

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This track is called “Ritournelle”

Everyone Alive Wants Answers is the haunting 2003 debut full-length of work of then-26-year-old Parisienne Cecile Schott. No more tangible thoughts were conjured from the stark jumble of digital mandolins that stumble so meticulously throughout the title track of this album than a walk through a park where you can almost hear eeryone else’s thoughts. Colleen has surveyed the landscapes of organic music made digitally and done it more successfully than most, given the immediate grandeur and impact of Everyone Alive Wants Answers. ‘Ritournelle’ plays like a ballroom dance scene in a Tim Burton movie, all delicate chimes and sweeping strings. This full-length debut is absolutely gorgeous, a warm inviting swirl of ambient symphonics and contemplative interludes. It’s an amazing thing to spring this CD on someone when traveling late at night alone through country roads…

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This track is called “Summer Water”

To describe the ten hand-crafted compositions that comprise The Golden Morning Breaks as minimalist psychedelia would be both an oversimplification of the genres and a disservice to the musings Colleen, whose complex combinations of melodic guitar, glockenspiel, keyboards and found sounds recall neither John Cale nor the 13th Floor Elevators. Still, her second album for the Leaf label, bounds forth in both directions with equal aplomb, resulting in a sound that is at turns disturbing, humorous, playful and dreamlike – simultaneously seductive and reductive.

Even a cursory listening to this all-instrumental offering reveals a number of intriguing influences. ‘Floating in the Clearest Night’ and ‘The Happy Sea’ share not only a disposition for precious song titles, but also a common musical vernacular with Flying Saucer Attack and the occasional Bardo Pond record. Truly, a number of the songs on The Golden Morning Breaks seem to have been recorded with a barely-melodic vocal track in mind, only to have it removed at the last moment. The absence of lyrics, though, is scarcely a fault, exemplified best by ‘I’ll Read You a Story’ – seven minutes of fleeting, plucked melodies that unfold and develop just like the title implies.

In contrast to the Bliss-Out tendencies on a number of tracks lies the more-playful, if occasionally less-fulfilling, psychedelic tinge of compositions like ‘The Sweet Harmonicon’ and ‘Mining in the Rain.’ Certainly rooted in the same percussive territory as other songs found here, and bearing a marked similarity to recordings by Pipa-ist Min Xiao Fen, these songs sound not as much like self-contained compositions as lost fragments from a Syd Barrett-era Pink Floyd album. Undeniably intriguing, if occasionally precious, Schott’s gift for controlled improvisation makes these songs tenable interludes in an otherwise thoroughly-engaging album. Underscoring this point, perhaps intentionally, is the remarkable 10-minute closing track ‘Everything Lay Still,”’ which combines playful chimes, droning guitar and keyboards into a single magnificent theme that displays at once both sides of Colleen’s dual nature.

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This track is called “What is a Componium, Part 2”

‘It seemed like a dream opportunity to explore further the miniature continent of sound that music boxes in all their variety generate,’ says Colleen’s Cécile Schott in response to the carte blanche handed to her by national radio station France Culture’s Atelier De Création Radiophonique to record music for a special broadcast. The commission would have remained just that, but Schott was so pleased with the results she decided to give the nod for the recordings to be released on this 38-minute EP, under a temporarily revised artist name.

No stranger to the use of music boxes in her recordings and live performance, the consciously limited palette yields extraordinary dividends; this is arguably the most intimate and wonderfully melodic release of her career to date. Composed entirely using music boxes (but for one track), the pieces use everything from miniature boxes hidden in 1940s birthday cards to large Victorian boxes. Not content with the orthodox sounds produced by the boxes, Schott hijacked them, playing them with her fingers or with mallets on the comb. She re-sampled and affected pitch and delay in a quest to produce unique sounds and melodies.

Utilizing the natural loop in each box, the different boxes move in and out of time, evoking memories of childhood. This playful nature ebbs and flows throughout the EP like a stream unsure of its chosen path. Sounds reminiscent of harps (‘What Is A Componium? Part 2’), xylophones and Fender Rhodes (‘Your Heart Is So Loud’), and electronics (‘Calypso In A Box’) appear and then disappear on the landscape, fooling the listener into believing that the noises emanate from more than one type of instrument.

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This track is called “Sea of Tranquility”

On her album ‘Les Ondes Silencieuses’, Parisienne sonic sculptress Cecille Schott aka Colleen has abandoned the samples and loops which characterised her previous long players, preferring instead to employ natural sounds and tones. But, ever inventive, this approach led to the 26-year-old Parisienne using Baroque instruments such as the viola da gamba and the spinet, a smaller relative of the harpsichord. The end result is a shimmering, evocative collection of homespun, frequently fragile musical moods which showcase Cecille’s considerable compositional talents. She also recently scored ‘Serie’ – the last dance work by the acclaimed French-Swiss choreographer Perrine Valli and has completed a successful UK tour with her label mates Triosk.