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RADIO WONDERLAND debut album
- Theater Arts
RADIO WONDERLAND began as a sort of mythic quest, a kind of musical alchemy. But instead of turning lead into gold, I turn unpredictable found sound, from ordinary commercial radio broadcasts, into actual dance grooves, live in concert. I walk on stage with absolutely nothing pre-recorded, grab bits of radio from my boombox, and build the bits into musical patterns using my own computer algorithms and improvising skills. But I hardly touch the laptop; I control it with old shoes I hit with sticks (I'm a drummer), and a vintage Buick steering wheel (I'm a, er—wheel-player). Every show is different, because the source material is always completely different. Since 2007 I've recorded over 150 hours of live shows as RADIO WONDERLAND. And I was gigging so much it seemed absurd not to have a record. But the RADIO WONDERLAND debut album is not just the obvious next step; it's a critical proof of concept, and the realization of a dream.
The RADIO WONDERLAND dream is that my techniques—field-tested in clubs and concert halls, with shoes, wheel, and all—can yield recordings that stand up on their own as music. For if this works, I consider it a breakthrough. It celebrates randomness in a way that's utterly different from Cage. Chance choices can be simply better—in the right context. It validates my context, for if my algorithms-plus-improv are fit for random radio, they're fit indeed, primal and essential. The more intelligible the process, the more people respond. And the funkier the music, the more that cutting up corporate media feels like subversive fun.
Considering the above, you might think me presumptuous enough to claim that I'm re-inventing sample-based electronic dance music. But it fact, most of my grooves are modelled after the popular sub-genre called Techno, which champions simplicity. (A third of you have just stopped reading; another third is scrutinizing my terminology.) Ironically, then, my most ambitious concept becomes my most commercial project yet—a Techno record. But I haven't turned my back on the so-called classical music I did in the '90s; this is a return to a lifelong passion for dancing in clubs, and as ever combines found sound, improv, post-minimalism, performance art, and studio wizardry. Legally speaking, most of the RADIO WONDERLAND recordings aren't identifiable as any particular song or voice (but they are recognizable as commercial media). Identifiable samples should be covered under the legal doctrine of fair use, but I am not afraid of any challenges.
So the album is to be released on vinyl—the way many bands do today (vinyl sales are up). In our age of easy downloads, if I'm going to charge money for anything, it's got to be an analog, physical object. I've already gone through those 150 hours and picked a handful of concert recordings. Each one I'll condense to under seven minutes, and remix just enough to make it dancefloor- and home stereo-ready. One much longer track will be an audio version of a complete RADIO WONDERLAND concert. I plan a first run of 1000 LPs, each with a coupon for a free download of the same material. In addition, I want to make 500 USB sticks, with high quality audio, artwork and bonus tracks, for sale at concerts. iTunes prices are set by Apple, but there should always be versions of RADIO WONDERLAND material downloadable somewhere for pay-what-you-will. Anything more restrictive just feels wrong.
$13,000 is the minimum to cover finished mixes, mastering, artwork, and the many practical steps from printing covers to stamping vinyl. In the event we exceed $13,000, the additional funds would go towards better quality pressing, more copies, special extended mixes, and a music video. Every small amount helps. I'm continually amazed by how many people respond to a project which might seem utterly zany at first (it's certainly fun), but in fact reflects my deepest passions. Thank you so very much for your support.
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