ELKA BONG, Staying With The Trouble

July 25, 2021

[1] String Figures 10:07
[2] Tentacular Thinking 10:05
[3] Symbiogenesis 10:02
[4] Making Kin 10:13

Al Margolis – viola [1,2], violin [3,4], contact mics
Walter Wright – Board Weevil, contact mics, objects, drums & percussion

Mixed by Walter Wright in Audacity.

“Chthonic ones are beings of the earth, both ancient and up-to-the-minute. I imagine chthonic ones as replete with tentacles, feelers, digits, cords, whiptails, spider legs, and very unruly hair. Chthonic ones romp in multicritter humus but have no truck with sky-gazing Homo. Chthonic ones are monsters in the best sense; they demonstrate and perform the material meaningfulness of earth processes and critters. They also demonstrate and perform consequences. Chthonic ones are not safe; they have no truck with ideologues; they belong to no one; they writhe and luxuriate in manifold forms and manifold names in all the airs, waters, and places of earth. They make and unmake; they are made and unmade. They are who are. No wonder the world’s great monotheisms in both religious and secular guises have tried again and again to exterminate the chthonic ones. The scandals of times called the Anthropocene and the Capitalocene are the latest and most dangerous of these exterminating forces.”
~ Donna J Haraway, Staying With The Trouble: Making Kin in the Chthlucene.

Donna J Haraway is an American Professor Emerita in the History of Consciousness Department and Feminist Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Cruz, United States.

Haraway majored in Zoology, with minors in Philosophy and English at the Colorado College, on the full-tuition Boettcher Scholarship. Haraway moved to Paris and studied evolutionary philosophy and theology at the Fondation Teilhard de Chardin on a Fulbright scholarship. She completed her Ph.D. in Biology at Yale in 1972 writing a dissertation about the use of metaphor in shaping experiments in experimental biology.

Speculative fabulation is a concept which is included in many of Haraway’s works. It includes all of the wild facts that won’t hold stil. In She defines speculative fabulation as “a mode of attention, theory of history, and a practice of worlding,” and she finds it an integral part of scholarly writing and everyday life. In Haraway’s work she addresses a feminist speculative fabulation and its focusing on making kin.

Track titles are the titles of the first four chapters of the book.

ELKA BONG, Philo Farnsworth

June 13, 2021

[1] Nipkow Disks 10:27
[2] Iconoscopy 10:31
[3] Projected Oscillite 10:14
[4] Cold Cathode Dissector 10:23

Al Margolis – snare drum [1]; rusted tool box [2]; kalimba [3]; piano [4]
Walter Wright – amplified drum kit
Nico – homemade bowed strings with distortion, acoustic guitar [1,2]; circuit bent toy with effects [3]; trombone and vocals [4]

Philo Farnsworth worked out the principle of the image dissector in the summer of 1921, not long before his 15th birthday, and demonstrated the first working version on September 7, 1927, having just turned 21. A farm boy from Indiana, his inspiration for scanning an image as series of lines came from the back-and-forth motion used to plow a field.

In the course of a patent interference suit brought by the Radio Corporation of America in 1934 and decided in February 1935, his high school chemistry teacher produced a sketch Farnsworth had shown him in Spring 1922. Farnsworth won the suit. Farnsworth received royalties from RCA, but he never became wealthy. The video camera tube that evolved from the combined work of Farnsworth, Zworykin, and others was used in all television cameras until the late 20th century,

Farnsworth also developed the “image oscillite”, a cathode ray tube that displayed the images captured by the image dissector. He called his device an image dissector because it converted individual elements of the image into electricity one at a time. He replaced the spinning disks with caesium, an element that emits electrons when exposed to light.

In 1984, Farnsworth was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame.
~ Wikipedia


May 21, 2021

Video by Dimitri Devyatkin and Walter Wright, 1972.

w2 recorded April 25, 2021

April 25, 2021

[1] 10:14
[2] 10:30
[3] 10:11
[4] 10:29

[1+2] 10:30
[3+4] 10:29
[1+3] 10:14
[2+4] 10:30
[1+2+3+4] 15:00

For the final mix I created envelopes for tracks 1-4, weaving them together. It was missing bass, so I chose a 2 min section from track 4, placed it in track 5, and stretched to 15 minutes. Here’s the mix –

ELKA BONG, Submarine Telegraphy

April 21, 2021

[1] Beacons and Pigeons 10:07
[2] Big Bugs 10:19
[3] Token Rings 11:20
[4] Thermionic Valves 10:20

Al Margolis- snarebone (snare drum with trombone mouthpiece) [1]; transformed snare drum [2]; violin, contact mic, objects [3]; trombone [4]
Walter Wright – IFMSynth
Birgit Goldbourne – saxophone [Kassel, Germany]

Transatlantic telegraph cables were undersea cables running under the Atlantic Ocean used for telegraph communications. Telegraphy is now an obsolete form of communication and the cables have long since been decommissioned, but telephone and data are still carried on other transatlantic telecommunications cables.

The first cable was laid in the 1850s across the floor of the Atlantic from Valentia in western Ireland to Bay of Bulls, Trinity Bay Newfoundland. The first communications occurred August 16, 1858 but the line speed was poor and efforts to improve it caused this cable to fail after three weeks. A second cable was laid in 1865 with much-improved material. The cable was laid by the ship SS Great Eastern. More than halfway across, the cable broke and after many rescue attempts, they had to give up. In July 1866, a third cable was laid and on July 27th 1866 the cable was put into service.

This cable altered for all time personal, commercial and political relations between people across the Atlantic. Before the first transatlantic cable, communications between Europe and the Americas took place only by ship. Sometimes, however, severe winter storms delayed ships for weeks. The transatlantic cable reduced communication time considerably, allowing a message and a response in the same day.
~ Wikipedia

w2 recorded April 11, 2021

April 11, 2021

IFMSynth tracks [1-4] recorded on March 11 mixed with Amplified drum kit tracks [5-8] recorded on April 8, 2021.

[1+5] 10:20
[2+6] 10:13
[3+7] 10:18
[4+8] 11:24
[1+3+5+7] 15:00
[2+4+6+8] 15:00

The first four mixes, [1+5] through [4+8], are made by pairing IFM and amplified drum kit tracks. Nothing special here, simple level adjustments. I reduce the IFM tracks -3db and the drum tracks -9db.

Mix five, [1+3+5+7], is a different matter, here I’m mixing four tracks, two IFM tracks and two drum tracks. I start by swapping stereo channels on the second drum track, moving the bass drums on the two drum tracks to separate channels. Then I set the two IFM tracks to 10:00 min, and stretch the drum tracks out to 15:00 min. I move the second IFM track along the timeline so that it starts at 5:00 min. I create envelopes for each track. Finally, I add reverb to the drum tracks, creating ‘space’ in the mix.
Here’s the mixing chart –


Mix six, [2+4+6+8], is similar. As above I move the bass drums to separate channels, adjust the timing for each track. Note, track is set at 11:00 min. In this mix track one is moved along the timeline to start at 5:00 min. Lastly, I add reverb to the drum tracks. Here’s the mixing chart –

w2 recorded April 8, 2021

April 8, 2021


[1] 10:20
[2] 10:12
[3] 10:14
[4] 10:23

[1+2] 10:20
[3+4] 10:23
[1+3] 10:20
[2+4] 10:23
[1+2+3+4] 15:00

For the final mix, in Audacity, I start by swapping stereo channels on tracks 2 & 4, moving the bass drum from the left channel to the right. Then I change the speed for all four tracks – tracks 1 & 2 are set to 10:00 min and tracks 3 & 4 stretched to 15:00 min.  On the timeline I start track 1 at 05:00 min, and tracks 2, 3 & 4 at 00:00 min/sec. I adjust the overall sound levels, and create envelopes for each track. For this mix I decide to reverse track 3. Lastly, I add reverb to tracks 3 & 4. Here’s the mixing chart –


ELKA BONG, Detrimental Calculus

March 9, 2021


I recorded these tracks either right before or right after moving my studio. Sent them to Al who transformed, added to, subtracted from my material.

[1] Lapse 10:25
[2] Plus 10:29
[3] Minus 11:22
[4] Relapse 10:34

Al Margolis – transformations [1], [4]; ARP 2600 [2]; voice [3]
Walter Wright – AVSynth

Mixed by Al.

w2 recorded March 3, 2021

March 3, 2021

[1] 9:59
[2] 10:09
[3] 10:57
[4] 9:09

[1+2] 9:09
[3+4] 10:57
[1+3] 10:57
[2+4] 10:09
[1+2+3+4] 15:00

XFest MA 2021: Session 3

February 27, 2021

Saturday evening, February 27

I walk back to my house for dinner, return to Greg’s at 7pm.

At 7:30pm I check into the Green Room. A couple of people are already there. I invite Craig Chin to play in first set as I haven’t heard from Sophie Leetmaa. Of course, 5min after checking Craig in, Sophie appears. I transfer the first set of the evening along to the On Air Room.

At 8pm Dei welcomes the audience to Session 3. We experience another blackout during the first set. This time we’re ready for it, no panic. It lasts about 2min before our screens re-activate. Unfortunately we lose audio during the blackout. However that’s it, the rest of evening goes smoothly. We wrap up at 10:15pm, right on time.

The Backstage Room is active. Joe Brown, Emmanuel Lalande and Ras Moshe, among others, have been chatting all evening. Youtube viewers have logged on, commented and chatted with Dei and the artists. It’s our largest audience, albeit virtual, ever!

Greg, Dei and I relax. Greg breaks out the rye whiskey. I wander home around midnight.

Set 8 includes the four original members plus Craig. Ras Moshe has performed in all thirteen festivals, from 2009 thru 2021. Ras has the blinking blue glasses, Craig a mini smoke machine, and Ophra face paint. At 15:45 we lose audio, another blackout. This time we are prepared, the ‘Ooops’ sign goes up, we wait patiently and, at 17:45, we return.

Craig Chin – guitar, effects, smoke machine [Beacon NY]
Sophie Leetmaa – harp, electronics [Seoul South Korea]
Al Margolis – trumpet, tuning fork, objects, contact mics [Chester NY]
Ras Moshe – flute, saxophone, blinking blue glasses [Brooklyn NY]
Ophra Wolf – movement, face paint [Newburgh NY]

Set 9 includes two more XFest regulars. id m theft able missed a single XFest due to a snow storm and Joe Brown, the upside down eyes and nose bridge, is a regular. Joe and Bob Drake provide a rich electronic background for id m’s vocals, which support Callie’s movement. Keeping our fingers crossed, everyone is coming through without a glitch, including Callie’s video. Around 16min someone sneaks in an audio sample from, what sounds like, a car radio.

id m theft able – voice, objects, tape [South Windham ME]
Joe Brown – modular synth [Lowell MA]
Callie Chapman – movement [Somerville MA]
Bob Drake – synths, electronics [Cleveland OH]

Set 10 has an interesting array of instruments from Angela Sawyer’s suitcase of audio delights to Sam Wenc’s steel guitar. Duane Ingalls uses all sorts of objects and materials, musical or not. Duane’s internet connection breaks up intermittently while Allie Berger moves in support of and response to the music. The overall effect is amazingly or, perhaps, amusingly coherent.

Allie Berger – movement [Syracuse NY]
Duane Ingalls -objects, materials, percussion [Machias ME]
Angela Sawyer – voice, suitcase of audio delights [Boston MA]
Sam Wenc – pedal steel guitar [Brooklyn NY]

Set 11 is the final set of the festival. Unfortunately Psychedelic Snakeskin loses her connection at the beginning of the set. We’re left with Federico Balducci and Rick Breault from Massachusetts, and Peter Chamberlain all the way from Honolulu Hawaii. Notice the ‘Electric Counterpoint’ book on the stand behind Federico. Peter shows us his instruments, one by one as he plays them. We see Rick’s fingers on the laptop touch pad and, occasionally, punching buttons. Federico hides under his cap. We see his fingers on the guitar but miss his impressive bank of effects pedals. At the very end of the set, 22:30min into the recording, Psychedelic Snakeskin returns to bring the set to a close. Rick waves ‘goodbye’.

Federico Balducci – guitar [Springfield MA]
Rick Breault – laptop, field recordings [Lowell MA]
Peter Chamberlain – various electronic instruments [Honolulu Hawaii]
Psychedelic Snakeskin – object, tapes, contact mic [Jackson NY]