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Monthly Archives: December 2010

There’s a big bucket of everything going on in this record. Carlos uses up to 48 “Dolbyized” tracks (including electronic/quasi-classical/ambient music composed and performed by Carlos along with environmental recordings including surf, birds, frogs, lightning, wind, rain, and anything else Mother Nature can cook up) at any given point in this monstrous psychoacoustic experiment. The whole effect simultaneously soothes and challenges the old noggin’ in the most curious way.

Here’s a simple way to describe it. Take one of Walter Carlos’ traditional early-electronic Moog pieces and mix it with one or two discs from the Environments series. Make sure they’re smooshed together nicely then board ‘em on Willy Wonka’s Psychedelic Boat Trip.

Only attempt in the company of a responsible adult. Or a frog bong.

Sonic Seasonings is a Double LP with four different “songs”, which are as follows:

Side 1: Spring (22:09 Minutes)

Side 2: Summer (21:31 Minutes)

Side 3: Fall (20:56 Minutes)

Side 4: Winter (20:31 Minutes)

Click here to download Sonic Seasonings from vinyl at 320 kbps

This is a short but sweet little number that I used to listen to over and over and over as a kid. I’m pretty sure you’ll be doing the same after your first listen.

On another note, I sat down today and watched a VHS tape from 1990 with Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, Mickey’s Christmas Carol and the original Simpsons Christmas Special. VHS tapes of live television have a certain charm. Part of it is the strange, treble-sapped sound. I always kind of feel that I’m listening to the TV through an infinitely long chain of cardboard paper towel tubes whenever I pop in an old tape.

But what really makes dealing with tracking issues worthwhile is the time warp commercials encapsulated within these VHS tapes. Here’s a small handful of commercials that were tucked away in this 1990 Holiday Season Recording

Skaggs Alpha Beta Grocery Store

The Skaggs Alpha Beta commercial on my tape was different but just as weird. I just can’t comprehend what they were thinking when naming a grocery story with such a disgusting confederation of words.

Jack The Lego Maniac

I never got the really cool Legos when I was a kid. Sure, if I’d had a really awesome imagination I could have made whatever I wanted with the ones I had. But I just wanted a space set because the Lego space dudes had awesome neon green visors on their helmets. But only Jack the Lego Maniac was lucky enough to have any and every space dude he wanted. I hated him for that.

Cabbage Patch Dolls

Do Cabbage Patch Dolls dominate anyone else’s nightmares, or am I alone on this one?

LA Gear featuring Karl Malone

When I was in college I used to drive 3 hours every year to attend Ohio University’s Halloween Bash. The first year I was there I parked my car in a lot outside of town and took a tram toward campus so I could meet up with a friend who lived in one of the dorms.

During that tram ride there was this really drunk, and I mean REALLY drunk, passenger dressed up as Karl Malone for Halloween. He was wearing the full Utah Jazz uniform and had a wig. But what really made his costume ridiculous was that this white dude scribbled in his entire face with a Sharpie marker in an attempt to make himself appear black. It was pretty obvious that he did it while he was drunk because there were huge spots where he missed with the Sharpie and he ended up looking like Pig Pen from the Peanuts comics.

He was riding the tram solo, holding a nearly-finished case of Natty Light and continually yelling, “I’M THE MAILMAN! I’M THE MAILMAN!” It would have just been obnoxious if it hadn’t been for this Japanese family that was sitting right next to him. They were wearing normal street clothes and looked totally out of place amongst the sexy nurses, crippled Supermen and THE MAILMAN.

Those Japanese folks were completely terrified of THE MAILMAN. They tried to pretend he wasn’t there but every now and then one of them would take a quick, horrified glance at him. I’m certain that they thought THE MAILMAN would eat them…because the real one certainly would. Viewing that surreal drama unfold was one of the best experiences of my life.

>>>Click here to download Elvis and Jim’s Christmas Favorites


Side 1: Elvis

1. Here Comes Santa Claus

2. Silent Night

3. Blue Christmas

4. O Little Town Of Bethlehem

Side 2: Jim Reeves

1. Jingle Bells

2. I’ll Be Home For Christmas

3. O Come All Ye Faithful

4. Take My Hand, Precious Lord

The main reason I love the Environments series is because the recording company, Syntonic Research, trumps the hell out of setting a couple of microphones on a beach and hitting record on a reel-to-reel. Or, in the case of the Vol. 4, which is posted here, setting microphones on a windowsill during a rainy day. Don’t get me wrong, the albums provide a very cool listening experience and relax to the max. But I just don’t know if they warrant quite the amount of praise from national magazines strewn about the album cover and, most of all, Syntonic Research themselves.

The album sleeve and the back cover are devoted to extolling the virtues of high fidelity field recordings, which is all Environments really is. It’s very nice field recordings. The first side of the album sleeve lists all sorts of therapeutic benefits of listening to these field recordings, including Noise Masking, Solitude, Socializing, Study Habits/Concentration/Reading Comprehension, Natural Highs, Meditation/Alpha Waves/Self-Hypnosis, Sex, Relaxation, Tension Headache Relief, and the effects on Infants/Animals/Plants.

Here’s detailed content on a couple of them.

Natural Highs

High Times Magazine worried that the FDA might eventually ban Environments as “highly addictive” and might even wish to make them a “controlled substance.” Although the comment was facetious, the fact is that many people have commented that Environments are a “natural high” in both senses of the term. SR knows exactly what they mean, in that our research is, for the large part, based on this phenomenon. If you live in the city and only hear machines, electronic noise, and other people, pristine natural sounds can truly have the effect of a “natural high” and, although it bends your minds a bit to consider it, sound can get you high.

I remember back in middle school there was this rumor that smoking banana peels could get you high. Of course you had to do some crazy preparation of the peel, like cooking it in the oven at 420 degrees for 3 days or something to unleash the hidden spirits. No one actually knew anybody that had gotten high off of banana peels, but everyone was convinced it was possible. Oh, it was definitely possible.

The claims by Syntonic Research remind me of those kids in middle school who swore by the banana peel high. “Oh yeah man, like, you just didn’t listen to it right. You gotta, like, turn the treble all the way up and invert the stereo sound and mute the frequencies between 675 and 1013 hz. Just do that and YOU WILL TOTALLY TRIP BALLS, man.”

You’ll trip balls just as hard as you would from eating, snorting, smoking or keistering nutmeg. Nutmeg, The Taste Of A Generation.


Utilizing Environments in a dark room is always a delight. That dark room can be anywhere and, if you happen to be engaged in lovemaking, a bed or sofa is usually not where your imagination really wants to be. Imagine how nice lovemaking would be in a meadow, without mosquitos and burrs to contend with. Imagine making love aboard a schooner on the high seas, without worrying about a hurricane or a reef. Get the idea?

We have found that our heartbeat recording does have a special relationship to sex, however. This particular sound actually seems to slow down and synchronize the act of lovemaking in a way not experienced by most people. It works for almost everyone and is a unique experience.

What I’d really love is for Syntonic Research to make a record of a fat man’s heartbeat after he consumed a pulled pork sandwich with a Steel Reserve to wash it down. Something like the following video, courtesy of YouTube’s fatmansmoking2, would do quite nicely.  It would totally give me the confidence to attempt the “Generous Stranger” on my special ladyfriend during our sweet sofa lovemaking .


In terms of plant growth, we have received considerable mail telling us that specific Environments seem to be effective, particularly meditation-type sounds and flowing water. Try putting a plant in front of one of the speakers for a day or two and see what happens. Best results seem to occur with one hour exposures to sounds having low frequency content. You might consider utilizing two identical plants, if you wish to experiment. Put one by a speaker and one in another room.

I’m pretty sure I can guess who sent those letters to Syntonic Research.

Syntonic Research also includes a bunch of testimonials from satisfied clients, because the quasi-scientific gloatings of their marketing team just weren’t enough. Here’s one of the best:

Very mellow. Had a lot of fun with this one. Could create a very peaceful environment for reading or meditating or could create a lively, thought-inspiring mood, just buy turning knobs. Far Out!

Stella Garnicki

Mt. View, CA

Computer Operator

 I don’t trust anyone who lists their occupation as computer operator.

Oh, you’re a computer operator, you say? What operations are you executing on this computer, madam?

“Oh, I send and receive various important datas.”

Interesting, what does your computer look like?

“Well, it has a long, long keyboard.”

Oh, that’s peculiar. What else can you tell me about your computer?

“Well, it’s approximately one cubic yard and composed of wrought iron, mainly.”

Wrought iron?

“Yes, wrought iron. It’s very sturdy. And it has a water-powered turbine which excites the electric lamp for nights when I must ‘burn the midnight oil,’ if you will.”


“Yes, it was constructed by a local blacksmith. Dell, I think is his name.Yes, I’m quite certain it was Dell.”

Ah, that make sense.

Ms. Stella Garnicki enjoying a lively, thought-inspiring mood.

>>>Click here to download Environments Vol. 9 on MP3. Just don’t get addicted, man.

Syntonic Research’s Listening Instructions:

Side A: Caribbean Lagoon

Balance speaker volume so that insect sounds are equally balanced between the speakers. Optimum results are achieved at very low volume settings. Tree crickets can be eliminated by reducing treble.

Side B: Pacific Ocean

Wait three minutes for volume to reach maximum and adjust to a comfortable level at that time. Reduce bass if ocean sound is too powerful in the low frequencies. Balance between speakers should produce equal loudness on both channels.

This week I discovered a truly one-of-a-kind piece of Tron-related memorabilia. Behold, a coloring book that was produced by the computer engineers who helped make the original Tron in 1982. It was created as a gift for my mom, and was supposed to be forwarded my way after I was born. However, I’ve never seen it until now so I’m laying down a pretty serious guilt trip. As you’ll see from the pictures below it’s something of a bad engineer’s joke, but pretty cool all the same.

First, here’s a little back story. Back in ’82 my mom, while pregnant with yours truly, worked as a technical editor at the computer graphics firm Evans & Sutherland in Salt Lake City. Evans & Sutherland designed and manufactured computer equipment and was on the cutting edge of computer graphics technology. Simulators like their model SP1, which is noted on the coloring book cover above, was one such product that kept them at the head of the pack. The following excerpt is from the company’s history, which is available on Funding Universe:

With the aid of the three former GE engineers, Evans & Sutherland entered what would become one of its key markets. In 1973 the company began a joint project with RSL (Rediffusion Simulation Limited) of Great Britain, in which E&S would make NOVOVIEW visual simulators for commercial airlines, and RSL would market those items. The Dutch airline KLM bought the first NOVOVIEW system.

NOVOVIEW products brought E&S its first profits in 1974 and continued success as the decade progressed. The flight simulator business boomed following the Arab oil embargo of 1974, which made fuel and thus live pilot training much more expensive. By 1977, the SP1, NOVOVIEW’s successor, was certified by the Federal Aviation Administration and brought in more sales to E&S than all its other simulators combined.

Here’s where it gets interesting. In 1982, riding on the success of their flight simulators, Evans & Sutherland decided to branch out.

E&S also diversified in the 1980s by beginning to use its technology for entertainment and education. For example, the 1982 movie Tron, a science-fiction tale of human entities living inside a computer at the microchip level, employed some E&S products to create its special effects.

Anyway, the engineers at Evans & Sutherland took time out of their Tron-building schedules to make a little coloring book for my unborn self. So whoever you fellas are, thank you.

You’ll see from the pictures that it would be a pretty awful coloring book for any kid. And the whole “Jack And Jill” thing is pretty obnoxious. And there aren’t any cool pictures of Tron characters, only the equipment that was used to make Tron. But still, thanks.

And after seeing the equipment they were using I still find it hard to believe that the computer industry had moved past Pong by 1982. The engineers who made this book were still using to tape drive computers to make Hollywood CGI, for crying out loud. Maybe that explains why Jeff bridges had to resort to wearing a ratty old hockey helmet.

Without further ado, here’s the SP1 Coloring Book:

Full Size

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I have something of a love/hate relationship with Southern Rock. For the longest time it was only hate that boiled within whenever “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” came on the radio. This happened a lot because Southern Rock is big business in Cincinnati. Well, it was during the 90′s before the Butt Rock wave of Linkin Parks and Nickelbacks washed its poisonous spray across the United States.

When I moved here in the 1991 “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” was everywhere…I mean everywhere. Put it on STAR 93.3 Christian Contemporary and “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” would be wedged in between repeats of Michael W. Smith’s “Awesome God”.  If the rain started coming down in sheets “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” would start blaring over the emergency sirens. Call any Pizza Hut in the 513 area code and you’d get “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” as you waited to order a Stuffed Crust pizza.

But the main advocate of Georgia Satellites was definitely Wildman Walker, sports guru for Cincy’s WEBN, even back when WEBN was a legitimate broadcaster of music. For as long as I can remember Wildman’s been the voice of the Cincinnati Cyclones. He’s been there to jubilantly announce each and every power play whether the Clones are playing at Cincy Gardens or The Crown/U.S. Bank Arena (site of the tragic stampeding deaths of 12 people at The Who Concert in 1979) .

Wildman rocking with Georgia Satellites’ roadie Todd “Frog Sack” Squiggins.

During the early 90s “Keep Your Hands To Yourself” was constantly echoing through the bomb-shelter-like confines of Cincinnati hockey arenas. In between face-offs the words “I GOT SOME MONEY IN MY POCKET, IT GOES JING-A-LING-A-LING” would bounce off the scoreboard, to the ice, and then smack your face like a cold-hearted slapshot. And to make it much worse, the song would unleash some sort of primal urge hidden deep within every Cyclone fan. It was to the point of  religious ritual. Each time the song started the beautiful people of Cincinnati would rise up, raise their Bug Lights, and rhythmically flail around. Beer would spill, the aroma of loose-hold gel would waft, and the floor would slick with north-meets-south sweat. It was ugly.

Twister presents one lucky fan with the Pure Romance erotic toy gift bag of the game!

For the longest time I simply couldn’t listen to Georgia Satellites. It made me feel like a dirty, dirty redneck and drove me to cover my head with a down pillow in the relative safety of my suburban home. I just kept seeing those Cyclones fans in slow motion, with their teeth jing-a-linging.

But then a curious thing happened. I turned 21 and started visiting bars around the city. At first I drank the typical bar-newbie pussy drinks. Sex on the beach, buttery nipples, banana slammers, Bud Select….I drank the weakest of the weak. But eventually, after a steep learning curve, I graduated to Bourbon. Not whiskey, not that Jack Daniels crap, but real Kentucky Straight Bourbon. Heaven Hill, Wild Turkey, Ancient Age, Booker’s, Bulleit, Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, Ezra Brooks, Jim Beam, Johnny Drum, J.T.S. Brown, Old Grand Dad, Old Crow, Old Fitzgerald, Very Old Barton, Kentucky Tavern, Kentucky Gentleman.

They were, and still are, all my friends. And after spending a good amount of time in their warm company I’ve learned a few important things. We’ll call these “The Way of the Bourbon”.

First, ditch the New Balances for a pair of cowboy boots. A real pair, complete with full wooden heel and toe pointy enough to ease access into a terrorist’s ass.

For advanced buckaroos only.

Second, get yourself a big ol’ belt buckle. Pick a buckle with a theme with which you can identify. If you drive a Chevy get a “Heartbeat Of America” buckle. If you like horses then by all means get a stallion; just make sure you don’t accidentally get a Shetland. Most importantly don’t get something which would compromise your manliness. Here are examples of acceptable and unacceptable buckles.

Strong theme, clean design, good proportions. Acceptable.

Seriously? No. Get to steppin’, Mr. Caruso.

Third, acquire a loud set of speakers. Minimum requirements for this are a 3-way system with a subwoofer of no less than 12″ and power handling of over 100 watts at 8 ohm. Get a copy of Georgia Satellites self-titled LP. A digital copy will do in tight pinches. Especially one from Rebuilt Tranny’s Rat Rod Record Exchange. That site always seems to have quality rips. Turn the volume up to 11. Stand in front of the speakers, dig in your heels, and absorb the sound into your belt buckle. It will vibrate quite nicely.

Finally, accept your inner hillbilly. Allow him to permeate all areas of your life. Invite him to family dinners. Let him tell a dirty joke or two. If he feels the need to laugh loudly, or comment positively on abundant cleavage, afford him the liberty. But most importantly, let him enjoy intermissions at the Cyclones games. Once you do that you’ll stop asking, “Who in the hell are the Wheeling Nailers?” and just enjoy a good roughing penalty in the decaying metropolis of the Queen City.

Correct excecution of “The Way of the Bourbon”. Note how the female fawns over the male’s wild nature.



A1 Keep Your Hands To Yourself 3:26
Performer [Additional Musician] – Dave Hewitt (3) , Randy Delay
A2 Railroad Steel 4:12
A3 Battleship Chains 2:58
Written-By – Terry Anderson (2)
A4 Red Light 2:48
Written-By – Neill Bogan
A5 The Myth Of Love 4:12
B1 Can’t Stand The Pain 3:44
Written-By – Rick Richards
B2 Golden Light 3:42
B3 Over And Over 3:37
B4 Nights Of Mystery 4:44
B5 Every Picture Tells A Story 5:22
Written-By – Rod Stewart , Ron Wood