Friday, July 20, 2012

Lawrence De Martin

Original photo, text,
& layout by K.K.W
On the cover, Valerie Kuehne,
Felix Morelo & Glenn Cornett
Sound Design: Q & A with De Martin. By K.K.W 
Photo courtesy of Lawrence De Martin. 
SP: Lawrence, thanks for taking the time.

LM: Your very welcome Kerwin.

SP: Aside from an obvious love for music, what was it that pushed you to the tech side of it (speaker & sound design)? 

LM: I come from a family of engineers and musicians and I am the nexus. My great grandfather was a metallurgist; my maternal grandfather designed the engine for the B-29, my paternal grandfather invented perfect binding. When I was nine my uncle Carl (also and aeronautical engineer) gave me a solar powered transistor radio kit for Christmas and I was hooked on tech. Funny thing is, I did not listen to music on that radio. We did not have a phonograph. Music came from the piano or singing. My father and mother played, one sister was a harp major the other sings. We got a turntable when I was 13 but it did not sound the same as music, as I had already been to a symphony in Boston and heard pipe organ weekly in church. I experimented some stereo, and designed and built recording studios including a mobile to capture live performance; but it still wasn't music coming out of the speakers, so I gave up for 20 years. Fast forward to 2004 when I joined the Connecticut Audio Society and we did a recording project with David Gilden of his band with Kora, Banjo, Fender bass and trap set. The premise was live two channel with members all bringing their minimalist recording setups, so the Kora had to be amplified. This opened my ears to the necessity of electro-acoustic amplification because of the foment in mixed orchestration. 

SP: What makes your speaker design (the pair used at Spectrum) so formidable and separates them from others?

LM: My speakers are so good because my ears were not polluted by speakers or motors as a child. Acoustic musicians HEAR differently because of the daily exposure to the sound of fingers and lips making music, and I share the sensibilities. I have been to roughly 700 acoustic concerts in the last ten years to keep my hearing attuned to those sounds, listening MORE to acoustic music then to speakers. Also, I have a grand piano and three harpsicords at home.

SP: Are there any core elements  you follow that give rise to quality speaker design, or you just play it by ear, depending on what your designing them for? 

LM:  My speakers are based on three  disciplines:

A) Mimicry of the acoustics of natural instruments. Other speaker designers are making general purpose designs, which are a compromise. My first models are specifically for the violin family. They are increasing less suited to wind instruments, voice, plectrum instrumentsand least for percussion. I am working on wind and plectrum models. My system is not two channel because stereo as it is practiced is fake. The most critical part of the system is NO MIXING. Mixing is a spatial distortion. Rather, I rely on the OVOMOS principle: one voice, one mic, one speaker. Likewise, there is no splitting as in monitors. I have twelve speakers at Spectrum (four treble, three bass, five mid-bass). We also have two HiFi speakers and three PA type speakers, soon to be replaced  with more of my experimental models.            

Lawrence De Martin with his creation,
at Spectrum. Original photo courtesy
of De Martin, digital augmentation by K.K.W.
B) The speakers are engineered to reproduce the full dynamic range of acoustic music. They exceed "audiophile" speakers in realistic output levels; and exceed nearly all "Pro" speakers for timbral and temporal accuracy.

C) SPACE. (The Final Frontier) This is ignored by all other speaker designers. Each natural instrument has a specific spatiality, or the way it fills a room so one size of speaker can't fit all instruments. Further, conventional speakers have warped timbre at an angle to the front, so the sound that bounces off the walls, floor and ceiling doesn't sound right. Since ALL speakers have this flaw people are acclimated to it. Audiophiles keep asking "if my system measures perfectly, how it does not sound real? I believe this is part of the answer- the speaker has to have flat frequency response at all angles. 

The conventional "fix" is acoustic treatment making the room dead; or in more sophisticated manner making it diffuse; but this is even more artificial. My room is lively enough for acoustic chamber music and the speakers fit right in for some seamless mixed electro-acoustic ensembles. 

This is also what Hall don't get right. Zankel Hall is a nearly perfect chamber hall, but acoustician Steve Haas specified variable acoustic treatments for performances amplified with conventional speakers. Most of the acoustic devices were cut from the budget, and the motorized curtain is typically not deployed. When they crank up the sound system the hall becomes unlistenable, even with earplugs! 

SP: There's always aspects of what we do creatively that drives us, when it comes to sound & music what is it that drives you? 

LM: I am driven by the search for truth, like Diogenes. I believe that the highest function of music is spirituality, tribality, and human to human direct communication. I was able to create a lifestyle where I hear the best acoustic musicians in the world in the best acoustic halls here in New York. I want to share that feeling with the rest of the world. The music business is about entertainment, convenience and artificial stimulation of adrenalin. This is bad for your health. Polygraph studies show that digitally compressed music (MP3, AAC) with exaggerated bass & beats but no dynamic range generates life shorting levels of stress. Music comes from silence, and synthetic noises like the sound of motors, metal, glass, and speaker distortion wear us out chemically.

SP: Given that human hearing does have limits, and sound technology keeps improving, do you think mans creation will exceed the limits of his God? 
LM: Hearing is far better than most scientist believe. I had a conversation with Dr Edgar Choueiri, who is the chairman of plasma physics at Princeton. He took on a side project in spatial hearing, but admitted after it is as difficult as theoretical rocket science. I am optimistic that technology can eventually produce sounds that are healthy and healing as acoustic music, but not in our lifetime.

In summary, all speakers suck. My speakers suck less. 

SP: Lawrence, having heard your speakers I'm must agree    . You made so many great points about music, sound, and the tech side as well. Thanks for taking the time and imparting some of your knowledge on myself, and those who will read this. Cheers! 

If you would like to know more, please send an email to Lawrence De Martin at "Art is the reason, art is the way."   

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Alfred Julius

Original photo, text,
and layout by K.K.W.
On the cover, Valerie Kuehne,
Felix Morelo & Glenn Cornett.
"Summer Jukebox" via Alfred Julius. Article by K.K.W

In an era marked by "dress-down" casual thats the norm for almost all aspects of social life today, its refreshing to see that the bow-tie is still in-style and has meaning and a place in fashion.  
Image courtesy of Alfred Julius.
The bow-tie(s) in question is the crux of Alfred Julius, founded by Chike Atu who is also the head designer. A.J
is an amazing men's luxury accessory line paying homage to the grandfather of the founder. 

An aside from their dashing bow-ties (one of which was worn by actor Terrance J at the most recent BET awards) A.J has recently put together a collection of tunes "that express the summer mood for the Alfred Julius man", entitled 'Summer Jukebox'.

It ranges from 1945, when Alfred Julius was 26 years old, up until 2012 where the founder (his grandson) Chike Atu is currently 26 years old. Also with it is an accompanying bow-tie that in its way, expresses the mood of it all, through the Alfred Julius look and style.

If you would like to know more, go, or to listen to the 'summer jukebox, go to: "Art is the reason, art is the way."  
Image courtesy of Alfred Julius.

Actor Terrence J, image courtesy of Alfred Julius.

Cinty Ionescu

Digital augmentation,
text, original photos & layout
by K.K.W.
Special post: on the cover,
Cinty Ionescu.
"Romanyeah!": an immersive audio/video performance. Article & photos by K.K.W

@ La Sala (Cantina Royal) in Williamsburg Brooklyn NYC, Cinty Ionescu premiered an engaging environment of sound, sight,  and visual abstraction. It brings you into a series of moments strongly connected to her, and extended to you, via the conductive superhighway that is her art.  
The inner hallway leading to the performance 
area @ La Sala
Ionescu creates an unconventional journey through contemporary Romania utilizing a broad selection of images, from the artists journey in her amazing homeland (a land of striking cultural & social paradoxes). Also with a slide-show of photos and various images from her childhood in communist Romania. Its a startling mix also featuring well known cultural landmarks, the works of Constantin Brancusi in the 'forgotten city' of Targu Jiu, and the monasteries and churches of Moldavia.     

Jeanann Dara (far left), violist.
The construct of the performance (videography, music, projected imagery, etc) is one that has been used by other artists and musicians, composers like Milica Paranosic, Mari Kimura, and Lynn Bechtold . Ionescu's certainly has a powerful force to hers given the personal connection to the images, the culture, and an alluring sensation that really begins to draw you in about halfway through the performance.

3 projectors lined 4 of the walls, that consciously made me think of the holy trinity, while a smaller one displayed images on the tablecloth of Ionescu's DJ setup. The whole, an immersive environment of sound, sight, and numerical abstraction. Images of Romanian existance, the best, worst (to a reasonable extent), strangest, which is funny, moving and also some-what somber. A trans-dimensional, hypnotic awe permeated the room, the energy so strong you could feel it coursing through you. 

The original mix for the set was created by Brooklyn-based DJ, producer and mix engineer Brennan Green. It includes Romanian music samples from Classical, Folk, Gypsy music, and songs from the 30's, 40's, psychedelic rock of the 70's along with contemporary Romanian electro music. Joining Ionescu on stage was Brooklyn based violinist, electronic composer, multimedia artist Jeanann Dara (also the curator for the R.C.I.N.Y), who's stunning playing was in perfect step to the music and visuals. 

The project is commissioned by the R.C.I.N.Y (Romanian cultural institute of New York) working with the "underground-zero" festival and La Sala @ Cantina Royal, conceived as a Romanian-American artistic collaboration.

There are still two more performances on July 21st & 22nd both @ the Flamboyan theater at the Clemente Soto Velez cultural and educational center (107 Suffolk Street New York). If you would like to know more, go "Art is the reason, art is the way"

Jeanann Dara

Cinty Ionescu (left)

Cinty Ionescu (left)

Ivana Mikavica (left) who sent me the invite
 speaking to Oana Radu
deputy director of the RCINY.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Andzelika Jordanova

Photo, text & layout by
K.K.W. On the cover
this month, Valerie Kaehne,
Felix Morelo & Glenn Cornett
New designs: Andzelika Jordanova. By K.K.W

Bold, striking, odd, at times demure, although like their creator, never dull. Jordanova's latest creations in jewelry design is heavily inspired by nature (given where she's from, its no surprise). It gives them a distinctive look that's based on the qualities of the items being used, and evokes a highly natural-abstract feel.   
Image courtesy of the artist.

The artist herself, photo by Alek.
A porous rock with its nooks and cranny's - a textured little world needing to be explored. The fibrous textile made into the petals of a flower, seemingly course, yet exuding a delicate quality like a modern woman. Jordanova's new line in its way, goes beyond jewelry design and into "functional art".

The designs could lend itself to a casual look, high-fashion, or just displayed in a museum being admired. Jordanova is most certainly one of Macedonia's best emerging artists & designers, helping to change the face of her country in the best way possible. And from what I know, she's as mysterious as she is stylish. Something wonderful to behold.   

Image courtesy of the artist.
Image courtesy of the artist.

Image courtesy of the artist.

Image courtesy of the artist.
Image courtesy of the artist.
If you would like to know more, go "Art is the reason, art is the way."

"See it now" #4

Photo, text & layout by
K.K.W. On the cover
this month, Valerie Kaehne,
Felix Morelo & Glenn Cornett
Brooklyn, "See it Now" #4. Photos by K.K.W

When I started this series, some months back, it was with an essay by Tanja St about her city Skopje, capital of Macedonia. The  title of the series I took from a T.V series hosted by Edward R Murrow (which I learned about from the film "Good Night & Good Luck"). The basic point is to showcase great visuals about different parts of NYC and elsewhere in the world, thereby giving you a real sense of the place in question.    
The harbor @ Emmons ave,
Sheepshead bay sector Bklyn
This month were taking you to Sheepshead bay sector of Brooklyn, along the water. The area is home to a large number of people from the east of Europe (Russia, Ukraine, Poland, with a fair amount of them being Jewish: Orthodox and secular). Along the harbor you'll find shops, a small "mall", excellent restaurants (a lot of seafood), boats of various sizes (some for rent, others you can go for a ride on and get away from the "hustle & bustle" of the area.). 

In its way the area is like a little foreign
place within Bklyn, a strange,
 beautiful feel all its own.
On this side of the harbor you can go for a bike
ride (I rode my bike there from east 18th &
Beverly road), & or go fishing.

This is the bridge that separates both sides
of the harbor. Biking across it is not allowed.
If your lucky you might see the swans.  

If you would like to read more from the series, go, "Art is the reason, art is the way."