Chloe Alper, Apprentice of the Universe @chloealper

Chloe Alper, whose magical voice and versatile musicianship was no small contribution to the enduring magic of Pure Reason Revolution, is doing some very interesting solo work these days, creating amazing music that still gives us “something to dream about” — to quote PRR’s first-released song, “Apprentice of the Universe” (April 19, 2004, on Poptones MC5089SCD).

Check out this nifty video for her current project, Tiny Giant, which showcases the witty single “Thirsty,” the first of a double A-side:

The Glass Bead Game: from MP3 to DNA

Now I have finally discovered the music storage format of the future:

While CDs only last a few decades, DNA—yes, the same stuff that contains our genetic instructions—is thought to be “readable” for over a million years, if stored in the right conditions. So Mezzanine is going to be stored in DNA molecules, encased in tiny glass beads.

The scientists who will do the encoding work at the Functional Materials Laboratory at ETH Zurich, a Swiss university. According to Robert Grass, a professor at the lab, their technique should ensure the album lasts for “hundreds to thousands of years.”

“While the information stored on a CD or hard disk is a sequence of zeros and ones, biology stores genetic information in a sequence of the four building blocks of DNA: A, C, G and T,” said Grass.

Mezzanine will be cut down to 15 megabytes using the Opus music compression format, and the data will be split into 920,000 fragments, each of which will be encoded in a short DNA strand. The scientists will then pour the DNA into 5,000 nanometer-sized glass beads. All of this will apparently take a month or two to accomplish.

soundstreamsunday #107: “Dada Was Here” by the Soft Machine

softmachine1Given his breadth of tastes, it’s reasonable to think that Jimi Hendrix‘s invitation to the Soft Machine to support him on his tour of the States in 1968 was a calculated act of subversion, upending the guitar god cult and the power trio temple he’d built along with Cream.  The group was an underground darling, the French loved them, and although a rock trio — guitarist Daevid Allen’s departure in 1967 didn’t seem to faze them — they operated on a different kind of wattage, preferring the lower registers of distorto bass (Kevin Ayers, then Hugh Hopper) and organ (Mike Ratledge), beasts that closed in around Robert Wyatt’s peerless drumming.  What lyrics they used tended towards the surreal, either in delivery or meaning, as opposed to the era’s psychedelicisms, and along with their monster chops betrayed the members’ schooling.  They would come to be regarded as the core of the Canterbury Scene, even as they rejected the notion of any such thing, and while key to the development of progressive rock in Britain, their first records, with Wyatt, are diverse affairs defying categorization (hence, doubtless, their influence).  As the band drifted away from jazz experimentation in a rock setting and increasingly towards a watered jazz fusion — its more powerful form they certainly helped to invent — their power diminished.

But for a while, dada was there, and “Dada Was Here,” from 1969’s Volume 2, is an exact explanation of prime Soft Machine, working freely and with a wry, concealed grin.  Sung in Spanish, it is a series of queries with the inevitable answer of i-don’t-know, backed with a breezy post-bop (fuzz) bass, piano, and typical outta-this-world drumming.  There’s a hint of autumn to it, of turning leaves and melting clocks, and in that parallel world where things are as they could be and we appreciate grasp equaling reach, it’s a hit record.

soundstreamsunday presents one song or live set by an artist each week, and in theory wants to be an infinite linear mix tape where the songs relate and progress as a whole. For the complete playlist, go here: soundstreamsunday archive and playlist, or check related articles by clicking on”soundstreamsunday” in the tags section.


Glass Hammer–America’s finest band and one of the two greatest bands in the world–has just announced its new live release, MOSTLY LIVE IN ITALY. And, it’s a stunner! No progarchist should be without one.

Here’s the video promo–well worth watching (and listening)