One of Japan’s biggest pop culture idols for over a decade, Hatsune Miku’s synthesised voice and image have been used on hundreds of thousands pop tracks, videos, and franchised products worldwide. Powered by Vocaloid software, she represents the ultimate hyper-idol, a digitally rendered eternal bubblegum teen star.
New Vocal Solutions (sampler) is a collection of tracks by artists working with Miku’s voice and Vocaloid technology in strange and skewed ways. Painstaking programming, circuit bending, and algorithmic repurposing are employed to plunder the uncanny valley and dredge up layers of digital silt; an unexplored rich and mucky underside of pop subculture.
Miku’s ubiquity and popularity is largely down to the independent, amateur, and open source fan communities that propagate her. As such, squib-box is making New Vocal Solutions (sampler) completely free to download.
Adam de la Cour writes music, makes films and performs in a variety of settings.
His music often features elements of absurdity, irreverence, virtuosity, self-sabotage and stupidity, and hijacks recognisable genres, formats and tropes, which have included New Music, comics, art objects, commercial albums, TV shows and genre films. It has been performed at various festivals including LCMF, HCMF, MATA, Bergen International Festival and Melbourne Festival.
As a filmmaker his shorts have their roots in experimental film, video art, genre movies and trash cinema. He also create interactive, musical films involving live performers. His short genre film, Mr Topps is distributed by the cult, independent film company Troma Entertainment.
Neil Luck is a composer, performer and director based in London. His practice focuses on the theatrical and physical nature of live performance, the absurd, and the intriguing. His work takes a range of forms from music-theatre, to concert works, curatorial projects, installations, public projects and recordings.
He founded the experimental music theatre group ARCO in 2008, and co-founded the artist cooperative and netlabel squib-box in 2011.
His work has been performed to acclaim by ARCO, himself and many other experimental music and performance groups nationally and internationally, at art spaces, galleries, concerts halls, theatres and in the streets.
Chihiro Ono is sought-after both as a Violinist and a Violist, and a Baroque Violinist, performing and broadcasting on Stages, Radio and TV across the world.
She began her musical journey aged at 8 months, copying violin playing with two chopsticks before she could even walk. Her first name (智尋)'s meaning is "searching for wisdom", since this chopsticks event, she is on her journey to discover things in this world through music.
She does not perceive separations and walls between periods, countries and genres in music; she passionately loves music, and uses music as a tool to open many doors with people, and within herself.
Her repertoire ranges from Baroque (on period instruments), Classical, Contemporary, Experimental music, Performance Art, Improvisation to Noise.
Psychiceyeclix has been making/creating music since 2001, making 6 ep’s/albums released on Cyborg Recordings, Doubledgescissor, Tingo Tongo Tapes, Future Music, Kiff Recording, Junkyard Productions, Fature Music, Dismissive Records, Linear Obsessional Records, Videopunks. He uses hundreds of different instruments/devices, and does not believe in any one style or technique
He began rewiring & modifying devices in 1999, first hacking samplers then rewiring keyboards, megaphones & anything that generates a noise!
He has sold various Psychiceyeclix bent devices to – USA,Japan,Denmark,France,Belgium,Spain,Sweden,Italy,Ireland,Czech,Brazil,Australia,
Saudi Arabia…getting on every corner of the globe!!!!
So far he has circuit bent at least 500 devices & counting through billions of rewirable possibilities!…
Federico Reuben is a composer, sound artist and live-electronics performer.
His work includes compositions for acoustic, electroacoustic and mixed ensembles, live electronic improvisations, computer-mediated performances, fixed media, hybrid works, installations, cross-arts collaborations and computer programs.
Lynette Quek is an audiovisual artist from Singapore, specialising in both studio and live settings. Through various experiences, she has handled a range of roles from artiste liaison and stage planning, to sound design, computer-based performances, and audio recording, editing and mixing. Events she participated in include “The Download Festival” and “CHOPPA Experimental Music Festival 2015”.
Sweet Errors ///
“The mechanics of an individual’s vocal tract says a lot [about them]”
The media of my Adam’s Apple, or your false vocal cords, or the aperture of a glottis filter, distort and broadcast your ur-thoughts and desires as speech, song, whatever. It’s deeply personal that soft, confusing instrument of ours. Hatsune Miku’s throat, however, is impersonally ‘hands on’. Tens, maybe hundreds of thousands of songwriters, musicians and producers have put their words in her mouth — the physiology of her resonators, her articulators is exploded out into Vocaloid’s DAW as a dozen or so automatable parameters:
Vibrato type (16 options)
On the one hand her accessibility (technically and aesthetically) has catapulted Miku to global sub-cultural superstardom. On the other, however, it represents a tender kind of violence; programming Miku as a keyhole surgical manoeuvre. Vocaloid as a prosumer audiophile clinic offering radical, sci-fi vocal-plasty all for just £139.99 (RRP).
Perhaps that’s a dichotomy native to the avatar, a figure onto/into which we project ourselves, but also one to manipulate, push around and puppeteer. Complicating this is Miku’s identity (she’s a 16 year old cutesy, sickly-sweet ponytailed girl); how much she’s a reflection of the male gaze, how much of just sincere, juvenile innocence is hard to unravel. It’s simplistic, but Miku means many different things to many different people.
It is a fact, though, that Vocaloid software has been particularly fascinating for a splinter group of experimental musicians, and the contributors here are all in some ways attempting to unpick this knotty cultural phenomenon (or at least begin to to describe its nodes). There have been Miku operas made, there have been classical cross-over projects, she has appeared in video installations, but few of these projects have engaged in quite the same way with the intricacies of Miku’s vocal mechanics.
In these seven wildly different skirmishes into the fringes of Vocaloid fandom, Miku and her voice are reframed, re-appropriated and repurposed as a humanoid character, a VST, a string of code, a cipher for cultural nostalgia, a mess of wires, chips and resistors. What rests at the bottom of this obscure uncanny valley? What is revealed below the meniscus of pop visage? Given open-source freedom what do we pour into those artificial vocal crevices?
Perhaps one could look at New Vocal Solutions (sampler) as a scout-sub, making a first dip into those exquisitely modelled water-physics - this is what we brought back to dry land.
Neil Luck, April 2018
released April 2, 2018
Featuring tracks from Adam de la Cour, Neil Luck, Chihiro Ono, Psychiceyeclix, Federico Reuben, & Lynette Quek
Mastered by Federico Reuben