Benjamin Thigpen

divide by zero

by Josh Langhoff

17 October 2011

 
cover art

Benjamin Thigpen

divide by zero

(Sub Rosa)
US: 24 May 2011
UK: 16 May 2011

Just as the invention of the electric amplifier led inexorably to Ike Turner breaking his amp and creating rock ‘n’ roll, so the invention of the computer has led to a bunch of noise freaks turning their Blue Screens Of Death into art. Or, if not art, god-awful squawl, the sort of thing you might put on to soothe your jangled nerves, if only by convincing them that somebody out there has been waiting for the Geek Squad longer than you have. One such maniac whippersnapper is Benjamin Thigpen, an American who’s taught at Pierre Boulez’s IRCAM, sort of the CERN of noisy, modernist music. His divide by zero converts arcane electronic glitch data—malfunctioning files, impossible mathematical operations—into sounds that are droney, squinky, violent, and plinky. The 2005 track “0.95652173913” sometimes crackles like a sticky leather couch, and sometimes rages like a flamethrower destroying said couch, but ascribing programmatic imagery to this stuff may be a mistake. After all, music is what it is, “beyond all symbols, concepts, numbers, ideas”, says Thigpen. These five satisfying doses of atonal, arrhythmic racket make that philosophy seem not just obvious, but surprisingly compelling.

is limited to 500 copies.

divide by zero

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