LCNL 098: DXGPVWZ Smells Like Fritos [mix]

DXGPVWZ is the collaborative project of Danielle Rager ({arsonist}, Diaphony) and Kevin Bednar (Spednar, ii-go, W. Cares). I had been in touch with Danielle about producing a mix some time ago, and then followed up again after the killer mix she co-produced as The New Hip Tiki Scene for Secret Thirteen‘s New Blood series last year. I’m very pleased to finally present Smells Like Fritos.  For this mix, Danielle joins forces with her partner Kevin as DXGPVWZ, and together they’ve created a dense sound collage juxtaposing computer music, noise, and experimental sounds with music that shares more classical roots and instrumentation. Alongside some names familiar to regular readers of this site (such as Nicola Ratti, Jeremy Bible, Botany, Laurel Halo), listeners will encounter a rich selection of cuts from their peers in Pittsburgh and unreleased tracks from their own back catalogs.

Our next mix will be a bit different, and then right around the corner is our big 100th mix from an old favorite.  Enjoy. (Joseph Sannicandro)

Listen/stream at Soundcloud


Please introduce yourself.

Danielle Rager: I started as a classically trained violinist and composer. I had been drawn to experimental electronic music as a listener for a while, and eventually I realized that I could have a place in that world by creating compositions that married my violin playing and ear for chord progressions with digitally mangled found sounds and synths.

By day, I am PhD candidate in Computational Neuroscience at Carnegie Mellon University. I recently started bringing my analytical/algorithmic side to my music by incorporating sounds made in live coding language TidalCycles. This has also made it more fun for Kevin and me to collaborate, as Tidal has been his primary music-making tool for many years.

Kevin Bednar: I have been involved with music for some time now.  I originally began with guitar before finding my enjoyment of electronic music software and later wandered towards more experimental packages.  Lately, I am trying to shift most of my focus on event production when possible. I think it’s often overlooked in the world of so many people making amazing music – they should still have an audience to perform for (if that is an aspiration) and means to be compensated for their work.  I produce the majority of my music now via TidalCycles – a livecoding software package written in Haskell. It’s been an amazing tool for creative experimentation over the past few years and has kept both sides of my brain interested in making new things. Otherwise I am a 9-5’er doing programming and IT work at a steel mill.

DXGPVWZ has been an ongoing collaboration of the two of us using all sorts of acoustic and digital instruments and recordings.  Most of the music ends up more lush than our solo productions because we are fiery lovers.

Tell me about your local scene.  We’re hearing more lately from producers away from the coasts. What’s exciting you about in terms of artists, labels, nights, venues etc ?

K: Interesting question. Pittsburgh has a very healthy scene in terms of music production, but feels fractured between groups/genres.  It feels like output of our local music is out of sync with the available venues. Lately I’ve been working with more gallery and museum spaces when available.   It provides a sterile space that can work to the advantage of experimental performance. Certain genres definitely have more suitable environments though. I enjoy curatorial roles and have been fortunate to share this with Pittsburgh’s Cultural Trust and VIA Festival in the past.  The majority of my time goes into booking performances as ‘Cosmic Sound’ and with ‘BxC Collective’.

D: Yes, with the breadth of audio and visual talent in Pittsburgh, which is actually pretty remarkable for a 300,000 person city, it would be nice to see more multimedia performances happen at scale. Kevin and I were organizing an ambient A/V series called ALTARED in a former church. We had top-notch local and touring experimental ambient artists on a big sound system paired with visuals that were projection-mapped onto the organ pipes of this beautiful 19th century religious building. It was really immersive, and we’d love to do more of that kind of thing, but we’re currently searching for a new venue.

I do love that the experimental artists in Pittsburgh are becoming a fairly tight-knit community, even if there is less inter-genre mingling than we would like to see. Speaking of notable events happening away from coasts, Kevin and I and several other Pittsburgh artists just returned from the Voices of the Valley Noise Rally in West Virginia. That really did feel like a large family gathering of the experimental/noise community from Pittsburgh, Ohio, Chicago, and our friends on the northern and southern East Coast, as well.

Tell us about the mix. How was it made, what’s the theme, etc.

K: Our mix was put together using Ableton Live, which allowed us to be a lot more meticulous about the arrangement and layering of tracks.  It’s nice to be able to work beyond traditional DJ’ing for the styles of music we incorporated.

D: I love mixes with collage-like style. I did one with my roommate for Secret Thirteen’s New Blood competition as The New Hip Tiki Scene, and I wanted the components of this ACL mix to similarly shift in and out of focus, creating almost new compositions through the superimposition of existing tracks.

Another goal of the mix was to juxtapose more contemporary experimental genres (ie, computer music, noise) with music that shares more classical roots and instrumentation.  I think similar compositional processes can underlie them all and I wanted others to hear them that way, too. I think this mix is highly personal for Kevin and me for a number of reasons. It showcases some of our favorite music to listen to together.

K: Stylistically, we wanted to span some of our favorite musicians in the experimental/ambient/etc range.  The mix features a lot of unreleased material from our own collaborative projects as well as some local friends and those abroad.

D: We also worked on the entirety of the mix side-by-side rather than in individual chunks, so the result is really a special amalgamation of our DJ brains.

What have you go coming up on the horizon you’d like to plug?

D: I released my first {arsonist} album, “Live at ALTARED”, a couple months ago, which is a recording of my set from the ambient series that I mentioned previously. I’m currently working on the debut {arsonist} studio album. I have been performing an A/V set called eCosystem with digital artist Char Stiles, which explores the genesis and destruction of synthesized life forms and their sounds. Char makes amazing, audio-reactive, live-coded visuals for the piece, with textures guided by a computational model of cellular automata. We pair them with my squirmy soundscapes. It’s been a blast to be part of an all-female duo performing live computational art. Finally, my electro-acoustic duo Diaphony with Susan Kuo is completing our debut album MIRROЯЯIM, which blends our classically-influenced violin and piano improvisations with vocal incantations and roaring electronic noise. There’s a track from the new album’s more placid side in the mix. Stay tuned for release info!

K: I have a few things coming up.  The most exciting of which is a 12″ album which will be released on Pittsburgh’s Thac0 Records. We are in the process of having the sleeves printed and it will hopefully be available in the next month.  I recently did a bit of touring for an A/V collaboration with Pittsburgh visual artist REW in support of our ‘Computational Chiaroscuro’ project. It is mostly finalized and ready for a home.

Anything else you want to add?

Dog paws smell like Fritos, and Kevin thinks my car smells like dog paws. We only have a cat named Winston and several pet moths named Walter.

They certainly do.  Thanks so much to you both!



Asio otus – PAS/Distance // Rocío Cano Valiño – Schlößle

Bret Schneider – H.pelepr // Rosanne Robertson – Appendage & Bond – studio section

Nicola Ratti – W10

Vanity Productions – This Is The Sea // To Sleep At Night – Live at the Rock Room 4-21-18 // Cloning – slap

Radiator Greys – Spoke In Light

Iku – Fugue Side A

Dialect – Sunset Park (In The Dark)

Diaphony – Spangles Shapeshift With Each Roll of the Karmic Kaleidoscope

J.G. Biberkopf – Multiecstasis // Spednar – Mac OS 9.2.2 Usage

DXGPVWZ – Anchovies & XXX Sloppy Joes

Astrid Sonne – Overexisting

{arsonist} – Projecting into Phantasmagoric Subspace (ft. Dominick Grande)

Seth Graham – Mas que fin // Meyers – NPC Loop 2

ant’lrd – Zoned Hugs N’ Harmony // Angelo Harmsworth – II (from Eucalyptus) // Good Dude Lojack – Wer (Spednar Medi Mix)

Celyn June – Distrust / Vessel / Relief // {arsonist} – Projecting into Phantasmagoric Subspace (ft. Dominick Grande)

zweitesystem – 0511.13

Meyers – Two Windows // M/M – Sian Kaan Saloon

Cartoon Forest – Transitory Grove

Stockhausen – Teil 2 // Tyler Damon & Dave Rempis – Classic Aftertaste

Laurel Halo – Mercury

Botany – Needam / Wish To // CTM – Paloma, Pt. 1

Jeremy Bible – Plague of Excess

Calum Gunn – In From The Eye

snwv – Pat VII (Half-Speed) // Ricky Eat Acid – Inside my house; some place I keep dreaming about

Machine Listener & Spednar – Jam 2


About Joseph Sannicandro

writer | traveler | sound organizer | contrarian | concerned citizen

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