Are you the kind of person who’s always wanted a throat singing ringtone? Or how about a tone influenced by British Romantic poetry, that’s sung in Indonesian by a trance-punk recording artist?
In that case, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to the work of Arrington de Dionyso and this new series of Arringtones. On September 21, 2010, de Dionyso performed Malaikat dan Singa with his band mates–Germaine Marie Baca-Has on drums, and Nehemiah St-Danger on bass at Pittsburgh’s Garfield Artworks. Later in the post, I’ll describe my impression of his performance and share a 25-minute interview with the artist, but first things first–
These audio files were recorded a capella, with de Dionyso singing straight into the stereo mic on my WAVE/MP3 recorder. And believe-you-me–when these tones go off, they make heads turn in public, and cell phones literally vibrate. De Dionyso practices throat singing, and on my phone (an LG enV), even when the vibrate mode is turned off, his vocal tracks produce little electronic tremors. The Minum Mani Ringtone is a direct quote from the album Malaikat dan Singa (“Angels and Lions”). The particular turning (and tuning) of the words sung in Indonesian, “Minum mani malaikat manis,” is a William Blake-influenced phrase. It translates as, “Drink the sweet semen of the angels.” Arrington de Dionyso’s low frequency improv, this Throat Singing Ringtone, resounds beautifully on a cell phone’s tiny speakers. And his Brrrrrrrrrr! Tone is the perfect length for a highly energetic text message alert. It’s the sound of de Dionyso rolling his Rs as he does in the mighty song, Mani Malaikat. The last Arringtone is a bonus–I pulled it from my audio-interview with the artist. For his Motorcycle Sound Tone, de Dionyso vocally recreates the sound made by a cat-killin’ teenage boy who rode his motor bike up and down (and up and down) a quiet residential street in Chicago.
Malaikat dan Singa is Arrington de Dionyso’s dance hall influenced/punk rock interpretation of William Blake‘s poetry translated into Indonesian. “I used about 3 or 4 Blake quotations as springboards for free association in this piece,” he said, when I asked him about the concept for the album.
Earlier this year, I saw de Dionyso perform the piece in Baltimore at MEGAPOLIS (an audio art festival). I arrived at that show preliminarily charmed. For I dig Blake’s Proverbs of Hell, I’d studied Bahasa Indonesia (which felt ticklishly delightful to me–like marbles were rolling about in my mouth as I spoke it), and I’d seen this hilarious animated video before I went to the show. I was super-curious–Punk + Indonesian + William Blake? What was Arrington de Dionyso going to do?!
I found the work to be–as he later described it to me–both mellifluous and aggressive. Watching him perform his vocal gymnastics, I was transfixed (with astonishment). What energy; what vocal control and power–what a performance. So when I heard that he’d be passing through Pittsburgh this fall, I sent him an email asking if he’d like to contribute some tones to the project. He said yes–to making ringtones and to an interview.
When I have the opportunity to visit with someone particularly sensitive to sound, my favorite question to ask them is, “Can you describe a formative experience from your childhood in relation to sound?” This interview begins with de Dionyso’s stories about some of his very early influences. Star Wars, church organs, motorcycles, Popeye and (the power of) microphones led to his approach to vocalizing and making music today. You’ll occasionally hear me ask a follow-up question, and will hear comments from his band mates Baca-Has and St-Danger. De Dionyso also talks about his practiced approach to throat singing and the making of Malaikat dan Singa. His story about the alligators (that drummer Baca-Has encouraged him to share) is not to be missed. The way to listen to the Interview with Arrington de Dionyso, I think, is to turn out the lights and tune into this 25 minute interview having made yourself a nice drink or hot beverage. Settle-in on a couch, around a kitchen table or near a fire and have yourself a good old-fashioned, undisturbed-by-anything else listen.
Thanks, Arrington de Dionyso for your mighty powerful vocal contributions to Locally Toned.