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Devin Smith
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About

I'm a musician by trade, but work in many other areas (coding, poetry, esoterica, etc etc). Recently I've been doing a lot of nonfiction writing.

In 2017 I worked on a large number of smaller projects, and in 2018 I'm working on a small number of larger projects. I'm interested in working with other artists and taking on freelance gigs, feel free to drop me a line. I occasionally play with live bands in the Bay Area.


Recent Major Works

"Twin Peaks Falls..." The Battle of Vista Francisco
2018-04-09. Article for OutsideLands.org
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These days, the neighborhood where I live (over on the East side of Twin Peaks), is a sleepy collection of somewhat nondescript apartment buildings. But the story of how Vista Francisco came to be includes shady campaign contributions and backroom deals at the Board of Supervisors; the election of Jack Morrison, a key political firebrand from the environmentalist camp; and the eventual involvement of the NAACP and the Catholic Interracial Council, speaking out against the exclusionary racial policies of the developer — all with nearly half a million 1960s-era dollars of annual tax revenue on the line.

During the research for this, I also wrote a companion essay for The Bold Italic, providing a more conversational take on the neighborhood as it stands today, the process of history-writing, and some thoughts on life's wandering phases.
Miracle Cat: Slow Year
2017-11-21. 5-Track EP
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Written and Recorded March – November 2017, in Singapore and San Francisco. "The Mendoza Line" was written for the zine of the same name, and appears in its first issue.
The Bells At Lau Pa Sat
2017-09-13. Longform article
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This article is about the planning and policy changes which powered Singapore's post-Independence development boom, alongside the history of an ornate Victorian market which happened to be located in the city's pilot redevelopment area (...among other things).

2018

Note: indicates a large or notable work.

Getting Lost: Notes on Twin Peaks
2018-04-19. Article for The Bold Italic
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A companion to last week's history article about Vista Francisco; but instead "turning the camera around" for a meandering take on what the neighborhood is like presently, the process of history-writing, and the times in life when you end up somewhere unexpected.
"Twin Peaks Falls..." The Battle of Vista Francisco
2018-04-09. Article for OutsideLands.org
More...
These days, the neighborhood where I live (over on the East side of Twin Peaks), is a sleepy collection of somewhat nondescript apartment buildings. But the story of how Vista Francisco came to be includes shady campaign contributions and backroom deals at the Board of Supervisors; the election of Jack Morrison, a key political firebrand from the environmentalist camp; and the eventual involvement of the NAACP and the Catholic Interracial Council, speaking out against the exclusionary racial policies of the developer — all with nearly half a million 1960s-era dollars of annual tax revenue on the line.
Dogme 95,000
2018-04-01. An Updated Manifesto
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Dogme 95,000 is a rescue action!
Typescript of the Second Origin: Book Review
2018-03-18. Book Review for Full Stop
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Manuel de Pedrolo's Typescript of the Second Origin (1974) remains the best-selling work of fiction in Catalan. The first English translation of this work — an allegorical tale of two teenagers surviving the apocalypse, heavily influenced by the author's resistance to the Franco regime — arrives at an interesting time in America, where women are daily rising to navigate and conquer the apocalypses all around them.

2017

Fire From Heaven: Book Review
2017-12-22. Book Review for Full Stop
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Michael Harrison's Fire From Heaven is sometimes shorthanded to the most thorough book about Spontaneous Human Combustion available. Originally written in 1976 (and expanded with two subsequent editions), it is a truly unique exploration of the subject: Harrison freely transitions between hard science, the paranormal, religion, philosophy, occult, myth; ideas separated by millennia and spanning the globe, frequently mid-paragraph, sometimes mid-sentence. But what does this approach say in the context of our harrowing "post-truth" moment?
Miracle Cat: Slow Year
2017-11-21. 5-Track EP
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Written and Recorded March – November 2017, in Singapore and San Francisco. "The Mendoza Line" was written for the zine of the same name, and appears in its first issue.
Setsuko Hara: Into Silence
2017-11-08. Longform article
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This article tells the story of Japanese golden-age film star Setsuko Hara. Her body of work spans the chaos of the Fifteen Years' War, and is shaped by the shifting restrictions placed on the film industry, first by Japan's Imperial government, then by the Allies during the postwar occupation.
The Mission, 2014
2017-11-01. Article for Mendozaline Zine
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A short article for issue #1 of the Mendozaline zine. Mendozaline is "The anything and everything of baseball art... the island of misfit baseball writing." They welcome submissions, and you should send them something.
Prime Time
2017-09-25. Single & B-Side
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From the studio that brought you CHASING THE SUNSET comes a very different kind of race... A race against the clock in the cut-throat world of network news. Bandcamp download includes a movie poster.
The Bells At Lau Pa Sat
2017-09-13. Longform article
More...
This article is about the planning and policy changes which powered Singapore's post-Independence development boom, alongside the history of an ornate Victorian market which happened to be located in the city's pilot redevelopment area (...among other things).
braids
2017-07-28. Ongoing, 3 EPs
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Braids is a post-industrial ambient / horror film project.
The Sweetwater Catalog Bathroom Companion
2017-08-18. Zine
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A small zine designed to accompany the Sweetwater ProGear catalog often found in the bathroom of working musicians, engineers, and producers.
On Interative Artists: Lana Del Rey and Yasujirō Ozu, "Lust For Life" Album Review
2017-07-24. Article
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Album review of Lana Del Rey's "Lust For Life", using the work of Japanese film director Yasujirō Ozu as a context for iterative artists.
The Soundlot: A Bizarre Hypothetical
2017-07-14. Article
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What if Chance The Rapper leads a rag-tag group of underdogs to save SoundCloud from Len Blavatnik’s Access Industries? A quick report on "The SoundCloud Thing", Chance's unexpected entry into the situation, and a discussion about the feasibility of collectivism in the context of SoundCloud Rappers' adoption of Thatcher-Era punk aesthetics.
Ten Million Words* About Pop Vocal Delivery (And Nick Jonas' "Jealous")
2017-06-30. Article
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A thorough response to a question about the word "Nuance". Includes a breakdown of the features of pop vocal performance, a detailed analysis of Jonas' delivery on "Jealous", and a short essay on technical writing about pop music.
An American in Singapore: Devin Smith on the story of Lim Bo Seng
2017-06-21. Personal essay for Perspectives On The Past in Southeast Asia
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An essay about moving to Singapore and finding unexpected personal connections with its wartime history. Covers the process of researching and writing "Lim Bo Seng" and filming "I'm A Witness".
Follow The Money: From Katy Perry's "Chained" to Republican SuperPACs (and Beyond...)
2017-04-22. Infographic and article
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This article traces the ownership of Katy Perry's "Chained To The Rhythm", and calls into question the political messaging of the song and video when compared to the commercial practices and political spending of her parent companies.
Cherry Jungle: Hold Your Tongue
2017-04-14. Music Video
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Cherry Jungle is Curtis Nystrom and Sam Friend. I made this video for their new song, "Hold Your Tongue", using Processing, the MIDIBus, and a lot of weird math on pixels[].
1920s Adventure Bot
2017-03-13. Twitter Bot
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Breathless tales of soaring romance and daring intrigue. Questionable geography. Made with RiTa and Processing. Tweets every other hour.
Astronaut Blood (Live EPs)
2017-03-10. 3 EPs
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Excerpts from live recordings, 2015 - 2017. Made using the MiniBrute, guitar pedals, and a looper. These EPs are from different recording sessions, but are identical in terms of process and character.
Stop The Haunting: 1,000
2017-03-03. Social media accounts, data visualization, commentary, and game.
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Stop The Haunting focuses on the convergence of writing tone across disparate online media publications. I designed semi-automated workflows to locate instances of the word haunting in articles about music, movies, art, video games, fashion, literature, etc.

These quotes were then organized chronologically and fed regularly to social media accounts. After gathering 1000 quotes, I wrote up this report with some light data and linguistic analysis, and created a lightweight guessing game in JS.
Miracle Cat: Toa Payoh
2017-02-24. Song + Music Video
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Testing out some new workflows. Made using Forge and Anvil, the mapmaking utilities which shipped with Bungie's Marathon Infinity in 1996. Classic emulation via COI (Chubby Bunny / SheepShaver), editing and color in Premiere.
Bad Wave: Time To Get Lost (Miracle Cat Remix)
2017-02-24. Remix
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Lowkey synth remix for Bad Wave's"Time To Get Lost". Includes an extended version with loop points for DJ sets.
Lim Bo Seng: Millionare. Activist. Romantic. SOE Operative.
2017-02-10. Longform Article, Custom Maps
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This article tells the story of Major General Lim Bo Seng, a key figure in Singapore's WWII occupation resistance. It is written with an American audience in mind, and includes a fair amount of background and context on the surrounding events, which are not widely discussed in America.
Miracle Cat: I'm A Witness
2017-02-10. Song & Music Video
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See article for Perspectives on the Past blog above for more details.
Same!
2017-02-02. First Season: 6 Articles
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Each article examines two songs with the same title, usually from disparate styles but within the pop sphere.
Fact Checking PBS' Soundbreaking
2017-01-07. Article
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A quick read about Soundbreaking's nasty habit of picking hyperbolic interview quotes.

2016

Corpus Companion
2016-12-22. An unrealized work for bodies of work, essays, and a personal letter
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Corpus Companion is a system for creating Companion bodies for work, based on the parameters of an Original body of work. Nirvana's corpus is used as the example, with Nevermind being the example for the parameterization of a single work. This work also includes two short essays titled "The Golden Age Of The Archive" and "On Replication"; as well as a Side Quest, which is comprised of detailed comparison notes on the 1991 and 2011 versions of Nevermind, and a personal letter from a friend-of-a-friend.
Inside Out: Sludgepop Visual Mixtape
2016-11-15. 3 Mixes + Videos
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Another set of Sludgepop mixes, this time focused on recent pop songs involving the ambiguity of desire. Video source material comes from the noir films Too Late For Tears, Club Paradise, and The Red House (which features a particularly entrancing score by Miklós Rózsa).
Hello From The Other Side: Gender Disparity At The Top Of The Charts
2016-10-08. Data visualization and open letter for Cuepoint
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Visualizations of the complete credits from albums by female solo artists which reached #1 on the Billboard 200 or Top Album Sales charts, using the community-sourced website Discogs.com. An open letter is included with the project, available via Medium. This piece is now being featured in the publication Cuepoint.
Hard Boiled Babies
2016-09-27. Unrealized work for collaborative film
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Proposal for a set of 25 films, based around the lives of the babies which are rescued from the hospital in the final act of John Woo's 1992 action film "Hard Boiled". This piece includes a complete synopsis of the baby plot.
And I Know...
2016-09-01. Song + Music Video
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This song and video were made to try out some new tools– primarily Plogue's "Alter Ego" vocal synthesizer, and several Processing video libraries (primarily Abe Pazos' quick-and-dirty "VideoExport"). Source materials for texture mapping and pixel operations were taken from the fantastic twitter bot "youtube artifact" by dontsave.
Endless Spinach 3: Kalepocalypse Now
2016-07-07. 3-Track EP
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A few quick SNES-ish tracks to acclimate to my mobile setup.
Miracle Cat: Kay Francis
2016-06-11. 5-Track EP
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Synthpop EP made over the course of about a month. Songs are written for a static ensemble of drums (through a Fender Harvard Reverb amp), monophonic bass and lead (Minibrute), and Jupiter 8v. The songs are thematically focused around Pre-Code Hollywood and moments of transition. Theo Mathien contributed lyrics. Instrumentals are also available.
The Fast And The Furious: Remembrances
2016-06-09. Unrealized work for collaborative film
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This project uses the Fast And The Furious films as a starting point for a large-scale meditation on death and an exercise in character building for writers, actors, and filmakers.
I Will Remember You: Sludgepop Visual Mixtape
2016-06-04. 3 Mixes + Videos
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Directly inspired by the fantastic Alvin And The Chipumks on 16 Speed; I slowed down some pop tunes and set them to footage from the Prelinger Archives. The resulting videos are a dreamy immersion into some of my favorite 90s soft pop songs.
Bells Atlas: Future Bones Remix (Ft. Molly Bolten)
2016-05-16. Remix
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Remix of the Bells Atlas song Future Bones. Production and writing contributions from Molly Bolten.

2010 - 2015

Atomisk Records Presents: Escape From Brokebeat Mountain
2015-12-02. 6-Track collaborative album
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A collaborative album between myself, Patrick Hart, Richard Haig, Matt Hetich, Bob Ladue, and Eliot Briton. After a series of unserious discussions, we decided to make a breakbeat album. Each person started a song, then passed it along to the next person, etc. etc. until an album was done. Masterful dog artwork by Molly Bolten.
Chasing The Sunset
2015-02-01. Single & B-Side
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Two songs in the style of the classic "Motivational 80s movie song". I also produced an exclusive extended mix for the New Zealand-based bimonthly mixtape series "Synthetix.FM" hosed by Rick Shithouse (41:00 min in the soundcloud link above). The Bandcamp download also includes a movie poster.
Cave Lions / No Philosophy
2013-09-13. 10-Track album
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This album was written and recorded slowly over the course of several months when we were living in rented house in Roseville with ample room for an acoustic piano, drum kit, amps, and all kinds of exploratory gear setups (And also a backyard full of productive fruit trees).

This album includes a lot of input from Amy, particularly the songs "Venison" and "I Am A Horse", as well as providing the impetus for the song "Oh Tiiki" (One of her co-workers commented that there were several "Amy" songs, but none with her name). My dad played the french horn on "Bugout Bag". As with "Miracle Science", Leo assisted with recording setups and provided a sounding board for any odd ideas, and Mr. Birdfellow left chirps all over the audio tracks.
Miracle Science
2012-04-13. 5-Track EP
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Written over a couple months, this EP features almost all live instrumentation (excepting the final track), including a lot of live piano. The song "We've Run Out Of Luck" features vocals from my sister Wendy. Leo helped me work out the kinks with the drum setups and ran the board on a couple of these tunes, and Mr. Birdfellow's distinctive chirps can be heard on a bunch of these audio tracks.
Battle Master Infinity
2011-09-25. 10-Track Album
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Keeping the Battle Master spirit alive, this album is a work in the style of classic NES soundtracks. YMCK's wonderful "Magical 8-Bit Plug" was used to general nearly all of the sounds (excepting the bass and kick/snare samples). Notably, no external effects were used on the synthesizers here: all of the delays, arpegiations, and noise sweeps were executed manually via (painstaking) MIDI editing.
Richard Hargett & Miracle Cat: Dispersion
2011-06-21. 10-Track Album
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This EP is the first half of a 2-part project by Richard Hargett. After being diagnosed with brain cancer, Richard's life changed inexorably. "Dispersion" focuses on the experience of sickness, and the painful experience of radiation and chemotherapy treatments. The 2nd EP, "Panoramic Time", focuses on the process of recovery and healing. Over the course of the next few years, Richard was able to return to the drums, and began working his way back into his instrumental voice.
Panic Bomber & Miracle Cat: Themes from "The Snakes Of Hawaii"
2011-08-29. 4-Track EP
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This EP started as a remix of the Panic Bomber song "Snakes of Hawaii", however it eventually evolved into something quite different. These songs are written in the style of classic sleazy Noir soundtracks, particularly Henry Mancini's Peter Gunn soundtrack.
Miracle Cat
2010-11-07. 9-Track Album
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The first Miracle Cat album contains material spanning almost a years' worth of time. A sort of return-to-center after leaving Miami for California, this first set of songs is a bit more adventurous than later Miracle Cat outings. Songs like "Brick Moon", "I Wanna Smoke Your Hair" (a reworking of a TFPP song), and "James Cameron" veer off in unusual directions.