My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from

The doorbell built on the door knocker. In turn, the intercom and the surveillance camera built on the doorbell. Each device means something different, and each device means something different in the context of the others. Today, for example, a house with only a knocker says, in effect, “None of that new-fangled technology for us.” A modern door knocker also puts some additional burden on the visitor. A doorbell, by and large, doesn’t show any evidence of the hand that touches it: a heavy or light hand yields the same beep, the same ring, the same chime. A door knocker, in contrast, will sound loud or quiet, firm or tentative, depending on the individual employing it. Likewise, a single light means different things in different contexts. On a doorbell, it is a helpful guide in the dark of night. On a doorbell equipped with a surveillance camera, the light is a reminder that someone is watching. It says “I’m on,” which really means “You’re on film.” As for the intercom, such as this one here, a light is a little peculiar. What does it mean, exactly? This photograph was shot outside a gallery in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood. The light seems to be an invitation. It seems to say, “Click me.” The doorbell suggests itself as the welcoming salvo an oracle, one that is waiting inside to be asked a question.

An ongoing series cross-posted from
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Nothing Is Ever Fully in the Foreground

A new album from Glia

The new release o, w from the artist Glia is nine tracks of varied gentle noises that often tweak into something less than gentle. These include the industrial drone of its opening track, “vaximily,” the dewdrop clinked-glass percussion of “micrudrift,” and the broken, whizzy funk of “lz l0” and “radlers.” The album closes on perhaps its strongest moment: the rattly, twitchy “ziego.” It makes transitions not unlike the other tracks, growing in intensity and threat as it goes. What makes “ziego” tick is how nothing is ever fully in the foreground — from the tiny clicks and cuts that keep it moving, to the horizon-spanning drone that lingers in the distance.

The full album was posted to the Svel Tapes label at

More from Glia, who’s based in France, at

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Serbian Beats

Jazz breaks over a loping beat, straight outta Paraćin

Perhaps the simple fact of broken jazz samples repeated gently over a loping beat will, someday, lose its charm. But for the time being, the charm remains as powerful as ever. What DJ Krush, and DJ Cam, and DJ Premiere, among others, have provided as a means of lounge-oriented introspection remains a powerful sedative. There’s something about hearing analog-derived materials set on mechanical repeat that is inherently enticing. The repetition draws out their fragile, intricate, unique surface features and turns them into purposeful metric tools. Here, in the track “Collage,” it’s little more than a trap set and an electric piano filtered by the Serbian producer who goes by Ogi Feel the Beat.

Track originally posted at More from Ogi, who’s based in Paraćin, Serbia, at

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Disquiet Junto Project 0196: Whole Lotta Whole

Sight-read the whiteboard notation from a children's music class.


Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on and at, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This assignment was made in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, October 1, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, October 5, 2015.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0196: Whole Lotta Whole
Sight-read the whiteboard notation from a children’s music class.

Step 1: Read the music notation in the following image (note that the photograph was taken at a music class for elementary and preschool students).

The image is here:

Step 2: Record a piece of music based on that notation.

Step 3: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 4: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, October 1, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, October 5, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work should be roughly one minute, though longer is certainly fine.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this assignment, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on, please include the term “disquiet0196-wholelottawhole” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

More on this 196th Disquiet Junto project (“Sight-read the whiteboard notation from a children’s music class”) at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

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This Week in Sound: Worm Ears + The Martian’s Silence + …

Plus: 33 1/3, John Cage's gift to GIFs, 700-pound hydrophone, and it's always-on in Entrepreneurville

A lightly annotated clipping service:

— Ear Worms: At, Shelly Fan covers how “to control neurons using bursts of high-pitched sound pulses in worms.” Fan is discussing the work of Dr. Sreekanth Chalasani at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. The field is called “sonogenetics,” which addresses shortcomings in optogenetics. Among those shortcomings are the need to “physically traumatize” the brain, and an overall lack of precision. What the research leaves to be appreciated more fully is how sound influences the brain in general — not just when it’s being employed to specific scientific ends. Fascinating stuff.

— Paperback Writers: The publisher Bloomsbury posted the shortlist of book proposals likely to make the next round in the 33 1/3 series. I have something of a vested interest in where the series goes, since I wrote the one on Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II. I was disappointed not to see the proposed William Basinski volume (The Disintegration Loops) make the short list, but am heartened by many that remain in the running. There are 83 in all, out of a total 605 submissions. True to the series’ focus on releases, rather than on artists, these are alphabetized by album title: Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde-Pharcyde, Cobra and Phases Group Play Voltage in the Milky Night-Stereolab, Dr. Octagonecologyst-Dr. Octagon, Homogenic-Björk, Kollaps-Einstürzende Neubauten, Licensed to Ill-Beastie Boys, Kick-INXS, Refried Ectoplasm (Switched On Volume 2)-Stereolab, Solaris OST-Eduard Artemiev, Switched-On Bach-Wendy Carlos, Ten Ragas to a Disco Beat-Charanjit Singh, The Blueprint-Jay-Z, The Inner Mounting Flame-The Mahavishnu Orchestra, The Modern Dance-Pere Ubu, Tin Drum-Japan, The Yellow Shark-Ensemble Modern and Frank Zappa, Twin Peaks OST-Angelo Badalamenti, Violator-Depeche Mode, Voodoo-D’Angelo, and Uptown Saturday Night-Camp Lo.

— 1000-Year GIF: Clair Voon at writes about a GIF-in-progress with some 48,140,288 frames. The piece has the title “As Long as Possible,” and it takes its approach to time and that title from John Cage’s “As Slow as Possible.” It will unfold from 2017, the 30th anniversary of the GIF, to 3017:

— Fourth Rock: This is from Andy Weir’s The Martian, which I read this past weekend in part because a colleague recommended it, in part because I was on airplanes a lot and wanted an airplane read, in part because I hadn’t read a full-on commercial novel in a long time, and mostly in part because I wondered how the book would deal with the silence of outer space. The short answer is not much, but The Martian isn’t, by nature, a reflective book. It’s an impressively mechanical book about saving a man’s life and keeping a reader’s heart pounding. There are some fun one-liners (“In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl”). And there are some well-handled depictions of a global collective media experience (“A mild cheer coruscated through the crowds worldwide”), far more subtle in the book than in the trailers for the forthcoming Matt Damon film. Still, there’s this:

Once I’d shut everything down, the interior of the Hab was eerily silent. I’d spent 449 sols listening to its heaters, vents, and fans. But now it was dead quiet. It was a creepy kind of quiet that’s hard to describe. I’ve been away from the noises of the Hab before, but always in a rover or an EVA suit, both of which have noisy machinery of their own.

But now there was nothing. I never realized how utterly silent Mars is. It’s a desert world with practically no atmosphere to convey sound. I could hear my own heartbeat.

Anyway, enough waxing philosophical.

— Depths Charge: Samara Haver, a master’s candidate and graduate research assistant, is one of several students who post occasionally to the Animal Bioacoustics blog at Oregon State. In a piece from earlier this week (at, she writes about — and shares photos of — recovering a 700-pound hydrophone and its mooring.

— Listen Up: Google’s Android is, as they like to say in Entrepreneurville, doubling down on always-on technology, Devindra Hardawar writes at The next Android OS, code-name Marshmallow, pops up next week: “Most intriguing is the operating system’s bigger focus on voice interactions: Google Now voice commands work a lot faster than before, and you can now also control apps with your voice. For example, asking Android Marshmallow to ‘Play NPR’ pops up the NPR One app, which prompts a follow-up question about what specifically you’d like to hear. Any developer will be able to plug in similar ‘hands free’ voice features in their apps.” You say “hands free”; I hear “always listening.” I remain amazed in this age of (deserved) surveillance anxiety that people leave their phones’ microphones enabled 24/7. (For reference, I have used Android phones since the G1, my laptop is a Mac, I have an iOS and an Android tablet, and my MP3 player is an iPod Touch.)

This first appeared in the September 29, 2015, edition of the free Disquiet “This Week in Sound” email newsletter:

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