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.

Disquiet Junto Project 0161: Netmix Relabel

The Assignment: Create a new track from three tracks from three different netlabels.


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.

This assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, January 29, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, February 2, 2015.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0161: Netmix Relabel
The Assignment: Create a new track from three tracks from three different netlabels.

Every couple of months the Disquiet Junto hosts a netlabel remix. All of the source audio for a netlabel remix is available for free, non-commercial download and creative reuse thanks to a Creative Commons license. This series of “netlabel remixes” is intended to promote that sort of thoughtful, collaborative sharing.

These are the steps:

Step 1: Create a new piece of music by using nothing but the following segments of the following songs:

The first 15 seconds of “Dog Kiss” by Chtin Mara off the album Animus Animal Anima (Enough Records), available for free download at:

The first 10 seconds of “Qif Kiff” by Ayato & Natalia Kamia off the album Cluster (eg0cide Records), available for free download at:

The first 10 seconds of “Espasmo” by Lingering Last Drops (Bump Foot Records), available for free download at:

Step 2: Upload the finished track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 3: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, January 29, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, February 2, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work should be between two and four minutes.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this assignment, and 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 “disquiet0161-netmixrelabel” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: It is necessary for this specific project 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).

Linking: When posting the track, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 161st Disquiet Junto project — “Create a new track from three tracks from three different netlabels” — at:

This track includes material from the songs “Dog Kiss” by Chtin Mara off the album Animus Animal Anima (Enough Records), “Qif Kiff” by Ayato & Natalia Kamia off the album Cluster (eg0cide Records), and “Espasmo” by Lingering Last Drops (Bump Foot). More on Enough at More on eg0cide at More on Bump Foot at All work used courtesy of a Creative Commons license allowing for derivative use.

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

Tags: , / Leave a comment ]

Rhythmic Revival

Four Tet and Emanative redo Cherry and Blackwell


A forthcoming collection by the percussion player Emanative, aka Nick Woodmansey, is getting deserved advance notice, in large part due to an absolutely tremendous cover that Woodmansey has committed with Four Tet, aka Kieran Hebden, of an earlier duet. The subject of their rhythmic revival is a track off the album El Corazón, a 1982 release on the label ECM by Don Cherry and drummer Ed Blackwell. The track is titled “Makondi.” Cherry is best known as a trumpeter, but he doesn’t play trumpet on the original “Makondi,” which is a deeply percussive, mantra-like piece with no clear beginning or end. It is comprised almost entirely of a brief pattern that is repeated with slight variations as it proceeds. In spirit it brings to mind efforts toward a jazz minimalism by folks like Abdullah Ibrahim, Randy Weston, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Both the original Cherry-Blackwell recording and the new Woodmansey-Hebden version are the same length, just shy of three minutes and 50 seconds. Hebden is credited with thumb piano on the new take, and Woodmansey with drums and percussion. I seriously played this on repeat for an hour straight yesterday. Today I layered the two versions, new and old, and listened to them in near-sync, which I recommend for the simpatico moiré that results.

Here is the new rendition, off Woodmansey’s forthcoming album The Light Years of the Darkness, which is due out March 2. It’s available for pre-order at As the URL suggests, album sales will fund the foundation named for the late drummer Steve Reid, who played with Fela Kuti, Sun Ra, and Miles Davis, among others:

And here, for comparison (and sync layering), is the original:

New version originally posted at

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

A Qualitative Social Network

Stats, functionality, and community maintenance

It’s funny, much as I’ve used SoundCloud daily for all these years now, I’ve never really found use, myself, for the stats. Likely, that’s because almost all my focus is on the Groups functionality. I do post a track occasionally, but not with any particular hopes of a broad listenership, just to participate, to float a musical idea, or to mark a milestone, like the addition of a new module to my little synthesizer rig.

For the Disquiet Junto group each week, all I look at is three things:

(1) where we’re at in active users (not members, but accounts that have actually posted tracks, which just topped 500),

(2) the number of tracks in the most recent project (I don’t even keep track of the numbers, but I do note it mentally — we’ve been as high as 70+ in a week and as low as around 10, and we’re generally around 30 or so), and

(3) the number of total tracks (we’re so close to 4,000 in just over three years).

I tend to be more qualitative than quantitative in general, but, yeah, maybe if there were Groups-oriented stats, that’d help me a bit, but I wouldn’t make it a priority. I look at the Junto qualitatively — are folks commenting on each other’s tracks, and is the commentary constructive; are the projects being met with enthusiasm, not so much in terms of number of participants in a given week but the sense that effort was expended by those who did participate; are there any obvious breakouts, in terms of levels of listenership, that sort of thing.

I think I’m more focused on functionality than on stats. You know what I would love would be the ability to transfer a track. I’d love if someone who’s posted a track but didn’t want it associated with their account any longer could transfer it to me, or to someone else.

Note: I originally posted this in a conversation on Facebook, but figured I’d post it here, too.

Tags: , / Leave a comment ]

This Week in Sound: Cars, Visuals, Space, Home

A lightly annotated clipping service.

It’s nearly February, and until today I’d yet to produce an edition of this newsletter in 2015. I took a few weeks off at the end of 2014, and the system I’d gotten into fell off track. I realize why, clearly. The benefit (to me) of this newsletter is it gives me a process, a routine, to funnel lots of material I come across in research and in general reading. When I take a break, the system breaks down. One of the issues I have with prolific link-sharing — beyond the weird ahistoricity that has things circulating repeatedly in cycles, with no natural conclusion to their distribution — is sorting out what is and isn’t already on other people’s radar. I try not to, in general, simply link to things, but to layer in some context, to provide some frame, to add to the shared material. In any case, producing this newsletter provides me a system that helps me process the sound-related information I come across daily, weekly. I’m hopeful that getting started again, having cleared the cache of my RSS reader and my Pinboard and my Twitter favorites, will mean this thing will be regular as 2015 gets proceeds.

  • Four Wheels Loud: The overarching automotive-sound story for several years has been about addressing the perceived near silence of hybrids and electric vehicles. But the street, as William Gibson told us, has its own use for things, and the makers of traditional automobiles are making use of the same artificial soundtracks. “Fake engine noise has become one of the auto industry’s dirty little secrets, with automakers from BMW to Volkswagen turning to a sound-boosting bag of tricks. Without them, today’s more fuel-efficient engines would sound far quieter and, automakers worry, seemingly less powerful, potentially pushing buyers away,” writers Drew Harwell of the Washington Post:

  • Visual Noise: Sound art need not make a peep, and sound branding needn’t either. Bruce Mau Design created the new logo for Sonos audio consumer product company, which pulses naturally, as the result of an optical illusion, such as when scrolling up and down a web page:

  • Space Sounds: It seems every week now that the sounds of space are reworking our conception of space as a vacuum. Among the latest is word that the Venus Express spacecraft emitted one last, loud signal before its end of life. Mika McKinnon of explains the sound “was picked up by the European Space Agency monitoring the unmodulated X-band carrier signal on January 19th”:

  • Always Listening: The New York Times managed to publish a cautionary piece about risks from the “smart home” technology that is on the rise, without once mentioning the microphones embedded in some smart-home technology. The story, by Molly Wood, focuses instead on images and data security, and introduces something called the Bitdefender, which is sort of like a virus protector for your home.

This first appeared in the January 27, 2015, edition of the free Disquiet email newsletter:

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

A Course in Sound

15 weeks (plus spring break)

Tomorrow, January 28, marks the start of a new semester of the course I teach on the role of sound in the media landscape. The course unfolds over 16 weeks — 15 weeks of class plus one week off for spring break — and I think I’ll be summarizing it here each week, not just the lecture topics but the resulting class discussion and, when we have them, the special guests and occasional field trips.

Last semester we had someone from BitTorrent and someone from SoundCloud address the class, and we took a field trip to an anechoic chamber at the local research lab of an audio company. The guest speakers aren’t generally lecturers; I usually interview them in front of the students, who also ask questions. The semester prior both the sound artist Robin Rimbaud (Scanner) and the voice actor Phil LaMarr (Samurai Jack, Static Shock) visited via Skype.

I teach the course to a mix of MFA and BA students at the Academy of Art here in San Francisco. This is the sixth semester in a row that I’ve taught the course. I’m taking off next semester, with the intention of teaching it once a year rather than twice a year from now on, to leave room for lots of other projects.

This first appeared in the January 27, 2015, edition of the free Disquiet email newsletter:

Tags: , / Leave a comment ]