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.

Techno Exotica

Orbital‘s The Middle of Nowhere (London/ffrr) opens like nothing other than some forgotten, early-’80s Philip Glass opera: a mid-tempo orchestral panorama of controlled bombast below a soaring synthesizer accent. A full minute passes before a functional drum beat arrives, signaling that the rave circus has, indeed, come to town. What follows is such an idiosyncratic mix of sounds (a caged diva, swaths of exotica, a multitude of what can only be described as sci-fi effects) that the listener will have difficulty keeping track without a checklist. The hour-long, eight-track record continues in that fashion. Orbital’s Paul Hartnolls has commented on the barrage, saying, “It’d be bloody difficult to play at a cocktail party.” Best to just settle back and observe the passing throng, or join in. This is techno at its most flamboyant and worldly. Even private moments, like the delicate fissures of static that comprise the prelude to “Know Where to Run,” eventually transform into party anthems. Only a standard issue vocal track, “Nothing Left Part 2,” truly disappoints.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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