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.

Monthly Archives: February 2005

Varese MP3

Another fine Other Minds MP3, from the Internet Archive, at archive.org. It’s a 1973 KPFA broadcast of a 40th anniversary segment on early electronic composer Edgar Varese‘s historic percussion piece, Ionisation, which famously included a siren in its score. Nicolas Slonimsky, best known for his biographical dictionary, talks about the debut, which he had conducted all those many years prior. Slonimsky is perhaps best known to rock fans as a friend of Frank Zappa in Zappa’s later years; a mutual respect for Varese’s music was a cornerstone of their friendship, and a major inspiration for Zappa’s classical works. The hour-long file is only downloadable via FTP, but the site provides clear instructions; just search for “varese ionisation.”

Tags: , / Leave a comment ]

Shoegazer MP3

After a long work week (President’s Day notwithstanding, at least here in the U.S.), nothing may be as soothing as a bit of navelgazing — or, more to the point, shoegazing. Yes, the genre is alive and well, and at least in the act Signaldrift‘s imagination, it has pondered (shoegazing, for all its hesitance to leave the rock song behind, is about nothing if not pondering) dropping vocals in favor of something dreamier, something less rooted in the now, something willing to relinquish any claim on the foreground. Not that “Missed but Hopeful,” a free 4:30 MP3 from Girl, Signaldrift’s new album on the Audraglint label, is a total update; there’s some reverberant guitar that’s straight out of the Cure, for example, but the typewriter percussion, the spacey effects and overall chime-y-ness is refreshing and calming, like a spiked lemonade. More info at audraglint.com.

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Legal Thievery MP3

Free downloadable music appears regularly, in plain sight, and with little fanfare. Dig a little on the Amazon.com site, and you’ll find not only free music promotions for artists ranging from Cex to Sigur Ros to Depeche Mode to Brian Eno, but a portal page to the retailer’s free music offerings. It’s not clear if there’s a mnemonic direct link to the download section, but head over to the music page, scroll to the bottom, and there’s a link to “Free Music.” One highlight right now, coming in at No. 18 on the site’s “top downloads” list, is “Right Angles remix,” a dubby wonder by Thievery Corporation, off an old Om Records sampler, and unsullied by the cameos (Flaming Lips, Perry Farrell, David Byrne, etc.) that overpopulate the group’s recent Cosmic Game, just out this past Tuesday.

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Portuguese Netlabel MP3s

Straight outta Portugal (the country that birthed the poet who gave this website its name, it’s probably worth mentioning) comes Test Tube, a netlabel with 10 sets under its belt, one of the most recent of which is Rui Gato‘s Chaosmos EP, three long-form tracks of slow-build drone (“M1,” 17 minutes), glitched-out field recordings and modified acoustic instrumentation (“M2 Extended,” 7 minutes), and a bit of granulated fire that slowly evolves into brittle minimal techno, then into a florid industrial wallop, before fading out with enough grace to erase the any memory of the recent unease (“M3 Final,” 11 minutes). “M1,” which starts in silence and masters a rich verticality necessary for repeat-listen ambience, is the keeper. Check them all out at monocromatica.com/netlabel (Monocromatica is the parent label of Test Tube). More on Lisbon-born musician Gato at elasticvoid.monocromatica.com.

Tags: , / Leave a comment ]

Free Moby Download

Two terms get tossed around a lot, and though they sound similar they mean entirely different things. “Electronic music” is music in which the tools of artistic production are inherently mechanized (laptops, turntablism, field recordings). “Digital music” is music whose delivery to an audience is directly enabled by computers (MP3s, audiostreams, satellite radio). The iPod, and along with it the iTunes Music Store, has made much of the latter but little of the former. Ultimately, for all its digital gloss, Apple’s flagship product, the elegant MP3 player, is a fairly neutral device, as far as genre is concerned. In fact, were you to take one measure of the iTunes catalog, electronic music isn’t even particularly high on the premiere digital music emporium’s to-do list. That measure is iTunes’ weekly free download, its “Single of the Week,” which more often than not presents a sub-par singer-songwriter or positive hip-hop kinda thing, that odd yet numerous category: the Top 40 song that lacks a Top 40 audience. This week is no different, to the extent that the week’s single, Michael Lord’s “Smile,” is almost a parody of well-meaning blandness.

However, this week there’s an unusual entry: a second free download, a seven-minute preview of Moby‘s forthcoming album, Hotel. Now it’s easily arguable that Moby’s music isn’t inherently electronic. Moby would likely be among the first to make that argument. But the fact of the matter is that to the world at large, Moby is a figure who stands for electronic music, which is to say that this record will be seen as a touchstone, if not a milestone, regardless of what it actually sounds like. What makes this little preview neat is that it is, in essence, a “podcast,” one of those newfangled homemade broadcasts that allow anyone to sew together some sounds (a little talk, a little music, a little background noise) and put it out there for a willing, if far-flung, audience. In the case of this preview, we get Moby introducing the cuts with all the presence of a college-radio DJ (which is to say, none at all), and then cycling through some clips of the album, with no concern for rhythm or segues. You’d certainly never know he has spun for a living. There’s some nice stuff, and some generic stuff. You can be catty, and guess which products will soon feature each song in an advertisement. You can be a trainspotter, and wonder whether he’ll ever sound more like the late Joy Division singer Ian Curtis than he does here. Or you can just enjoy the tunes for what they are, and this promotion for what it is: a Top 40 fulfillment of the promise of home recording. The track is available as of today, February 22, as part of the iTunes catalog. If you have iTunes installed on your computer, clicking this link will take you to the file. You have to wonder if he put the whole thing together in GarageBand.

Tag: / Leave a comment ]