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.

Super-Silent MP3s

Asher composes music that’s a kind of sonic equivalent to our colloquial understanding of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principal, in that the more attention you pay to it, the more it changes. Whereas with most music, the louder you play it, the more it fills the room you’re in, with Asher’s music, as evidenced on two recent netlabel releases (at earlabs.org and con-v.org), the higher you turn the volume knob, the more the music seems to dissipate, as if by increasing the loudness you’re tearing the music’s fragile fabric to shreds.

Both releases consist of a trio of tracks, none shorter than 11 minutes, one closing in on 20. It’s immersive music, but of the shallow-pool variety. Still, as our moms warned us, you can drown in an inch of water. And Invariably the Blue, the release on Con-v, could be a series of field recordings from abandoned industrial sites, where only the most essential activities are left running, and even then only at maintenance level. These aren’t drones, in that they’re inherently rhythmic, it’s just that those rhythms are so microscopic and quasi-subaural that they take on a transparent quality.

Only as a matter of contrast do the three untitled compositions on Asher’s Earlabs release come across as organic and varied, with more diversity packed into the 17-minute third track (“1/6/04”) than into the nearly 40 minutes of And Invariably the Blue. Asher describes his process in an email to Jos Smolders, head of Earlabs, that serves as that release’s liner notes: “there is a constant textured sound and then other sounds which come in and sort of rise out of the texture.” Of course, the extent of these variations is purely relative. The sounds are of the sort (twitchy little noises, halos of synthesis, distant rumbling) that could easily be drowned out by a microwaving burrito or a neighbor’s viewing of a sports event.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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