February 13, 2014, is the official release date for my 33 1/3 book on Aphex Twin's 1994 album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, 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: August 2008

Image of the Week: Rock Around the Clock

Beastie Boys‘s “So What’cha Want,” the Cure‘s “Close to Me,” the Jackson 5‘s “ABC”: DJ playlist from a high-school reunion? No, just three of the  nearly three dozen samples from which Girl Talk (aka Gregg Gillis) constructed the mash-up “What It’s All About.” Below is a chart from the September 2008 issue of Wired magazine, showing a dissection of all the samples in the song. The article is credited to Angela Watercutter. The chart bears no attribution.

Read the full piece at wired.com.

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Quote of the Week: Radio Free Korea

This Baruch Gottlieb, director and co-founder of SFX Seoul, as quoted in The Korea Times on August 20:

Radio is a presence in our lives. It’s kind of like a soundtrack to our lives. Something that you don’t know quite what to expect from, something always in the background and usually it is something that you don’t pay attention to directly. … That’s something similar to the way sound art is. Sound art is not an artwork that you can focus on. It is always affected by other sounds. There are a lot of parallels to that with radio. Radio is a medium for presenting sound art.
The occasion of the article (koreatimes.co.kr) is the Sound Effects Seoul Radio 2008 festival, which runs through August 26 More info at sfx.yonsei.ac.kr. Gottlieb, ,professor of Media Art at Yonsei University Graduate School of Communication and Arts and a media/sound artist, co-founded SFX Seoul in 2006 with Ji Yoon Yang, a curator.

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Buddha Machine-Infused Tapol/Martig MP3s

This delicate collaboration between Aymeric de Tapol & François Martig has extended periods of held tones, like a phone call cut off or a distant foghorn. There’s one such moment early in the three-track EP’s final cut (“Ijslandgnol,” MP3) and on first listen it may seem static, but in fact it slowly — ever so slowly — gets louder, rising as a result in intensity, before more natural sounds emerge, small rustlings that suddenly emphasize the foreground. Such is the music on Nord/Est, which ranges from microsonic simplicity to lush, evocative drones, more like soundtracks to mundane journeys than like songs. Among the duo’s listed resources are computers, analog synthesizers and the Buddha Machine, the latter of which is less immediately recognizable here than in any previous re-use I’m familiar with. Get the full set at adozen.org, where it is the netlabel’s seventh release.

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Kixly’s Tape-looped MP3s

It’s worth taking the title of Kixly‘s new Cyan Recs EP release, Lossless Tape-loops in Pop Form, at face value. All six of its tracks appear to have been built from brief snatches of audio recordings, which are looped and gingerly layered to within humming distance of song form. The sound and title of the third track exemplify the album’s modus operandi. “Givers [On Danceable Rhythms] Morning Ritual [On Atmosphere] Band Hammer [On Bass] (Kixly R3M1><)” suggests three found elements each serving as a different segment of the song — and that is very much how it functions. There’s an opening chunk of apparent field recording that risks turning potential listeners away with its entrenched skipping-record looping. Then, about a minute and a half in, a rhythmic counterpoint enters, and later still there’s a kind of cash-register funk added. For many listeners, five and a half minutes of such a thing may be a serious test of patience, but once you give yourself over to Kixly’s restraint, it’s quite beautiful.

The modest materials on Lossless Tape-loops don’t necessitate rigor and asceticism. “Latidos de Familia (Fax Gaseosa Dub Mix),” on which the album ends, is downright lush, a nocturnal techno infused with slow waves of melody.  And “Hollow Trees and Bird of Woods” has a quiet, creaky groove that’s truly addictive. Despite the tape-loop source material, this is no lo-fi affair; all six tracks are encoded at a healthy 320kbps. The full set is available as an archive, including cover art and brief liner notes, from the releasing netlabel, cyanrecs.com (ZIP).

One note about design: The cover, which features a reflective sphere that’s either a Christmas-tree ornament or an Anish Kapoor sculpture (the color resembles Kapoor’s telltale pomegranate/plum), comes in two variations. There’s the one pictured above, as well as the same image with the song titles printed alongside. The one with song titles is labeled “print” while the one without, clearly intended to be viewed at a reduced size, is labeled “ipod.”

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Dozen Korg DS-10 MP3 Test Runs

Waves of sample videos have followed the release of the recent Nintendo DS port of the Korg MS-10 synthesizer (aqi.co.jp, disquiet.com), which took an early mass-market synthesizer and put it inside a popular video game cartridge format. As a kind of proof-of-concept jam, a dozen musical acts each answered the call for MP3s from the mp3death.us/diplodocus.html website and submitted their DS-10-engendered music. The results range from slurpy beats and twerpy melodies (by White Kundalini), funky space music (Starpause), disco-tinted electro-pop (Tibitekutyan), an arcade-score take on “Flight of the Bumblebees” (Nitro2k01), and a more blippy techno than you can wave a stylus at. The compilation is named Diplodocus, a nod to the dinosaur-like status of the original Korg MS-10. The album available for free as a zipped archive of all 12 tracks (ZIP), and as a mix by Starpause (MP3).

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