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

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Monthly Archives: January 2010

Images of the Week: Peter Schmidt, In(ternet) Memoriam

Three years ago today, John Emr launched a blog with a single artist as its subject. That artist is Peter Schmidt, perhaps best known for his work with Brian Eno, most notably as co-collaborator on the Oblique Strategies cards, for his cover art to Eno’s 1974 album Taking Tiger Mountain (By Strategy), and for the watercolor prints that accompanied Eno’s 1977 album Before and After Science.

Schmidt live from 1931 through 1980, and Emr’s tribute site, peterschmidtweb.blogspot.com, is an ongoing survey of Schmidt’s work. If Emr has his way, Schmidt will be known more widely for far more than his association with Eno. Just yesterday, Emr made a post that exemplifies the rigor he brings to his pursuit. While watching the film And Now for Something Completely Different (1971), he spied a Schmidt work, “Cycloid V,” on a wall during this scene featuring Michael Palin — and promptly posted some screen shots:

Original post at peterschmidtweb.blogspot.com. Additional images and information at peterschmidtweb.com. (Emr apparently acquired “Cycloid V,” and “IV,” last year, according to another peterschmidtweb.blogspot.com post.)

Congrats on three years of excellent work, John. Here’s to many more.

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Quote of the Week: Avoiding iPad Bloat

The debate following the announcement this past Wednesday, January 27, of the Apple iPad has been voluminous and pointed. Both sides — and there really are two sides, as in any religious war — have their arguments. On the one hand, the iPad is a lovely device with product benefits in areas that most portable-computer companies ignore, and that Apple certainly hasn’t fully delivered on in the past: battery life (10 hours, reportedly), nearly instant-on (along the lines of what we’ve come to expect from the iPod Touch and the iPhone), and weight (just 1.5 pounds; Apple’s Air, at three pounds, was heavier than numerous non-Apple machines, and came saddled with numerous hardware hedges, including a small hard drive and an un-replaceable battery).

On the other hand, Apple’s increasingly closed software environment casts a long and dark shadow into the future of personal computing. From our current vantage, that is a potential future in which developers need to submit their work to the equivalent of censors before being able to make it available to its public. And it’s a potential future in which among the decisions facing those very censors is (based, at least, on Apple’s track record thus far in its app store) whether a given developer is impinging on Apple’s turf.

One of the best posts I’ve read on this subject is over at Peter Kirn‘s createdigitalmusic.com; deeply incensed by Apple’s restrictive software philosophy, Kirn may have penned his strongest post yet as he dissected the device within hours of its introduction.

To be clear, Apple’s mobile OS is very developer-friendly, hence the nearly 150,000 apps currently in the Apple store. Which is why I was especially interested in what developers had to say about the iPad. What concerns me at the moment is something Chris Randall, an accomplished software developer (I am pretty much addicted to his company’s product Automaton), hinted at in one of his Twitter posts, at twitter.com/Chris_Randall, also on the day of the iPad unveiling:

DroneStation is going to be kicked up several notches, of course. Plenty of room now.

DroneStation is a simple drone-making app that Randall developed for Apple’s mobile OS. I use it regularly on my iPod Touch, and enjoy it. The “Plenty of room” he’s talking about is ambiguous — he may have meant screen space, but he may also have meant memory size. Either way, what we’re looking ahead to now is a situation in which some existing apps will be overhauled for the newly expanded touch canvas, and others will be developed from the ground up (or abandoned in favor of something entirely new). I’ve long been of the mind that at least two of the best music apps for the Apple mobile OS, the beat program JR Hexatone and the track-syncing Touch DJ, were designed with the inevitable tablet implementation in mind; both are too cramped on my iPod Touch to count as truly fully realized, or really as fully usable.

What will be interesting to see is in the near future is how Apple developers respond to the new dimensions of the iPad, and whether the tidiness of the iPhone/Touch dimensions will give way, in the relatively expansive iPad, to bloat.

More on the iPad at apple.com/ipad. More on Randall’s software development at analogindustries.com.

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Past Week at Twitter.com/Disquiet

  • 500 locked grooves, each 2 seconds long. Impact lost a bit in transition from vinyl to batch-MP3, but so be it: http://is.gd/7mvhX. #
  • New thinking: Apple gets fee for all paid software installed on its mobile OS, but only Microsoft doing this will get people to give a hoot. #
  • Old thinking: Microsoft makes touch-screen computers, but only when Apple makes one will enough people really give a hoot. #
  • Saturday morning sounds: deep bass of plane passing overhead, tinny ringing in ears, soft whir of hard drive. #
  • Music apps for iPhone that should be even better on iPad: JR Hexatone, Touch DJ, & all the Monome/Tenori-style grid sequencers. #
  • Forthcoming Don DeLillo novel, Point Omega, apparently opens and closes with a character staring at a Douglas Gordon video, 24 Hour Psycho. #
  • RIP, Soho Crime publisher Laura Chapman Hruska (b. 1935), in thanks for among many novels Seicho Matsumoto's Inspector Imanishi Investigates #
  • Writing often on music using pre-existing music as material, you say "rendition" a lot, & sense how its meaning has shifted in recent years. #
  • Beat poet Gary Snyder loves his laptop: "Because its keys click like hail on a boulder" "I throw it a scrap and it hums" http://is.gd/6TeMa #
  • Reminded that (1) "sun shower" is not an oxymoron and (2) museum-lecture podcasts were designed for use during house-cleaning. #
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Open Source Guitar Remixes at Freesound (MP3s)

Someday, the “Remix! tree” section of the freesound.org site will get a proper upgrade, one that will organize the ever-growing number of original sound recordings and subsequent versions thereof into something manageable, understandable, more easily consumable.

In the meanwhile, one watches the open-source, community-produced list grow in length, and one searches for recent updates — new versions of old sounds.

Among the more recent is a series of renditions of a guitar sound, the initial (the fount, the source) rustic in its resonance (by Freesound member Benboncan), the subsequent two experiments in audio manipulation (by Freesound member Timbre) slowing then speeding, in various manners, to its creator’s imagination:

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More on the files as follows: original (freesound.org), take one (freesound.org), take two (freesound.org).

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Biosphere Live in the Netherlands (MP3)

Last September, ambient artist Geir Jennsen holed up in a small church in Den Haag, Netherlands, for a solo show. Better known as Biosphere, the name under which he has recorded and performed since the early 1990s, Jennsen filled the church with thick, slow-moving layers of synthesized moans. And given the context of the church, one cannot help but associate those moans with that of an organ.

Jennsen’s performance was recorded and made available by Touch Radio as part of its excellent podcast series. As heard in the high-quality MP3, the synthetic organ is a deeply felt, glacial device, holding notes for what feels like minutes on end, to the extent that minor disruptions in the sound suggest dramatic changes.

The set is almost 40 minutes long, and it rotates through a variety of levels of density, a times intimate in its aural detail, at times absolutely enormous in its scope. There are instances, as well, when recordings of piano are altered as part of the sonic palette.

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More on the release at at touchradio.org.uk. More on Biosphere at biosphere.no. More on the festival at todaysart.nl — including details on the next event, this coming September.

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