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: May 2011

The Delphic Drone (MP3)

A variety of drones and drone-like sonorities make up Resonances, the recent five-track set by Savaran, aka Wales-based Mark Walters. Some are environmental, some digital, many hybrid, and the one that may be the most striking is the closing entry, which is titled “Delphic.” Even without reading the detailed liner notes that accompany the album, it wouldn’t be a stretch to associate the sublimated female voice heard on the track with that of the Oracle herself — not the one who baked cookies in The Matrix, but the one who occasionally shared prophecies with ancient Greeks. Heard here, the voice is part of a ritualistic blur of light percussion and swelling tones (MP3). Part of the sense of ritual is how the track frames the presence of the voice — how it builds to the voice’s appearance with bell tones (pings and gong-like swells), and also how it cossets it, the voice emerging from a deep field of processing, as if a curtain were being pulled back.

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More on the release at archive.org and feedbacklooplabel.blogspot.com. More on Savaran/Walters at savaranmusic.wordpress.com, soundcloud.com/savaran, and twitter.com/savaran_music.

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Live from Kiev (MP3)

The last time Anton Holota‘s music was mentioned here was back in 2008, on the occasion of his album Products of Passed Days, on the Complementary Distribution netlabel. Turns out that Holota’s latest free web release, a half-hour live performance presented as part of the Crónicaster series at cronicaelectronica.org, dates from roughly the same period. Though it just popped up on Crónica’s RSS feed, the set was recorded back in October 2008 at a club called Cinema in Kiev, Ukraine (MP3). It seems to be a soundboard recording, because there’s no apparent crowd noise — which is for the best, because much of the sounds from which Holta makes his music could easily be just the sort of chance noise we’re trained from birth to ignore: the hums of a dying HVAC system, snatches of partially overheard conversation, shuffling handheld items, the static of faulty transmission. That latter element, the way error becomes an aesthetic, casts a spell over the entire proceedings — “glitch,” as it were, in various ways serves as a shared aspect to the performance. As such, it turns the idea of error on its head: what is supposed to be a broken transmission in fact is exactly that which manages to take disparate elements and find common ground for them, that which turns noise into something more immediately comprehensible as signal.

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More on Holta, who records as .at/on, at myspace.com/antonholota (from which the above photo, shot earlier in 2008, is borrowed) and 14circles.org.

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Past Week at Twitter.com/Disquiet

  • RIP, computer engineer Tom West (b. 1939), subject of Tracy Kidder’s 1981 Soul of a New Machine. @wired @ev_rat followup http://goo.gl/GOFrB #
  • After-midnight sounds: cars blowing past stop signs, house rattling as bus puts on brakes, TV crackling as it cools. #
  • RIP, Gil Scott-Heron (b. 1949). And whitey's on the moon. #
  • These noise-canceling earbuds are no match for Lionel Richie. #hello #
  • Thanks, @tmbobile & @samsungmobileus — got the OTA update to my Galaxy S 4G phone today. It's running smoothly — that is, more smoothly. #
  • YouTube autoplay gets credit for unintended first-of-the-morning duet between demos of SynthPad and Sound Cells. #
  • Otomata Quartet: four instances of the generative sound app working in tandem http://t.co/kq0rtSM #video #
  • Fahrenheit 450 #lessinterestingbooks #
  • The Thomas Crown Missed Connection #lessinterestingstevemcqueenmovies #
  • If I'm not mistaken, a friend of mine is each day changing it so that it is again his birthday on Facebook. #nanoculturejamming #
  • Waiting for plane to pass, just as I was about to play a visiting friend quiet audio from upcoming project. #
  • #busted RT @TheOnion: NEWSWIRE: Eject Button Hit Just To Hear Cool Little Servomotor Sound Of Disc Emerging via @entroporium #
  • Read more »
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The Many Flowerings of Otomata

Otomata is a simple generative audio app, in which chance collisions yield unexpected patterns, both visual and sonic. Its arrival on the Internet a month ago has, in turn, yielded unexpected flowerings, from myriad new patterns generated and shared by users (pictured here is one such example), to its employment in fixed sound recordings, to its inspiration of new software development. What follows is a survey of just some of those efforts, much of it (audio and software) downloadable for free. (Meanwhile, read an interview with the Otomata developer, Batuhan Bozkurt, “When Cells Collide,” and check out the software itself at earslap.com.)

Mitzilla‘s “Audio Recording on Sunday Afternoon” (at soundcloud.com/mitzilla) uses the beading pulses of Otomata as a rhythm track, against which he plays generously spaced strums of an acoustic guitar. It’s a promising sketch of what will, one hopes, eventually yield a more fleshed-out composition. Mitzilla hails from El Paso, Texas:

For DrDerek, the Otomata-derived material provides not the rhythm but the melody, to which he adds other digitally sourced material (“my Electribe SX-1 and Korg Kaoss Pad 3 and the Korg Kaossilator Pro. recorded live,” he explains, listing his tools with one caveat: “some things may sound a bit off”). The result (at soundcloud.com/drderek) is louche, loungey electronica.

And for bongo_g, who is based in Amherst, Massachusetts, Otomata provided not sound source material, but an overall approach. His “Ricochet1″ (at soundcloud.com/user4724971) is evidence of an implementation of an Otomata-like software tool that he is developing on the popular device called the Monome.

Bongo posted the code at monome.org, where the discussion is ongoing. Here is a video demonstration (from vimeo.com) of bongo’s Otomata-derived instrument on a 256-cell Monome, performed by Machsymbiont:

Just to take the proceedings one further step meta and virtual, this next video (also at vimeo.com) shows Bongo’s Monome implementation of Otomata as ported to the Nomome, which is a software emulation of the Monome on a 64-cell device called the Novation Launchpad:

And because no cultural instance is complete without an iOS app implementation, this is Sound Cells (at apple.com), which debuted in the iTunes App Store earlier this month. As its developer notes, Otomata’s inventor is himself working on an iOS version. Sound Cells offers six different scales, among them the Hang scale, based on the Hang drum, which was the inspiration for Otomata’s tuning:

Two more videos. This is Otomata paired with another sound app, called SoundPrism:

And this is four instances of Otomata working together in tandem — with TV food personality Alton Brown (the patron chef of hackers) in the background:

Check out the original Otomata software for free at earslap.com.

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When a Split EP Sounds Like a Charles Ives Work (MP3)

There are splits, and then there are splits. There are splits that have songs by two different musical acts, and then there are splits that make good on the tantalizing suggestion that the two acts actually interact. A relatively recent six-song split by Vertex Germ (of Mexico) and Lo Fi High (of Germany) includes two tracks each by the acts, and a pair of collaborations, one of which is the highlight of the set. Titled “Wonderland 8763,” the track mixes squawking field recordings and pulsing techno loops into a chaotic noisefest that takes on the vibrancy of a Charles Ives composition, owing no doubt to the incompatible elements of the two acts coming up against each other.

Lo Fi High & Vertex Germ: “Wonderland 8763″ (MP3)

More on Lo Fi High at myspace.com/lofihigh. No apparent website for Vertex Germ, but there is a page at discogs.com. Tracks posted for free download by the TVK netlabel at archive.org.

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