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: November 2011

While My Guitar Gently Beats … (MP3)

Aeroc is Geoff White, and “For Sake” is a free track made available from his soon-to-be-released (December 13) album with the promising title R+B=? on the label Ghostly. The album title brings to mind that of rock critic Robert Christgau’s long-running “Rock & Roll &” column (once upon a time in the Village Voice, of late at the website of Barnes & Noble). Both formulae suggest pop music as a medium of accrual. It’s a suggestion that can be taken at least two ways. It can mean over an extended period of time. It can mean in a given instance. The former is a suggestion that rock’n’roll gathers constituent parts like a cultural Katamari Damacy ball. The latter recognizes that a given track, a given song, a given studio-constructed composition, is the sum of a set number of tracks, and that many songs are orchestrated only to the extent that we hear those layers play against each other.

The second of these is quite clearly the case in Aeroc’s “For Sake,” wherein several concise layers are added, one at a time, until a whole is completed. These layers consist primarily of a beat and a guitar figure. It’s a classic case of cooked and raw, digital and analog. Many such conglomerations succeed by emphasizing the differences. Aeroc appears to, admirably, have his ear on the similarities. It’s a downtempo track, which lets the ear focus on the parts. Nothing rushes by eagerly. And what makes it work is how, texturally, the beat and guitar aren’t so far apart. The guitar plays a largely rhythmic role, and the beat comes across like a slightly harder and slightly colder version of the sound made when a finger scrapes a length of a guitar string.

Track available for free download at soundcloud.com/ghostly and ghostly.com, the latter of which address has additional information on the R+B=? album.

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Interesting Goings-on at Uncertainform.com

David Nemeth is doing something very interesting a uncertainform.com, which is subtitled “The Culture of Creative Commons Music.” He is employing the Creative Commons to explore and promote the Creative Commons. The site, which launched in the past few days, exists as a collection of works on the Creative Commons that had themselves been licensed in the Creative Commons (the site will also publish newly produced pieces). In general, this Creative Commons license allows the material to be shared for non-commercial usage. And so I am honored that my “netlabel checklist” (title: “If You’re Thinking of Starting a Netlabel …”) is among the pieces with which Nemeth is launching the site. Other initial pieces on the site include Rick Falkvinge on “The Copyright Industry: A Century of Deceit,” Fernando Fonseca on how “PIPA Is the New SOPA,” and Adam Porter on “Making a Case for Sharing.”

Each piece is accompanied by an illustration or photograph, itself made available thanks to the Commons (in the case of my article, it is a flickr.com-hosted photo by Ed Yourdon).

I originally published the list-as-essay here, on Disquiet.com, on April 11 of this year. The next month it was translated into Italian, unbeknownst to me, at indieriviera.it. In mid-June it was reprinted at netlabelism.com, as it has been at other sites, including angeldustrecords.com. And earlier this month it was translated into Japanese. And that’s not counting the various discussion sites where it has appeared.

It’s exciting to see it in a new context at Nemeth’s uncertainform.com site. The context is new because it’s a site about “Creative Commons music” that isn’t putting the music front and center (as I tend to here, and as Nemeth does at both actsofsilence.com and theeasypace.com). It is putting the Creative Commons front and center.

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When It’s Oscillator vs Guitar, the Listener Wins (MP3)

The soundcloud.com page of Chicago-based musician Nicholas Davis is an assortment of self-contained sonic types. There are welcome urban field recordings of the city’s celebrated trains. There is wonderfully strange exotic folk-drone music. And there are, among other emerging categories of musical adventure, various short improvisations filed under the promising section header “Oscillator vs Guitar.” There are, as of this writing, five of these match-ups in total. And given that the opening one includes the word “tuning” and the closing one the word “outro,” it’s safe to listen to them under the assumption that they comprise a whole, and should be listened to in sequence. (They are numbered 1 through 5.) That said, they differ widely, even though each is indeed a mix of guitar improvisations and the presence of noise from what one presumes is an oscillator.

The exercises provide a good example of a moment when the meaningfulness of the waveforms that are intrinsic to the Soundcloud site can be called into question. A track like “Oscillator vs Guitar pt4” seems, by gauging its fairly blockish waveform, likely to be less antic than, say, the more vibrant and varied “Oscillator vs Guitar pt3.” The opposite proves to be the case. No close reading of number 3 in the series would prepare the listener for the way the opening oscillator gives way to light figurations that, while angular and active, nonetheless comprise an overall meditative and monastic whole. Number 4, by contrast, is certainly static, but its stasis is woven from anxiety.

The guitar and oscillator series might be read as a series of duets for man and machine, or of a guitarist utilizing the oscillator as a kind of tonal metronome, a drone-keeper that sets a very slow pace.

Track originally posted for free streaming and download at soundcloud.com/passerby. They were all recorded live on October 31 of this year, and are listed as “rehearsals.”

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In the Clouds

This site covers often ethereal music and sound, so it makes sense that it is now, as of today, hosted in the cloud.

The technological switch from standard hosting to cloud hosting may result in some turbulence, so if you happen upon any broken pages or other issues, please report them to marc@disquiet.com. Thanks.

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Listening and Watching (MP3)

Crimea-based musician Kir Belevich also goes by the name deepsweet, and he has a site, titled Meditations in Sound (housed at around.soulshine.in), where he collects documents of the world around him. Some of these documents are visual, and the remainder are aural. The elegance of the site’s subtitle, “fieldrecording and phonography,” emphasizes a parallel that deserves more attention (a parallel that becomes even more apparent when one swaps out “field recording” and swaps in the gaining-in-favor term “phonography”).

As Belevich ventures from pure real-world recordings of soundscapes to edited ones, the parallel gets even more interesting. The manipulation of documentary visual imagery — with filters, and cropping, and color adjustment — is an understood part of photography. In sound, however, editing and post-production lends a more commonly perceived layer of artifice. Hence a track like Belevich’s “Crimea Sound Collage,” for all its familiar noises of cars and so forth, will be most memorable for the distorted speech that is heard at times.

Track originally posted for free download and streaming at soundcloud.com/deepsweet. Photo of Belevich’s gear, shown above, from an unrelated post at around.soulshine.in. Earlier Disquiet coverage of Belevich/deepsweet: “The Sound of Airports, Planes, Trains & Train Stations.”

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