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.

All Rorschach Butterfly (MP3)

The waveform that accompanies “Dawn Chorus” by Nathan McLaughlin is, of course, well matched to its subject. The waveform isn’t an artistic impression of the sound, isn’t a depiction of the music mediated by an individual imagination. It is a mapping, an incomplete one, certainly, as are all mappings, and yet its fluttery shape, all Rorschach butterfly, prepares the listener for the work’s delicate flow of inconsistent repetition. That inconsistency, the “human” aspect, may be owed to the give-and-take that provides the track’s base, a to and fro like that of a moored raft in a light current. It sounds like the product of a bellows instrument, or a gently sawed string one (the tone brings to mind the cello work discussed here yesterday). And then there is the rough field recording that provides a base to that base. It’s a sound at once natural, in that we hear birdsong, and yet electronic, in that it seems mediated, tweaked with minor glitchy effects, perhaps a loop set on a semi-irregular repeat. The result is a play not only between foreground and rear, a common conceit, but on perceptions of artificiality. And it’s quite lovely.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/nathandmclaughlin. More on the release at the website of the cassette label that made a commercial version available, fono.tihiiomut.ru.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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