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.

SoundCloud as Sketch Book (MP3)

Greg Surges rehearses in public for a live performance.

SoundCloud.com turns a particular idea of the bootleg on its head. The term “bootleg” is often associated with black market recordings, but much of the realm is actually more grey market: not fake versions of commercial goods, but commercial versions of uncommercial goods, such as live recordings or studio outtakes. SoundCloud is where many musicians, professional, aspiring, and casual, post their works-in-progress. In other words, these are free versions of uncommercial goods. For a particular sort of listener — a listener increasingly characterized as a SoundCloud sort of listener — that is an enticing operation. Which means informed musicians are posting the very things that previously would have been considered the things one gets out of the way before posting something. Tautologies aside, it makes for good listening, and for a great social experiment in sound. Take Greg Surges, who besides having a great family name for someone eking the most out of experimental electronics, is an accomplished participant in the online music world. His mundanely titled “patch[052012] sketch_2” seems to take a filename for its name, but that’s true to what it is: an “improvised sketch,” as he puts it, for a forthcoming live concert (in Tijuana later this month). He explains his process briefly: “Using homebrew computer-controlled hardware into a custom software filterbank. Slower drones and percussive effects here.” The piece is a mix of slight fluctuations in tone and gentle if insistent percussion, like a Martian drum circle heard from beyond a massive sand dune.

Track originally posted soundcloud.com/greg-surges. More on Surges, who is based in San Diego, California. at gregsurges.com and twitter.com/gregsurges.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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