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.

Not Waving, Tubing (MP3)

Looking at and listening to a drone by Moon Zero

There’s a strange dissonance — in the cognitive sense, not the harmonic — when tracking the progression of a short piece of ambient music as it flows across a browser. There’s the placid, even if dark-toned, audio on the one hand, and on the other there’s that rapid motion of the projected image, the symbol of the music’s forward motion. Take “Budapest,” by Moon Zero, which was posted at the artist’s soundcloud.com/moonzero page, and which has, as a waveform, the sort of largely uniform contour of a drone.

It’s a thick, unwavering stretch of sound, by all appearances. In colloquial terms, “Budapest” is more tube than wave. And, indeed, Moon Zero’s drone is a drone, in that it has a consistent tonal quality that maximizes stasis over any evident melodic or rhythmic intent. But there’s more to it than that, not only because drones entice the ear to listen for subtle distinctions, but because “Budapest”’s distinctions aren’t all that subtle: inside that tube there are cycles of ringing, metallic chatter, slurry echoes, and more. This waveform pattern is just one view of the track. Certainly there are other visualizations that would do greater justice to its complexity.

More on/from Moon Zero, who’s based in London, England, at twitter.com/moonzer0 and moon-zero.tumblr.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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