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.

Against the Drone’s Grain (MP3)

Somnarium in the dark, conceptually speaking.

It’s tough to cut against the drone grain, since the drone is, by and large, grain-less. What the drone is is vaporous, verdant — more defined by a lack of texture than by its presence. To cut against the drone’s grain might, perhaps, mean to segment it in a manner that employs rough edges, sudden cuts — approaches that contradict its sinuous coherence and tonal intent. But sometimes the intent can be put aside by a more modest decision, like listening out of context. Take the album Voices in the Dust by Somnarium. It was released recently on the darkwinter.com netlabel, and its seven dense tracks employ all manner of soundtrack techniques to instill a sense of portent. The album’s brief liner note clearly depicts the release as an album, not as a collection of individual tracks to be selected from, and it suggests strongly that the collective set be listened to in the dark (“total darkness,” in fact). So, while that admonitory direction can certainly be adhered to, one might also listen to *Voices in the Dust** a track at a time. One might pluck, for example, the shuddering wind chimes and snaking rhythmic burbling and choral overtones of “Gilded Fugue State” (MP3) from the mix, and play it on its lonesome. In a way, that is adhering to the authorial intent, because by listening to it devoid of its six other parts, one is, in a sense, listening in the dark.

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Somnarium is Michael Meara, who is based in Australia, more from whom at somnarium.bandcamp.com.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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