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

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Monthly Archives: January 2014

Aphex Twin SAW2 Countdown: Track 14 (“Parallel Stripes”)

A track per day up through the February 13 release of my 33 1/3 book

SAWII13

cover-from-Bloomsbury-siteI am going to do this track-by-track countdown to the release, on February 13, 2014, the day prior to Valentine’s Day, of my book in the estimable 33 1/3 series. It is a love letter to Aphex Twin’s album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, which will mark its 20th anniversary this year, less than a month after my book’s publication. More on my Aphex Twin book at amazon.com and Bloomsbury.com. The plan is to do this countdown in the reverse order, from last track to first. For reference, an early draft of the introduction is online, as is the book’s seven-chapter table of contents. The book’s publisher posted an interview with me when I was midway through the writing process.

There is some irony to doing this countdown since the book is already shipping to folks who pre-ordered it via an online retailer such as Amazon, but the official date stands, and that’s the target — the end date — of this countdown, February 13. And for what it’s worth, while the physical copies are mailing now from retailers, the Kindle version won’t turn on until February 13. Still, the digital version costs less.

As I’ve noted on Twitter, this track-a-day approach is exactly the opposite of the book’s approach, which is a collection of interrelated, reporting-based essays.

And it’s great to see it showing up in people’s homes:

As mentioned yesterday, the most intense, beat-driven track on the album is arguably “Shiny Metal Rods,” and one should be sensitive to the plight of an individual who listens to the preceding track, “Parallel Stripes,” cozies up to the warm embrace of the speakers (or, forbid such a thing, turns up the headphones) during its lulling static-as-substance ambience, and then is hit with the intensity of “Shiny Metal Rods.” As I write in the book, this track is sine wave as form, and the wave emerges out of roughness, out of a “burr of static,” as I put it, that is the equivalent of a fried radio signal. The track just prior to this is, in essence, the album’s single, and also its literal centerpiece (track 13 of 25), “Blue Calx.” Combined, “Blue Calx” (melody), “Parallel Stripes” (pure ambience), and “Shiny Metal Rods” (minimalist beats) in just three consecutive tracks tell the story of this album. More on “Blue Calx” tomorrow.

And here it is reversed:

More on my Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works Volume II book at amazon.com and Bloomsbury.com.

Thanks to boondesign.com for the sequential grid treatment of the album cover.

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Aphex Twin SAW2 Countdown: Track 15 (“Shiny Metal Rods”)

A track per day up through the February 13 release of my 33 1/3 book

SAWII14

cover-from-Bloomsbury-siteI am going to do this track-by-track countdown to the release, on February 13, 2014, the day prior to Valentine’s Day, of my book in the estimable 33 1/3 series. It is a love letter to Aphex Twin’s album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, which will mark its 20th anniversary this year, less than a month after my book’s publication. More on my Aphex Twin book at amazon.com and Bloomsbury.com. The plan is to do this countdown in the reverse order, from last track to first. For reference, an early draft of the introduction is online, as is the book’s seven-chapter table of contents. The book’s publisher posted an interview with me when I was midway through the writing process.

There is some irony to doing this countdown since the book is already shipping to folks who pre-ordered it via an online retailer such as Amazon, but the official date stands, and that’s the target — the end date — of this countdown, February 13. And for what it’s worth, while the physical copies are mailing now from retailers, the Kindle version won’t turn on until February 13. Still, the digital version costs less.

As I’ve noted on Twitter, this track-a-day approach is exactly the opposite of the book’s approach, which is a collection of interrelated, reporting-based essays.

And it’s great to see it showing up in people’s homes:

“Shiny Metal Rods” is another track I explore in some detail in the book (chapter two: “Background Beats”), so I won’t belabor the point here except to say: if there is any track that gives lie to the oft-repeated idea that this album is “beatless,” it is “Shiny Metal Rods.”

The track is little more than beats — hard, driving, slow, steady beats that could be from a bootleg of a Consolidated or Meat Beat Manifesto concert.

And pity the poor listener who nuzzled up to the stereo’s speakers — or maxed out the headphones — during the album’s prior track, “Parallel Stripes,” more on which tomorrow.

And here it is reversed:

More on my Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works Volume II book at amazon.com and Bloomsbury.com.

Thanks to boondesign.com for the sequential grid treatment of the album cover.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0109: Craghead Sketch

Insert musical objects into an urban soundscape.

20140117-wc2

Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

Tracks by participants will be added to this playlist as the project proceeds:

This project was published in the evening, California time, on Thursday, January 30, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, February 3, 2014, as the deadline.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0109: Craghead Sketch

For this week’s project, we’ll insert musical objects into an urban soundscape.

The steps are as follows:

Step 1: Download the field recording of a walk through New York City at this URL:

Step 2: Listen to the track and note moments when space allows for the insertion of a musical object. Try to locate at least one space every 30 or 45 seconds.

Step 3: In each of those spots, layer in a unique musical object (e.g., a tone, a riff, a beat, some combination thereof). Each musical object should be self-contained (i.e., not overlap with each other).

Background: The project is derived from the drawings of the very talented illustrator Warren Craghead, himself a Junto member and participant. Among Craghead’s artistic practice is the act of leaving Post-its and other small drawings in public places. This project is an attempt to find a musical equivalent of his art. Examples of Craghead’s work can be seen in this recent post:

http://disquiet.com/2014/01/17/gestural-sound-gestural-drawing/

And on his own website:

http://craghead.com

Deadline: Monday, February 3, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be 3:36 in length — same as the source material.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0109-cragheadsketch” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track, be sure to include this information:

More on this 109th Disquiet Junto project (“Insert musical objects into an urban soundscape.”) at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/01/30/disquiet0109-cragheadsketch/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/?p=16588

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Image from Warren Craghead’s website:

http://craghead.com

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Rainy Day IDM

From Berkeley, which is, like much of California, experiencing a drought

Yesterday’s featured track took the chitinous sound of insects as the inspiration for its beats. Today’s track likewise takes nature as its point of origin, but more along the lines of the Aphex Twin song mentioned earlier. In the Aphex Twin piece, “Grey Stripe” off Selected Ambient Works Volume II, the audio is more sound than music — that is, along a continuum of conventional understandings of those terms. “A Hard Rain” by Eric Kuehnl begins in similar territory, as the title suggests. The rapid rainfall is a flurry of pinprick static. Then, 20 seconds or so in, just as the rain has taken on the sense of white noise, a rubbery, fanciful beat, reminiscent of ancient IDM, kicks in. Its frenetic energy and burbling, brittle acoustics build on the natural rhythms of the rain, which seem to continue to linger in the background.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/erickuehnl, where there is more from Kuehnl, who is based in Berkeley, California.

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Aphex Twin SAW2 Countdown: Track 16 (“Grey Stripe”)

A track per day up through the February 13 release of my 33 1/3 book

SAWII15

cover-from-Bloomsbury-siteI am going to do this track-by-track countdown to the release, on February 13, 2014, the day prior to Valentine’s Day, of my book in the estimable 33 1/3 series. It is a love letter to Aphex Twin’s album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, which will mark its 20th anniversary this year, less than a month after my book’s publication. More on my Aphex Twin book at amazon.com and Bloomsbury.com. The plan is to do this countdown in the reverse order, from last track to first. For reference, an early draft of the introduction is online, as is the book’s seven-chapter table of contents. The book’s publisher posted an interview with me when I was midway through the writing process.

There is some irony to doing this countdown since the book is already shipping to folks who pre-ordered it via an online retailer such as Amazon, but the official date stands, and that’s the target — the end date — of this countdown, February 13. And for what it’s worth, while the physical copies are mailing now from retailers, the Kindle version won’t turn on until February 13. Still, the digital version costs less.

As I’ve noted on Twitter, this track-a-day approach is exactly the opposite of the book’s approach, which is a collection of interrelated, reporting-based essays.

And it’s great to see it showing up in people’s homes:

If there are some tracks on Selected Ambient Works Volume II that are true to received wisdom about the album, that lack a proper beat, that lack the serial impact of something one might characterize as percussion, then track 16 (aka “Grey Stripe”), all four minutes and three quarters of it, might best stand for them. It sounds less like something readily recognizable as music, less even like ambient music, and more like a thunderstorm, a hurricane perhaps, as experienced from deep inside a building on a high floor, where the impact of the muffle is mirrored between how it sounds and how the building sways. This could be foley material lifted from a filing cabinet in the archives at Warner Bros. pictures — or perhaps, better yet, Hammer or Universal, sounds not from a stormy voyage out in the ocean, but from something in the territory of pulpy horror. It is an open-maw whorl of fierce, slow-moving wind.

And here it is reversed:

More on my Aphex Twin Selected Ambient Works Volume II book at amazon.com and Bloomsbury.com.

Thanks to boondesign.com for the sequential grid treatment of the album cover.

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