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: June 2014

The Drone & the Drone

Guitar feedback — perhaps straight outta Miéville-land

Radio Free Ul-quoma is the somewhat imposing name under which Andrew Gladstone-Heighton of Gateshead, England, posts his material at his soundcloud.com account. Perhaps the “Ul-quoma” part is intended as a reference to Ul Qoma, the twin city of Besźel in China Miéville’s great novel The City & the City. Gladstone-Heighton’s most recently uploaded track, “Codeine,” is a rich, slow-motion wave of what appears to be guitar-based improvisation and tonal exploration. There is a foregrounded chordal guitar whorl, like Glenn Branca cooling down at home after a night of intense guitar-multitudes frenzy, or Lou Reed testing out a newly arrived effects pedal with dual the intent of clearing pigeons off the roof. Emanating from that rough noise is a sonic after-image, a combination of dense echoes and hazy feedback. It’s the heavy metal equivalent of chamber music, a fuzz etude.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/radiofreeul-quoma. Come upon thanks to a repost in the SoundCloud stream of Jmmy Kpple.

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Drone Month at AudioMo

A participant in the June-long music-making event

There’s a month-long audio challenge in June called AudioMo (more at twitter.com/AudioMo and audiomo.net). The intention appears to be to get music-makers making music, along the lines of National Novel Writing Month and February Album Writing Month. Here’s a description of AudioMo from its website:

AudioMo is a month long audio challenge, normally held in November. In 2013 just to spice things up it was held in July.

In 2014 and the future the month of AudioMo will be June. Yep June will be the home of AudioMo.

All you do is record audio every day during the month. Tweet the link to that audio and add #AudioMo hashtag.

Yep it really is that simple.

AudioMo started as an audio challenge for the month of November over 5 years ago. This site is the official source of all things AudioMo.

Thank you in advance if you are taking on the AudioMo challenge.

Among the participants is the SoundCloud member sklawlor, who has been uploading a series of daily drones, that latest of which is quite intense and engaging. Hovering and plaintive, it’s slow-moving yet rich with details and tension:

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/sklawlor. The name sklawlor is that of Scott Lawlor from Corinth (presumably in Mississippi), United States.

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Reworking “Radiophonic Satie”

A remix by L-A-J

Larry Johnson has again done me the honor of reworking something I posted, in this case my ukulele-modular piece “Radiophonic Satie,” which he has extended into a stretched ambience of unearthly qualities. He calls it a “Halo Remix,” a choice that I interpret to mean he’s taken my project description at its word and made good on my intent. The note accompany my original piece explains how the ukulele is being treated by the modular synthesis in a manner intended to “introduce a varying, random range of sonic responses to — halos around, reflections of — the inbound signal.” Here’s what Johnson made of it. I found it quite lovely, at several times the length of the original, and marvel at how despite the aggressive attenuation key moments, such as the sonic lens flare at 2:34, are still recognizable:

Originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/l-a-j-1.

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Tangents: Visualizing Reich, Seinfeld x Conet, Tortoise Nostalgia, …

Plus the Grammys, cultural generations, Brazil inquiry, San Francisco events

Tangents is an occasional collection of short, lightly annotated mentions of sound-related activities.

Stunning Phase: Alexander Chen has posted at pianophase.com this visualizaton of Steve Reich’s 1967 composition “Piano Phase.” It’s not just a lovely rendering of the original, but it connects to the notion of a graphic score, and also assists in appreciation of the nuances of the piece by making its subtle shifts comprehensible in a complementary medium.

This follows Chen’s visualization of J.S. Bach’s Cello Suite No. 1 – Prelude and of the New York City subway system.

Remixing the Supercut: A Vimeo account that goes by Certain Pictures has posted this video. It is a stiched-together compilation of instances in the sitcom Seinfeld where no people are seen. Atop it is layered recordings from The Conet Project, mysterious numbers stations sending unexplained coded messages:

Here is the source video, by LJ Frezza, which retains the intersitial soundtrack audio from the series:

Via thestranger.com.

Pre-Post: Over at redbullmusicacademy.com/magazine there’s a great aural history of the debut album of Tortoise, Tortoise. A memorable comment by band member Bundy K. Brown. He’s refering to Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters, released the following year.

I don’t think any rock bands or indie rock bands put out a remix record before we did [1995’s companion album to their debut, Rhythms, Resolutions & Clusters]. If I’m going to claim anything that Tortoise did, we brought that whole idea of it being cool to have these electronic dudes tear it apart and redo it. I remember even approaching [Steve] Albini to do a remix on the remix record and he was like, “What the fuck are you talking about?” And he was one of the most talented recording engineers I know, a master of tape editing. He knew all of this stuff that guys had to do to become competent remixers in the era before samplers. He’s really great at all those things but his whole perspective was, “Remix? What are you talking about? The record’s the record.” And I was like, “No it’s not. We’re on the verge of the 21st century here.”

No Age: The Grammy Awards have changed a genre’s name (via echoes.org). What had been the Pop Instrumental Album Category is now the Contemporary Instrumental Album. As John Diliberto writes: “it makes one wonder if the ‘New Age’ category isn’t redundant, if not superfluous.”

Period Piece: In a piece at thequietus.com on Mark Fisher’s new book Ghosts of My Life, Paul Wolinski quotes with apparent approval the following Fisher statement: “the period from roughly 2003 to the present will be recognised – not in the far distant future, but very soon – as the worst period for (popular) culture since the 1950s.” Is this a commonly held belief? Are these commonly held beliefs? First, that the period that’s given us some of the best television ever and has seen great expanses in comics, not to mention the rise of participatory popular culture from Twitter to Tumblr to SoundCloud, is “the worst period for (popular) culture since the 1950s”? And on top of that, is this a commonly held belief that the 1950s, which gave us the height of jazz labels like Blue Note, some of the greatest recordings of Billie Holiday, essentially the full career of Buddy Holly, not to mention the Beat Generation, and insane amounts of classic science fiction — these same 1950s are seen as a particularly dire void in the history of popular culture? I’ve been sentient during the 1970s (Little River Band), the 1980s (REO Speedwagon), the 1990s (Celine Dion — now, thanks to Carl Wilson, symbolic of the complex notion of “taste”), the 2000 oughts (Nickelback), and these ongoing 2010s (Miley Cyrus), and I don’t recall a period when people didn’t loudly proclaim it to be the worst in culture, popular and otherwise. I perhaps too often don’t comment on things I find specious, but I’m registering this material for my own outboard memory because notions of an exhausted culture are often tied to contemplations of remix culture, vast streaming archives, and other aspects of life in the era of widespread digital media.

Brazil Communication: This musician Asvfucks (no full name given) from São Paulo, Brazil, already has almost 1,000 followers on SoundCloud, so folks are paying attention. Up to some interesting stuff. I’m trying to sort out how much of the source audio is sampled, and if any was originally recorded: soundcloud.com/asvfuks.

Bay View: The Soundwave Festival is coming to San Francisco, and it looks tremendous: soundwavesf.com. Runs July 10 through September 28. … Speaking of San Francisco events, Matmos is playing at the San Francisco Art Institute on June 28.

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Got Those Junto Blues

Kurt Anderson's Studio 360 and John Schaefer's Soundcheck both praise Disquiet Junto tracks.

The winning entry — well, one of two tying winning entries — in a blues-song cover challenge launched by Kurt Anderson’s Studio 360 radio show was the work of a Disquiet Junto regular, and the result of a Disquiet Junto project.

Back on May 8, Studio 360 announced its “1914 Blues Challenge,” in which listeners would create covers of the W.C. Handy blues classic “The Yellow Dog Blues,” which turns 100 this year. And today the show announced the winners, as chosen by guest judge Chocolate Genius, aka Marc Anthony Thompson. Thompson couldn’t decide between two entries, one of them by Junto regular Westy Reflector, aka Dave Westreich. The other winner was Kelly Pratt, who records as Bright Moments.

Here’s the Studio 360 announcement:

And here’s Westy Reflector’s cover:

Challenges like the blues cover initiated by Studio 360 have a lot in common with the Disquiet Junto: open calls based around a specific prompt. I’m always on the lookout for an external project that seems like it would be fun to put forward to the Junto, especially a project where the Junto’s interest in abstract sound might provide some unique contributions. This particular Studio 360 project seemed especially appropriate because of the sense in which the blues was never fully about composition as an end, but about a rich community of shared source material. The blues, like other forms of folk music, is a source of inspiration for the Creative Commons, and this seemed like a good time to make that connection. That connection is emphasized in the Studio 360 broadcast, when it’s mentioned how in the blues “lyrics are passed form person to person, generation to generation.”

And I just learned today, as well, that a month ago on John Schaefer’s Soundcheck radio show, two more Junto entries from the “Yellow Dog” project were commended, versions by Tom Anderson and Ethan Hein. Here’s the broadcast, from May 28:

Here’s Tom Anderson’s version:

Here’s Ethan Hein’s version:

And here is the full Junto project, which was number 125:

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