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.


Daily recommended free MP3s + streams

An Ambient Roil

Gaseous clouds at a fast pace — from Russia

Murkok’s “A Forest with Water and Rocks” is nearly five minutes of ambient roil — it is at once soothing and seething, placid and active. It’s almost all gaseous sounds, but they churn at a rapid rate. The result is a sense of heightened awareness, as if a storm is coming in and you’ve just noticed it on the horizon. Slipping through the overwhelming cloud effect are micro shards, like a rain of distilled white noise, and occasional sharp moments, a bell hit hard, a seeming chorus or slammed door heard from deep in the mix, a high tone flying overhead. The track continuously lulls you and alerts you, over and over, often at the same time — a lullaby on a rocky ship.

Track originally posted at More from Murkok, aka Ilya Glebov of Vyborg, Rusia, at, and

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“The Crying Bowl”

Noise Jockey explores a resonating body.

The singing bowl is one of the major proto-ambient instruments. A bowl, rubbed or struck, emits a purely tonal sound that has no attack — no hard starting point, as would a struck guitar string or a piano key — and that sound, in turn, lingers for a long time. Noise Jockey has used a variety of electronic tools and performance techniques to update and amplify the singing bowl. His “The Crying Bowl” turns an everyday salad bowl into an otherworldly vehicle for tonal expression. In this case, the bowl is serving less as an instrument unto itself and more as an amplifier, providing, in Noise Jockey’s words, the “resonant body” from which the source audio emanates.

That source audio is from a gorgeous touch-sensitive instrument called the Tocante Phashi, designed by Peter Blasser of Ciat-Lonbarde, and pictured here. The Phasi, along with other instruments in the Tocante line, employs capacitors (the exposed circuit board) to control a large number of oscillators. It also has a built-in solar panel for charging its internal battery.


Track originally posted at More from Noise Jockey, aka Nathan Moody of San Francisco, at,, and Phasi image from

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Realtime Sonification

A KQED interview with Mahmoud Hashemi about Listen to Wikipedia


Someone adds an entry about a cooking magazine from the 1950s? Boom …

Someone corrects the release date in the discography of James Taylor? Bleep …

Someone undoes a spelling correction in an entry about an undersecretary from a mid-century U.S. presidential administration? Bong …

Audible tones and expanding, colored circles are used in tandem to announce changes to the vast collaborative encyclopedia thanks to the great online tool Listen to Wikipedia (, one of the best examples of realtime sonification on the web. Developed by Stephen LaPorte and Mahmoud Hashemi, it’s the subject of a short recent interview from radio station KQED. The conversation with Hashemi goes into the background of the tool. He talks about the software’s actions, and how it serves both as an expression of Wikipedia and as a response to the economic focus of Silicon Valley.

There’s something very pleasing and centering about the placid surveillance of Listen to Wikipedia, all that communal and often rancorous activity transformed into dulcet tones. Sometimes I just let it run on a side screen as I work. Sometimes I also run this pure geographic visualizer, at


Up at the top of this post is a sample still frame of Listen to Wikipedia in action. Here is an example of the sort of realtime information that Listen to Wikipedia parses:


This documentation summarizes how the sounds and related images of Listen to Wikipedia correlate with actual edits:

Bells indicate additions and string plucks indicate subtractions. Pitch changes according to the size of the edit; the larger the edit, the deeper the note. Green circles show edits from unregistered contributors, and purple circles mark edits performed by automated bots.

Here’s a short video of Listen to Wikipedia in action:

Track originally posted at The KQED story was produced by Sam Harnett, of the podcast The World According to Sound ( Check out Listen to Wikipedia at It’s also available as a free iOS app (

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Disquiet Junto Project 0204: Under Beat

Add a foundational rhythm to an ambient foreground.


Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on and at, 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 will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 26, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 30, 2015.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0204: Under Beat
Add a foundational rhythm to an ambient foreground.

This week’s project is a complement to last week’s — but you can do this week’s project without having done, or even been aware of, last week’s. Last week we added a foreground to an underlying beat. This week we’re adding an underlying beat to a foreground.

Step 1: Listen to and download the track “Beacon, For Marissa” by Toaster:

Step 2: You’ll be adding a foundational, underlying rhythm — a beat, that is — to the track. The original is quite long, at over 17 minutes. You can certainly utilize the full piece, but it’s recommended that you select a segment of between 2 to 4 minutes.

Step 3: Please create a new track by adding a beat to the source audio from Step 2. (Do not change the source audio, other than perhaps fading in and out at the start and end, though you can use it as raw material for whatever beat you choose to add.)

Step 4: Upload your completed track from Step 3 to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 26, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 30, 2015.

Length: The length is up to you. The original is just over 17 minutes, though you needn’t create something that long. A segment of between 2 to 4 minutes is recommended.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, and be sure to 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. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0204-underbeat.” Also use “disquiet0204-underbeat” as a tag for your track.

Download: Set your track as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution), per the license of Toaster’s source audio.

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

More on this 204th weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Add a foundational rhythm to an ambient foreground”) at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

The image associated with this project is a light reworking of the image that accompanied the track, Toaster’s “Beacon, For Marissa,” that is the source audio for this week’s project:

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Brigid Feral’s Sonic Transformations

Half-synthesized voices, bodily fluids, and dismembered classical instruments


There is little to no annotation associated with the audio that Brigid Feral posts at The closest she generally comes is a hashtag, such as the “#augmented lute” that appears on the page for her “Violet.” The source audio for her thoroughly transformed sounds can provide the distinguishing factoid, as in “Sound of Friend Peeing,” which, in case the title isn’t clear, has “#pee.” Much of the work she’s posted to SoundCloud starts with some specific sonic basis, and then goes somewhere else entirely. Recent live recordings by Feral, such as one from September 11, and another “Residuum,” posted in the past couple of weeks, use a female voice — presumably her own — as their point of origin.

In the first of these syllables give way to a stuttery beat. In the second there is a delightfully flowery, fluttering affect that is half human, half synthesized.

As for “Violet,” it has a dampened-industrial quality. What is being done to the lute is unclear, but the result is a battery of soft poundings: sawtooth waveforms with their edges rubbed off, beats like a mallet hitting a bag of wet feathers. The rhythm is insistent, but it’s enacted with purposefully unstable resources.

Now, there’s no lute pictured in Feral’s Instagram feed (, but there is some excellent footage of her destroying a piano from the inside:

A video posted by bridget feral (@fferal) on

“Violet” originally posted at (Update November 28, 2015: The one recorded on September 11, “Body Chaos,” has been renamed simply “Body Chaos,” and as a result the track link changed. It’s been fixed here.)

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