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

A Map Is a Composition / A Composition Is a Map

Listening to a mountain pass with Kate Carr

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 8.19.40 PM

Kate Carr, who travels widely and records as she goes, is employing sound as a mapping tool. Or perhaps a better way to put it is that she is employing a map as a compositional tool.

This half-hour track is an experiment of hers. As I understand it, roughly each three minutes marks one of 10 sites along a path of a mountain in Spain. The sound isn’t pure field recording — or it doesn’t appear to be. There seem to be edits and treatments, but perhaps the sound in the Spanish countryside is simply that surreal. There is muted singing, too — perhaps Carr in duet with the world.

She writes of the piece, which is titled “From a wind turbine to vultures (a sonic transect of a small mountain in Velez Rubio, Spain),”

This is an idea I have been working on for a while. It involves the sonic investigation of 10 sites along a sonic transect. These sites were evenly spaced along a straight line up a small mountain in a remote area in Spain. The wind turbine in the title was in the valley of the mountain, the vulture at the peak. This is just a testing out of this idea.

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 8.13.50 PM

She also mentions that the individual sites are noted in the track’s comments — signposts along the audio timeline — but they don’t appear to have gone live yet. (Update 2015.10.10: The sites are now visible in the comments at the track’s SoundCloud page: 0:05, 7:59, 11:32, 15:07, 17:14, 20:04, 21:43, 23:25, 25:37, 28:36.) The audio was uploaded earlier today.

Screen Shot 2015-10-09 at 8.13.27 PM

Track originally posted at More from Carr at,, and

Tags: , / Leave a comment ]

Disquiet Junto Project 0197: Earliest Polyphony

Sight-read newly uncovered choral music from the 10th century.


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.

This assignment was made in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, October 8, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, October 12, 2015.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0197: Earliest Polyphony
Sight-read newly uncovered choral music from the 10th century.

Thanks to Matthew Dean (, among others, for encouraging this project.

Step 1: Perhaps you’ve read the news about a newly uncovered piece of music, dating back to the 10th century, that is believed to be the earliest known piece of polyphonic music. You can check it out here:

Step 2: Review the notation in the article (and pictured on this project page on


Step 3: Record your own interpretation of the music. (You don’t have to sing it.)

Step 4: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, October 8, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, October 12, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work should be as long as you see fit.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this assignment, 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 include the term “disquiet0197-earlypolyphony” 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).

More on this 197th Disquiet Junto project (“Sight-read newly uncovered choral music from the 10th century”) at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

More on the source material for this project at:

Tags: , , / Comment: 1 ]

Everything Passes with Ease

In "Sound Meditation 3" from North Carolina–based Matthew Barlow

Matthew Barlow’s “Sound Meditation 3” is eight minutes of gently pulsing tones. They layer and they ripple. The ripples spread out as new tones emerge. Somehow the fragility is retained, despite the sequential activity, despite the accumulation of tones, the eternal reemergence of tones. The piece never comes close to suggesting, let alone reaching, anything like a critical mass. Everything passes with ease. Balancing the elegance is an underlying plasticity to the tones. It is light music made from vaguely unnatural sounds, a synthesizer’s vision of cloud formations, a silicon chip’s sense of water drops.

Track originally posted at More from Barlow, who is based in Asheville, North Carolina, at

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

The Ghost in the Cloud

If the media is loud, quiet gets attention. If your music is in any way ambient, then quiet comes naturally.

Screen Shot 2015-10-06 at 9.23.02 PM

There is a subset of SoundCloud accounts that either through anxiety, or cluelessness, or an extremely refined and considered sense of how social media functions, opt to share very little besides the music itself. Sometimes even the account names themselves are purely generic, many following in the semi-anonymous footsteps of Aphex Twin’s user18081971 (that particular number, by the way, isn’t as anonymous as it looks — it’s his birthday: August 18, 1971). Other such mysterious accounts have a handle, even an avatar, maybe an evident design sensibility, but little if anything else. If the media is loud, quiet gets attention. If your music is in any way ambient, then quiet comes naturally. All, for example, that the account of blu3b0x says of the musician(s) behind it is a claim of allegiance to a group that takes its name from a hallowed cyberpunk anime: “Gh05T_1N_TH3_5H3ll_Kr3W” reads the only text in the account’s biography field. The tracks so far — there appear to have only been six in the past two years, all but one of them in the past four months — are largely elegant, glitch-ish beats, like “Backtrack5,” which pumps a pneumatic pulse that sounds like a cybernetic dog panting for more data:

In contrast, “HAARP” is more background than backbeat, some drum pads ushering in soft tones that borrow from the more sci-fi-esque elements of the Selected Ambient Works Volume II playbook:

Each blu3b0x track comes with a black and white icon, a photo that in some way or other touches on technologically mediated communication. For blu3b0x, SoundCloud is the medium, and the communication is limited to the essentials.

Tracks originally posted at

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Nothing Is Ever Fully in the Foreground

A new album from Glia

The new release o, w from the artist Glia is nine tracks of varied gentle noises that often tweak into something less than gentle. These include the industrial drone of its opening track, “vaximily,” the dewdrop clinked-glass percussion of “micrudrift,” and the broken, whizzy funk of “lz l0” and “radlers.” The album closes on perhaps its strongest moment: the rattly, twitchy “ziego.” It makes transitions not unlike the other tracks, growing in intensity and threat as it goes. What makes “ziego” tick is how nothing is ever fully in the foreground — from the tiny clicks and cuts that keep it moving, to the horizon-spanning drone that lingers in the distance.

The full album was posted to the Svel Tapes label at

More from Glia, who’s based in France, at

Tag: / Leave a comment ]