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.


Daily recommended free MP3s + streams

City: Works of Fiction Many Decades After

A tremendous live performance by Jon Hassell

“I’m basically an expatriate who lives in the country he’s expatriated from,” says Jon Hassell in a recent KCRW interview. He’s referring to being an American returned to America after a long spell abroad. But the concept of “country” has particular meaning for Hassell, a trumpeter whose electronically mediated music has for decades given us glimpses of a territory he calls the Fourth World. The music in the KCRW performance is classic Hassell — long, held tones that swell with an organic breath, afloat atop a bed of nuanced washes of sound and muffled pneumatic beats. It’s music from imagined places where technology and culture coalesce in unexpected ways. The performance was posted to promote the re-release, in “expanded edition” form on the All Saints Records label, of his 1990 City: Works of Fiction album. A short video excerpt is available via youtube:

The video is just a few minutes, but there’s a full, 45-minute version of the performance and interview at kcrw.com. More on the rerelease at bleep.com.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0133: Six-Note Song

The Assignment: Compose an especially short and concise composition.


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.

This assignment was made in the late evening, New York time, on Thursday, July 17, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, July 21, 2013, as the deadline.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0133: Six-Note Song

The project is this: Compose a song that consists of just six notes. There should just be one short passage, with one “voice,” on whatever instrument you elect to use.

When you are done, upload the track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud, following the directions below.

Background: The idea of a “six-word story” was spurred by a reported challenge from Ernest Hemingway, who supposedly — though perhaps apocryphally — wrote the following when dared to be as brief as possible: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”

Deadline: Monday, July 21, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: The length of your finished work will likely be under one minute.

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 “disquiet0133-sixnotesong″ 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, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 133rd Disquiet Junto project — “Compose an especially short and concise composition” — at:


More on the Disquiet Junto at:


Join the Disquiet Junto at:


Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:


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Grouper on the Side of the Angels

A preview of the Bug's forthcoming album

20140716-bug Like Moby with the album Innocents and Prefuse 73 with The Only She Chapters, the Bug (aka Kevin Martin) for his next album is teaming up with a suite of guest vocalists. The record, Angels & Devils, is due out August 25 from Ninja Tune. On the angels side of that title equation is Grouper, aka Liz Harris, who contributes a bit of breathy heaven to the appropriately titled “Void,” a downtempo track whose fairly relaxed pace is undercut by anxiously jangling percussion. The embeddable seems to be turned off, but it’s streaming for free at soundcloud.com/ninja-tune. Other vocalists announced for Angels & Devils thus far include copeland, Miss Red, Gonjasufi, Flowdan, Manga, Death Grips, and Warrior Queen. More from the Bug at atwarwithtime.com and ninjatune.net.

One warning: Angels & Devils is, by definition, an album of contrasts, and at the current moment, as if to emphasize that modus operandi, the Harris track fades out only to be followed by the intense “Function,” featuring Manga.

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The Wired Heart

Tests made using the Arduino heartbeat sensor

20140715-sensor “Heart,” Nick Lowe once sang, “why must you make such a commotion?” Affairs of that particular organ are a common enough matter in music composition. A relatively recent flourishing in inexpensive home-brew electronics has provided a uniquely quantitive approach to field research. The musician known as Papernoise (aka Hannes Pasqualini), based in Bolzano, Italy, has been experimenting with sensors that let his music kit feed off his pulse. His brief description of his efforts is as follows, for those looking to confirm the experiments in their own audio laboratories:

More tests made using the Arduino hearbeat sensor, the LXR Drum synth and the modular. Modules used: Hexinverter.net Mutant Bassdrum and Hihats, Hexinverter.net Jupiter Storm and Galiean Moons, Microbe Modular Equation Composer, Ian Fritz Threeler VCF

The result is a steady percussive sequence in which flares and echoes and other sonic elements seem to be triggered by the musician’s heart, as it goes on, again in Nick Lowe’s terms, “pounding like a hammer.”

That may be the device in question up top, via sparkfun.com.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/papernoise. More on Papernoise at papernoise.ne.

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The Sound of Heavy Metal Melting

Another broadcast from Gateshead, England's Radio Free Ul-quoma

Given how many drones there are on SoundCloud, the music repository could use more drone rock — more solo chordal dirge guitar work to complement the abstract harmonic textures. More things like “Subsidence” by Radio Free Ul-quoma. Yes, it sounds like Black Sabbath drained of its blood, like Sunn O))) in a particularly reflective mood, like Earth tuning up for a memorial service. And yes, at 6:50, it could be several times longer with no complaints. It’s enjoyably meditative, the sound of heavy metal melting.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/radiofreeul-quoma. Radio Free Ul-quoma is Andrew Gladstone-Heighton of Gateshead, England. His SoundCloud account leaves no further Internet mailing address.

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