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

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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Loops and Noise, Grit and Fragments

Music for grave robbers by San Francisco's Moldbreath

Much loop-based music has a sense of accrual, a sense of layers being added, phases being shifted. That is very much the mode of Moldbreath’s “Rose Buried in Sand Excision,” except that the layering of sound makes the opposite impression. The compositional approach is accrual, while the sounds are of something being disentombed. There is dirt being shifted, footsteps in nearby mud, crackling and shaking, all manner of low-tech mechanics. It’s dark and scary and morbid, and thoroughly impressive.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/moldbreath.

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The Kalimba as Digital Muse

A downtempo excursion by Mereology from Chicago

Call it analog-digital tension, call it a tribute to Brian Eno’s admonition that computer music needs more “Africa” in it, or call it a desire for simple tools when endless tools abound. Whatever the cause, the kalimba is a favorite sample-ready source for electronic excursions, and it proves a worthy subject of attention on “Council Ring” by Chicago-based Mereology. The kalimba here is the root of low-key pachinko play, mixes of light random percussion that follow along a downtempo pace, abetted by lovely tonal foundational material:

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/mereology. The musician also goes by the name Will Farina. More at twitter.com/mereologyst.

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