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.

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Goldsmith-Ligeti EDM

And, is record store day a holiday for people who only worship on holidays?

I like the idea of Record Store Day, but something about it does remind me of that thing the TV character Murphy Brown, a recovering alcoholic, said about New Year’s Eve, that it’s for amateurs. I go to record stores so often, the idea that I should go on a specific day is almost confusing to me. I suppose I’d celebrate Earl Grey Tea Day, or Sichuan Food Day, or Inexpensive Notebook from the Corner Store Day, or Superfine Japanese Pen Day, but I do wonder at times to what extent Record Store Day — along with Independent Book Store Day — is equivalent to a holiday for people who only worship on holidays. In a general sense, as a way to get folks to rally around the community and cultural nature of record stores, it serves a purpose, but then again, the general idea of a commerce holiday makes me uncomfortable. To some extent Record Store Day is like a neighborhood picnic, but in other ways it holds up a small mirror to Black Friday.

In any case, Record Store Day does bring out some interesting packaging and material, along the lines of how annual independent comic book festivals provide milestones for comic artists to get something done. I do hanker for the new seven-track tape cassette (yes, tape cassette) release of Metallica’s demos recorded back in 1982 in Tustin, California.

And among the many Record Store Day exclusives this year is what can be heard as a deep tweak on EDM by Amon Tobin. Titled “Dark Jovian,” it has all the anthemic heft of EDM, but none of the comforting percussive milestones. Writes Tobin in an accompanying note, likening the work to a score for an imaginary movie, “Anyone who loves John Williams, Gerry Goldsmith or György Ligeti will hopefully see what I’m drawing from, and how it then sits in an electronic context.”

Amon Tobin track originally posted at soundcloud.com/amon-tobin. More on the release, which has eight tracks in all, at amontobin.com/darkjovian.

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Old Folk, New Aesthetic

From Halifax's the Sly and Unseen (Jonathan Lees and Katie English)

Ambient may be a “new” form of music to the extent that it’s largely predicated on ideas that Brian Eno synthesized and codified back in the 1970s. However, those ideas had endless pre-existing strains, strains in culture and in technology, from in and outside of music, all of which to some degree or another led up to Eno’s development. These range from bellows-powered bagpipes to raga and Indian classical music to Gregorian chant to the underlying hum of the electrical grid.

In this bit of self-described “weird folk” from the Sly and Unseen (aka Jonathan Lees and Katie English), “String Tail Fox,” an old Russian folk song, is transformed as old tools are used with modern intent, as the bellows-based Shruti box and harmonium, along with flutes, cello, xylophone and guitar, are brought to bear on a simple melody. The “weird” factor is more a matter of genre identification than outright headtrip, more a matter of exploring the ritual inherent in folk melodies, and how a disinterest in a flat-out cover version can yield something both delicate and trenchant.

The track is from the Halifax-based duo’s forthcoming album All Similarities And Technical Difficulties End Here, which was mastered by by Ian Hawgood.

There’s also a remix of “String Tail Fox” on the album that emphasizes percussive elements:

Original version originally posted at soundcloud.com/theslyandunseen. More on the forthcoming release, due out by the end of May 2015, at theslyandunseen.bandcamp.com. More from Lees and English’s duo at the Sly and Unseen’s Facebook page, facebook.com/theslyandunseen, and at theslyandunseen.tumblr.com.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0172: Digital-Analog Conflater

Do something analog, then do the same thing digitally, and then combine them.

20150416-jillclardy

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at Disquiet.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.

Tracks will be added to this set for the duration of the project:

This assignment was made in the late afternoon, California time, on Thursday, April 16, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, April 20, 2015.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0172: Digital-Analog Conflater
Do something analog, then do the same thing digitally, and then combine them.

These are the steps for this week’s project:

Step 1: Do something analog.

Step 2: Do the same thing digitally.

Step 3: Combine them. The end result of Step 3 is your finished track.

Step 4: Upload your track 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 assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, April 16, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, April 20, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work should be between half a minute and two minutes.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this assignment, and 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 Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0172-daconflater” 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 172nd Disquiet Junto project — “Do something analog, then do the same thing digitally, and then combine them” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2015/04/16/disquiet0172-daconflater/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

Photo associated with this project by Jill Clardy, used via Creative Commons license:

https://flic.kr/p/8HWfG7

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It’s “Avril 14th”

Celebrate Aphex Twin day with Anthony Fiumara.

It’s April 14, which for some means the day before the due date in the United Staes for income taxes, and for others a reason to celebrate the British electronic musician known as Aphex Twin. “Avril 14th” is one of Aphex Twin’s most loved pieces, and that affection has resulted in a wide number of samplings (Kanye West, in the song “Blame Game”), remixes, and reworkings. The best known reworking is probably the arrangement by John Pickford Richards performed by Alarm Will Sound on its 2005 collection Acoustica: Alarm Will Sound Performs Aphex Twin. A couple days ago, Anthony Fiumara posted his own lovely acoustic-ensemble arrangement:

It’s part of a set of eight Aphex Twin arrangements by Fiumura. Full set first posted at soundcloud.com/anthony-fiumara. More from Fiumura, who is based in Amsterdam, at twitter.com/Anthony_Fiumara and anthonyfiumara.com.

And consider supporting the petition set up, as announced on Medium by Sam Bungey and Larry Ryan, to make Aphex Twin Day official.

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Pictures at an Arvo Pärt Exhibition

A synthesizer rendition of the composer's "Solfeggio"

Classical music and synthesizers go hand in hand, in part because of the academic origins of much beta-era synthesizer experimentation, and in part because of how renditions by Wendy Carlos, Tomita, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, among others, of standard repertoire helped expand the early audience for electronic music. The tradition is alive and well. This coming month, Sony will release the retro Bach to Moog by Craig Leon.

What follows are two different versions of a contemporary classical favorite: the same Arvo Pärt piece performed on two very different synthesizers. The piece is Pärt’s “Solfeggio,” which in its original form is arranged for a gently shifting array human voices. Here it is with its tones transferred by the artist Tomorrow the Cure to the Tetra, from Dave Smith Instruments, the “father” of MIDI:

There is also a version from 2009 on the Doepfer Dark Energy by the same musician, who is based in Norfolk, Great Britain (more at soundcloud.com/tomorrowthecure). That Dark Energy recording is not available for embedding, but can be accessed at the musician’s youtube.com account.

And here, for cross-reference, is a vocal rendition of the same Pärt piece:

The Tetra version was originally found thanks to the excellent matrixsynth.com website.

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