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.
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Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.


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A Click Here, a Tone There

The "blind" recording process of ioflow (aka Joshua Saddler)

Joshua Saddler, who records as ioflow, takes delicate sounds in this short, eminently loopable track, and from them ekes out plaintive, elegant mixes of texture and tone, of gentle percussives and subdued tension. The piece is titled “Clouds and Wind, Shifting,” and it very much has an elemental feel to it. It follows a pace of sorts, but there’s nothing trenchant about the beat or pulse of it. It just proceeds, a click here, a tone there, sometimes overlapping, sometimes left on their own, preceded by silence or followed by a sudden, yet still quite intimate and fragile, convergence.

Saddler recently expanded his instrument collection with the start of a modular synthesizer, and this track is his first ever recording with that equipment. The full list of equipment is: lap harp, ebow, field recordings, pedals, and modular effects. He employed what he described as a “‘blind’ recording process,” which involves recording several tracks separately and only hearing them back in unison when they’re all complete.

Track originally posted at More from ioflow/Saddler, who is based in San Diego, California, at,,, and

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Kelli Cain and Brian Crabtree of Monome (Live Video)

Recorded in San Francisco earlier this year.

It’s not common to post the same audio here twice, but I’m making an exception for the half-hour concert by Kelli Cain and Brian Crabtree, developers of the Monome grid music interface. Back in March I linked to the SoundCloud file of the live performance (“What the Creators of the Monome Sound Like as Live Performers”), and updated that page in April when a higher grade recording went up. But now there’s full, affectionately edited video of the set. It’s at I attended the concert, which was held at a small shop, Better, out on Balboa Street in San Francisco’s Richmond District, and in the review I mention in particular this social component of Crabtree’s employment of handheld shakers: “He’d shake one for awhile, and then pass it to someone in the audience to continue the pattern. Each person became an extension of what Crabtree had started, but then altered it a little, whether through the conscious decision to contribute a musical idea, or simply because their sense of rhythm differed from his.” That occurs about two minutes into this footage.

The video was shot by the Mill Valley, California–based duo Fabián Aguirre and Maya Pisciotto, who go by More on Better at More on the Monome, Cain, and Crabtree at

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Alvin Curran Finds His (Dad’s) Trombone

And records a tribute to its weathered tone

Alvin Curran, the composer (b. 1938), lost his dad’s trombone, only to have it relocated decades later. In a New York Times essay this past weekend, “The Trombone Comes Home,” Curran tells the story of the instrument’s role in his childhood education and activities, before he switched to piano and, later still, composition. He also tells the story of its reappearance. The discovery provides an emotional end to the tale:

I let it sit for a few days to acclimatize. The with my wife, Susan, snapping pictures I carefully removed the layers of wrappings one at a time with a kitchen knife — and then opened the latches to reveal an unpolished silent brass corpse inside, smelling exactly the same as it did when I surreptitiously opened that case for the first time some 70 years earlier in Providence.

Included alongside the essay is a nearly two-minute composition by Curran, “The Lost Trombone.” It’s described, succinctly, as follows:

A composition built on a single B flat note played on the recovered trombone by the author, electronically processed and produced with Angelo-Maria Farro.

For unclear reasons the essay itself makes no direct connection to the piece, and in no way gets into its existence, let alone its composition and recording process. It’s a riveting miniature of repetition, the threadbare note echoed and layered, its held tone circling round and round, building if not to an orchestral impact, then at least that of a sizable chamber ensemble. You enter into the weathered tone, much as Curran himself was taken by its accrued meaning and experience:

For me, it was the essence of unabashed musical Americana, its mouthpiece an amalgam of chopped liver, Mom’s tuna salad, kosher hot dogs, kasha and planetary garlic breath fused with silver and steel and a century of house mold.

The audio isn’t embeddable, so you’ll need to click through to the site to listen in full. More from Curran at

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Feedback Loops from a Cork, Ireland, Print Shop

Performance documentation from Claire Guerin

Claire Guerin of Cork, Ireland, participated in an eight-hour sound performance called Feedback Loops last month. She’s posted a short (five-minute) snapshot of the proceedings. It’s a brooding, percussion-and-drone segment that is, toward the close, intruded upon by dastardly vocalizing, the dark foreboding utterances of a demonic presence. The event took place on April 17 at the Cork Community Print Shop. There’s additional video and documentation at the event’s Facebook page.

Track originally posted at More from Guerin at More on the Guesthouse (“a visual artist-led initiative whose objective is to create a place for production, meeting and cross-practice peer exchange that includes various forms of public discourse and encounter” that she helped found) at Guerin is part of Queef with Laney Mannion.

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Ambient Forged on Hip-hop Pads

A performance video by Sander van Dijck

The MPC series, from the electronics manufacturer Akai, is best known for its employment in hip-hop, but tools have purposes beyond their initial intention, even beyond their general use. In the hands of Sander van Dijck, of the Netherlands, the beat machine becomes a trigger system for percolating ambient music. This is a performance video not a tutorial, so it doesn’t begin to document the preparation that went into the sounds we hear. The guitar and keyboard in the background hint at some of the origin points, and in addition there are snatches of spoken information that balance the music’s dreaminess with a certain amount of portent. The beauty of a performance video like this is correlating the movement with the sound. So much is happening in the service of such a placid affect, the individual cues eventually lost in the full mix of activity. The track is credited to van Dijck’s Casilofi moniker, and is titled “SNDSKP” (that is, “soundscape”).

It’s the latest piece I’ve added to my ongoing YouTube playlist of fine “Ambient Performances.” Entries in the Disquiet Downstream post series are usually of recent vintage but as I’ve been fleshing out the Ambient Performances material I’ve let the time restriction relax; this video is dated almost four years ago, to July 14, 2016, though the image filter suggests it’s from the 1970s.

Video originally posted on More from Sander van Dijck at and

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