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.

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Daily recommended free MP3s + streams

Brian Eno Mid-1990s Mega-Mix

From Clark

Perhaps I’m mistaken, but I don’t think I’m going out on a limb when I say that the Brian Eno albums Nerve Net, The Shutov Assembly, Neroli, and The Drop are not on a lot of people’s lists of their favorite works by him. The records came out as a fairly steady series beginning in 1992, after an extended break from solo studio work. His previous album to 1992’s Nerve Net was 1985’s Thursday Afternoon, a personal favorite, but a lot happened in the intervening years. In any case, those four records have all been made available as bonus-track-laden reissues by All Saints, and if they in initial form struck your ear as more a collection of interesting individual ideas than standalone listens, then perhaps this track by Clark is what you’ve been waiting for. It’s a mix of highlights from the eight discs that comprise the reissue program, 34 minutes in all:

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/all-saints-records. More on the reissues at allsaintsrecords.com. The reissue remix also serves as a promotion for Clark’s new self-titled album, which Warp released last monght. More from Clark at throttleclark.com.

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The Waters of Sequoia

A Berlin field recorder sends a sonic postcard from an American national park

20141208-sequoia

Start your day with a stereo presentation of six channels of audio documenting the watery reality of Sequoia National Park. The nearly five minutes of sound were recorded by Micah Frank, who is based in Berlin, Germany, in the California park. Once the immediate mental images of water, flowing and burbling, have made their impression, the piece reveals itself as deeply rhythmic. This is in particular due to the foregrounded percussive sounds that suggest some micro-scale, organic gamelan or kalimba, not to mention the underlying rush of the water, which makes for several layers of roiling white noise.

Frank lays out the channel technology as follows:

We only hear varying perspectives on the water geophonies.

2 Channels Schoeps M/S, decoded and mixed in post-production.
2 Channels Hydrophones.
2 Channels stereo Binaural Microphones.

Start your day with it, then put it on repeat throughout the day.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/micahfrank. More from Micah Frank at twitter.com/micahfrank.

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New, Small Piece from Kent Sparling

The start of 10 one-minute tracks

It’s been half a year since Kent Sparling posted something to his SoundCloud account. That gap is probably good news for film-goers, since Sparling is an excellent sound designer and film composer (see his extensive credits at his IMDB page). But fortunately he took a break enough for a couple minutes of new, film-less work, in the form of this fluid, lulling piece (title: “Oregos in Fog”) that seems to play several different billowing sounds against each other — lush sounds that, in turn, billow at different rates, allowing for chance overlaps and tensions. According to a brief liner note it is the first of a 10-day plan to record as many one-minute pieces. This tracks in at closer to two minutes, but who’s going to complain? (As a side note, he lists the components as follows: “Simple analog and digital synths from the 1980’s, a rack of outboard signal processors and a Hohner Piano 36 melodica were the playthings.”)

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/purling. For reasons beyond me, he only has 66 followers on SoundCloud, so please consider adding his account to your cue. More from Sparling, who lives in Berkeley, California, at jicamasalad.net.

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Excursion into the Past

Beats from Kyoto, Japan

The month-old beats of Marihiko Hara’s track “Remember Me” were of particular interest. This was because several of the more recent tracks in the musician’s feed were gentle, plaintive, concertedly still solo piano improvisations. The #beats tag intrigued. Not because there is some significant, inherent gap between sample-based beat-making and solo piano. The divide between perceived dance-floor sounds and perceived classical influences has been closing — been increasingly recognized as an unhelpful illusion — for decades. If anything, crate diggers and solo piano players have in common a taste for the past. And, in fact, the beats of Hara are built from samples of what sound like old parlor jazz, muffled, and muted, and made all warpy like a damaged record, like a rusty machine, like a weak memory. The use of antiquated samples is all the more nostalgic when the muddying makes them sound like we’re hearing radio signals that got lost behind a cloud, or down a dark alley, and not only took decades to reach their destination but were threadbare by the time they arrived.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/marihikohara. More from Hara, who is based in Kyoto, Japan, at marihikohara.com.

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Capturing Loss in Sound

A track by Scanner on the tragic death of his brother

In an extended liner note, Scanner describes what has happened. But first there are the sounds themselves, the piercing, aimed-high, bristling and disconsolate arches and tremors that force their way, like stilettos, like lasers, through the elegiac haze of “Sad Atlantis (For Nick).” The Nick of the title is Scanner’s brother, who passed away recently in terrible circumstances. Somehow, while managing his own grief and the attendant fraternal duties, Scanner managed to make some music. Perhaps “somehow” is the wrong word. Perhaps the opposite is the case. Perhaps it isn’t “somehow” but, instead, “of course.” Of course a musician faced with such personal turmoil would, in turn, express himself in sound, process his experience in sound, take solace in sound. Is it a stretch to note in this track a pain that is not often as apparent in Scanner’s work? Are not the sharp instances at, say, 1:55 and 2:45 and 4:06, windows into the specificity of his state of mind. And are they not lent additional meaning by the wavering, mournful clouds out of which they appear?

Here, for context, is the note that accompanies the piece:

A year ago my mum died of cancer, just a week after being diagnosed. If that wasn’t a struggle enough in itself, my only brother Nick, and last remaining family member, was diagnosed with cancer in late August. Just three months later he too is now dead, slipping away on 1st December, but tragically not because of the cancer itself (even though he was gravely ill already at this point) but via a meddling and careless nurse who force-fed him pills and yoghurt despite there being strict instructions for no oral administration of medicine.

Tragically my wife and I stood there powerless as we watched my brother choke to death in front of us in the most painful, distressing and vile manner imaginable. His exit was not graceful and moving, but a punishing and cruel end to the gentlest soul imaginable.

I recorded his breathing shortly before he passed away earlier that day when he was at peace. What you hear opening and closing the track are those recordings. The music was recorded and composed live on my Eurorack Modular system and no editing has been made on this lonely, haunting piece.

I hope it some way it captures the mood of where I am right now, lost in memories, whilst administrating the life of a loved one and awaiting the results of a formal investigation into his early death and failure of the hospice to provide proper and attentive care.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/scanner. More from Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud, at scannerdot.com.

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