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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Aphex Twin: Selected Ambient Works Volume 3 (Beta)

A mixtape-in-progress, drawn from user48736353001's SoundCloud account

As of yesterday morning, there were 155 tracks in the rogue Aphex Twin account on SoundCloud, where Richard D. James has added the generic “user48736353001″ to his long list of monikers, among them AFX, Polygon Window, and Caustic Window.

Then quite suddenly, after a 17-day gap, there was a 156th track, “Lannerlog,” which I wrote about yesterday afternoon. Over on ello.co, someone subsequently wondered if the “spigot” might be in the process of being turned on, and that turned out to be the case. First there were three more tracks on the user48736353001 account, then 14 more, and as of this writing, a full day later, there are now 173 tracks total in the account.

I’ve begun compiling the above set, under the working title Selected Ambient Works Volume 3, as an imaginary sequel to Selected Ambient Works 85-92, whose earliest tracks are 30 years old as of 2015, and to Selected Ambient Works Volume II. I wrote a book on the latter album. It was published last year as part of the 33 1/3 series to note the Volume II album’s 20th anniversary.

What does and doesn’t belong in this Volume 3 is up for debate. I’m emphasizing material that has an apparent parallel to the material on Volume II, including tracks whose titles include a “SAWII” reference. If you happen to hear anything on Aphex Twin’s SoundCloud accounts that you think should be included, please let me know (I’m at marc@disquiet.com), and I’ll see if they fit into this playlist. Arguably a Volume III in the series would have a distinct character to the previous volumes, much as Volume II was distinct from 85-92. The precise qualities of that character are unclear, and perhaps would draw from elements of the antic percussion that were evident on his later 1990s albums.

My 33 1/3 book has seven chapters, the last of which I titled “Selected Ambient Works Volume III” and in which I tried to piece together semblances of ambient work in the releases Aphex put out following the release of Selected Ambient Works Volume II. It was a purposeful exercise in well-intentioned, fully informed futility, the point being to note the distinction of Selected Ambient Works Volume II amid the broader catalog. All of which said, there is a considerable amount of material in the newly opened archive at the user48736353001 account that has the sinuous ambient quality of his early years, and that is well worth spending time with. I’ll be expanding this playlist as I continue to listen through the newly posted material.

And because Aphex Twin is more than likely to delete all these tracks at some point, I’ll also include the titles here, for posterity’s sake:

“35 SAW II Un Road Shimmer F”
“9 Un Chopped F Beginning [SAWII Un]”
“33 SAW II Un Stabbing Interview”
“4 Red Calx[slo]”
“5 Just Fall Asleep”
“blue carpet”
“Th1 [slo]”
“(watery big ez)”
“8 Lush Ambulance 2″
“11 Early Morning Clissold”

Of the current 173, there are several close calls, like “1 nocares” and 19 Ssnb, that I haven’t included here.

Setlist posted at soundcloud.com/disquiet. My 33 1/3 book is available from many retailers, including Bleep.com, which is operated by the label, Warp, that releases the majority of Aphex Twin’s music. In my book I interview the individual who is largely responsible for the track names later associated with the songs on Selected Ambient Works Volume II, and who went on to work at Warp for a decade, during which time he helped to launch Bleep.

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If It Really Is User48736353001

Aphex Twin strikes again — that is, for at least the 156th time

That Aphex Twin SoundCloud account is going strong. A little more than two weeks since he’d seemingly topped it off at 155 tracks, a 156th track appeared earlier today. The newly arrived song’s name, “Lannerlog,” seems to come from Llannerlog, the name Richard D. James had given his studio in Cornwall toward the start of his public music-making. As the helpful WATMM message-board commenters noted almost a decade ago, “Llannerlog” sounds like “analog.” Laner is a town in Cornwall.

The new (that is, likely new old) track has the mix of near-subliminal melodic synth and understated, routinized, mesmerizing beat that helped define the concept of “ambient techno” and was the foundation of his Selected Ambient Works 85-92 and some of his early tracks under the alternate name Polygon Window, such as “If It Really Is Me” (off the 1993 album Surfing on Sine Waves), a song whose title seems more meaningful than ever.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/user48736353001.

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Making Abstraction Engaging

When is a podcast not a podcast?

I’ve been thinking for a long time to make a Disquiet.com podcast, and I’m still intent on doing it, but not quite yet. I even have the theme music in the can, thanks to a regular participant of the Disquiet Junto project series, but I’m still fiddling with the format, and I want to make sure I have the time to do it regularly. I may wait until after this semester is over, since I’m already dedicating time each week to creating 2,000-word summaries of each lecture in my “role of sound in the media landscape” course, and sending those to my tinyletter.com/disquiet email list.

What’s been on my mind lately has been how best to frame the abstract work I’m often up to in sound, so that it can have an audience beyond those already attracted to abstraction. The goal isn’t a larger audience unto itself; the goal is an audience that would quickly find the work of interest when given the proper context.

The “Sonic Frames” installation I developed for the San Jose Museum of Art was an attempt at this, and I think a fairly successful one. Using imagery, and elegant physical frames, and directional speakers, along with other tools, the piece can attract a potential listener from across the room, and keep them focused once they decide to interact with it.

For the Junto projects, I share the written instructions each week as part of the setlist I create for the given project, but that requires someone to take the time to read. Also, those instructions are intended for a different audience: the participants in the projects. So, three weeks ago I acted on the instinct to record myself describing the project. It’s very different to be told a story than to read one, and very different to have a (somewhat?) friendly voice explain something abstract than to have to decipher it on a page. So now each week’s setlist begins with me, for a minute or so, explaining what the project is about. Collectively the intro and the tracks that follow it comprise something akin to a podcast, though it’s not quite yet the podcast I have in mind.

Below are the first four such project-introduction narrations. The first week I did this, I actually made two separate playlists, for reasons explained in the audio below:

More on the Disquiet Junto at disquiet.com/junto.

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Interior Decorating — and Exterior

Drone expressionism from Leonardo Rosado

Leonardo Rosado’s new track “Dreaming in Velvet” deserves its title, the nearly seven-minute drone composition a lush series of swells that is downright luxurious. Play it low as background music. Play it loud as sonic interior decorating — and exterior decorating, as well, the muted percussives seeming like storm noise heard at a distance. For a self-described drone, the music has a lot more going for it than just clusters of tattered sine waves. There’s field recordings and vocal incantations, paced in a manner that’s too unpredictable to ever be fully relaxing. Dense, rich material.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/leonrosado. More from Rosado, who is based in Göteborg, Sweden, at works-by-lr.tumblr.com.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0164: Junto Hay Fat Choy

The Assignment: Create music that emerges from the sound of fireworks.

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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 from this project will be added to this setlist:

This assignment was made in the late evening, California time, on Thursday, February 19, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, February 23, 2015.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0164: Junto Hay Fat Choy
The Assignment: Create music that emerges from the sound of fireworks.

These are the steps for this week’s project:

Step 1: Locate or create a field recording of fireworks (at freesound.org, for example)

Step 2: Listen to the musical content of the recording — rhythm, tempo, tone, arc, melody.

Step 3: Create a piece of music that begins as five seconds of that field recording, and then emerges out of the sound of fireworks.

Step 4: Upload the finished track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 5: Be sure to include link/mentions regarding the source tracks.

Step 6: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the late evening, California time, on Thursday, February 19, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, February 23, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work should be one minute.

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 “disquiet0164-juntofireworks” 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 164th Disquiet Junto project — “Create music that emerges from the sound of fireworks” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2015/02/19/disquiet0164-juntofireworks/

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/

Image associated with this project by Carl Guderian, used via Creative Commons license:

https://flic.kr/p/dGNiDc

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