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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Scream of Whispers

An investigation of the ethereal, by Norah Lorway

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The piece of music starts quiet and gets loud, but it’s less “whisper to a scream” than it is “scream of whispers.” The track is “Gå Væk” by Norah Lorway. It starts so near-silent that you might tick up your audio a few notches to compensate, only to soon be immersed in an ethereality so intense it brings to mind an old nugget of wisdom: a ton of feathers hits just as hard as a ton of bricks. Here the impact is, however, absolutely stimulating and enthralling.

Lots of music gets where Lorway’s track is headed, but many of her peers see fit to linger in the drone, to levitate on the expanse. That is, of course, a welcome and well-traveled approach. But Lorway goes considerably further. Once the maximum angelic white noise is achieved, which happens early on, she proceeds to investigate it, to probe it, pushing at swells, locating a high-pitched whine deep within, emphasizing elements, barely ever holding still. The piece is a master class in textural exploration and the illusion of stasis. The title of the track, “Gå Væk,” is in Danish, and she provides the following translations: “leaving; going away; everything mixes together; everything is new.” Everything is new, indeed.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/norahlo. More from Lorway, who is based in Birmingham, England, and Vancouver, Canada, at her website, norahlorway.com, as well as at norahlorway.bandcamp.com, vimeo.com/norahlorway, and her page at music.ubc.ca, The University of British Columbia, where she is a senior lecturer in composition and music technology. Lorway is one of the people behind Xylem Records (“a record label of electronic-based music”: xylemrecords.co.uk, xylemrecords.bandcamp.com) and its journal, Xylm.

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Six Tracks for Team Mick

The Clash guitarist goes downtempo for the Venice Biennale 2015

How this set of six tracks by the Clash’s Mick Jones has been up for four days on SoundCloud and, as of this writing, one of them has under 800 plays is beyond me. Well, a possibility is they were uploaded but left private for awhile. In any case, they are a treat. The six pieces were recorded by Jones as part of an installation, The Rock and Roll Public Library, he has been developing, and that is part of the Venice Biennale 2015. It’s a growing collection of Jones’ rock ephemera, a glimpse of which is shown in this photo by Anton Spice:

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The six-track set is titled Ex Libris, and a 1,000-edition vinyl version is available from vfeditions.com, whose sibling site thevinylfactory.com has additional details. Five are Jones originals, with “Pretty Thing” apparently a cover of the Willie Dixon song best known for Bo Diddley’s rendition.

The surest Clash sound is on “The Seventh of January,” which builds up from what could be a toy xylophone to a deeply buried, squelchy guitar line that ekes out a taste of the band’s sound. And even before the guitar appears, there’s a heavily echoed drum riff that bridges the gap between the Clash and Jones’ Big Audio Dynamite work. Another highlight is the opening track, “The Ministry,” a gentle dub infused with a simple piano line, like King Tubby jamming with Randy Weston.

All six tracks are a lesson in how the Clash — notably the reggae-infused production of the 1980 album Sandinista! — and Big Audio Dynamite — its hip-hop production with techno proclivities — helped set the stage for trip-hop. The late Joe Strummer gets a lot of affection, yet I’ve always been a firm member of Team Mick, and the Ex Libris set is a reminder why.

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More details at mickjonesrockandrollpubliclibrary.com and not one facebook.com page but two.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0176: Walk It Out

Create a composition on top of a rough idea first recorded on your cellphone.

20150517-tauzero

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 playlist for the duration of the project.

This assignment was made in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, May 14, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, May 18, 2015.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0176: Walk It Out
Create a composition on top of a rough idea first recorded on your cellphone.

Like last week’s project, this week’s involves treating a rough draft as part of the finished piece.

Step 1: Go for a walk, and don’t forget your cellphone (or other audio recording device).

Step 2: When the idea for a short piece of music occurs to you, record it into your phone — whether humming or singing or, say, knocking on a fence. Keep it simple. (Note: You can only use the microphone. Don’t use any specific music/sound apps.)

Step 3: When you get back to your home/studio/etc. complete the track, including the (unedited) audio from your walk. Any ambient background noise is just part of the project.

Step 4: Upload your track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud. If possible, include an image of your sheet of paper.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, May 14, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, May 18, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work should be between 30 seconds and three 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 “disquiet0176-walkitout” 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 176th Disquiet Junto project — “Create a composition on top of a rough idea first recorded on your cellphone” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2015/05/14/disquiet0176-walkitout/

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 Tau Zero, used via Creative Commons license:

https://flic.kr/p/e8sqLg

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The Refined Fictions of White Noise

Spatial ambience by Kamakura-based Michiru Aoyama

The four minutes of “Www” by Michiru Aoyama barely surface above the level of white noise. There is the constant dead-signal churn of nano-particulate sound, a cloud of tiny brittle things made soft through motion and spaciousness. Within them exists a deep, breath-like hum. Perhaps it is the wind that moves them. Perhaps it is the result of their motion. Perhaps it is some entity they mask. Perhaps it is the entity they become when grouped en masse. Whatever the fiction, the result is an encompassing sonic space.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/michiru-aoyama. Aoyama is based in Kamakura, Japan. More from Aoyama at his accounts on jimdo.com, facebook.com, and bandcamp.com.

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Infirmity as Muse

Aphex Twin's breathing apparatus

A photo posted by Marc Weidenbaum (@dsqt) on

As I mentioned on instagram.com/dsqt last week, the first single that Aphex Twin released after his Selected Ambient Works Volume II album was “Ventolin.” A collection renditions of a central track, the claustrophobic intensity of “Ventolin” was, as its title and cover art suggested, a reflection of Aphex Twin’s own asthma. My Instagram photo displayed a pair of inhalers I’d just been prescribed by my doctor, due to an insane allergy season this year that had rendered me essentially mute for a week. “My life,” I whined on Instagram, although not with the intensity of the whine at the “Ventolin”‘s heart, “has imitated art.” Aphex Twin has continued to roll out archival audio to the cloud, and among the tracks yesterday was perhaps his most literal exploration of his health issues, “Asthma1,” which is constructed from modulated audio of his own constrained breathing. It’s not an easy listen, but it is revealing:

Track originally posted at Aphex Twin’s new SoundCloud account, soundcloud.com/user18081971. The new account name is derived from his birthday, August 18, 1971.

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