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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A Solo Guitar Drone

By Toaster of San Jose, California

The musician Toaster’s tagline on Twitter is “I make music by programming things.” However, the origin of his recent track “Beacon, for Marissa” is not a computer but, instead, a guitar. The piece is a nearly 20-minute solo drone, recorded live. Now, “solo” needn’t simply mean singular. There are several lines that thread through “Beacon,” overtones and grungy throbbing strings among them. And a “drone” needn’t simply imply steady-going. Various aspects of the track suggest a trajectory in the stasis, a direction to the flux. There are pause-like moments early in that focus the ear toward shrill bits of noise, and as the piece progresses its low-tide ebbing and flowing become recognizable, familiar, almost song-like in their patterning. “Beacon” is a beautiful, sedate, peaceful apparition — perhaps not music from programming, but certainly music for programming, and other cerebral tasks.

Track originally posted for free download at More from Toaster, aka Todd Elliott of San Jose, California, at and

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Strain and Grain

C. Reider returns to the cassette-tape loop


C. Reider’s Tape Loops, recently released on Linear Obsessional Recordings, returns him to an early favorite media of his, after many years spent in the digital world. The media is magnetic tape, which Reider, who’s based in Colorado, once enjoyed as a participant in the mail-art network.

He revisits what was long ago an everyday technology as something today of an archival and arcane one (though there is a growing number of cassette labels in recent years). There was a physical release of this album, true to its inspiration. That combined a CDR, which was a spiritual grandchild of the cassette, with hand-engineered cassettes that contained a loop. Even though the physical edition is sold out, the digital release is a rewarding one all on its own. It’s a series of looped compositions, half an hour in all. The strain and grain of the tape is evident in every piece, bits of noise, and orchestral glimmering, and vocal warbles, all pieced together amid an overarching mechanical sensibility.

An annotation to the album provides some additional context:

Getting deep into the process and working with thrift-store cassettes he uses a number of radical techniques to create his tape loops, including lengthening the tape, shredding it, making new tapes from tiny fragments and reassembling them.

The resulting piece is a haunting and mesmeric meditation on the texture of sound recorded on magnetic tape and is one or reider’s most powerful works to date.

A booklet accompanying the release gets into more detail. Here’s an excerpt:

Some of my experiments involved extending the length of the loop inside the shell. When making a loop housed in a standard tape shell, the filament can’t be too slack or too tight. If it’s too slack, it will get caught in the playback mechanism resulting in the tape being “eaten” (is that how they say it outside of the US?) If too tight the loop just won’t play back. Normally, I would loop the tape around the two tape guide rollers and the two reels inside the re- used tape shells, requiring a strand of tape 9.125 inches in length. That would result in a loop that comes back to the splice point every 5 seconds when played back at the normal speed of 1.875 inches per second. The physical barriers inside the shell dictate the length of the loop. To shorten or lengthen a loop one has to remove or provide more barriers around which the tape will pass. I found that if there were a bunch of new barriers inside the shell, the tape makes a turn at each one (imagine a serpentine fan belt in a car,) meaning more length can fit. More length equals more time. To add barriers, I drilled holes through one side of the cassette shell, and pressed through pieces of PTFE Teflon rod to give me pivot points around which to guide the tape. The most complicated of my pivot-point alterations had the tape traveling around nine different points resulting in a tape length of 19 inches that looped every 10 seconds.

As with most techniques I use in my sound practice, the process of these modifications were easy to do in terms of technique, but they did require some amount of patience and mindfulness.

Audio originally posted at More from Reider at,, and


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Disquiet Junto Project 0203: Beat Basis

Add something to a rhythm track titled "It."


Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on and at, 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 afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 19, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 23, 2015.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0203: Beat Basis
Add something to a rhythm track titled “It.”

Step 1: Listen to and download the track “It” by Name Constant:

Step 2: When posting the track, Name Constant accompanied it with this invitation: “additions welcome, should anyone be inspired by emptyness.” Please create a new track with the source audio as the foundation. (Do not change the source audio, though you can also use it as raw material for whatever you choose to add.)

Step 3: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 4: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

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

Length: The length is up to you. The original is just under six minutes, though you needn’t create something that long.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, and be sure to 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, please in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0203-beatbasis.” Also use “disquiet0203-beatbasis” 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 203rd weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Add something to a rhythm track titled ‘It'”) at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

Image associated with this project originally accompanied the source audio (“It” by Name Constant) on SoundCloud:

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Monochrome Music for Symphony Orchestra

"Textile" by Justė Janulytė of Lithuania


The spare, grey-toned home page of Justė Janulytė describes her simply as “composer of monochrome music.” Her compositions bear that out. Monochrome, however, does not mean simplistic. Where colors fail, textures prevail. Hence her “Textile” for symphony orchestra,” which over the course of seven and a half minutes grows from slender layers of symphonic tonal material. Strings and horns eke out small phrases. As time passes, the meager parts grow, and the orchestra summons a gargantuan swell, and yet “Textile” never gains momentum, only density. True to the work’s title, these slivers of sound are like threads in a piece of fabric that gets larger and larger as the piece progresses.

In a brief description of the piece, she writes:

Textile (2006-2008) for orchestra is a single gesture, one metamorphosis of register, timbre and dynamic. There are no sound attacks used in the score; the only gesture which reflects also the macro form of the piece is the sound emerging and submerging into the silence. The layers of dense texture are based on this gesture, thus evoking an image of underwater pulsations. Even though “Textile” is written for different instruments, the author, who usually writes for the ensemble of the same timbres, is is trying to achieve the “monochrome” aestetics of the sound.

Track originally posted at More from Janulytė, who is Lithuanian, at

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A Memory of a Night Out

"Fear Biz" by Italy-based IQbit (aka Claudio Cuciotti)

It’s not uncommon to come upon a description of culture that is said to take apart the very thing it seems to be a part of: gallery exhibits that critique the art world, pop music that is poking holes into pop music, poetry that undermines poetry. Often the supposed critique is so difficult to distinguish from that which it is commenting on that it becomes a part of the whole. The revolution is televised, and then syndicated. Now, “Fear Biz” by IQbit makes no immediate claims for its purpose. The track, as posted on the Italy-based IQbit’s SoundCloud account, is accompanied just by one bit of description: “Any Resemblance to Real Persons or Actual Facts is Not Coincidental.” The comment may just be a toss-away joke, or it may be a direct reference to the reality that surfaces in “Fear Biz,” courtesy of sirens and street noise. No matter. The heart of the track is a sequence of club-like emanations: synth pads, strobing percussion, throbby beats, echoing voices, dramatic modulations. A few of them on repeat for six minutes would be a minimal brand of dance music. Instead, it’s a story of sorts, a suite of transitions, three-and-a-half minutes of moments, more like a memory of a night out than the score to a night out. I’ve written once previously about IQbit’s music, back in November 2011. The subject then was a remix he’d done that emphasized the ecstatic opening moments of minimal techno over the rote beats that often follow.

Track originally posted at There’s a lot more of music from IQbit — aka Claudio Curciotti — at He makes his home at

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