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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Daily recommended free MP3s + streams

The Synthesis of Sarah Davachi

As heard on her phenomenal new album, Dominions

sarahdavachi

Sarah Davachi’s phenomenal new album, Dominions, was recorded largely on old-model synthesizers and something known as the Orchestron, an instrument from the 1970s that plays from a library of sounds that are stored as an optical recording. The album’s five tracks explore various territories, among the more sedate being the churchly “Ordinal,” in which held chords shift to an indeterminate meter as various notes are introduce and removed. “Burgundy” begins in a similar space, its burgeoning atmospheric drone resembling early Terry Riley or La Monte Young, but as it proceeds it gets more and more busy, coming to sound like a symphony of car horns. It’s as if the listener first hears it from afar, several blocks away, and then slowly approaches, and by approaching comes to understand the chaos that was mistaken, from a distance, as calm.

The opening piece, “Feeler,” has the sound of truncated vocal snippets, the extended vowel given texture by the endless tiny appearances of a seam where the end of the sample meets with the start of it replaying. Beneath this is a layer of texture, maybe tape, maybe vinyl, maybe just the room in which it was recorded. Like “Burgundy” it gains mass and detail as it moves forward. Those are just three of the tracks of Dominion’s five. The whole thing is quite strong.

Album available at sarahdavachi.bandcamp.com. More from Sarah Davachi, who is based in Montréal, Québec, at sarahdavachi.com.

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The Sonic Artifacts of Threshold Breach

"Loop1" by Valiska of Calgary, Canada

Valiska is Krzysztof Sujata of Calgary, Canada, and “Loop1” is a gentle, restrained drone. It is part synthesizer, and seemingly part vocalized, and it grows with intensity until it risks being shattered. It ends where it starts, a floating whir, not unlike one of Robert Fripp’s tape loops filigrees, but in between it goes from gentle to lush to dense to the point where the tension frays the sounds themselves. At around three and a half minutes into the nearly six-minute run the repeated melodic line is superimposed with static, with noisy scintillate, with strong feedback. It’s as if the loop tools have been pushed passed their capacity, and we experience that threshold breach as a series of sonic artifacts. The noise subsides in time for the gentle aspect of the loop to re-emerge, but it sounds different now, the noise having receded but its memory coloring how the subsequent the quietness is experienced.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/valiska. More from Valiska at valiska.com and twitter.com/TheValiska.

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The Pure Data of Svetlana Maraš

One minute to stream, and software to run for free

svetlanamaras

You have to click through to the blog of Svetlana Maraš to hear her recent piece “Nymphae,” but don’t mistake that non-embeddable scenario for the work of someone who’s overly concerned about proprietorship. Maras, who is based in Belgrade, Serbia, has more than one SoundCloud page, and posts audio frequently. For “Nymphae,” not only has she uploaded the entrancing, minute-long sample of fractured glistening to stream, she’s also posted for free download the underlying tools anyone can use to accomplish the same sonic ends. Well, anyone with a copy of Pd (Pure data, a “real-time graphical dataflow programming environment,” itself freely downloadable), and the skills to employ it. The tools come in the form of a patch, which looks like this:

svetlanamaras-pd

She describes the project as follows:

Nymphaea is one in a set of 7 works made under the title Ethereal Information. These works are Pure data patches, and they are generative sound works functioning by the rules of partially fixed algorithms. Each of the patches leaves the space for user’s input that will influence certain aspects of the work. Patches can be used under the Creative Commons Attribution license, as part of other works, in installations, galleries, public spaces or wherever you find them suitable. These works are highly minimalistic. They praise the simplicity of production and effectiveness of realization. They are to be appreciated for their audible but as well visual content that is in this case the structural element of the work that reveals work’s internal characteristics.

More from Maraš at svetlanamaras.com. I wrote about her work previously in February 2015, regarding sound design she’d been working on for a film that never saw completion. That audio is still online. The image up top is from an interview with Maraš by Theresa Beyer, published in 2014 at norient.com. Pure data is available at puredata.info.

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The Intention of Pace

When ambient music sets your heart pacing

The question of whether or not ambient music can include beats obscures an arguably deeper question about effect. That question: Can music that sets one’s heart pacing, even if the sounds themselves are largely beat-less, still be considered ambient? On a track titled “Tourbillon,” Suss Müsik tests those circumscriptions, at least for the first minute or so, which is pure haze, but a sheer haze that is pitched high and given an intense sense of forward motion — a suggested motion that is confirmed soon after, when a pulsing, phasing piano line takes over. It’s blissful as the clouds, certainly, but those clouds pass in quick succession. You’re aloft, true, but will you ever come down? Then again, would you even want to, if this is the experience? The title of the track, which comes from clockmaking, is the French word for whirlwind.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/suss-musik. More from Suss Müsik at sussmusik.com.

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The Close Parenthesis of Doom

Drone sludge metal from Traunstein, Germany's .(((DEEP))).

Thanks at least in part to Sunn O))) the close parenthesis has come to typographically symbolize, to visualize, the sound of a deep, rumbling, eschatological drone. Daniel Lechner and Robert Axthammer know this well, which is why their doom drone duo act is called not simply Deep but .(((DEEP))). “Breath,” the third track on the pair’s SoundCloud page, is 15 minutes of intensely quavering doom drones, layered for much of the middle third with the sort of broken-glottal vocalese associated with orc mating rituals and the blackest of black metal. It’s an impressive feat. The orcs return later, but only after a short glimpse of the ethereal, thanks to a more angelic if still deeply subsumed choral part. This is dense stuff. It also has an impressively extended fade, not just the drone volume being pitched down, but amid that toxic denouement new fears arise, crackling and churning. Turn off the lights, play it loud, and let it seep into the carpet and into your skin.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/deep-doom. The band .(((DEEP))). is based on Traunstein, Germany. Track found via a repost by the soundcloud.com/anarchy4bits account.

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