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.

field notes

News, essays, reviews, surveillance

What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


It’s a clean parallel, the Cylon faceplate speaker on the left and the nod to halcyon roadside full-service stations on the right. They’re both artifacts: the old face of the future, and the old face of the past. This photo was shot at a second-tier gas station in my neighborhood. I struggle to imagine a scenario in which it would make more sense to hit this button than to walk the 15 feet to speak face to face with the attendant in the room with two refrigerators and assorted snacks — small and dingy as that room is. The idea of the attendant even responding to the call seems highly unlikely. I considered asking the man on duty if anyone ever used it, but he was too busy looking at his cellphone for me to want to interrupt him. As for the device itself, the chrome is clean and the casing shows little wear. For that matter, it shows little use. Whoever requisitioned this intercom had either a strong sense of purpose or a mistaken sense of proportion, perhaps both.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


Happy 4th of July

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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Pitchfork on My Aphex Twin Book

One of "the 33 best 33 1/3 titles" (out of 106)

This sure was a nice way to start the week. Pitchfork yesterday published a list of “the 33 best” books in the 33 1/3 series. About 106 or so books have been published by 33 1/3, including mine on the 1994 Aphex Twin album Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2. Here’s what the “33 best” article has to say about it:

Selected Ambient Works Vol. 2 was a puzzle when Aphex Twin released it 21 years ago: an anti-album that eschewed track names and introduced a spare sound that was in the process of either dissolving for forming. It was, in other words, an ideal release for the new forums of this thing called the Internet, whose members not only picked apart the music but helped define the album for subsequent generations. Marc Weidenbaum packs a lot into these 130 pages: a mini-biography of a ground-breaking artist, a capsule history of ambient music, and an example of how digital technology determines how we hear and interpret music.

The full article is at pitchfork.com. It was written by Stephen M. Deusner. (I think it’s supposed to read “dissolving or forming.”)

There are a lot of great subjects ahead in the 33 1/3 series. I’m especially looking forward to Andrew Schartmann on Koji Kondo’s music for the Super Mario Bros video game and to George Grella on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew. There’s a full list of the books in the series at 333sound.com.

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When Les Paul Met Ukulele Ike

In 2002 the multitrack master remembered the four-string king.

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Back in 2002, the first issue of the short-lived magazine The Ukulele Occasional was published, and in it I had a short piece on Les Paul, widely associated with the development of multi-track recording and of the solid-body electric guitar. At the time, I was living in New Orleans, and he was playing weekly at a club in Manhattan, even though he was nearing age 90. I’d interviewed Les Paul once before, and was hankering for a reason to speak with him again when I stumbled on a bit of history I wanted to flesh out. The magazine was founded by Jason Verlinde, an old colleague from my Tower Records Pulse! magazine days, who went on to found The Fretboard Journal.

The two times I interviewed Les Paul, I was hunting for something that likely never existed. I dreamed that in his multi-track experimentation he had recorded things that were closer to noise music than the accomplished, jazz-tinged pop for which he is best known. Maybe such tapes are buried deep in his archives. But no matter. Speaking with him was always a pleasure. He passed away in 2009.

I’ve been slowly adding old material to this site. The post was uploaded to Disquiet.com on June 27, 2015, but backdated to mid-2002 to match the original publication date. Read the full piece in the archives.

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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


One building, one door, one mailbox, two buttons, both the same model, but one new, one quite old, one labeled A, one with its previous label removed, the outline of the latter left behind like the adhesive of a bandaid on a child’s shin.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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