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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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 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

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When Les Paul Met Ukulele Ike

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


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 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

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
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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from

When is a doorbell not a doorbell? When it’s the doorbell next to your front door, that many years later — well over half a century — was rendered useless when a metal gate was eventually installed at the sidewalk. There’s another doorbell, quite plain, at the gate of our house. This ornate if hollow item just sits quietly. The vestigial doorbell. The emeritus doorbell.

An ongoing series cross-posted from
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This Week in Sound: Post-Alaska and ER Sonics …

Plus: sound design documentary and sound branding

A lightly annotated clipping service:

— Newest Yorker: John Luther Adams has been having a moment for several years now. The composer, who at the most fundamental level is appreciated as someone who artfully interweaves field recordings with orchestral arrangements, has been the subject of numerous profiles, including one on his obsession with baseball (“It’s ironic, isn’t it, that in my day job I keep score, and in my avocation I keep score, too?”). Now in the New Yorker, he writes at length about leaving his longtime home in Alaska, a state synonymous with his music, for a Manhattan apartment. Side note: It is remarkable to learn that two of your heroes were correspondents: “Here is my correspondence,” he writes, “with Edward Abbey, who first wrote to me after hearing my setting of the song of the hermit thrush over the radio.”

— ER Sonics: Even when stuck in the hospital due to what was initially suspected to be a stroke, author Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Trees, Gun Machine) is always listening: “Spend more than half an hour in an MRI and you will find yourself identifying every electronic noise from the last fifteen years of techno music. The MRI is the ursprache of the sound of the 21st Century.”

— Documenting Sound: The Image of Sound is a short film (under 13 minutes) by Amar Dusanjh profiling three sound professionals — Richard Addis (sound designer on the TV series Human Universe), Eddy Joseph (sound editor on Harry Potter and Casino Royale), and Dirk Maggs (who directed the radio production of Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy) — on the role of sound in media. (Found via

— Sound Branding: Kevin Perlmutter talks about the work Man Made Music does in sound and branding: “Despite all of the research about how sound impacts us, and massive changes in our behavior brought on by technology, many of us are still relying on the same brand identity pillars — visual and verbal — that have been in place for decades.”

This first appeared in the June 23, 2015, edition of the free Disquiet “This Week in Sound” email newsletter:

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