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.

Disquiet Junto Project 0204: Under Beat

Add a foundational rhythm to an ambient foreground.


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 project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 26, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 30, 2015.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0204: Under Beat
Add a foundational rhythm to an ambient foreground.

This week’s project is a complement to last week’s — but you can do this week’s project without having done, or even been aware of, last week’s. Last week we added a foreground to an underlying beat. This week we’re adding an underlying beat to a foreground.

Step 1: Listen to and download the track “Beacon, For Marissa” by Toaster:

Step 2: You’ll be adding a foundational, underlying rhythm — a beat, that is — to the track. The original is quite long, at over 17 minutes. You can certainly utilize the full piece, but it’s recommended that you select a segment of between 2 to 4 minutes.

Step 3: Please create a new track by adding a beat to the source audio from Step 2. (Do not change the source audio, other than perhaps fading in and out at the start and end, though you can use it as raw material for whatever beat you choose to add.)

Step 4: Upload your completed track from Step 3 to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

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

Deadline: This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, November 26, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, November 30, 2015.

Length: The length is up to you. The original is just over 17 minutes, though you needn’t create something that long. A segment of between 2 to 4 minutes is recommended.

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 “disquiet0204-underbeat.” Also use “disquiet0204-underbeat” as a tag for your track.

Download: Set your track as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution), per the license of Toaster’s source audio.

Linking: When posting the track, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 204th weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Add a foundational rhythm to an ambient foreground”) at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

The image associated with this project is a light reworking of the image that accompanied the track, Toaster’s “Beacon, For Marissa,” that is the source audio for this week’s project:

Tags: , , / Leave a comment ]

New Silence from Aphex Twin

The account of user18081971 has become a void.


At some point in the past 24 hours, the 260 some odd tracks in Aphex Twin’s have gone missing. In the past he’s deleted and re-added them, so they may show up again.

Before he had the user18081971 account, whose seemingly generic numerals in fact represent his birthday, he used the account user48736353001. That account went blank in advance of the tracks appearing under the user name user18081971.

There’s a detailed spreadsheet of the tracks associated with the account, via a Reddit user. The spreadsheet includes the brief commentary that Aphex Twin posted in the bio field for the account. Among these were political references, shoutouts to listeners, and a brief notice about the recent death of visual artist Paul Laffoley.

For the time being this development means that the Selected Ambient Works Volume 3 beta playlist I have been developing is now blank. I may be able to recreate it based on YouTube re-postings of the audio.

There remain six tracks at

Update (November 26, 2015): One thing that does remain at the user18081971 account is a collection of likes, at this count 32, ranging from a µ-Ziq track dating back to 1993 to a recording of Nikola Bašić’s sea organ in Zadar, Croatia, the latter of which has achieved 2.7 million listens.

Update (November 28, 2015): And a few days later, the account is no longer empty. Back on the page is a track whose purpose is for him to ask people to post links to their own music. This track clearly isn’t new. It must have been made private and then brought back, because it has comments going back weeks.

Tag: / Comment: 1 ]

Brigid Feral’s Sonic Transformations

Half-synthesized voices, bodily fluids, and dismembered classical instruments


There is little to no annotation associated with the audio that Brigid Feral posts at The closest she generally comes is a hashtag, such as the “#augmented lute” that appears on the page for her “Violet.” The source audio for her thoroughly transformed sounds can provide the distinguishing factoid, as in “Sound of Friend Peeing,” which, in case the title isn’t clear, has “#pee.” Much of the work she’s posted to SoundCloud starts with some specific sonic basis, and then goes somewhere else entirely. Recent live recordings by Feral, such as one from September 11, and another “Residuum,” posted in the past couple of weeks, use a female voice — presumably her own — as their point of origin.

In the first of these syllables give way to a stuttery beat. In the second there is a delightfully flowery, fluttering affect that is half human, half synthesized.

As for “Violet,” it has a dampened-industrial quality. What is being done to the lute is unclear, but the result is a battery of soft poundings: sawtooth waveforms with their edges rubbed off, beats like a mallet hitting a bag of wet feathers. The rhythm is insistent, but it’s enacted with purposefully unstable resources.

Now, there’s no lute pictured in Feral’s Instagram feed (, but there is some excellent footage of her destroying a piano from the inside:

A video posted by bridget feral (@fferal) on

“Violet” originally posted at (Update November 28, 2015: The one recorded on September 11, “Body Chaos,” has been renamed simply “Body Chaos,” and as a result the track link changed. It’s been fixed here.)

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Cross-pollinations of Meter and Tone

A new album of drone-work from Daniel Mackenzie

Daniel W J Mackenzie’s Four Places for Piano will likely be misread as Four Pieces for Piano. There’s a blurry glimpse of one of the title instruments on the album’s cover. As for whether the piano actually played an active role in the recording of the album, that’s a far more blurry topic. Four Places for Piano is four pieces of long-form, slowly modulating drones. It opens with the highlight, “Diocleia,” which has several pulses set against each other, most noticeably a bell-like ringing that arrives every eight seconds or so. Other elements run through more quickly or more slowly, but that bell tone is the heart of it. At almost 11 minutes in length, “Diocleia” lets the ears fall prey to various cross-pollinations of meter and tone.

Each track on Mackenzie’s Four Pieces for Piano is noticeably distinct from the others, and yet any one of them, once you get three or four minutes in, can, as with much drone music, sound like the background noise of an electrical substation. The similarities are an illusion. Part of the pleasure of Four Pieces for Piano is listening not just within a track, but between them. “Duklja” has more of a sense of urgency than the others; it grows as time passes, occasionally pushing the waveforms into something rough-edged. “Zeta” has an even more pronounced bell than “Diocleia,” here like a carillon caught in a loop. And “Podgorica” distinguishes itself with a slow, crunchy beat amid its already noisy churn.

Album posted at More from Mackenzie, who also goes by Ekca Liena, at

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Saxophone vs. Machine(fabriek)

An asynchronous collaboration loops back on itself.

Machinefabriek turned the tables on his own production technique. As described in an advance notice, his forthcoming release with saxophonist Neil Welch began as a one-way affair. He was to provide a foundation (a “backing track,” in the official release language) for Welch to improvise upon. However, upon receiving Welch’s responsive work, Machinefabriek proceeded to work upon it some more. The result, as heard in this four-minute advance listen of an eventual 38-minute release, to be titled Tides, makes any discernment between background and foreground imprecise at best. There is a dense blur between the original work and what Welch provided. In part this is because Welch’s work is often heard with several parts layered in a manner that an individual player couldn’t achieve live, except with looping equipment. In part it’s because the horn often dissolves into the greater noise, leading to something akin to John Zorn fronting a Ligeti concerto. But the real beauty of the resulting piece is how segments of Welch’s work were themselves improvised upon by Machinefabriek, who took the nuances and used them as source audio for his own efforts. Welch’s work was, in turn, as much a foundation for Machinefabriek’s efforts as was Machinefabriek’s for Welch’s. It would be interesting, down the road, to be able to listen to what it was that Machinefabriek sent to Welch in the first place.

Track originally posted at More from Welch at, and from Machinefabriek, aka Rutger Zuydervelt, at The full album is due apparently from Confront, though it isn’t yet showing on the label’s website (

Tag: / Leave a comment ]