February 13, 2014, is the official release date for my 33 1/3 book on Aphex Twin's 1994 album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, 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.

SOUND RESEARCH LOG: The “Metallic Accent” of the Vocoder

The New Yorker posted a short, 11-minute mini-documentary about the Vocoder. Laurie Anderson praises its corporate aesthetic. Frank Gentges discusses its military history. Dave Tompkins talks about Bell Labs technical innovations (noting its “metallic accent”), among other things. There’s music from Kraftwerk, Afrika Bambaataa, and Newcleus, whose Cozmo D is interviewed; somewhat dispirated, he says with a half shrug, “Some of the dopest shit we have came out of military technology.”

The documentary is the second in the newyorker.com‘s Object of Interest series.

This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.

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When luxury/convenience of multiple-CD players trickled down to low-price brands.

Cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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Cliff Martinez’s Music for The Knick

Electronics connect past to present

20140819-theknick

As @compactrobot put it succinctly on Twitter, what works especially well for Cliff Martinez’s score to The Knick is that it’s a “nice choice to go with electronics for a period drama.” In many ways, the use of Martinez’s pulsing, blippy sounds to accompany a story about the dawn of modern surgery, set in New York City in the year 1900, connects the innovations to the past to the data-driven efficiencies of the present. In a way, it’s the reverse of Sherlock, in which the emphasis on string instruments in the score connect the contemporary Holmes story to the original character. Milan Records, which is releasing the score to the first season, has posted three tracks. They’re more in the Tangerine Dreamy style of Martinez’s work on Contagion and Drive than the in the ambient mode of his sex, lies, and videotape and Solaris. Steven Soderbergh, who directed all those films with the exception of Drive, is the creative force behind The Knick.

In an interview with Adam Bryant at tvguide.com, Martinez explains how a particular aspect of his style made its way into this period piece:

“The most important thing that Steven usually does that outlines the approach is that he sends me a rough cut of the picture. The big curveball in The Knick was that temporary music [he used] as he was editing — he was using my music from Drive and Contagion and Spring Breakers, which was a surprise because it didn’t acknowledge the period whatsoever. In fact, it kind of went in the opposite direction,” Martinez tells TVGuide.com. “At first it seemed like a risk because the whole idea of the show was to try to put the viewer in 1900 in New York and everything was pulling in that direction except for the music. I had a phone call with Steven and then I just said, ‘Are you sure you want to do this?’ He said, ‘Yeah. It’s going to be all electronic. It’s going to be modern. That’s intentional.’ And after a few weeks, it had become the sound of the show.”

Tracks originally posted at soundcloud.com/milanrecords.

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This book + beverage thing. Kim Gordon’s Is It My Body? + seltzer.

Cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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Backward Masking the Back Catalog

A reverse homage by Blevin Blectum

If “Entrenched Walking” by Blevin Blectum seems like it could be an old Michael Jackson song — or something else of his era — played in reverse, the impression has some founding beyond the track’s sonics, beyond the mid-tempo gait that has the slipstream and blunted affect of audio that has been backward-masked, beyond the transitions between chorus and verse that are more sudden than the norm, beyond the funhouse-mirror of pop that the overall track suggests. While Blectum on SoundCloud simply annotated the piece as “from the ash heap of moderately ancient history,” an old Facebook post of hers fills in some blanks. The track was intended as part of something titled Silk Ears from Sows’ Purses, which as the name suggests was about turning something into something else, perhaps by way of improvement:

“these are things I made for friends out of their most / least favorite bad music ;)

“not sure where these will go / are going either. obviously, some copyright issues here…”

When the magazine The Wire included the track as part of a setlist back in June 2008, the audio was listed as “not yet released.” Blectum posted this to SoundCloud about six months ago.

Track originally posted to soundcloud.com/blevinblectum. Her home page is at blevinblectum.com.

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