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.

Two Irish Musicians Channel a Snowstorm

Linda Buckley teams up with Mmoths

In a collaboration with Mmoths (aka Jack Colleran), Linda Buckley has produced this deep, echoing, five-minute stretch of digitally enhanced vocalizing. (Buckley, like Colleran, is Irish.) As the piece proceeds, quick bits of glitch begin to infect it, positing fissures amid the otherwise cloud-like spaciousness, the fog-rich expanse of soft vocals that is the overall content and shape of the piece. In effect, the track, which is titled “Seventeen Snow,” sets a particular tone and then introduces a direct contrast, challening itself to remain true to the initial path, despite the disturbance, the artful act of self-sabotage. It does so, expertly. And if we’re in for a long winter, then listening to “Seventeen Snow” on repeat will be a fine way to spend it.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/linda-buckley. More from Buckley at lindabuckley.org. More from Mmoths at soundcloud.com/mmoths.

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Carla Fra Størup’s Sine Wave Infill

Haunting tone layers from Denmark

The SoundCloud account of Carla ɟra Helles7ed appears to be that of performer and musician Carla Fra Størup, who is based in Denmark. The track “41 47 59” is two minutes and twenty two seconds of held organ-like drone, with layers of additional tones shooting in like laser beams and layering atop each other like pancakes. It’s all white noise and sine wave infill painstakingly compounding the initial horror-movie vibe. There’s insect vibrations and waveform counterpoint, B-movie thrills and industrial dread. When it loops through — do play it on repeat — each time you’ll be amazed by how quietly it begins, in purely relative terms. It’s a steady and fairly slow boil of tense, tremory sonics.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/prafix-aztech.

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Beats Fill the Void

Tracks from a new, anonymous SoundCloud rhythm crafter

The SoundCloud account of Ghost, the beat master — that’s the account name: “Ghost, the beat master” — is fairly new. There have been four tracks posted in the last few weeks since it opened for business. It follows one account itself, and it has four followers so far. (It would have five, but SoundCloud limits you to 2,000 follows, and I’ve maxed out. Somehow I’ve managed 2,002, but it won’t budge further. I need to delete an account from my feed for every one I add. It’s a hassle. But SoundCloud has bigger problems these days than my streaming appetite.)

The tracks by Ghost are all beats, not beats in the generic sense, but beats in the sense that they’re intended for re-use, perhaps most expectantly by vocalists, but also to serve some alternate commercial purpose, like backing an advertisement, or providing some drama to a short bit of filmmaking. The tracks are solid. They come with tags distinguishing the genres (two “trap,”” one “Electronic EDM,” one “Hip-hop &rap”), but they’re of a piece. The downbeat is hit hard. The tempo is attractively slow. All of them could be considered, to varying degrees, instrumental hip-hop. Vocal utterances, largely non-verbal but occasionally slurred statements, are part of the mix, more texture than text. “Trap, set & match” is dirge-like, with gunfire and suttering digital snares. “Sample secundo” adds an arcade flair. “Process” layers in sludgy horns — think early DJ Premier — and enough voices to suggest a street scene. And, with a touch of Kanye West’s (and others’) favor for sped-up shrill melismas, “Bad BPM” plays with anthemic keyboard horns and drum trills. More genre-dedicated listeners will catch references lost on me, no doubt.

The account is very much a calling card, with an email address for potential transactions. “Trap, set & match” may be the highlight. It has silences the others avoid, and drops in samples as much for atmosphere as for rhythmic accent:

Check out the full set at soundcloud.com/ghostthebeatmaker. Found thanks to a repost by Ogi feel the Beat of Paracin, Serbia (whose account is nearly maxed out at 1,999 follows).

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Surface Pro 4 Meets a Soft Synth

A little video about touch screen music software

I have a Microsoft Surface Pro 4 for the next few weeks. I don’t think I’m going to keep it, but I may yet switch from my MacBook Air to the Surface Pro 5 when that device comes out, supposedly later this quarter (early 2017). This video is simply a glimpse at how the touch screen works for music, specifically in this case how the Aalto synth, from Madrona Labs, works. Aalto is running here from within Ableton Live. The sound quality is poor because I’m just using my phone for both the video and the audio.

The short version is that the screen is great for this sort of software, something with lots of virtual knobs and patch cords and buttons intended for touchpad/cursor use. Aalto is fine with a keyboard and trackpad, but it’s even better with the touch screen. (Less great was finding an angle that would allow me to play the instrument and yet have the screen fairly visible. This is the best I could manage. I’m not much of a videographer. I annotated the video using iMovie. My iMovie skills are pretty limited, so forgive the junior-grade typography.)

The main thing that happens once you start using a synth like Aalto with a touch screen is that things that aren’t touchable, such as the shape of an envelope, suggest themselves as touchable. Perhaps software will become more touchable as time proceeds, with some features only available on touch screens. As a friend said elsewhere, once some things are touchable, you want everything to be touchable.

Shortly after I posted the video, Randy Jones of Madrona Labs took note of it and said interface adjustments were possible: “Nice. Yes, I could probably do something with those envelope areas.”

In related news, late last year I started this modest subreddit for Surface Pro audio discussion: reddit.com/r/winSurfaceMusic.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0262: Ice Code


The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, 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. A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required. There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, January 9, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, January 5, 2017.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0262: Ice Code

The Assignment: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it.

Welcome to a new year. This week’s project is as follows. It’s the same project we’ve begun each year with since the very first Junto project, back in January 2012. The project is, per tradition, just this one sentence:

Please record the sound of an ice cube rattling in a glass, and make something of it.

Background: Longtime participants in, and observers of, the Disquiet Junto series will recognize this single-sentence assignment — “Please record the sound of an ice cube rattling in a glass, and make something of it” — as the very first Disquiet Junto project, the same one that launched the series back on the first Thursday of January 2012. Revisiting it at the start of each year since has provided a fitting way to begin the new year. At the start of the sixth (!) year of the Disquiet Junto, it is a tradition. A weekly project series can come to overemphasize novelty, and it’s helpful to revisit old projects as much as it is to engage with new ones. Also, by its very nature, the Disquiet Junto suggests itself as a fast pace: a four-day production window, a regular if not weekly habit. It can be beneficial to step back and see things from a longer perspective.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If you hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0262″ (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track.

http://llllllll.co/t/ice-music-years-first-project-disquiet-junto-0262/5990

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

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

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, January 9, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, January 5, 2017.

Length: The length is up to you, but three to four minutes sounds about right.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0262” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, 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.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

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

More on this 262nd weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Ice Code: Record the sound of ice in a glass and make something of it”:

http://disquiet.com/0262/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

llllllll.co/t/ice-music-years-first-project-disquiet-junto-0262/5990

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

Photo associated with this project is by Fabienne D, used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

flic.kr/p/UnB9e

creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

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