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.

Mira Calix’s (Contemporary) Dance Music

A free track, for a limited time

Mira Calix has listed the track as “free download for a limited period.” It’s the latest in a series of single tracks that have been filling out her “portal” on the website. The longtime Warp label roster member and prominent IDMer-turned-sound-artist is at The track was announced on Twitter back on February 2 with an image that combined hostage-demand typography and epileptic-antagonizing flashing. Despite all of which, it’s an elegant piece for varied strings: bowed here, plucked there, stuttering like a rope connected a boat to a pier, aching like a sine wave jutting into the audio spectrum. It could be the score to a contemporary film noir, with all its nuanced tension and romantic scene-setting. What it is is a piece for contemporary dance, as Calix writes in the accompanying note:

metamorphosis i was originally composed for matt clark’s, director of united visual artists, video artwork as part of the 3 scène project commissioned by benjamin milliepied for paris opera in 2016. the video art work, titled metamorphosis, features ballerina eve grinsztajn, and my soundtrack; musicians oliver coates and daniel pioro. i have worked extensively with matt and uva over the years, it’s always a pleasure and truly collaborative process. often you write music to picture or vice a versa, but with this project it was a real back and forth. i set the tempo and wrote the bassline, which matt an the uva used during the initial filming of the dancer to capture her movements. while they were then processing and editing that material, i wrote the rest of the piece, bringing oliver and daniel into record the final score. the entire process taking around 3 months.

Track originally posted at More from Calix at

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Disquiet Junto Project 0267: The Metronomic Society

Create a theme song for a fictional organization.

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, February 13, 2017. This project was posted in the late morning, California time, on Thursday, February 9, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0267: The Metronomic Society
Create a theme song for a fictional organization.

Step 1: There’s a fascinating book from 1988 titled The Metronomic Society. Written by the Michael Young, it is an academic study of the rhythms of human existence, with an emphasis on organization and societal systems. It’s not necessary to read it. It’s just helpful to know where we’re borrowing the term from.

Step 2: Imagine there is an actual group called the Metronomic Society. You might also imagine what they’re up to. Maybe it’s a Man Ray fan club, or a bunch of disgruntled piano tuners, or maybe they explore arcane theories about quantum mechanics. Who knows?

Step 3: Now compose and record a short piece of music — a sound cue, a theme, a sound logo, a jingle — for the Metronomic Society.

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 “disquiet0267″ (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 please consider posting your track:

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, February 13, 2017. This project was posted in the late morning, California time, on Thursday, February 9, 2017.

Length: The length is up to you, depending on the approach you decide upon.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0267″ 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 267th weekly Disquiet Junto project, “The Metronomic Society: Create a theme song for a fictional organization”:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

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

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What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from

It’s been raining in the city. It’s been raining hard on and off for weeks. It’s been raining, and the wind has been knocking down trees. In certain neighborhoods the intense buzz of the chainsaw has become as common a sound as one imagines it to be in rural areas, or in horror movies for that matter. Construction sites in this boomtown have been forced to take days off. Repair vehicles are a frequent block to traffic. People are expressing, albeit in diplomatically hushed tones, that they miss the drought. The rain and wind do their fair share of damage, and of cleansing. The city streets shine at night. The reflection of bus taillights on soaked black tarmac casts red streaks the length of full blocks. Perhaps the elements are to blame, as well, for this blank slate of a doorbell. It’s quite common for dwellings to be marked at multi-unit entries with thick pens, or with little plastic tags affixed by tape. Maybe the rain washed it all away. Though, judging by the uniformity of the buttons, the prim white grid, this is more likely a fresh install. Supporting the impression is the bright grey of the faceplate, and the barren cavity where there might in the future be a doorknob. What visitors are supposed to do in advance of the association of buttons with apartments is an open question. It’s also difficult to imagine how the labels will fit in this design. The spacing is tight. The sense of a geometric grid will diminish should the numbers be placed below or beside each button. Should they be written on the buttons, they’ll be worn away by usage, by friction and sweat. No doubt the landlord is waiting for the inclement weather to pass before labeling the buttons. Soon enough the rain will end, or at least take an extended pause. And then, almost certainly, the implementation of mundane visual damage will begin.

An ongoing series cross-posted from
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Beats from Old-School NYC, via Japan

A split EP of the Speedknots and N.Y. Confidential from Takara Digital

Takara Digital is a new, Japan-based record label releasing out of print and otherwise rare hip-hop. Takara was founded in 2016 by Yuzuru Kishi, and has already published albums from late greats including J Dilla and Big L, as well as still-kicking figures like Pete Rock and MF Doom. As of this writing, there are already 10 albums in the Takara catalog. One recent highlight is The Nineteen Ninety Eight Split EP, which is half the Speedknots and half N.Y. Confidential. Of the EP’s 16 tracks, four are instrumentals (my primary focus as a hip-hop listener). According to the brief accompanying liner note, the two halves of the EP were originally released separately. These are collectors’ items. On, the Speedknots vinyl has sold for as much as $300, and the N.Y. Confidential for close to two thirds of that amount. All the productions are seriously old-school, emphasizing instrumental samples, found sounds, and surface noise. A standout is the slow-paced, loose-limbed “Knotz Landin (Instrumental).” The vocal has a wacky delivery, part Beastie Boys, part Basehead. The instrumental is pure atmosphere, a little organ snippet on repeat above a rim-shot beat, some syncopation provided by what sounds like a broken speaker pushed past its comfort level. The whole thing has a slightly ominous, circus-after-midnight vibe.

Album originally posted at There doesn’t appear to be a website for Takara Digital, just the Bandcamp page.

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The (Other) Helicopter Quartet

Aka Chrissie Caulfield, Michael Capstick, and a floor full of guitar pedals

This Helicopter Quartet isn’t four Stockhausen-annointed violinists in their own individual whirlybirds. This Helicopter Quartet is two musicians — Chrissie Caulfield on violin and Michael Capstick on guitar, and he appears to play a theremin app on a smartphone toward the end of this video — along with a floor full of guitar pedals. The pedals more than fill out the billing, though the duo together strive to eke out as subtle a space as possible. This piece is called “Quiet,” appropriate for a work that for all its myriad constituent parts sounds like one person working alone with a limited toolset, if not a limited palette. It’s all slow, arching tones, looped and layered, the seesaw of a slow lapping of water against a pier, the mood as calm as the deepest recesses of the night.

“Quiet” is a trial run toward a track from the Helicopter Quartet’s forthcoming album. Video originally posted at Chrissie Caulfield’s YouTube channel. It’s the latest piece I’ve added to my ongoing YouTube playlist of fine “Ambient Performances.” More from Caulfield at More from the Helicopter Quartet at

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