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.

tag: audio-games

Life After Nintendo

Shiny chiming jangles made in Nanoloop

20131206-nanoloop

There are several dozen tracks thus far in the “sound diary” credited on SoundCloud to Corruption, who gives as a residence Funabashi, Japan. Many are noisy escapades, tagged simply as “sound diary,” while the one dated “2013.11.19″ and given the subtitle “like a moth to a candle” bears a second tag: Nanoloop. That’s the name of a popular piece of electronic music software that originated on the Nintendo Gameboy and has been since ported to iOS and Android. What was, back in 1998, an esoteric dream of handheld music-making has become pop culture, an everyday activity. In Corruption’s hands, Nanoloop makes sequences of shiny chiming jangles that ebb and flow like a low-resolution tide. There’s a glitchy quality to it at times, lending the work a welcome complexity, a dark undercurrent to its slow pace. Corruption does not identify which edition of Nanoloop is employed.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/corrption. More on Nanoloop at nanoloop.com. The above screenshots are from the Android version.

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disquiet.gizmodo.com

On Disquiet.com now participating in the Gizmodo ecosystem

These are two things that I think Geoff Manaugh, editor-in-chief of the technology and design blog Gizmodo.com, didn’t know about me when he asked if I’d consider bringing Disquiet.com beneath his website’s expanding umbrella.

1: My “to re-blog” bookmark file has been packed in recent months with scores of items from pretty much all of the Gizmodo-affiliated sites — not just Gizmodo, but io9.com, Lifehacker, Jalopnik, Gawker, and Kotaku. Probably Jezebel and Deadspin, too, but the file is too thick for me to tell.

2: Pretty much the first thing that I read every morning with my coffee — well, every weekday morning — is the “Morning Spoilers” at io9.com, the great science fiction website that is part of the Gawker network that also contains Gizmodo.

I knew Manaugh’s work from BLDGBLOG and, before that, Dwell Magazine. He’d previously invited me to involve the weekly experimental music/sound project series that I run, the Disquiet Junto, in the course on the architecture of the San Andreas Fault that he taught in spring 2013 at Columbia University’s graduate school of architecture. And I am excited to work with him again.

And so, there is now a cozy disquiet.gizmodo.com subdomain URL where I’ll be syndicating — simulposting — material from Disquiet.com, as well as doing original straight-to-Gizmodo writing. I’m hopeful that members of the Gizmodo readership might further expand the already sizable ranks of the Disquiet Junto music projects (we just completed one based on a post from Kotaku), and I’ll be posting notes from the course I teach on “sound in the media landscape” at the Academy of Art here in San Francisco.

For new readers of Disquiet, the site’s purview is as follows:

* Listening to Art.

* Playing with Audio.

* Sounding Out Technology.

* Composing in Code.

I’ll take a moment to break that down:

Listening to Art: Attention to sound art has expanded significantly this year, thanks in no small part to the exhibit Soundings: A Contemporary Score at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. That exhibit, which ran from August 10 through November 3, featured work by such key figures as Susan Philipsz (whose winning of the Turner Prize inspired an early music compilation I put together), Carsten Nicolai (whom I profiled in the new Red Bull Music Academy book For the Record), and Stephen Vitiello (whom I’ve interviewed about 911 and architectural acoustics, and who has participated in the Disquiet Junto). But if “sound art” is art for which music is both raw material and subject matter, my attention is just as much focused on what might better be described as the role of “sound in art,” of the depictions of audio in various media (the sound effects in manga, for example) and the unintended sonic components of art beyond sound art, like the click and hum of a slide carousel or the overall sonic environment of a museum. Here’s video of Tristan Perich’s “Microtonal Wall” from the MoMA exhibit:

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Playing with Audio: If everything is, indeed, a remix, that is a case most clearly made in music and experimental sound. From the field recordings that infuse much ambient music to the sampling of hip-hop to the rapturous creative reuse that proliferates on YouTube and elsewhere, music as raw material is one of the most exciting developments of our time. Terms like “remix” and “mashup” and “mixtape” can been seen to have originated or otherwise gained cachet in music, and as they expand into other media, we learn more about them, about the role such activities play in culture. And through the rise of audio-game apps, especially in iOS, such “playing with sound” has become all the more common — not just the work of musicians but of audiences, creating a kind of “active listening.” This notion of reuse, of learning about music and sound by how it is employed after the fact, plays a big role in my forthcoming book for the 33 1/3 series. My book is about Aphex Twin’s album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, and it will be published on February 13, 2014, just weeks ahead of the record’s 20th anniversary. As part of my research for the book, I spoke with many individuals who had come to appreciate the Aphex Twin album by engaging with it in their own work, from composers who had transcribed it for more “traditional” instruments (such as chamber ensembles and solo guitar), to choreographers and sound designers, to film directors.

Sounding Out Technology: A briefer version of the Disquiet.com approach is to look at “the intersection of sound, art, and technology.” The term “technology” is essential to that trio, because it was only when I learned to step back from my fascination with electronically produced music and to appreciate “electronic” as a subset of the vastly longer continuum of “technology” that connections became more clear to me — say, between the sonics of raves and the nascent polyphony of early church music, or between creative audio apps like Brian Eno and Peter Chilvers’ Bloom and what is arguably the generative ur-instrument: the aeolian harp. With both Bloom and the aeolian harp, along with its close relative the wind chime, music is less a fixed composition than a system that is enacted. As technology mediates our lives more and more, the role that sound plays in daily life becomes a richer and richer subject — from voice-enabled devices, to the sounds of consumer product design, to the scores created for electric cars:

Composing in Code: Of all the technologies to come to the fore in the past two decades, perhaps none has had an impact greater than computer code. This is no less true in music and sound than it is in publishing, film, politics, health, or myriad other fields. While the connections between mathematics and music have been celebrated for millennia, there is something special to how, now, those fields are combining, notably in graphic systems such as Max/MSP (and Max for Live, in Ableton) and Puredata (aka Pd), just to name two circumstances. Here, for reference, is a live video of the Dutch musician and sound artist Edo Paulus’ computer screen as he constructs and then performs a patch in Max/MSP. Where the construction ends and the performance begins provides a delightful koan:

All of which said, I’m not 100-percent clear what form my disquiet.gizmodo.com activity will take. I’m looking forward to experimenting in the space. I’ll certainly be co-posting material from Disquiet.com, but I’m also planning on engaging with Gizmodo itself, and with its broader network of sites. I’ve already, in advance of this post, begun re-blogging material from Gizmodo and from Gizmodo-affiliated sites: not just “sharing” (in the UI terminology of the Kinja CMS that powers the network) but adding some contextual information, thoughts, tangents, details. I’m enthusiastic about Kinja, in particular how it blurs the lines between author and reader. I like that a reply I make to a post about a newly recreated instrument by Leonardo Da Vinci can then appear in my own feed, leading readers back to the original site, where they themselves might join in the conversation. Kinja seems uniquely focused on multimedia as a form of commentary — like many CMS systems, it allows animated GIFs and short videos to serve as blog comments unto themselves, but it goes the step further of allowing users to delineate rectangular sub-sections of previously posted images and comment on those. I’m intrigued to see how sound can fit into that approach. (It’s no surprise to me that Kinja is innovative in this regard — it’s on Lifehacker that I first learned about the syntax known as “markdown.”) I think that all, cumulatively, makes for a fascinating media apparatus, and I want to explore it.

While I typed this post, it was Tuesday in San Francisco. I live in the Outer Richmond District, just north of Golden Gate Park and a little over a mile from the Pacific Ocean. The season’s first torrential rain has passed, and so the city sounds considerably more quiet than it did just a few days ago. No longer is the noise of passing automobiles amplified and augmented by the rush of water, and the roof above my desk is no longer being pummeled. But where there is the seeming peace of this relative quiet, there is also an increased diversity of listening material. The ear can hear further, as it were — not just to conversations in the street and to passing cars, but to construction blocks away, to leaf blowers, to a seaplane overhead, to the sound of a truck backing up at some considerable distance, and to the many birds that (unlike what I was accustomed to, growing up on the north shore of New York’s Long Island) do not all vacate the area come winter. It is shortly past noon as I hit the button to make this post go live. Church bells have sung a duet with the gurgling in my belly to remind me it is time for lunch. And because it is Tuesday, the city’s civic warning system has rung out. 

Dim sum, anyone?

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Cues: Deaf Gaming, Twang Bar Noise, Tank Preservation, …

Plus: a 30-part sound documentary on BBC, the history of Celluloid Records, and more

Deaf Gaming: Interesting anecdote from a recent gamasutra.com piece on the late video game creator Kenji Eno, written by Brandon Sheffield. The “Eno” in this is, of course, Kenji (not Brian), and the Saturn is the Sega game console from the mid-1990s:

“For his next game, Sega wanted to make it an exclusive — whatever it was. Eno had recently met with some sight-impaired folks who liked to play action games, and he asked himself, “What if you made a game that the blind and the sighted could play equally?” So he created the game Real Sound, which is an audio-only retail game, and made Sega promise that if he made the game exclusive to them, they would donate 1,000 Saturns to blind people, and he would supply 1,000 copies of the game. Again, this was an unusual idea for 1996, but he felt the stagnancy of the industry, and went to great lengths to shake it up.”

Surround Sound: The Tank is a 60’ x 30′ vessel — a “rusted steel water tank” in the words of its caretaker, Bruce Odland, who has made use of its inherent 40-second reverb since 1976. He’s set up a kickstarter.com campaign to ensure its future use:

The campaign ends March 31, 2013. More on the project at kickstarter.com. (Thanks for the tip go to Joshua Izenberg, whose film Slomo just won the Documentary Short prize among the Short Film Jury Awards at the 2013 SXSW festival. Jeremiah Moore, the sound designer on Slomo, is apparently also involved in this Tank project.)

Electretymologies: There’s a hair’s-breadth matter of word choice in today’s “playlist” by Jon Pareles in the New York Times. In a single column he reviews six records. For SuunsImages du Futur he mentions “the repeating synthesizer tones of early electro.” For How to Destroy AngelsWelcome Oblivion he mentions both “dank electronic sounds” and how “the electronics mostly give way to the acoustic.” And for Draco Rosa’s Vida he mentions “dipping into new wave, Caribbean styles, electronica and, at the end, hard-rock blasts.” The emphasis is mine. Those are four distinct terms, all variations on a core root prefix, all used in close proximity: electro, electronic, electronics, and electronica.

Twang Bar Theory: This is pretty great. Over at youtube.com, Adrian Belew (King Crimson, Talking Heads, Nine Inch Nails) as part of the Chicago Humanities Festival back in 2011, discussing the “history and future of guitar noise”:

The event opened with a guitar solo, to set the tone, as it were, for the event, and there’s a third section as well.

Docusound Platform: Promotional video for the site docusound.org, “a platform for producing and distributing audio documentaries”:

Sonifying Auckland: Sound designer Tim Prebble, along with filmmaker Denise Batchelor, is a 2013 artist in residence of the Auckland regional parks system. Details at scoop.co.nz. Here is description from the announcement: “He’ll record local native birdcalls, slow the recordings to allow notation and then ‘play with this as the DNA of music’, embellishing and orchestrating it. On completion, his music will be played at a local venue and a CD, tentatively called The Bird Song Preludes, will be available after his residency.” More from Prebble at musicofsound.co.nz.

Celluloid Heroes: The first of two parts of a documentary about Celluloid Records, over at youtube.com, featuring among others Bill Laswell, DXT (formerly Grand Mixer DST), and label founder Jean Karakos:

Re-scanning: Great interview at thequietus.com with Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud, about his range of activities. He goes project by project, talking about his early work with the technology from which he took his name (“The scanner was connected directly into a tape deck the whole time. This was ’91, ’92, this was anticipating an idea of the internet, there was no access to this kind of networked world that we’re so comfortable with today. These voices and accessing them suddenly took you into a very private place that you could never otherwise be in.”), collaborating with filmmaker Derek Jarman and artist Mike Kelley, and “re-soundtrack[ing]” the final two minutes of Michelangelo Antonioni’s L’eclisse, and much more.

In Brief: There’s a 30-part audio documentary titled Noise: A Human History being presented starting tomorrow, March 18, on BBC 4 by David Hendy of the School of Media, Film and Music at the University of Sussex: bbc.co.uk (via bl.uk). ¶ The palmsounds.net provides a brief overview of a talk Rob Thomas (of Reality Jockey) gave in London about mobile music. ¶ In the Field: The Art of Field Recording is a new book containing interviews with artists whose work employs field recordings. Among those are Andrea Polli, Christina Kubisch, Francisco López, Hildegard Westerkamp, Jez Riley French, and Lasse-Marc Riek. (Thanks for the tip, John Kannenberg.) ¶ “Why Do People Use ‘Nope’ Even Though ‘No’ Is Shorter?” (at slate.com, via Quora). The short version is that “no” may have half as many letters but the hard stop at the end of “nope” arguably makes it more succinct. The author, Marc Ettlinger, has other theories as well, including an informative bit on “sound symbolism.” ¶ Robert Henke, aka Monolake, is coming to the San Francisco Bay Area as a visiting instructor at CCRMA, the computer music department at Stanford University. In a warm-welcome gesture, the department made the page announcing his course look just like a page from Henke’s own monolake.de website. ¶ That White House petition to make unlocking cellphones legal, mentioned here recently, has gained President Obama’s support. ¶ The 62nd Disquiet Junto project had 44 participants, each making music from three sine waves. ¶ Here’s a recording of Steve Reich’s “Radio Rewrite,” his new adaptation of Radiohead’s “Jigsaw Falling Into Place” and “Everything in Its Right Place”: youtube.com. (Note, it’s audio only. Found via the indispensable rgable.typepad.com.)

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Stems: Eno Studies, Aural Antagonism, Sonic Diptychs, …

Plus: update on my recent film project, TV sound, politics, more

Imminent Audio: Saying “Tuesday at midnight” or “Wednesday at midnight” can mean different things to different people, so to be clear: On the midnight when Tuesday, November 20, meets Wednesday, November 21, I will be guest DJing for two hours on the web-streamed radio show “The World of Wonder” on KUSF in Exile. Thanks to drum machine innovator Matt Davignon for inviting me to handle the duties. It will stream at savekusf.org. The show will emphasize various aspects of minimalist sound: quietude, rhythmic simplicity, texture, and more. And that’s Pacific Time. And it will be archived within a day of the broadcast, and I’ll post that here when it’s available. The show includes music from, among others, Dance Robot Dance, Emma Hendrix, Garth Knox, Kate Carr, Anton Lukoszevieze, Scanner, all n4tural, Natalia Kamia, and jmmy kpple.

Two Disquiet Concerts: More on these very soon, but if you’re in Manhattan or San Francisco, please note that Disquiet Junto concerts are coming your way, soon. The Manhattan show will be at the gallery apexart on November 27, a Tuesday, at 6:30pm. The lineup: Brian Biggs (aka Dance Robot Dance), Ethan Hein, Shawn Kelly (aka Whyarcka), Kenneth Kirschner, Tom Moody, and Roddy Schrock (with Joon Oluchi Lee). The theme will be mechanized music made from field recordings of retail spaces, as part of the “As Real As It Gets” exhibit, organized by Rob Walker. ◼ The San Francisco show will be at the gallery the Luggage Store on December 6, a Thursday, at 8:00pm. The lineup: Cullen Miller, Clarke Robinson, Jared Smith, Subnaught, and Andrew Weathers (see facebook.com). The theme is yet to be announced.

Site Maintenance: A minor note, but this section of occasional tidbits and observations has long been called “Tangents,” and will no longer be. Now it’s going to be called “Stems.” The old term, “tangents,” suggested something that dissipated over time. The term “stems” comes from music production; it refers to a subset of material that’s been mixed down (collated, reduced) to aid in the subsequent production process. It’s a mid-stage, and thus it’s closer to the “outboard brain” (I think that’s a Cory Doctorow coinage) approach the “Tangents” postings have long served. (And if I appear to be doing these more often than I had in awhile, it’s true. I credit much of this activity to my adoption of the markdown “text-to-HTML conversion” approach, which speeds up things considerably. Seriously considerably.)

Eno-ology: One of the great things about a great new Brian Eno album — in this case, Lux — is the inevitable flood: a lot of writing about Eno. Geeta Dayal, in what I think is her first slate.com piece, notes that falling asleep to an Eno album is a compliment, not a criticism. ◼ Of course, Eno is ubiquitous, meaning that sometimes coverage of his work simply happens to coincide with him being in the news for a particular reason; in his plos.one blog, NeuroTribes, Steve Silberman queries 10 authors on the music they work to, among them David Dobbs, who notes not only Eno’s fixed recordings but his software:

… I rely on two staples:

First, a shuffled play of Brian Eno’s ambient albums, such as Music for Airports; second, an ingenious iPod app Eno made called Trope. You tap and rub the screen for a moment, fingerpaint-style, to set the texture for a Music for Airports-like ambient soundscape that will play indefinitely. I’ve done some great planning and some of my better writing lately with that going. The one danger is that the fine ambience and healthy relaxed Zenlike state it produces can convince you you’re getting good work done when it turns out … well, you’re not. A couple times I fell asleep.

When that happens, I get up, turn the volume up to 11, and put on some Led Zeppelin…

Sonic Weapons: I tend to disagree that the world is louder than it used to be. I think noise pollution is often a matter of individual perspective, of mood, of context. To be clear: I am not denying that humankind is leaving more of a prominent mark in places, zones, territories, it once left sacrosanct, or simply neglected — I’m speaking specifically of the built environment, of places (towns, cities, public spaces, workplaces) that are by definition humankind’s territory. In a New York Times essay (“The Quiet Ones”), Tim Kreider, a frequent flyer in the Quiet Car on Amtrak, describes how despite his concern for what he perceives as an annoyingly louder-than-ever world, he found himself “on the wrong side of the fight”:

I was sitting in my seat, listening to music at a moderate volume on headphones and writing on my laptop, when the man across the aisle — the kind you’d peg as an archivist or musicologist — signaled to me.

“Pardon me, sir,” he said. “Maybe you’re not aware of it, but your typing is disturbing people around you. This is the Quiet Car, where we come to be free from people’s electronic bleeps and blatts.” He really said “bleeps and blatts.”

“I am a devotee of the Quiet Car,” I protested. And yes, I said “devotee.” We really talk like this in the Quiet Car; we’re readers. “I don’t talk on my cellphone or have loud conversations — ”

“I’m not talking about cellphone conversations,” he said, “I’m talking about your typing, which really is very loud and disruptive.”

After each reproach they would lower their voices for a while, but like a grade-school cafeteria after the lunch monitor has yelled for silence, the volume crept inexorably up again. It was soft but incessant, and against the background silence, as maddening as a dripping faucet at 3 a.m.

For the record, as I’ve said in the past, I think perceiving this matter of “noise versus silence” as a fight is part of the problem. Noise is metaphor as much as it is a visceral experience. Noise is, in many ways, antagonism — and a fight is often a matter of antagonism, whichever “side” you’re on.

Hearing Aid: Light may travel more significantly more speedily than does sound, but Seth S. Horowitz argues that what’s heard is experienced more quickly than what’s seen:

Studies have shown that conscious thought takes place at about the same rate as visual recognition, requiring a significant fraction of a second per event. But hearing is a quantitatively faster sense.

That’s from his recent (and widely circulated) essay “The Science and Art of Listening” from the New York Times. Horowitz is the author of the excellent book The Universal Sense: How Hearing Shapes the Mind.

Like Kreider above, Horowitz is concerned about the pressures of modernization on the senses (“Listening is a skill that we’re in danger of losing in a world of digital distraction and information overload”), but he is more attuned to the role context and consciousness plays: “your brain works like a set of noise-suppressing headphones,” he says. He argues in part for listening as a skill an individual can acquire, in contrast with the more systemic approach that Quiet Car devotee Kreider seems to be aiming for.

Curses, Foiled: Speaking of noise as metaphor, the website wtflevel.com provides “Real-time updates on twitter swearing.” Since I tend to curse more out of enthusiasm than anger, I am intrigued by how the service adjusts for this. In any case, the website is pretty f’ing awesome. Sample data output here:

I think the waveform could be of use in a future Disquiet Junto project — read it as a graphically notated score, like we did the polling data from the recent U.S. presidential election.

Moon Unit: Quick little interview at greyshading.com with Moon Zero, whose “Budapest” drone was noted here fondly recently. Turns out the city played a role in his sonic development:

I want the audio to take on a life of its own, to be constantly pulsing and shifting. I love contrasts as well, beautiful sounds hidden by noise, things like that.

I’m at a strange place at the moment because my sound seems to be more and more influenced by religion, which is funny as I consider myself an atheist. I think its their sense of “epic” that inspires me. Big spaces and big bombast. It started when I was staying at a friends house in Budapest a couple of months ago. On Sunday morning this huge sound woke me up. His flat was next to St Peters Basilica and the sound was the bells tolling. It was so intense, but beautiful at the same time. I’ve recorded in churches in the past and this is something I’d like to do more of, although sadly it’s not easy finding one that’s sympathetic to ambient music.

Tech-nique: Mark Rushton continues to report on his use of Google Hangouts, and in this case on his employment of a newly popular iOS app, Samplr.

Math Tip: If you’re trying to add lengths of various tracks (e.g., combine the length of a handful of songs when estimating the length of a planned podcast), this is a handy tool: dollartimes.com.

Surreal Politik: Old news, but nonetheless: the irony when a political campaign doesn’t fully comprehend the provenance of its source music extends beyond the opposition by pop stars to staples of the American classical repertoire: theatlanticwire.com.

Sonic Diptychs: The great youtubemultiplier.com site was introduced to me by the talented and insightful Samuel Landry, and since his initial mention I’ve seen and received many others. The service lets you easily play two or more (up to eight) YouTube videos side by side, simultaneously. The previous link goes to a Landry (aka @le_berger on Twitter) cocktail of Steve Reich, Arvo Pärt, and Stephan Mathieu. The service is wonderful if only for letting me now, whenever I want, play one of my favorite sonic diptychs: Brian Eno’s Thursday Afternoon + DJ Krush’s Kakusei.

Doc Update: The documentary film The Children Next Door, for which I handled music supervision and share sound-design credit with the talented Taylor Deupree, won a special jury prize at the DOC NYC last Thursday. Trailer here:

It shares the award with the film Julian. DOC NYC said of the pair: “two powerful and intimate short films that capture the struggles of a pair of families as they battle through emotional confusion following devastating and violent tragedies” (docnyc.net). More at thechildrennextdoor.com. The movie was directed by Doug Block and produced by Lynda Hansen. So far it has shown at three film festivals: the Hamptons, Denver, and DOC NYC. Major thanks to the DOC NYC Shorts Competition category’s jurors: Natalie Difford (Cinereach), Vikram Gandhi (Kumaré), and Dan Nuxoll (Rooftop Films). And there’s a wonderful review of the film at sundancenow.com by Anthony Kaufman: “Though only 36 minutes, The Children Next Door attains a level of pathos as deep as any feature-length documentary.”

Listening to TV: (1) The Good Wife, in the episode a week and a day ago (“Anatomy of a Joke”), did a solid, humorous job of handling matters of censorship. As “ripped from the headlines” TV goes — there’s been increasing talk of late of networks easing their standards regarding adult material — it managed to be both outlandish and subtle. In the opening sequence, a character played by Christina Ricci is on the stand, under oath, being prosecuted for exposing her breasts on national television. When the opposing attorney interrogates her, she asks him what words he finds offensive (“What do you mean ‘vulgar’?”) and he can only muster, “It rhymes with ‘bits.’” She asks if we’re eight-year-olds here, and proceeds to say the offending word out loud (four letters, but only in the plural form), and not only does traffic noise obscure the verbalization, but the camera passes so that her face is momentarily covered by the attorney’s back, just at the moment she would be mouthing the word. The room’s guards are seen, as if in a Laurel and Hardy film, repeatedly trying to close a window to keep traffic noise from interfering. ◼ (2) Last week’s episode of NCIS: Los Angeles (“Rude Awakenings”) was the second part of a two-part sequence, focused on previously undisclosed personal matters involving the character of an agent played by LL Cool J. The show has more to its credit than it gets credit for, though its primary pleasure is likely the fact that on weekly basis the most unlikely pairing of LL Cool (“Mama Said Knock You Out”) and Linda Hunt (The Killing Fields) can be seen sparring or scheming, sometimes both at the same time. In any case, pretty much every episode of NCIS: Los Angeles ends with a little voiceover by Hunt’s characer, Hetty, after the screen goes dark. In a telling bit of tension-building, this time around, the credits were silent. It’s a small thing, but sometimes in sound design, the small things are the biggest things, especially when they’re silent, especially when that silent is a nod to, an acknowledgement of, the audience’s attention. In addition, there was a nice little bit at the start of the episode when a character previously disguised as a delivery person approached a home, presumed to be owned by a sleeper Soviet (yes, Soviet — not modern Russia) agent, and the pace of the music exactly matched her footsteps. Again, a small moment, but given how much TV music can sound like it was selected from a catalog with all the nuance of a Google image search, a good moment — especially when paired with the employment of Heddy’s silence at the episode’s end. ◼ (3) Finally, as @solidsignal noted on Twitter, Fringe did it again:

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Jukebox Hero

How Paul Lamere's genius web app mimics the human brain

It’s been tremendous to watch Paul Lamere‘s Infinite Jukebox get covered so widely. Brian Eno’s widely reviewed recent Lux album is getting rightful credit for bringing the concept of generative sound (back) into public view, but Lamere’s Jukebox is doing so not through the alternate backdoor aesthetic of ambient music, but right through the front door by employing standard pop songs as its source material. The Infinite Jukebox web application takes an individual song (feel free to upload your own) and creates an endless version by breaking it into segments and locating “pathways” that can be linked to each other in an ever-changing, random sequence.

I don’t have much to add on it at the moment except: (1) I think the major pleasure of the project may be how it replicates how our memories actually play back songs in our heads: not as pristine or even “worldized” recordings, a la Dennis Potter (The Singing Detective) or Walter Murch (American Graffiti), but as snatches that replay at an inconsistent pace and with varying attention to specific elements; (2) I am intrigued by the copyright ramifications — how do you bill/charge or otherwise claim royalty payments for such usage; (3) in my experience you can glitch up the Infinite Jukebox by playing it in a Chrome browser tab that isn’t the front-most tab; this causes the tune to skip, or in contemporary parlance, to enter an especially narrow, recursive pathway; and (4) do start using it: at echonest.com.

The Infinite Jukebox was developed by Lamere, who is Director of Developer Platform at Echo Nest. More on it at his musicmachinery.com website.

And speaking of which, there’s was a great feature on the company in a recent issue of Fortune (PDF) by Rob Walker, who organized the current “As Real As It Gets” exhibit at apexart in Manhattan, for which the Disquiet Junto provided sound design.

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