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: live-performance

Bulgarian Dread

A live set from the Sofia Underground Festival

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Multiple monikers utilized by a single artist can be confusing to listeners, yet provide orientation for the musicians who adopt them. Take the Bulgaria-based Mytrip, whose work has been covered here in the past, often as an exploration of subsumed tones that push at the contours of rhythm and melody. When planning a set at the Sofia Underground Festival this year, he opted for another name, Dayin, which should not be mistaken for a brighter outlook. Quite the contrary, he states in a brief liner note to the uploaded recording, “I decided to go a bit darker and deeper.” The result is a haunting half hour of ghostly chatter and dense drones:

Track originally posted for free download soundcloud.com/dayin. More on the Sofia Underground Performance Art Festival at sofiaunderground.com.

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Reel-to-Unreal

The tape-loop decay of Howlround

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Don’t let William Basinski get all the Google search returns for “ambient decay tape loops.” Save some for Howlround, which pairs Robin the Fog and Chris Weaver, who use reel-to-reel machines to make sounds as rough as they are fragile, as ephemeral as the are rooted in texture. This audio is sourced from what was, apparently, their first ever live performance, back in May 2013, as part of the Great Escape Festival in Brighton (MP3):

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Track originally posted for free download at part of the Touch Radio series at touchradio.org.uk. More from the duo at howlround.co.uk and twitter.com/howlroundmusic.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0115: Mediated Solo Duet

Record a duet with yourself, divided by a wall.

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Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com 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.

This project was published in the evening, California time, on Thursday, March 13, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, March 17, 2014, as the deadline.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0115: Mediated Solo Duet

Here are the steps for this week’s project:

Step 1: Choose a recent piece of music you’ve recorded.

Step 2: Play it very loud in an adjacent room.

Step 3: Close the door to the adjacent room.

Step 4: Accompany the track live, and record your performance. Capture your live playing and the muffled original track.

Step 5: Upload the file to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud and describe your approach and process in the text field associated with the track. If possible, include a link to the original piece for comparison listening.

Step 6: Listen to other members’ tracks as they appear in the Disquiet Junto feed on SoundCloud, and comment on them when you have the time.

Deadline: Monday, March 17, 2014, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be between 2 minutes and 5 minutes.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, 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.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0115-wallduet” in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

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, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 115th Disquiet Junto project — “Record a duet with yourself, divided by a wall” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/03/13/disquiet0115-wallduet/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/?p=16588

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/

Image associated with this project is by Paul Flannery, via a Creative Commons license:

https://flic.kr/p/5728WH

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Aphex Twin 33 1/3: March 20 Talk at City Lights

Several musicians will be joining me for this event.

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The first scheduled reading for my forthcoming book on Aphex Twin’s album Selected Ambient Works Volume II for the 33 1/3 series will be at the storied City Lights bookstore in San Francisco’s North Beach neighborhood. Several musicians will be joining me for this event. More details on them as the date nears. It’s scheduled for 7:00pm. on March 20, 2014. City Lights Bookstore is located at 261 Columbus Avenue. Here’s the description of the event from the citylights.com website:

Discussion / Concert exploring themes from Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II

with Marc Weidenbaum & Friends

Marc Weidenbaum is the author of a new book on the British electronic musician Aphex Twin’s landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Volume II. The book was published this February, 2014, on the album’s 20th anniversary by the estimable 33 1/3 series. In addition to reading from the book and taking questions about his research and writing, Weidenbaum has invited several musicians to City Lights to perform explorations of themes — not melodies so much as ideas — from the Aphex Twin album.

Extravagantly opaque, willfully vaporous — Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II, released by the estimable British label Warp Records in 1994, rejuvenated ambient music for the Internet Age that was just dawning. Faithful to Brian Eno’s definition of ambient music, Selected Ambient Works Volume II was intentionally functional: it furnished chill out rooms, the sanctuaries amid intense raves. Choreographers and film directors began to employ it to their own ends, and in the intervening decades this background music came to the fore, adapted by classical composers who reverse-engineer its fragile textures for performance on acoustic instruments. This book contends that despite a reputation for being beat-less, the album exudes percussive curiosity, providing a sonic metaphor for our technologically mediated era of countless synchronized nanosecond metronomes.

Marc Weidenbaum founded Disquiet.com, which is focused on the intersection of sound, art, and technology, in 1996. A former editor of Tower Records’ Pulse! magazine, he’s written for Nature, Boing Boing, and the website of The Atlantic. He’s commissioned compositions from such musicians as Scanner, Steve Roden, and Stephen Vitiello, and lectures on the role of sound in the media landscape. He lives in San Francisco.

The book is due out on February 13, 2014.

Photo by Steve Rhodes via Creative Commons and flickr.com.

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A Festivus of Sound

After Thanksgiving comes Phil Kline's "Unsilent Night."

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Tomorrow may be one of the more beloved holidays on the United States’ calendar, but a global secular holiday with a moveable dateline and a growing following begins soon after. This is “Unsilent Night,” the brainchild of composer Phil Kline. Each year in cities around the world, people gather with boomboxes and CD players, Bluetooth speakers and makeshift portable audio systems, and they create a lovely collaborative din. Kline’s “Unsilent Night” consists of four complementary (and complimentary — they’re free to download) recordings of sheer sonic tinsel. Individually they are enjoyable to listen to, but the real pleasure comes in hearing them played in near simultaneity on dozens of different audio players as you walk through the city.

When played in public on Unsilent Night, the tracks are delightfully discordant even beyond the intended combination of Kline’s four jigsaw compositions. First of all, no two people start their systems at the exact same time, and the lack of true sync lends the music an echo effect. Second, the playback varies from device to device: well-worn cassette tapes played against high-fidelity CDs, bass-heavy Jamboxes joining in a robot choir with tinny old RadioShack computer speakers. From a distance, it can look like a Say Anything flash mob. Up close, the chiming percussives bring to mind minimalist composer Steve Reich at his most ebullient.

The calendar is being updated at unsilentnight.com/schedule.html. Right now the earliest date is December 6 in Indianapolis, Indiana. Other dates include New York City, where the work originated 21 years ago in Greenwich Village, on December 14; Brussels, Belgium, on December 14; Los Angeles on December 21; and Kansas City, Missouri, on December 8. As of this writing, dates for San Francisco and Montreal, among numerous other cities, are not yet set.

If you bring a boombox to the event, tapes and CDs are usually available, albeit in limited quantities. There are also Android (in the Amazon app store) and iOS apps.

Here’s a video about “Unsilent Night,” filmed to celebrate its 20th anniversary:

More on the composer Phil Kline, who is working on an opera about Nikola Tesla with Jim Jarmusch, at philkline.com. Photo from a San Francisco Unsilent Night shot by Steve Rhodes, via flickr.com.

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