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.

tag: live-performance

A Solo Guitar Drone

By Toaster of San Jose, California

The musician Toaster’s tagline on Twitter is “I make music by programming things.” However, the origin of his recent track “Beacon, for Marissa” is not a computer but, instead, a guitar. The piece is a nearly 20-minute solo drone, recorded live. Now, “solo” needn’t simply mean singular. There are several lines that thread through “Beacon,” overtones and grungy throbbing strings among them. And a “drone” needn’t simply imply steady-going. Various aspects of the track suggest a trajectory in the stasis, a direction to the flux. There are pause-like moments early in that focus the ear toward shrill bits of noise, and as the piece progresses its low-tide ebbing and flowing become recognizable, familiar, almost song-like in their patterning. “Beacon” is a beautiful, sedate, peaceful apparition — perhaps not music from programming, but certainly music for programming, and other cerebral tasks.

Track originally posted for free download at More from Toaster, aka Todd Elliott of San Jose, California, at and

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Monochrome Music for Symphony Orchestra

"Textile" by Justė Janulytė of Lithuania


The spare, grey-toned home page of Justė Janulytė describes her simply as “composer of monochrome music.” Her compositions bear that out. Monochrome, however, does not mean simplistic. Where colors fail, textures prevail. Hence her “Textile” for symphony orchestra,” which over the course of seven and a half minutes grows from slender layers of symphonic tonal material. Strings and horns eke out small phrases. As time passes, the meager parts grow, and the orchestra summons a gargantuan swell, and yet “Textile” never gains momentum, only density. True to the work’s title, these slivers of sound are like threads in a piece of fabric that gets larger and larger as the piece progresses.

In a brief description of the piece, she writes:

Textile (2006-2008) for orchestra is a single gesture, one metamorphosis of register, timbre and dynamic. There are no sound attacks used in the score; the only gesture which reflects also the macro form of the piece is the sound emerging and submerging into the silence. The layers of dense texture are based on this gesture, thus evoking an image of underwater pulsations. Even though “Textile” is written for different instruments, the author, who usually writes for the ensemble of the same timbres, is is trying to achieve the “monochrome” aestetics of the sound.

Track originally posted at More from Janulytė, who is Lithuanian, at

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The Industrial Drone

A live recording of Offret (John Spell and Matthew Swiezynski)

Offret is the duo John Spell and Matthew Swiezynski, and “Ester et Iselin” is their nearly 13 minutes of reckoning with mechanical drones. It’s a track of deep tonal loveliness that masks an underlying industrial intent. Beneath the hovering warmth of a dark, low-register moan is an extensive array of factory noise: machine tools, overworked engines, metal shards, acetylene torches. Of course, none of that is actual source audio, necessarily, just associative comparisons of the sounds. The track is a live recording, posted by the Invisible Birds label, made on September 16, 2015.

Track originally posted at More from Spell, Swiezynsky, and Invisible Birds at Track found thanks to a repost by

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Real Future x Junto 0201 (San Francisco, November 7)

A teamup about The Future of Sound at the Real Future Fair

Screen Shot 2015-10-30 at 9.31.10 AM

More details on this shortly, but I’ll be doing a little presentation/spiel/performance on Saturday, November 7, in San Francisco as part of (The highlights above in yellow are mine.)

This will tie in with the 201st Disquiet Junto project, which begins the evening of Thursday, November 5.

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Police-Siren Violins, White-Noise Beats, Static-Laden Dub

Raz Mesinai is Ghost Producer


Raz Mesinai has been busily filling out his account. On the 11th of the month he posted Freakatone Beats Vol. 1, a collection of broken white noise disguised as funk, 15 tracks that come with their own unique “parameters,” a mix of practical and theoretical constraints. This is Freakatone‘s “Nervous System”:

And these are the freakatone parameters — a beatcraft Oulipo, a downtempo Dogme 95, a drone Fluxus:

  1. The rhythm’s tempo is irrelevant, and can change without warning.

  2. The rhythm is constructed by a simple pattern, chosen for its importance in urban music for centuries, in festivals, ceremonies.

  3. There is no “drop”, however alluding to one is fine.

  4. No overdubs are allowed when producing Freakatone as the key to its power is spontaneity, improvisation and mastering the sound system as an instrument.

  5. Freakatone is often Produced with noise and dissonance in mind. Dissonance is important, and frequencies used are primarily rejected from Main Stream Sound Systems, such as streaming.

  6. Freakatone cannot be performed without a dancing audience.

  7. Noise must be generated within the very sound system used to produce Freakatone, either by feeding back into itself, adding other effect processors to the output of said instrument. Once the noise is revealed, the Producer must not end, but continue on and freak the tone.

The day prior to Freakatone Beats Vol. 1 came Sweet Dreams, Soundboy, a beatless collection of 16 industrial-ambient swaths, some harrowing, others lilting, all serrated. Here is the fourth in the otherwise title-less sequence, one of the set’s relatively lighter pieces, which to say the fear is at the far end of the dark corridor, rather than right in your face:

Especially welcome is the four-part String Quartet for Four Turntables, a Lincoln Center Festival commission in which the “quartet” was in fact four separate parts (two violins, one viola, one cello — the classic quartet format) recorded to vinyl and manipulated by two DJs. Here is part two — check it out around 5:50 when the scraping violin is made to imitate a passing police siren. The collection was posted on October 16:

A brief liner note explains the turntable audio’s provenance:

It was first performed by Dj Olive and Dj Toshio Kajiwara at the Lincoln Center Festival in New York City in 2000 but was never recorded or released until now. Mesinai insisted on letting the vinyl sit, uncovered, for 15 years, so that the crackles and pops would be more present.

It dates from 2000, when it was performed alongside work by the X-Ecutioners, as well as a quartet consisting of DJ A. Vee, DJ Frankie, Kuttin’ Kandi, and Christian Marclay playing versions of John Cage’s “Imaginary Landscape No. 5.” I mentioned it here back in 2009. And I interviewed Mesinai back in 2006.

And then there’s the far more expansive and varied Time Is Just an Update, also from October 11, 13 tracks that include attenuated drones, hauntingly sublimated orchestrations, and extremely slow chamber music. This is a track, “Tag Hash,” seemingly made almost entirely from vinyl crackles, repeated and echoed into a dubby matrix:

The music is streaming for free, and available for purchase: $9.99 for Sweet Dreams, SoundBoy (there’s also a $35 “endless cassette” version), $4 for the String Quartet (there’s also a limited-edition $200 vinyl edition), $7 for Time Is Just an Update, and $5 for Freaktone.

Mesinai, a prolific experimental turntablist based in New York City, is at and

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