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: software

Disquiet Junto Project 0162: Junto in a Box

The Assignment: Use Paul Lamere's "Girl Talk in a Box" to gain a new perspective on your own music.

20150205-girltalkinabox

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

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

This supplemental playlist sequences the “after” and “before” versions of the tracks in the project — well, those for which there is a “before” version on SoundCloud. It’s unusual that I’d make a second playlist, but this project suggests the treatment. Also, for the first time I’ve recorded a spoken introduction to the project.

This assignment was made in the afternoon, California time, on Thursday, February 5, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, February 9, 2015.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0162: Junto in a Box
The Assignment: Use Paul Lamere’s “Girl Talk in a Box” to gain a new perspective on your own music.

These are the steps:

Step 1: Choose a piece of music of your own that you would like to get a new perspective on.

Step 2: Go to the following URL to access the web app Girl Talk in a Box, which Paul Lamere designed. As he explains, “While a song is playing, you can take control, speeding it up, slowing it down, skipping beats and so on.”

http://static.echonest.com/girltalkinabox/

Step 3: Upload your song to Girl Talk in a Box and play with it. After gaining some measure of facility with the web app, record your own edit of your song.

Step 4: Upload the finished track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 5: Be sure to include a link to the original track, so listeners can compare and contrast.

Step 6: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, February 5, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, February 9, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work should be between two and four minutes.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this assignment, and 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.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0162-juntoinabox” 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 162nd Disquiet Junto project — “Use Paul Lamere’s ‘Girl Talk in a Box’ to gain a new perspective on your own music” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2015/02/05/disquiet0162-juntoinabox/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

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

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

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This Week in Sound: Aphex ^N, Household Ghosts, Retroj.am

A lightly annotated clipping service

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  • APHEX ^N: We’re 10 days from the first anniversary of the publication of my book in the 33 1/3 series on Aphex Twin’s landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Volume II. I’m excited that it was one of the five best-selling volumes in the series last year, and I’m also overwhelmed at what a difference a year makes. Aphex Twin was mostly a memory when I researched and wrote the book, and for many months following the book’s release. He hadn’t released a full-length album in well over a decade. Just about everyone I spoke with about him spoke of him in the past tense. And then last fall he — Richard D. James — came, quite suddenly, out of hiding. He announced his reappearance with a blimp over London; released a widely acclaimed album, Syro; and filled a SoundCloud account with dozens of previously unreleased music. Then that account (soundcloud.com/richarddjames) when dark, though two new tracks have recently appeared. The first of those two new tracks announced the arrival of a new post-Syro EP, the excellent downtempo set Computer Controlled Acoustic Instruments Pt2. And then came soundcloud.com/user48736353001, where he has been posting dozens upon dozens of previously unreleased tracks. There were 110 tracks attributed to user48736353001 as of a few days ago, and then another 20 popped up today. And as if that weren’t enough, a mysterious new account associated with it, soundcloud.com/somadril, has 15 tracks — so far. (I’ve been informed via a conversation on ello.co that folks deep in the Aphex well are under the impression Somadril is a friend of Aphex, not him.)
    https://soundcloud.com/user48736353001/

  • GHOST-IN-THE-HOME MACHINES: Geoff Manaugh writes at New Scientist about the ways technology maintains our presence in our absence, for the purposes of home safety: “For example, there are already albums of background noise available to make it sound as if someone is rummaging through the refrigerator or watching TV in the other room. One collection specifically promises ‘hundreds of professionally recorded interior house sounds to give the realistic impression that someone is at home’. It won’t be long before audio effects such as these are integrated directly into a FakeTV-like system, playing deceptive sounds through hidden speakers in an otherwise empty house or apartment.” Once upon a time we might have used simple timers on lamps to do the job, and at more paranoid moments I did hook timers up to radios for the effect that Manaugh describes. The commercialization of such activities makes one wonder what’s ahead. William Gibson tells us the street finds its own uses for things. What uses will the home find? (Thanks, boondesign.com, for the tip.)
    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn26904-new-urbanist-the-ghosts-that-keep-your-house-safe.html/

  • PLAYLISTS OF YOUR YOUTH: The new web service http://retroj.am/ — I write out the full URL because “retroj.am” doesn’t immediately announce itself as a web address — provides you with playlists tagged to various moments in your life. You enter your birthday — today, February 3, happens to be my half birthday, and my late paternal grandmother’s birthday — and it pumps out what was playing (in the U.S.) when you were born, and when you entered first grade and second grade, and when you graduated from high school, and so on. Well, not “and so on” for very long. Interestingly, it ends when you graduate from college — the presumption, likely correct, is that once you enter the work force what is playing on the radio is less likely to correspond with your actual life. One demerit: retroj.am only goes back to 1950, which leaves plenty of room for my memories, but not for everyone’s — and not for many curious listeners who might wonder what was a hit before your mother was born.
    http://retroj.am/

This first appeared in the February 3, 2015, edition of the free Disquiet email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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SoundCloud Introduces Shuffle Play

Apparently single-track repeat wasn't the only new feature added to SoundCloud.

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Another welcome addition to the SoundCloud interface: shuffle play. Just last week I noted the appearance of the ability to repeat a single track. At least since the Instagr/am/bient compilation album was posted back in late 2011, I have hoped for a shuffle option on SoundCloud sets. The Instagr/am/bient album, by way of example, has 25 tracks by 25 different musicians, and the first track, “Up Above the Hill-Sky” by Marcus Fischer, has as of this writing 9,412 listens, while Christopher Olson’s “Swanoji” hovers well under 1,000, at 633. While Fischer’s track’s popularity is well-deserved, overall it’s clear that the declining rate of listening corresponds almost directly with track placement. The only serious exception is the OO-Ray’s “Silhouettes,” which has 3,714 listens, compared with 1,974 for the track after it and 1,063 for the track preceding it.

In any case, shuffle play, along with the single-track repeat, is a welcome addition. We’re making use of the single-track option in this week’s Disquiet Junto project, which explores the notion of locked grooves, or the practice back in the days of vinyl of having a short single-revolution loop that repeats. The shuffle play will make the resulting set, along with all other SoundCloud sets, all the more enjoyable for listeners to explore.

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Neither of these two tools seems to have yet been introduced to the embedded player, or the mobile app, but it seems likely that’s down the road.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0153: Groove Lock

The Assignment: Record a short sound intended to be set on repeat.

20141204-vinyl

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at Disquiet.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 assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, December 4, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, December 8, 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 0153: Groove Lock
The Assignment: Record a short sound intended to be set on repeat.

SoundCloud recently introduced the ability for a track to be looped on the website. That is, the listener can hit a button (details at disquiet.com/QVvCF) and the track will play over and over. This week’s project will make use of that feature. This week’s project will also, I should note, inform next week’s project. But you can do next week’s without doing this week’s, and vice-versa.

Step 1: Record a short, original piece of music/sound of between roughly 3 and 9 seconds intended to be set on repeat.

Step 2: Upload the finished track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 3: Listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Length: Your finished work should be between roughly 3 and 9 seconds long.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the evening, California time, on Thursday, December 4, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, December 8, 2014, as the deadline.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this assignment, and 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 “disquiet0153-groovelock” 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 153rd Disquiet Junto project — “Record a short sound intended to be set on repeat” — at:

http://disquiet.com/2014/12/04/disquiet0153-groovelock/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

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

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

Image associated with this project by Stuart R Brown:

http://flic.kr/p/mFQC3

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This Week in Sound: SoundCloud, Replicants, Comedy, Surveillance

An occasional, lightly annotated clipping service

One-Track Mind: SoundCloud recently added a “repeat single track” function to its web player. This means that if you’re listening to something on SoundCloud you can click a button to have it repeat when it ends, rather than have the service automatically move on to another track. This is a very welcome turn of events. When it comes to audio streaming, we often don’t really hear something the first time we hear it, and often get lost in the continuity. The ability to repeat a single track in some ways having a chance to really pay attention through repetition.
http://disquiet.com/2014/12/01/soundcloud-single-track-repeat/

Replicant Soundscape: Speaking of listening on repeat, this following track has been online since August, but I only just learned of it via an io9.com post about a related subject. The account of “crysknife007″ on YouTube is filled with great “ambient geek sleep aids” such as the sound of the Starship Enterprise’s engines running for 24 hours straight. What follows is the sound of Rick Deckard’s apartment in Blade Runner playing for half a day, so you can imagine you’re a cyberpunk gumshoe when you’re really just sitting at home paying some bills. Though YouTube comments are rightly avoided, a useful follow-up to the track did note that this same sound was later used in Alien for the Nostromo’s medical bay.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7FhEpif1cA

Ambient Comedy: The BBC has produced a retrospective of Chris Morris (Blue Jam, Four Lions), the British satirist. I had very much hoped to interview Morris for my recent book on the Aphex Twin album Selected Ambient Works Volume II because he used music from the album in his radio and television sketches to especially haunting effect, but sadly he wasn’t available. The BBC retrospective is three hours long and, according to the BBC webpage, will be online for another four weeks:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04sp5pq

New Heights in Eavesdropping: A thorough overview of the U.S. government’s system “Automatic Speech recognition in Reverberant Environments,” aka ASpIRE, an advance speech-recognition tool.
http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2014/12/what-happens-when-spies-can-eavesdrop-any-conversation/100142/

This first appeared in the December 2, 2014, edition of the free Disquiet email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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