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

This Week in Sound: Superheroes, Maps, Freesound(s), …

A lightly annotated clipping service

• Heroic Jingle: Kudos to readers of for noticing the small text on the poster for the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie and discerning from it that Spider-Man may very well be in the film. Why? Because there’s a credit for composer Danny Elfman, who wrote the theme for the modern Spider-Man films:

• Sound Trip: My friends Nick Sowers and Bryan Finoki are now using sound to investigate the urban environment with a series at Design Observer. The first takes them to San Francisco’s Mission District:

• Tracking Sound: This is a bit old, dating from late December, but I just came across the news that, a massive shared database of field recordings and other sounds, now allows users to track specific tags and users. Useful if you have a fetish for creaking doors, foghorns, or particular species of bird:

• Mapping Sound: The National Park Service has mapped the quietest places in the United States of America. The word “sonification” is a useful one in discussing the way sound can be employed to explain data, but in this case it is, in turn, a simple visualization that best depicts how the west is far more quiet than the east:

This first appeared in the February 24, 2015, edition of the free Disquiet email newsletter:

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Tokyo Beat Playlist

Collecting the daily ritual of Hideyuki Kuromiya

After two days running posts of elegant beats by Tokyo-based Hideyuki Kuromiya, I corresponded with him, and asked if he might put together a playlist of his beats, so they’re all in one place and easy to follow. He graciously did just that, and he added a new beat for today, “hb24,” in which the vocal sample is more evident than in the prior two. That vocal is a bit of moaning melisma that is crunched between sandpaper percussion, vinyl-skip plosives, and a sharp short-circuit shock. I’m covering these three days in a row because while I occasionally report on regular woodshedding projects by folks like Madeleine Cocolas, Taylor Deupree, and Marcus Fischer, featuring such work in an immediate sequence does a better job of making an impression of the effort involved, which in Kuromiya’s case is daily.

Set of beats originally posted at More from Kuromiya, who is based in Tokyo, Japan, at

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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.


Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on and at, 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

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.”

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, 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:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

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This Week in Sound: Aphex ^N, Household Ghosts,

A lightly annotated clipping service



  • 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 ( 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, 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,, has 15 tracks — so far. (I’ve been informed via a conversation on that folks deep in the Aphex well are under the impression Somadril is a friend of Aphex, not him.)

  • 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,, for the tip.)

  • PLAYLISTS OF YOUR YOUTH: The new web service — I write out the full URL because “” 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: 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.

This first appeared in the February 3, 2015, edition of the free Disquiet email newsletter:

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SoundCloud Introduces Shuffle Play

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


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.


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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