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: sound-art

This Week in Sound: CES + Technics +

+ Brian Eno's pricey return to ambient music

A lightly annotated clipping service:

Consumer Products: CES is happening in Las Vegas, where battle lines are being drawn and allegiances formed amid various platforms, with Amazon’s Alexa in a prominent position (zdnet.com).

Godfather Returns: Brian Eno has released a great new ambient album, Reflection, and a quizzically expensive iOS app (brian-eno.net).

DJ Revisionism: And as Jonathan Soble writes in the New York Times, a relaunched Technics turntable is peculiarly detached from its hip-hop legacy (nytimes.com).

This first appeared, in slightly different form, in the January 3, 2017, edition of the free Disquiet “This Week in Sound” email newsletter: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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Philip Glass + Buddha Machine 2017 (Updated)

An apparent collaboration is in the works

“Philip Glass + Buddha Machine. Jan 2017.” That single line of news popped up on Philip Glass’ Facebook feed two evenings ago, and simultaneously on the news page of Glass’ website, philipglass.com, and then an hour or so later on Buddha Machine’s own Facebook page.

What it means isn’t exactly clear. The base impression is there’s a forthcoming Buddha Machine featuring sounds from Philip Glass. Then again, it could be something richer still. Monolake, aka Berlin-based musician Robert Henke has, among others, done a full album of Buddha Machine remixes. Perhaps Glass has composed a piece with the Buddha Machine as an automaton collaborator.

Buddha Machine is the work of the duo FM3, which consists of Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian 张荐. The first one was released in 2005. The device is a small looping machine. It contains brief bits of music that play on repeat. Here’s a run through the sounds:

On the first device the only controls were on/off and switching between tracks. Later editions in the Buddha Machine line added the ability to change the pace, and thus the pitch, of the track. This would be one among the many celebrations of Philip Glass’ imminent 80th birthday. He was born on January 31, 1937.

This wouldn’t be the first Buddha Machine collaboration. They worked with Throbbing Gristle to produce the noise box named Gristleism back in 2009:

The third Buddha Machine, released in 2010, featured performances on the guqin string instrument by Wu Na 吳娜. And there was the Buddha Machine Secret Edition, produced for a French spa back in 2007 and 2008. In addition to the spa, there have been five official Buddha Machines. Glass is himself a gregarious composer whose numerous collaborations include work with Aphex Twin, R. Carlos Nakai, Richard Serra, Allen Ginsberg, Paul Simon, and Suzanne Vega.

You can hear the influence of Glass’ minimalism on the Buddha Machine, from the overall core function of looping, to the timbre and tonality of some of the tracks. The very first Buddha Machine’s second track, “Zheng – 箏,” in particular bears resemblance to the mediative arpeggios-as-reverb quality of many Glass compositions:

There’s little if any other information currently circulating, aside from a reply that the folks behind Buddha Machine made to one of the Facebook comments. In regard to certain desired characteristics of the forthcoming Buddha Machine item, they replied: “We have changed factories so I hope the new unit meets your desires.”

While on the topic, at the top of my wishlist for future Buddha Machines is that they are CV-controlled, so that the volume, speed/pitch, and track can be triggered by my modular synthesizer. This video of a hacked Buddha Machine by Leicester, U.K.–based Stu Smith provides a proof of concept:

Here, in turn, is a room full of Buddha Machines, six in all:

This layering of multiple Buddha Machines has made the device a favorite of musicians who engage in generative music, in compositions that change over time as the result of artfully calibrated systems. Among the earliest major proponents of the Buddha Machine was Brian Eno, who reportedly bought numerous of the first edition. Eno today announced this his forthcoming album, Reflection, due out on January 1, 2017, on the Warp label, will also be available as a generative iOS app (more at brian-eno.net) that he developed with Peter Chilvers. Eno’s previous generative music apps, also made with Chilvers, include Bloom and Scape.

More on the Buddha Machine at fm3buddhamachine.com and buddhamachine.bandcamp.com. And, yes, there’s an iOS version.

(Thanks for the alert, Eric Vincent Guilmette and Michelle Milligan.)

Update (2016.12.20): The device is now available for pre-order at bleep.com and boomkat.com. Bleep says, “Set for release on his 80th Birthday, the new machine features variations on piano, organ and voice, and is sure to be possibly the most minimal, yet hypnotic entry on the Buddha machine yet.” Boomkat says, ” brand new Buddha Machine made in collaboration with Philip Glass, released to commemorate his’ 80th Birthday on 31st January 2017. Seven loops of distinctive and hypnotic works by Philip Glass featuring piano, organ & voice. Significantly improved sound quality and built in speaker as well as headphone output.” There appears to be no pitch/speed control on this one.

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The Circuit Board Record Album

Tristan Perich on Loud Objects, machine art, and the aesthetics of code

Tristan Perich - Noise Patterns - 7 - Headphones

The Noise Patterns album, plugged into a pair of headphones

Tristan Perich’s Noise Patterns comes in a clear jewel case, but it isn’t a CD. It’s a small, matte-black circuit board. Powered by a watch battery, it produces a series of musical compositions built from the on/off operations on the minuscule chip at the center of the device, the same sort of chip you might find in a microwave oven.

What follows is a lengthy, detailed interview in which Perich talks about the development of Noise Patterns, and various other aspects of his artistic efforts, which range from full-scale museum installations of drawing machines and “microtonal walls,” to live performances in which he builds circuits in front of the audience.

In Perich’s telling, his previous circuit-board album, 1-Bit Symphony, was built from “tone” while Noise Patterns, as its name suggests, is built from “randomness,” from what sounds like white noise twisted and tweaked to Perich’s design.

There will be a more detailed introduction to this interview posted here soon, but in the interest of time — there is a party/concert celebrating the release of Noise Patternstonight at (Le) Poisson Rouge in Manhattan, with guests, Robert Henke, Karl Larson, Ricardo Romaneiro, Leo Leite, and Christian Hannon — the transcript, along with annotated images from the production of Noise Patterns and other aspects of Perich’s work, is being posted today.

01 - Tristan Perich - Microtonal Wall at MoMA

Perich’s Microtonal Wall, installed at MoMA in Manhattan

Tristan Perich - Noise Patterns - 1 - Angle

Read more »

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Disquiet Junto Project 0230: Design I

Interpret a graphic score (never before performed or realized) from the mid-1970s.

20160430_165841-1

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.com and at disquiet.com/junto, 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. There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

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

This project was posted in the late afternoon, California time, on Thursday, May 26, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, May 30, 2016.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0230: Design I
Interpret a graphic score (never before performed or realized) from the mid-1970s.

These are the steps for the project:

Step 1: View the graphic score, by Glenn Sogge, at the following URL:

http://goo.gl/hOQOSg

Step 2: Record a piece of music that interprets the score as a work of musical notation.

Step 3: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 4: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Background: The score was provided by Junto participant Glenn Sogge. Here’s a bit about his background: “I had finished my BFA at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago a couple years before. I had begun my studies at Northwestern University before that. I studied with Frédéric Rzewski at SAIC and had taken a music & theater course with Berio at NU. The periodical Source was a major inspiration as were the compositions of Cage. Being the son of a sculptor and wood worker, I suppose the interconnections of the plastic arts (space, time, materials) have always been an influence. With a smattering of jazz in my history, improvisation was important so open ended scores that gave the performers room to explore were of special interest. This piece was probably done in the last year or so before I stopped composing for about 35 years (I got seduced by computers and programming among other things.) My son facilitated my reentry to the world of electronic music with a Minibrute last summer and I have been burnishing the bits like crazy since then.”

Deadline: This project was posted in the late afternoon, California time, on Thursday, May 26, 2016, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, May 30, 2016.

Length: The length is up to you, though between one and three minutes feels about right.

Upload: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, only upload one track for this project, and be sure to 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 in the title to your track include the term “disquiet0230.” Also use “disquiet0230” 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 230th weekly Disquiet Junto project — “Design I: Interpret a graphic score (never before performed or realized) from the mid-1970s” — at:

http://disquiet.com/0230/

The graphic score is by Glenn Sogge, more from whom at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://disquiet.com/junto/

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

http://disquiet.com/forums/

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Secrets of the Buddha Machine

Rare recordings from a specialty item made for a French spa

buddhasecret

This week Christiaan Virant and Zhang Jian, creators of the Buddha Machine, revealed a rarity in the series. The Buddha Machine is a handhelp looping machine, taking its form from devices sold at Buddhist temples that contain cheap recordings of prayers. There have been several in the Buddha Machine series, each containing minimalist drones and patterns, including a collaboration with the band Throbbing Gristle. The early editions simply contained loops, but later ones allowed for pitch shifting as well. What went up on the duo’s Bandcamp page two days ago was Buddha Machine Secret Edition, nine loops, each playing for between five and six minutes, that were made almost a decade ago for a spa in France. The liner note explains:

These are the loops from the ultra-rare Buddha Machine Secret Edition. The music was composed for a French spa which wanted a small-run and limited-edition buddha box to use during massage and healing treatments. Zhang and I compiled the loops in Nice, France, during late winter and early spring 2007-08. Only a few thousand units were manufactured and solely distributed in France.

Recordings originally posted at buddhamachine.bandcamp.com. Virant and Jian are based in Beijing and Hong Kong. More from them at facebook.com/christiaanvirant and twitter.com/buddhamachine.

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