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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

tag: voice

Scanner – Scanner + Synthesizer

Another in his long line of impressionistic narratives about emotional conflict

The best thing about this new Scanner track, “Phenol Time,” isn’t that it’s a peek inside his sonic practice (he made the piece to test out a new piece of tech), nor that it’s a good sign he’s managing to make music even though he just moved his home (“two trucks carrying the bulk of my life, several tonnes of books, records, recording equipment, clothing, and all the detritus of a life”). The best thing is it’s a return to his roots. The track is a mix of warbling synthesized tones infused with the sort of overheard recordings with which he made his name, quite literally. Early Scanner recordings used the police surveillance device of that name to snatch conversations from the ether. Here, he simply recorded some boisterous, angry neighbors and mangled their voices beyond recognition and comprehension. (“The voices are boys fighting outside my window a few months ago,” he writes in the accompanying note, “darkly disguised and distorted.”) The result is another in his long line of impressionistic narratives about emotional conflict.

Track originally posted for free download at More from Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud, at What he’s testing out is a new synthesizer called the Phenol, from Kilpatrick Audio, which was funded on Kickstarter; more details at

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Disquiet Junto Project 0186: My Name

Explore the sonic contours of a word you've spelled out loud frequently: your name.


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 duration of the project:

This assignment was made in the late afternoon, California time, on Thursday, July 23, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, July 27, 2015.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0186: My Name
Explore the sonic contours of a word you’ve spelled out loud frequently: your name.

These are the steps in this week’s project, which is a micro-exploration of the techniques employed by the composer Scott Johnson. It’s also about various spectra of repetition.

Step 1: Record the sound of you spelling your own name. Best to do just one word, either your first name or last name — whichever you’ve been more likely to enunciate clearly over the years.

Step 2: Slow the recording just a bit, to maybe 75% of the original speed. Adjust to your own taste, but don’t slow it too much: Your name should still be “audibly legible.”

Step 3: Listen very closely to the segment. Note the melodic shape, the rhythm, the inherent grace moments, other granular aspects specific to how you say your name.

Step 4: Record a short piece of music that emulates those shapes, that rhythm, those grace moments, and so forth.

Step 5: Set a loop of the newly composed piece of music over a loop of you repeating your name. Repeat for between 30 seconds and a minute.

Step 6: Go back and tweak the composed music over the length of the work.

Step 7: Set it so that the volume of you saying your name decreases, so that by the end of the length of the piece your name is no longer audible, with just the music remaining.

Step 8: Upload your completed track to the Disquiet Junto group on SoundCloud.

Step 9: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This assignment was made in the late afternoon, California time, on Thursday, July 23, 2015, with a deadline of 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, July 27, 2015.

Length: The length of your finished work is up to you, but a length between one and two minutes is recommended.

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 “disquiet0186-myname” 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 186th Disquiet Junto project (“Explore the sonic contours of a word you’ve spelled out loud frequently: your name”) at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Join the Disquiet Junto at:

Disquiet Junto general discussion takes place at:

Image associated with this post by Yersinia Pestis and used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

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Sly + Robbie + Molvaer + Aarset + Vladislav

Five men in a dub

The video is titled “Sly & Robbie meet Nils Petter Molvaer.” Over at Michael Ross’ excellent Guitar Moderne site, where I first learned of the extensive footage, he expands the billing to “Sly & Robbie meet Nils Petter Molvaer & Eivind Aarset,” since Aarset is the guitarist on stage and guitars are Ross’ focus, but that still isn’t the full picture. This hour and a half concert also includes Vladislav Delay, on a variety of trenchantly echoing technology. It’s a formative crew, the sort of dream team that Bill Laswell might have conjured. In one corner you have a Jamaican rhythm duo, drummer Sly Dunbar and bassist Robbie Shakespeare, that is renowned for its boundary-pushing dub and reggae. In the opposing corner you have Norwegian ambient-jazz figures Nils Petter Molvaer, he of the deeply muted trumpet, and Eivind Aarset, whose elegant guitar atmospheres have gained him prominence beyond his extensive work as part of Molvaer’s band. And then there’s the prolific and musically gregarious Vladislav Delay, who here goes back and forth between hammering springs and playing live samples. Together they create expansive, delectably slow-paced, and enticingly elemental percussive spaces. It never gets as chaotic or anarchic or pleasurably lost as do Laswell’s own pan-genre meet-up mashups, but it often comes close, and every player has fine moments throughout, even if you also have to make due with a brief, placid Pink Floyd cover toward the end.

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Stasis in Darkness

A set of atmospheres by the Ambienteer, aka John Fahy

This set of nine tracks by Ambienteer lays out slivers of atmospheric tonal gestures. At a low volume they are barely discernible, fully on purpose, from the low level electric hum of daily life. At mid-level they are more likely to suggest activity one or two rooms over. Some, like “Echoic” and “Darkening,” include gentle sonic baubles that engage in rhythmic play, but the majority, like the opening “Aethereal,” are intentional wisps. One anomaly is “Ariel,” which layers in the Sylvia Plath poem from which it takes its name, the voice roughly recorded, seemingly like it’s emerging from the depths of history. The poem’s opening line, “Stasis in darkness,” could stand for this entire album.

Full set posted at More from Ambienteer, aka James Fahy, at and

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Pictures at an Arvo Pärt Exhibition

A synthesizer rendition of the composer's "Solfeggio"

Classical music and synthesizers go hand in hand, in part because of the academic origins of much beta-era synthesizer experimentation, and in part because of how renditions by Wendy Carlos, Tomita, and Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, among others, of standard repertoire helped expand the early audience for electronic music. The tradition is alive and well. This coming month, Sony will release the retro Bach to Moog by Craig Leon.

What follows are two different versions of a contemporary classical favorite: the same Arvo Pärt piece performed on two very different synthesizers. The piece is Pärt’s “Solfeggio,” which in its original form is arranged for a gently shifting array human voices. Here it is with its tones transferred by the artist Tomorrow the Cure to the Tetra, from Dave Smith Instruments, the “father” of MIDI:

There is also a version from 2009 on the Doepfer Dark Energy by the same musician, who is based in Norfolk, Great Britain (more at That Dark Energy recording is not available for embedding, but can be accessed at the musician’s account.

And here, for cross-reference, is a vocal rendition of the same Pärt piece:

The Tetra version was originally found thanks to the excellent website.

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