February 13, 2014, is the official release date for my 33 1/3 book on Aphex Twin's 1994 album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, 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: voice

SOUND RESEARCH LOG: The “Metallic Accent” of the Vocoder

The New Yorker posted a short, 11-minute mini-documentary about the Vocoder. Laurie Anderson praises its corporate aesthetic. Frank Gentges discusses its military history. Dave Tompkins talks about Bell Labs technical innovations (noting its “metallic accent”), among other things. There’s music from Kraftwerk, Afrika Bambaataa, and Newcleus, whose Cozmo D is interviewed; somewhat dispirated, he says with a half shrug, “Some of the dopest shit we have came out of military technology.”

The documentary is the second in the newyorker.com‘s Object of Interest series.

This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.

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SOUND RESEARCH LOG: Is Voice the Uncanny Valley?

There may have been no better place than io9.com to keep track of Comic-Con, and this popped up in a summary of the Person of Interest panel. That’s the CBS series with an admirably long-game approach to narrative. It’s about an AI coming into sentience. That AI has become more of a character, and as the series enters season four it now is up against a competitive AI:

“Pressed for an answer about whether or not the AIs would get voices, Jonathan Nolan responded, ‘We’re working on the voice thing. But you may not like where it goes.’”

Full coverage at io9.com. It’s rarely advisable to read comments, but there are some strongly worded concerns in the resulting thread about lending voices to the AI, worth checking out if only as an expression of a point of view.

This entry cross-posted from the Disquiet linkblog project sound.tumblr.com.

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Grouper on the Side of the Angels

A preview of the Bug's forthcoming album

20140716-bug Like Moby with the album Innocents and Prefuse 73 with The Only She Chapters, the Bug (aka Kevin Martin) for his next album is teaming up with a suite of guest vocalists. The record, Angels & Devils, is due out August 25 from Ninja Tune. On the angels side of that title equation is Grouper, aka Liz Harris, who contributes a bit of breathy heaven to the appropriately titled “Void,” a downtempo track whose fairly relaxed pace is undercut by anxiously jangling percussion. The embeddable seems to be turned off, but it’s streaming for free at soundcloud.com/ninja-tune. Other vocalists announced for Angels & Devils thus far include copeland, Miss Red, Gonjasufi, Flowdan, Manga, Death Grips, and Warrior Queen. More from the Bug at atwarwithtime.com and ninjatune.net.

One warning: Angels & Devils is, by definition, an album of contrasts, and at the current moment, as if to emphasize that modus operandi, the Harris track fades out only to be followed by the intense “Function,” featuring Manga.

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Vocal Confection

A new track from Brooklyn-based Lanx

Layers of vocal elements combine to form “As We Fall,” some of them hazy and textural, while others feature a restrained but formidable coloratura one might listen for in opera. The track, just over five minutes in length, moves through several phases, in a suite-like fashion, each punctuated with occasional pneumatic beats, chimes, and other percussive elements.

The track is by Lanx, who is based in Brooklyn, and who I believe is Christine Papania of the ensemble Pantree Owl.

Bonus: There’s video of a vocal track-in-progress on vine.co:

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/lanx-music. More from Lanx at twitter.com/__Lanx. More from Pantree Owl at pantreeowl.bandcamp.com.

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Got Those Junto Blues

Kurt Anderson's Studio 360 and John Schaefer's Soundcheck both praise Disquiet Junto tracks.

The winning entry — well, one of two tying winning entries — in a blues-song cover challenge launched by Kurt Anderson’s Studio 360 radio show was the work of a Disquiet Junto regular, and the result of a Disquiet Junto project.

Back on May 8, Studio 360 announced its “1914 Blues Challenge,” in which listeners would create covers of the W.C. Handy blues classic “The Yellow Dog Blues,” which turns 100 this year. And today the show announced the winners, as chosen by guest judge Chocolate Genius, aka Marc Anthony Thompson. Thompson couldn’t decide between two entries, one of them by Junto regular Westy Reflector, aka Dave Westreich. The other winner was Kelly Pratt, who records as Bright Moments.

Here’s the Studio 360 announcement:

And here’s Westy Reflector’s cover:

Challenges like the blues cover initiated by Studio 360 have a lot in common with the Disquiet Junto: open calls based around a specific prompt. I’m always on the lookout for an external project that seems like it would be fun to put forward to the Junto, especially a project where the Junto’s interest in abstract sound might provide some unique contributions. This particular Studio 360 project seemed especially appropriate because of the sense in which the blues was never fully about composition as an end, but about a rich community of shared source material. The blues, like other forms of folk music, is a source of inspiration for the Creative Commons, and this seemed like a good time to make that connection. That connection is emphasized in the Studio 360 broadcast, when it’s mentioned how in the blues “lyrics are passed form person to person, generation to generation.”

And I just learned today, as well, that a month ago on John Schaefer’s Soundcheck radio show, two more Junto entries from the “Yellow Dog” project were commended, versions by Tom Anderson and Ethan Hein. Here’s the broadcast, from May 28:

Here’s Tom Anderson’s version:

Here’s Ethan Hein’s version:

And here is the full Junto project, which was number 125:

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