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.

Lindelof’s Forge

A sonic moment

On a totally separate note, while watching Watchmen last night I wondered, What if Damon Lindelof wrote a comic? And then remembered he had: the six-issue series Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk, illustrated by Leinil Francis Yu. Didn’t find much that would provide insight into the Watchmen adaptation, but did come across this sonic sequence.

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Doom Metal Cover of Autechre

"Eutow" as a sludge mantra, courtesy of Sonance

It’s been about 20 years since Autechre remixed Tortoise, taking the latter’s chamber post-rock and reshaping it with digital tools. In the process of producing “Adverse Camber” / “To Day Retreival” (Thrill Jockey, 1998), they located correspondence in the two groups’ mutual emphasis on rhythm, texture, and tonality, as well as on how the tools and techniques of pop music can push into challenging new territories.

The Bristol, England-based band Sonance returns the favor this month, applying its progressive doom-metal apparatus to a cover of “Eutow,” off Autechre’s 1995 album, Tri Repetae. The track was posted to Bandcamp as part of a Sonance collection titled Remix and Cover. The wafting start of “Eutow” is reproduced with guitars and bass. It’s meatier than the source material, and also slower, pleasingly so. The Sonance version is about a minute and a half longer than the original, despite forgoing much of its interior development. Gone entirely, for example, is how Autechre’s “Eutow” ups the pace mid-song. (One might draw a comparison to how Autechre’s covers of Tortoise’s “Ten-Day Interval” virtually eradicated the percussion of the original.) Sonance revels, instead, in a blissfully sludgy rendition of the underlying foundation of the Tri Repetae track, treating it like a mantra to be set on repeat and adhered to, getting all the more hypnotic as it unfolds.

Track originally posted at sonance.bandcamp.com. More from Sonance at instagram.com/sonancenoise, where a recent shot of a Make Noise 0-Coast synthesizer suggests Sonance’s next Autechre cover may sound even closer to the source material.

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Looking for the Comic in Watchmen

Can TV be as structurally rigid as the original comic?

I caught up with the Watchmen series on HBO last night, episode three. Easter eggs and character references aside, it remains very much a Damon Lindelof creation, which is to say, like Lost and The Leftovers, it’s very much in the early-stage process of flooding the screen with mysteries that will, over time, be sorted out, presumably.

I’m old enough that I read the original Watchmen, written by Alan Moore, when it first came out. That 12-issue series was, combined contemporaneously with The Dark Knight Returns (written by Frank Miller), the comic that got me back into reading comics during college, after I took a break from them toward then end of high school. What really captured my imagination in Watchmen the comic wasn’t just the story, or the critique of superheroes, or the meta-narrative, but the structure on the page. Its famously rigid grid and the use of visual motifs, most notably the blood-specked smiley face, gave it a formal self-consciousness unlike any comic I recall having read before. By the time I read Watchmen, I had ditched computer science as my college major and focused on English, which is to say literature. Watchmen was a playground for a mind currently being trained to observe how texts function.

I came to the Lindelof sequel (extrapolation? spin-off? fork?) wondering how that formal quality would carry over. The HBO series has story, and critique, and meta in spades. The structural features, however, haven’t been anywhere near as present as they were in the comic. Sure, the first episode had lots of circles (reminiscent of the smiley-face pin), and the third episode connected the shape of a certain Dr. Manhattan device with the shape of vestibules that people enter so as to send messages to Dr. Manhattan (in other words, insertion goes both ways). But the show is, ultimately, a TV show. It hasn’t in any way reduced or simplified its storytelling devices the way the original comic did. If anything, it draws fully from the peak-TV toolkit: big name casts, movie-grade camerawork, an utter dismissal anything episodic.

All this was on my mind last night as the episode (“She Was Killed by Space Junk”) played. The world outside my window got darker, and the street quieter, and thus the show louder. I lowered its volume, and eventually turned on the captions. Which is when quite suddenly, Watchmen, for the first time, really reminded me of a comic book:

I was already a bit soured on the extent to which the series is, in any way, wrestling with the formal qualities of the original comic (credit shared by Dave Gibbons, its illustrator). Now I wonder how the show might, creatively, engage with captioning, not merely as a point of connection with comic-book techniques, but as a relatively untapped element of TV narratives. I feel like if Alan Moore (long story, yeah, never happening), or Denis Potter (well, dead), or Terence Davies (OK, it’d be a little slow for the intended audience, but I’d love it), or Jane Campion (aside: just imagine the Michael Nyman score), or Peter Greenaway (ditto) were tasked with adapting Watchmen for TV, captions would have been embraced before the first meeting of the writers room broke for lunch.

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The Wireless League

From the BBC's back pages

Down the literary rabbit hole that was that Mary-Kay Wilmers (London Review of Books) profile in the New York Times, I found this logo to what is both a long-ago BBC print publication, and a superhero team-up I’d love to read (the Wireless League!).

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Disquiet Junto Project 0410: Op Audio

The Assignment: What does the sonic equivalent of Op Art sound like?

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, 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. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) 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.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, November 11, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, November 7, 2019.

Tracks will be added to the playlist for the duration of the project.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0410: Op Audio
The Assignment: What does the sonic equivalent of Op Art sound like?

Thanks to Nate Trier for having suggested a “Shepard tone Junto,” which led to this week’s project.

Step 1: If you aren’t familiar with the concept of Op Art, read up. It employs optical illusions as raw material for artistic expression.

Step 2: Think about what the sonic equivalent of Op Art would be. For example, consider the Shepard tone (the illusion of continually rising or descending pitch).

Step 3. Record a piece of Op Audio resulting from your thinking in Step 2.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0410” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0410” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation of a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 4: Post your track in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0410-op-audio/

Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: If posting on social media, please consider using the hashtag #disquietjunto so fellow participants are more likely to locate your communication.

Step 7: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Additional Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, November 11, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, November 7, 2019.

Length: The length is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0410” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, 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.

Download: Consider setting your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

For context, when posting the track online, please be sure to include this following information:

More on this 410th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Op Audio / The Assignment: What does the sonic equivalent of Op Art sound like? — at:

https://disquiet.com/0410/

Thanks to Nate Trier for having suggested a “Shepard tone Junto,” which led to this week’s project.

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

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

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0410-op-audio/

There’s also a Disquiet Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

The image associated with this project is from the Wikipedia entry on the logarithmic spiral:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Logarithmic_spiral

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