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

Illuminated MP3 Album

On October 20, Audiobulb Records uploaded a new various-artists electronic-music collection in MP3 format. Titled Exhibition #2, it’s currently highlighted on the label’s website, The set features 11 tracks, ranging from gentle stereoscopic play, Claudia’s “Sleepyhead (Roomix),” to vaguely disturbing vocal mishmash. Disastrato’s “2 Orgasms Before Each Suicide + A Deformed Smile = Ixtab” uses what seems to be the voices of children; Autistici’s “Tiny Machines Engaged in an Unsuccessful Vasectomy,” judging from its layered moans, may better deserve the Disastrato title. Also using a vocal cutup is Build’s “A Protective Plastic Coating,” which has the abstract-rap feel of Amon Tobin’s nonsense “Verbal” single and the more chaotic songs by the UK techno outfit Underworld. Many of the record’s tracks emphasize elastic, seemingly autonomous rhythms and light, pleasing melodies. David Newman runs Audiobulb from Sheffield, England. He describes Exhibition #2 as follows: “This album provides compositions based on subtleties, attention to the little details and a non-reliance on repetitive rhythmic structures. Within the album you will find the sound of minimal ambience, micro clicks and deconstructed samples.”

The album’s shortest piece, at less than two minutes, features renowned the renowned Tetsu Inoue working with Daimon Beail on a series of brief elements that shift by as if someone’s switching stations on a radio with faulty wiring. By far the most restful entrant here is Erik Schoster’s “Study No. 1 (For Chris Penrose & Eric Lyon),” which is truly ambient: absent of a downbeat, ethereal even as it develops texture. If you’re low on bandwidth or disk space, or otherwise want to limit your downloads, be sure to check out the album’s first track, “So Gone” which is credited to Diagram of Suburban Chaos. The song (here) starts with exactly the sort of stuttered snippets that have you checking whether your speakers are on the fritz, or your laptop’s motherboard is overloading. As a result, you’ll find it doubly centering when a gentle tune wafts in and, around the one-minute mark, a drum beat arrives to steady the track’s course.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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