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

Five-Hour MP3 Performance

In years to come, April 1 will be the day with the lowest traffic on the Internet, as users do their best to avoid being suckered by deadpan pranks. Hence my initial hesitation when this past Saturday I received an email from a friend pointing me to a full five hours of performance in the MP3 format by Steve Roden, who is known for his threadbare minimalism and is equally at home in the recording studio and the art gallery. Turns out it’s true. In August last year, at the second annual Soundwalk sound-art event in Long Beach, California, Roden undertook a “durational performance,” the complete recording of which is available in five hour-long MP3s at ubu.com/sound/roden.html. He holed up in the corner of a room and played an improvised mix of bells tones, contact-mic investigations, murmurings, modest chants and less identifiable sounds, a kind of non-denominational ritual of the quotidian. Advises Roden in the accompanying note, which includes his initial proposal, “since the piece was playing through speakers located roughly 10 feet above the audience and reflecting off a dome ceiling back down to the listeners below, i would not recommend headphone listening, but giving the sound some distance.” More info at soundwalk.org and at Roden’s homepage, inbetweennoise.com. (And thanks to Jeff Levine for emailing me the tip.)

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com 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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  • My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).

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