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.

Monthly Archives: September 2006

Willits MP3

Over at the website of Ghostly International, they’re pushing the new Christopher Willits album, Surf Boundaries, due out in about a month, with a free download. “Yellow Spring” is a pop song by an electronic musician whose best work in the past has veered toward pop without ever reaching it (MP3). Thanks to a floating rhythm and a spirited if ephemeral vocal part, the track adheres to a beat without ever making its purpose clear. This is a notable achievement for Willits, who previously has largely avoided evident metrics in favor of ever-shifting rhythmic centers that rotated their heft like a planet making its course in a solar system comprised of many small suns. With “Yellow Spring” Willits keeps to the straight and narrow, but never succumbs to the metronomic impulse. And when the piece fades for its extended, centerless denouement, we get a taste of the Willits behind the beat. More info at christopherwillits.com.

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Hank Shocklee MP3

Another spoken-word entry, to complement yesterday’s. Hank Shocklee, one of the core producers of the Bomb Squad, the hip-hop studio crew that threaded noise into backing tracks for the likes of Public Enemy, Doug. E. Fresh, Son of Bazerk and other old-school rappers, spoke at length to an audience courtesy of Red Bull Music Academy about early looping techniques, how to use chaos to best complement Chuck D’s preacher-like voice and what was lost and gained in the move from analog to digital (MP3).

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Beryl Korot (& Company) MP3

Sometimes the Disquiet Downstream takes a break from music and sound art for talk, albeit talk about music and sound art. Suzanne Anker brought together for conversation three art-world figures with an interest in science for one of her “Bio-Blurb Show” audiocasts at wps1.org. In addition to art critic Ciaran Bennett and artist/arts administrator Adrienne Klein, Beryl Korot participated. Kortot is Steve Reich’s wife and collaborator, having provided the high-tech visuals so central to works like Three Tales, which she talks about here (MP3). The file, first broadcast on May 15, 2006, runs for half an hour.

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Silent-Industrial MP3

The tonal aspects of Asher‘s contribution to the Homphoni netlabel (homophoni.com) are just a few held notes amid a broader, but still decidedly sparse, range of what seem to be field recordings. It’s amazing how static, water, small motors and distant industry can become indistinguishable from each other, even at 207kbps. The track, titled “The Anguish Is Not the Same” (MP3), cycles in and out, with extended periods of silence. It’s unclear if those occasional tones, first heard on their own, then below the light noise, are tonal centers of the found sounds or generated notes added later. That ambiguity brings creative tension to a piece that might, on first glance, appear to be willfully devoid of it.

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Archive.org Detritus MP3

The audio stacks of the Internet Archive at archive.org are less a record store than a thrift store, these spare pieces seemingly randomly dispersed, most without enough packaging material to explain the contents. Sometime in the past few days, a musician by the name of Tafkanhos uploaded something described as “free improvised quasi-ambient experimental audio,” a half hour of sound caught in limbo between shimmering and dank, claustrophobic and epiphanic (MP3). It would have been mysterious even if it weren’t unencumbered by virtually any sort of causal, interpretive or contextual data. In an age when every conceptual artist seems to have his or her own internal dramaturge, this can be very refreshing indeed.

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