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

Joy of Hexadecimal MP3

There are specialty netlabels, and then there are truly fixated netlabels. There are, in other words, those netlabels that select to focus on a clearly named aesthetic (noisejihad.dk/netlabel), on field recordings (wanderingear.com), or on individual songs (ambulatore.com/yoyo), for example. And then there is Hexawe (hexawe.net), the releases on which have just one simple thing in common: they’re all made on a specific piece of software, the Little Pig Tracker (littlegptracker.com), which is designed to work on game platforms but comes in other builds as well, including for Debian-based systems, as well as Mac- and Windows-based machines.

A “tracker” is about as simple a sequencer there can be, locating musical tidbits along a basic time line. In Little Pig Tracker, all the instructions are handled in a user interface that looks like it powered the payroll at the DMV during a previous gas crisis. How bare bones and old-school is Little Pig Tracker? Well, just for starters, it counts in hexadecimal. See the screenshot below, which is borrowed from the software’s instructional wiki, wiki.littlegptracker.com:

The most recent entry from the Hexawe netlabel as of this writing is “You Put a Smile on My Face” (MP3), a lo-fi, lo-rez bit of lovingly routinized dance music by sm0hm (more at sm0hm.blogspot.com). It’s all club vibes, pixelated hand claps, and zoned out beats. “You Put a Smile on My Face” is release #21 from Hexawe, but true to the label’s name, that’s in hexadecimal (counting backwards it follows on releases #20, #1F, #1D, etc.).

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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