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

Ian Hawgood, Sine-Curve Soundsmith (MP3s)

Once upon a time, there was a dynamic in pop music in which loud and quiet sections alternated within a given song. That scenario is often tracked back to the Pixies (and, a little later, Nirvana). In contemporary electronic music, there is a scenario in which a drone changes amplitude — or volume, that is — as if following the contours of a slowly undulating sine wave, moving up and down in a manner that from a distance might appear mechanical, but that retains a lilting feel. The end effect is more rocking chair than industrial churn.

This music, the rich and complex tone that generally goes by the name “drone,” moves from near-silence to an immersive breadth and back again, over and over, like clockwork, yes, but like a clock wrapped in something gauze-soft. Take “Before I Let the Sunshine Rot,” the opening, and arguably the best, track off Ian Hawgood‘s recent Phantom Channel album, with which it shares its title (MP3). While not all the music on the record adheres to this pattern as concertedly as does its title cut, the lilt does make itself felt throughout — in “The Latin Quarter,” there’s a tremulous reverberation (MP3) that’s far more aggressive than anything in “Before I Let the Sunshine Rot,” and crowd voices are mixed in, but the overall effect is the same. One other favorite, among the album’s eight tracks, is “Pirouette of Cotton 1,” which adds a thin female vocal, a light harmonic contribution, less a lead vocal than another ingredient in the drone recipe (MP3).

[audio:|titles=”Before I Let the Sunshine Rot”|artists=Ian Hawgood] [audio:|titles=”Before I Let the Sunshine Rot”|artists=Ian Hawgood] [audio:|titles=”Pirouette of Cotton 1″|artists=Ian Hawgood]

Get the full release at either or More on Hawgood at his website,

By Marc Weidenbaum

Tags: , , , / Comments: 3 ]


  1. Dave M
    [ Posted October 21, 2009, at 8:41 am ]

    Thanks, I really like this guy. But his name’s Hawgood, not Hagwood.

  2. Marc Weidenbaum
    [ Posted October 21, 2009, at 9:04 am ]

    Thanks. Correction made. As typos go, that one’s pretty embarrassing.

  3. Michael
    [ Posted October 22, 2009, at 6:27 am ]

    Thank you Marc for this piece and your continued support for our label!

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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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