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

The Spoils of the Beat Battle

Been awhile since the last check-in at the ongoing Beat Battles series hosted by stonesthrow.com, the popular message board of its namesake record label.

The latest, number 151, like all previous Beat Battles, involves tossing up a beat-friendly sample and seeing which battler can push it further along.

As always, among the entries you’ll find both rudimentary cut’n’paste, and some inspired executions — and also as always, once you’ve listened to a handful of the mixes (at least 38 files were uploaded to the arena, at drop.io/battle151), you won’t listen to the original the same way again.

This time around, the source material is a tinny bit of rhythmic simplicity, though it has just enough different segments — old-school beats, Casio-quality congas, some vocoded chanting — to allow for numerous mixing outcomes.

The original is available as a download, but not for streaming, at mediafire.com. Among the highlights of the contest are those by bit1 (MP3), who provides a slo-mo version, all laconic hand claps, buzzy atmospherics, and a riff that suits the downtempo approach, and insDrumental (MP3), who judging by the sheer internal-combustion complexity of the outcome may have put more effort into his entry than a good number of his competitors combined.

The winner, chosen demo-cratically by votes on a separate message thread (at stonesthrow.com), was mplssoul, who worked in au courant sped-up vocals and a stuttery beat (MP3).

[audio:http://stlth.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/production/b3d20600-e4bd-012c-27b7-fd5ecdd47c47/43b19260-e50d-012c-aacd-f7583da1d649/bit1%20-%20Way%20Out.mp3?Signature=pdMIOAY%2BqICbUbafC5%2Bhb5OseZ0%3D&Expires=1264384433&AWSAccessKeyId=1DHMN2J6JW2RM0N4PC82|titles=”Way Out”|artists=bit1] [audio:http://stlth.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/production/b3d20600-e4bd-012c-27b7-fd5ecdd47c47/8dc718f0-e7e2-012c-47b6-f85af4b26eb3/insDrumental%20-%20STBB%20151.mp3?Signature=FFuMPmL4on0hmiy4xia%2Bxgce06I%3D&Expires=1264384974&AWSAccessKeyId=1DHMN2J6JW2RM0N4PC82|titles=”STBB 151″|artists=insDrumental] [audio:http://stlth.s3.amazonaws.com/assets/production/b3d20600-e4bd-012c-27b7-fd5ecdd47c47/98e99100-e5e5-012c-59f4-f0071c95fa06/mplssoul-myEscape.mp3?Signature=3Wb21QH8OEOcucpX%2BF7PfdnpX1E%3D&Expires=1264384769&AWSAccessKeyId=1DHMN2J6JW2RM0N4PC82|titles=”myEscape”|artists=mplssoul]

The direct links and streaming above may not function properly, but either way, be sure to spend some time at the drop.io/battle151 site, where the entries reside. The service continues to up its game, now allowing for Zip downloading of a given folder. Also give a read to the comments that trail each entry, evidence of the supportive community of producers that has built up around the Stones Throw Beat Battle.

And on to battle 152 …

By Marc Weidenbaum

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  • 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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