New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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

Stonesthrow Migration from to Soundcloud (Instrumental Hip-Hop MP3)

The Stonesthrow label’s weekly sample melees recently migrated to the sound-file community from the cloud-storage service (the latter of which is due to be shut down, following its acquisition by Facebook). It will be interesting to see how, if at all, the backend-technology shift influences the ongoing competitions. For now, it’s difficult to think of a significant downside to the move away from

That’s nothing against; the service had regularly improved its interface over time. But one of the major benefits of the Soundcloud interface is that each participating musician will have a distinct personal page, so if a listener enjoys one track, it will be all the easier to locate other tracks by the same person. When the Stonesthrow Beat Battles were on, collating the various contributors felt a bit like being a character on the AMC TV series Rubicon, trying to track down information on mysterious figures who post coded missives online and leave a disparate and disconnected approximation of a data trail.

Beat Battle #192 is happening right now, which gives us time to focus on the well-attended #191. For readers just coming upon the idea of a Beat Battle, the way it works is that all the participants have a set amount of time, a little less than a week, to construct a beat (that is, a hip-hop-oriented backing track) based on a shared sound source. For contest #191, that sample was a bit of mellow instrumental pop jazz by Don Julian and the Larks (aka the Meadowlarks), titled “Just Tryin’ to Make It.” With a lightly swinging rhythm and a sweet lead saxophone, the track had numerous sample-able moments. Beatmaking tends to fall into two camps: reworking known music and crate-digging for rarities. The Larks track falls into the latter camp.

To these ears, the winner of #191 should have been Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Tictoc, who took the enjoyably subdued tune and torqued it into a noisily looping monster, somewhere between the skronk symphonies of Glenn Branca and the dense collages of Public Enemy:

Track originally posted at Original contest announcement, with link to source audio, at

Speaking of the demise of, there was a piece by PC Magazine‘s John C. Dvorak (at about the (much reported but still not yet in effect) demise of, in which he decried the fragility of a cloud-based Internet ecology: “It’s like a bone yard. Blame the cloud. You’ve basically wasted years of effort saving cool Web sites with bookmarks for no reason.” The piece is worth a reading, though it offers no apparent solution. It also begs the question, are dead links a massive problem? Putting all your data in one basket, as it were, is a problem, but that’s true whether the basket is in the cloud or in your basement server. Either way, it’s an avoidable one; only had so much impact on the Internet, but imagine suddenly going belly-up. In addition, there’s a mistaken fetish quality to the perceived eternal nature of links; maybe there’s something to be said for data that disappears.

It’s wait and see for now on how the Stonesthrow switch to Soundcloud from will play out. It seems like a win for participants and listeners, but perhaps the relative loss of anonymity won’t prove to be a boon — maybe the looseness of gave producers reassurance that their copyright-meddlesome habits wouldn’t be easily trackable, and the Soundcloud mode will be less attractive. For now, the Beat Battles go on.

By Marc Weidenbaum

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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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