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.

Monthly Archives: September 2011

11 Ways at Looking at, and Listening to, a Sound Artist (MP3)

In Hollywood, it would be called a reel, a sequential survey of one’s work. In music, it’s a mix — and in the case of Jeffery Melton, who goes by nofi, it’s nearly a dozen pieces of varying sonic properties, creative practice, and artistic intent. The mix bears the title “melton.drone.mixtape-2011.09.18,” the sort of name that makes the most sense scrawled on a piece of masking tape and applied to one of myriad narrow cardboard boxes shelved in a humidity-controlled basement. Perhaps that mental image is drawn in part from the music contained in the mix, much of which has an enticing emotional remoteness. It’s a kind of bunker aesthetic, in which voices are kept at a distance, field recordings of running water veer back and forth between stereo channels amid the constant hum of ambient anxiety, and the blurring of the line between real-world and synthesized sound is paramount. Melton writes in brief of the material, which he says is recent work, that it includes “electronic drones and noise, field recordings and granular textures,” with the contents divided up as follows, though no specific time codes are made available:

1. morning birdsong, grand marais, MI 2. testing old instruments 3. star sailing, excerpt 4. front porch, fort wayne, IN 5. sinister, excerpt 6. core breach, excerpt 7. lake superior waves on rock beach, grand marais, MI 8. granular cloud, flute 9. granular cloud, tabalas 10. water wheel, fort wayne, IN 11. granular stretch, orchestral

Track originally posted at, where it is available for free download. More on Nofi/Melton, who is based in Fort Wayne, Indiana, at and

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Feed the (Audio) Gremlins After Midnight (MP3)

Perhaps we should feed the gremlins after midnight. That’s what Chris Herbert did, albeit inadvertently. He came back to his desk one morning to discover that he’d left some audio software going overnight. It picked up stray sounds and converted them into an alternately blissful and tension-riddled stretch of glitchy wonderment, which Herbert posted at his account under the title “untrammelled/overnight.” If you enjoy it, download it quickly, as Herbert reports, “I’ll likely delete this in short order.”

If you’d like to hear what this same software was intended to be used for, Herbert explains that over at he posted a purposeful composition he’d made with it.

Track originally posted at More on Herbert at and (Image from courtesy of the Creative Commons.)

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The Radio Edit from (Blue) Hell (MP3)

Kudos to Blue Hell not only for creating an immersive set of ambient music that mixes vapor trails of synthesizer and a constant sense of moistness, perhaps source from field recordings — but also for thinking of a broader audience than the work might seem to address. The piece is titled “Prayer Machine,” and in full form it is a nearly two-hour sprawl of sound. With its dank contours and dark tonal content, it comprises the audio equivalent of a very long bath after a very long day. But Blue Hell has also created a “radio edit” of the work, a five-minute excerpt, suitable for casual listening, and for easier passing around (MP3). The track is notable for its loose structure, and its ability to maintain its sense of lull for such an extended period of time. The format, the radio edit, should be a wake-up call in the ambient/netlabel community as a means to make difficult music — which is to say in this case, long-form music, music whose scope and breadth makes particular demands on the listener’s patience — more approachable.

[audio:|titles=”Prayer Machine (Radio Edit)”|artists=Blue Hell]

Track originally posted at

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A (Temporarily Free) Record Album in Advance of Its Instrumentals

First: act quickly, as this free offer is only good until 9:19pm this evening, Philadelphia time. The Philadelphia-based producer Y?Arcka is a frequent subject of Downstream entries here at, thanks to his intensely focused hip-hop productions, which tend to take a tiny slip of an existing track and extrapolate from it a fully considered instrumental composition. Though his own works at times push him toward the avant-garde edge of the instrumental-hip-hop continuum, Y?Arcka (alternately Why?Arcka, which stands for Young Architect) in no way distances himself from basic algebra of hip-hop, in which a prepared track is passed to a vocalist, yielding a finished work that has, generally speaking, one author responsible for each of its constituent parts — not counting, of course, the musicians who were the source for the samples, or guest vocalists.

In a full album just out today, and available for free download only until 9:19pm (Philadelphia Time), Y?Arcka has teamed with over a dozen rappers/vocalists, including the noted rhythmic raconteur Zilla Rocca. According to a tweet Y?Arcka sent me earlier today, folks who download the album will also receive a set of the instrumental versions. Especially looking forward to hearing the instrumental of “Up My Sleeve,” its central riff something halfway between a talking drum and a flute, and of “Mr. Matic,” with its super tight mix of drums and guitar.

Album available at Y?Arcka is on Twitter at, where he bills himself as “conceptual programmer.” Read a 2009 interview with Y?Arcka, born Shawn Kelly: “Young Communicator.”

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Email Isn’t Free

Over at, I’ve channeled my antipathy for the vast amount of email PR that I receive each week into something vaguely constructive. It’s an article with the self-explanatory title “How to Use Email to Promote Your Music Without Alienating Your Audience.” It’s aimed at musicians who use email to promote their own music (“When It Feels Awkward, Quote Other People”), but there’s no reason the suggestions (“Links, Not Attachments,” “Garbage Out, Garbage In”) aren’t applicable more broadly.

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