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

When Rain Sounds Like a Jazz Drummer

A brief real-world field recording from Dizzy Banjo

As is often the case, Dizzy Banjo (aka Robert M. Thomas of Reality Jockey, makers of sound experiences, largely in the form of apps) has posted sounds from his everyday life, this time around rain on a windowpane. He’s done this on his SoundCloud account, and this sound — this collection of sounds, recorded and posted as a half-minute file — is equal parts enjoyable and informative for several reasons: There’s the opportunity to listen for, within the track, elements of the sounds that are intrinsic to his work as a coder and composer, and coder-composer — especially of interest in regard to generative methodology, in which algorithms come to reflect the properties of natural activities, of living organisms and ecosystems. And there’s the extent to which these sounds bring to mind pre-existing musical references, in particular the light brush work and arhythmic improvisations of an outward-bound jazz drummer.

This is the second time in just a few days when of all the music and sounds I’m listening to, I am linking to a field recording of precipitation — despite the fact that it has, in fact, been raining quite a bit here in San Francisco, and was on the East Coast where I was until about 24 or so hours ago. I suffer from a bit of hurricane PTSD. After four years in New Orleans (1999-2003), I find myself anxious when it rains, and yet I enjoy recordings of rain. Perhaps the key difference is that recordings by definition have no attendant, worrisome portent — the storm has passed by the time one hears it.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/dizzybanjo. More from Dizzy Banjo at dizzybanjo.com and twitter.com/dizzybanjo.

(The above photo is by Ooray, aka Ted Laderas, from his instagram.com account.)

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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