My 33 1/3 book, on Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works Volume II, was the 5th bestselling book in the series in 2014. It's available at Amazon (including Kindle) and via your local bookstore. • F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #sound-art, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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

Monthly Archives: December 2012

Disquiet Junto Project 0052: Bump Foot CC

The Assignment: Celebrate the Creative Commons by remixing three tracks from the Bump Foot netlabel.

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Each Thursday at the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate.

This assignment was made in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, December 27, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, December 31, 2012, as the deadline. Below are translations into four languages in addition to the original English: Croatian, French, Japanese, and Turkish, courtesy respectively of Darko Macan, Éric Legendre, Naoyuki Sasanami, and M. Emre Meydan.

Disquiet Junto Project 0052: Bump Foot CC

This is a shared-sample project. Create a new piece of music by employing segments from the following three tracks. All were initially released on the great netlabel Bump Foot:

  1. The first 20 seconds of “Bongo” off the Aguas Tonicas album Los Desposeídos: http://archive.org/download/foot212/foot21209-aguastonicas-bongo.mp3

  2. “Broken Robots” off the Gridline album Red Music: http://archive.org/download/foot211/foot21103-gridline-brokenrobots.mp3

  3. “The Cat in the Ocean” off the Pics Frunk album Low Voltage:

http://archive.org/download/foot206/foot20601-picsfrunk-thecatintheocean.mp3

We’re doing this to pay thanks to the open-minded Bump Foot, which not only releases its music for free download but also employs the Creative Commons license that allows for derivative works. There are hundreds of netlabels out there, but only a small percentage allow for reworking. These Junto netlabel remix projects are intended to promote reworking as itself a means of music distribution.

Deadline: Monday, December 31, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be between 2 and 5 minutes in length.

Information: Please when posting your track on SoundCloud, include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto.

Title/Tag: When adding your track to the Disquiet Junto group on Soundcloud.com, please include the term “disquiet0052-bumpcc”in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track.

Download: For this project, your track should be set as downloadable, and allow for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track, be sure to include this information:

This Disquiet Junto project was done as a celebration of the efforts of the Bump Foot netlabel, and to support its employment of licenses that allow for derivative works. These Junto netlabel remix projects are intended to promote reworking as itself a means of music distribution. This track is comprised of three pieces of music, all originally released on Bump Foot: “Bongo” off the Aguas Tonicas album titled Los Desposeídos, “Broken Robots” off the Gridline album titled Red Music, and “The Cat in the Ocean” off the Pics Frunk album titled Low Voltage. More on the Bump Foot netlabel, and the original versions of these tracks, at http://www.bumpfoot.net/.

More on this 52nd Disquiet Junto project at:

Disquiet Junto Project 0052: Bump Foot CC

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:

http://soundcloud.com/groups/disquiet-junto/ Read more »

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International Bliss

A Japan-USA collaboration

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The return of Kikapu, one of the earliest netlabels, continues to be as great an opportunity for new music as had been expected. Among the latest releases from Kikapu is After the Rain, credited to Wavespan & Nobuto Suda. It contains, if not multitudes, then certainly a plentiful assortment of contributions. In addition to the work by Japan-based Suda (“guitars & field recordings”) and US-based Wavespan (“bass, additional guitars, harmonium, and drum programming”) there is guitar from Gerard Egan, percussion from Jason Wehmhoener, and field recordings from Thomas Park (aka Mystified), and there’s a sample of a pre-existing recording, “Restless Legs”by the Rick Jensen Quartet. The cumulative work proceeds as a sequence of standalone elements heard above a slowly developing drone. Guitar is the most prominent of these, a mix of textural and sketch-like melodic fragments whose ease and elegance match well the underlying ambience. Kikapu mentions in a brief accompanying liner note that “we have what might be the single most inspiring and epic piece of music ever released on Kikapu,” and that may very well be the case (MP3)”¨.

[audio:http://media.xlr8r.com/files/downloads/mp3s/Demona.mp3|titles=”Demona”|artists=Grouper]

More on the album at and kikapu.org and archive.org.

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Guitar Ephemera

A bit of six-string attenuation from Machinefabriek

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Over at his soundcloud.com account, Machinefabriek has posted a free download of a bit of guitar-based ephemera — if something nearly 13 minutes long can be considered ephemera. Titled “Sluimer,” it was released a few years back as a 3″ CD. At the time of its release, Machinefabriek mentioned the track in the 12k.com forum as follows: “This 3 track mini cd has probably the most minimal music I`ve made, using (prepared) acoustic and electric guitar, and a laptop for editing.” Minimal it is, indeed — quite likely it could be listened to and only one guitar would be recognized, and the laptop editing not even considered as a component. It’s an elegant piece, steady in its unfolding, each note passing in a manner both passive and mechanical.

Track posted for free download at soundcloud.com/machinefabriek. One warning: it’s a massive WAV file, weighing in at about 128 megabytes.

More from Machinefabriek, aka Rutger Zuydervelt of Rotterdam, Netherlands, at machinefabriek.nu.

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Another Near-Silent Night

A rendition by Todd Elliott of San Jose, California

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The track’s title is “Is Born.” Clearly, even before listening, this is a truncation (a reverse-truncation?) of a familiar phrase sung this time of year. The song is “Silent Night” made even more silent. The lyrics are muffled, the melody all the more so, until it’s less a song than a memory of a song, thin layers of synthesized tone occasionally letting their source material edge toward recognizability.

The version is by Todd Elliott, who records as Toaster. The brief liner note accompanying the song says, “I did this for a compilation that I didn’t make it on. I am too dissonant for ambient Christmas.” It may not have made its intended destination, but it’s sure to find an audience.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/toaster-1. More on Toaster/Elliott at toaster.bandcamp.com and twitter.com/toddbert. Two other “Silent Night” renditions, one by Scanner and the other by Robert Fripp, were mentioned here yesterday.

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Q&A at 33 1/3 on Aphex Twin

An update on my Selected Ambient Works Volume II book-in-progress

The book series 33 1/3, published by Bloomsbury, has become a remarkable repository of unique thinking on popular music, and I’m proud to be hard at work on my own entry. I’m currently writing a 33 1/3 book about the Aphex Twin album Selected Ambient Works Volume II, which will celebrate its 20th anniversary in a little over a year. Mine was among 18 books recently announced as the next slate of releases, and the publisher has begun posting short interviews with the various authors about their projects.

First up was Pete Astor, member of such bands as the Loft and the Weather Prophets, who is writing his book about the Voidoids’ Blank Generation. Both his subject and mine were released on the same label in the United States: Sire Records. Blank Generation came out in 1977, and the Aphex twin in 1994.

My 33 1/3 interview, the second in this series, recently went live at the publisher’s blog, 33third.blogspot.com. Each interviewee is given a similar slate of questions, such as what drew them to their subject, what the application process entailed, what other books in the series we’ve read, and so forth. Here is one such back and forth:

33 1/3: Name a lyric from the album you’re writing about that encapsulates either a) the album itself, b) your experience in hearing the album for the first time, or c) your experience writing about the album, so far.

MW: This is difficult to answer because there isn’t much in the manner of a lyric on Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II. It’s almost entirely instrumental, and to the extent that a voice is heard, it’s one that is muffled, clipped, edited, echoed until it serves an instrumental function—the voice becomes a sonic element, textural rather than textual, as the saying goes. To that extent, any such appearance here, like the semblance of a woman’s voice on the album’s opening track, encapsulates all three things you mention: One of the great benefits of a record with no words is how it doesn’t respond directly to your writing about it—it doesn’t purport to explain itself in the way that records that consist of words, such as a traditional rock and rap records, explain themselves. This is very enticing to me.

In the interview, I was asked about how I listen to music:

How do you listen to your music at home: vinyl, CD, or MP3? And could you tell us why?

I answered in brief in the published version, but this is a more thorough response that’s been on my mind:

I listen to generative sound applications, like Brian Eno’s recent Scape and Reality Jockey’s recently discontinued RJDJ, because of my fascination with the concept of generative sound, both from a compositional standpoint and as a means to confront the divide between consumer and performer that I mentioned in response to the previous question. Considerations of the development of generative sound — both as a practice and as an aesthetic — will play a role in this Aphex Twin book.

I have a cassette player. I’ve had it forever, and took it out of storage when the cassette resurgence was getting underway. I have a turntable, and I use it maybe once every week or two at this point, tops. I’ve had it for almost 20 years, and I need to replace it. I had three turntables until two years ago: the beautiful rosewood one I still own, plus a pair of Technics 1200s. Then my first child was born and certain things just had to be let go, so my Technics and mixer went to a nice coder from San Jose whom I met through Craigslist. I thought I’d miss my equipment, but I was never really a beat-matcher, per se, just someone who layered things, and I can do that well enough on my laptop. On occasion I do miss laying down two copies of the same piece of vinyl and endlessly moving back and forth between them, like the break in the instrumental version of “Don’t Feel Right” by the Roots. I may get a pair again in the distant future. I love playing with music on my iPad — including these generative apps I mention — but nothing in my experience has come close to that tactile quality. The iPad has produced other participatory pleasures, but not this one.

Anyhow, it was a pleasure to participate in the interview. It really helped get my brain going, as was my experience during other interview opportunities this past year at freemusicarchive.org, hilobrow.com, and soundcloud.com. I often interview myself (rhetorically speaking) as part of my writing process, and one of the things at this early stage of working on the Aphex Twin project is figuring out just what questions it is that I plan on attempting to answer in the book.

Read the 33 1/3 interview with me about my Aphex Twin book-in-progress at 33third.blogspot.com. Next up in the series is Darran Anderson talking about Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire de Melody Nelson.

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