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: March 2013

Fetal Dissonance (MP3)

The lead track off the new Prophecy Sun album

20130330-psun

The cognitive dissonance in some of Prophecy Sun’s music can be significant. In the song “Killing Game,”for example, a discernible lyric communicates words along the lines of the title — does it go “kill and make havoc”? — words that for all their formidable threat still have a gentle, lulling aura. This aura is because Prophecy Sun layers her voice, amid blankets of sonic haze, with such a phalanx of echoes that it can be difficult to locate where the starting point of a given digital roundelay. In other words, this dissonance is not in error; it’s intentional. The haunting is like that of a rough dream or a hallucinatory reality, and the effect can bleed from one track to the next. The song that follows “Killing Game” on Sleep Fever, her album on the No Type netlabel, is “Give Me,” which while no less pleading, can be mistaken as threatening, because the phrase “give me” can sound a lot like “killing,” especially in circumstances such as these. Particularly recommended is the opening track, “Follow Me,” in large part because the soft consonants in the words allow them to be all the more lost in the processing (MP3).

[audio:http://archive.org/download/pan075/pan075-prophecy_sun-1-follow_me.mp3|titles=”Follow Me”|artists=Prophecy Sun]

A brief liner note explains that Prophecy Sun recorded the album in her living room: “sampling her voice and clips of a fetal heartbeat taken from her belly.” Kristen Roos is credited with additional processing.

More from Prophecy Sun at prophecysun.ca. The collaborative pair’s work was covered here previously, on the occasion of their Hex album, back in late July 2011. More on Kristen Roos at kristenroos.com.

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Past Week at Twitter.com/Disquiet

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Higher Calling Calling (MP3)

A Morse prayer by Alan Morse Davies

20130329-morse

Part of the underlying strength of the spoken word, of the word intended to be spoken even more than of the word intended to be read, is its rhythm. The pace of words, of syllables, of phrases, the criss-crossing of reference points, is as much a matter of rhetoric as are the words themselves: grammar, metaphor, anecdote, even the message may not be as powerful as the rhythm with which they are expressed. Alan Morse Davies pushes at this a bit in his tidy seasonal sonic experiment, in which he took one of the most recited texts and converted it, so to speak, into Morse Code:

[audio:http://www.at-sea.com/today/01.%20How%20to%20Contact%20God%20When%20He’s%20Out%20of%20Cellphone%20Range.mp3|titles=”How to Contact God When He’s Out of Cellphone Range”|artists=Alan Morse Davies]

What has been encoded is The Lord’s Prayer, and the endeavor is titled, by the ever wry Davies, “How to Contact God When He’s Out of Cellphone Range” (MP3). Additional recommendation, according to Davies: “Use a good ground wire and a good length antenna.” Needless to say, when you make experimental music of the electronic sort, and when your middle name is synonymous with a particularly outmoded proto-codec, it is inevitable that you would employ it in your work. It is fascinating to listen to something hallowed be translated into a technology, a language of sorts, that itself has an aura of antiquity.

Track originally posted for free download at Davies’ alanmorsedavies.wordpress.com website. More from Davies at at-sea.com.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0065: Piano Overlay

The Assignment: Compose music atop a randomly assigned segment of a pre-existing track by Jared Brickman.

20130328-brickman

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.

Every Disquiet Junto project is about restraint, and yet every Disquiet Junto project is also about risk. Specifically, it’s about musicians taking the risk of sharing work that might not fit their overall impression of their own musical approach, and it’s about musicians taking the risk of sharing work that might not feel complete, given the nature of the given assignment and of the tight deadline. But the Junto is a risk from a broader vantage, too; in my role as administer of the group, I occasionally take risks by challenging my philosophical sense of the group’s defining characteristics. I’ve been hesitant, for example, to introduce a project that might in any way give the potential participant concern based on their work having some role beyond its own completion. This has been because, in the end, the Disquiet Junto is about being an engine to get people to make music and to challenge themselves, and one way to accomplish that is to limit any opportunities for them second-guessing themselves. But as the Junto has grown, the nature of the collaborative effort inherent in it has become more clear to me, and I’ve come to realize that the collaborative goal of a project like this week’s — in which I will likely combine all the finished pieces into one longer piece — might serve as a form of encouragement unto itself. In any case, like every Disquiet Junto project, this week’s is an experiment.

Major thanks to Ken Mistove (of kenzak.com), a frequent Junto participant, for coding the browser-based tool that assigns segments of the source track for this week’s project. We’ll be employing a variation on his tool again in the near future.

This assignment was made in the mid-afternoon, California time, on Thursday, March 28, with 11:59pm on the following Monday, April 1, 2013, as the deadline. (Given that the deadline occurs on April Fools’ Day, I will go the extra step of stating that this event has nothing to do with April Fools’ Day.)

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0065: Piano Overlay

This week’s project’s theme is asynchronous collaboration — in other words, making things together separately. We will make new compositions based on short, discrete, randomly assigned segments of a single, 60-minute piano composition. Collectively these will form a longer, collaborative suite.

These are the steps:

Step 1: You will be making a piece of music by adding new sounds to a pre-existing track. You can download that pre-existing track, an original piano composition by Jared Brickman, here:

Step 2: When you go to the following URL, at kenzak.com, you will be assigned, immediately, a specific section of the longer Brickman piece. This kenzak.com URL will randomly pull up two pieces of information. The first piece of information is the start point of your segment. The second is the length of your segment (which will be between 1 and 4 minutes):

http://kenzak.com/disquiet/disquiet0065-pianoverlay.html

One note: There will be overlap between assigned pieces. This was a conscious decision, informed by the overall theme of overlaying, which is explained further in step 4, below.

Step 3: Extract your assigned segment from the pre-existing track.

Step 4: Compose a new piece of music by adding elements to the pre-existing track. You can add anything you choose, with the exception of voice. Limit yourself to two additional elements. The original track should be audible throughout your new composition.

Deadline: Monday, April 1, 2013, at 11:59pm wherever you are.

Length: Your finished work should be the length determined in step 2 above.

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: The title of your track should begin with its start point. Also include the term “disquiet0065-pianoverlay”in the title of your track, and as a tag for your track. Your track might be titled “05:35 My Song (disquiet0065-pianoverlay)” or “34:30 Dueling Keyboards (disquiet0065-pianoverlay)” — just to provide two examples.

Download: Please set your track in a manner that allows for attributed, commerce-free remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution). I’d like to potentially combine all the pieces into a single composition, and this license would allow me to do so easily.

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

More on this 65th Disquiet Junto project at:

Disquiet Junto Project 0065: Piano Overlay

More on the source composition by Jared Brickman at:

The browser-based tool that segmented the Brickman track for this project was coded by Disquiet Junto member Ken Mistove, more from whom at:

http://kenzak.com/

More details on the Disquiet Junto at:

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Indian Storm (MP3)

Field recording by a fellow traveler of Chris Watson

20130327-Corbett Map

Into each field recording artist’s portfolio, a little rain must fall. In the case of the latest podcast from the Touch Radio series, the artist in question is R Martin Seddon, who participated in an educational trip to India with Chris Watson, as organized by the Wildeye, an international school of wildlife film-making. Watson is a famed audio ecologist and Touch reecording artist. Sneddon has posted an opportunistic portrait of a nature reserve, captured in the middle of a storm MP3. The detail is spectacular.

[audio:http://www.touchshop.org/touchradio/Radio92.mp3|titles=”Indian Storm”|artists=R Martin Seddon]

As Sneddon describes it, in part:

[W]e settled down to the sound of distant thunder. Our hosts advised that we took shelter before the rain started and soon after the short walk to my hut the first spots were falling. Recording equipment was hurriedly set up under the veranda and my hut-mate and I settled down on deck-chairs. After only a very short wait, with skipper frogs calling from the nearby pond, the rain started. Very soon the only sound was of rain and distant thunder and everyone, even the monitor lizard that lived in the thatch of our roof, stayed put until the storm passed.

Over at his website, at rmartinseddon.co.uk, there is a host of of other audio recordings he has made, all streaming. These include the elevator at the Imperial War Museum, a sonic portrait of Venice, and a wonderful document of a wire fence, captured with contact microphones.

Track originally posted for free download at touchradio.org. More from Seddon at rmartinseddon.co.uk. More on the Wildeye program, whose other tutors/staff include Jez riley French and Piers Warren, at wildeye.co.uk. Map image via indianwildlife.com.

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