Bright Static and Touchtone Glitch

Communication breakdown, courtesy of Yusuke Nakamura

Texture isn’t secondary in Yusuke Nakamura’s “Tone.” On first impression, it sounds like a landline phone call that has fallen just short of a full connection, and we’re listening in as the systems on either end try to reconcile their differences. It’s all bright static and touchtone glitch. In time the basic, underlying 4/4 grid of the music becomes clear, but even as the song-ness of it takes hold, that frazzled-communication vibe retains its fresh, vigorous hold on your ear.

Track originally posted at More from Nakamura, who is based in Tokyo, Japan, at and

Ringtones, the Scanner Collection

Free downloads of sonic micro-fictions by Robin Rimbaud

Just like Rufus Wainwright, I generally leave my cellphone on vibrate. But there are reasons to veer from that habit. There are certain situations, such as driving or setting a wake-up alarm, that suggest a sonic signal is the best option. And then there is simply the attraction of the sounds themselves, like when a musician of Scanner’s stature makes new ringtones available for free download. Late last week he posted 17 tracks from an aborted commission. They range in length from 3 seconds to 16 seconds, and in style from variations on a traditional doorbell (“Twing”), to minute techno (“Elelo”), to bell tones (“Cobel”), to violin (“Gentlemen”).

Brief as they are, the 17 individual tracks are each rich with detail, with a sonic depth that would have been unimaginable when cellphones were first introduced. It is, also, hard not to imagine each tone as the starting point of a fuller composition. Many of them work quite well, in that regard, on repeat — they are starter cells for long stretches of minimalism. A ringtone can, in the correct circumstances, set the tone for a given situation. In that sense, Scanner’s cellphone tones are cues to fictions that their users willingly submit themselves to.

Scanner explains the scenario that led up to the tracks’ release in a brief accompanying note:

Ringtones that were originally commissioned for a new telephone out on the market soon, but after some months of back ‘n forth all my sound work was rejected for being ‘too Scanner.’ Rather than let these rot on a hard drive, here they are all in mono, low resolution for your own delight. Playful, fun little tunes to brighten up your smart phone.

Download the ringtones for free at More from Scanner at

Glia’s Beat

A track with three parts, one invisible

The arrhythmia of the beat against the tonal sweetness of the melodic material makes the track “__..____._” by Glia sound like someone having an acute panic attack on an otherwise serene day. The gap between those sensations, the significant expanse between the anxious churning percussion of the beat and the soft see-saw of the suspended waveforms, makes for a third presence. The track’s title, with its suggestion of a coded message, adds yet another layer of context. I wondered if the apparent Morse code might be supplying the beat, so I popped it into a translator, but it returned a null.

Track originally posted at More from Glia at