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A Solo Guitar Drone

By Toaster of San Jose, California

The musician Toaster’s tagline on Twitter is “I make music by programming things.” However, the origin of his recent track “Beacon, for Marissa” is not a computer but, instead, a guitar. The piece is a nearly 20-minute solo drone, recorded live. Now, “solo” needn’t simply mean singular. There are several lines that thread through “Beacon,” overtones and grungy throbbing strings among them. And a “drone” needn’t simply imply steady-going. Various aspects of the track suggest a trajectory in the stasis, a direction to the flux. There are pause-like moments early in that focus the ear toward shrill bits of noise, and as the piece progresses its low-tide ebbing and flowing become recognizable, familiar, almost song-like in their patterning. “Beacon” is a beautiful, sedate, peaceful apparition — perhaps not music from programming, but certainly music for programming, and other cerebral tasks.

Track originally posted for free download at soundcloud.com/toaster-1. More from Toaster, aka Todd Elliott of San Jose, California, at toaster.bandcamp.com and twitter.com/toddbert.

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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