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: October 2017

What Sound Looks Like

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt


I’ve never been big on Halloween, personally, but even in advance of having a little kid I made peace with it. I’d go for the simplest costume I could imagine. For many years this meant wearing a colorful Superman t-shirt underneath a half-buttoned regular overshirt, which combined with my short dark brown hair and my eyeglasses made me scrawny Clark Kent. This year I’m going for a costume that’s even simpler still: a mere safety pin transforms me into Theodore Twombly, the character played by Joaquin Phoenix in the excellent 2013 Spike Jonze film, *Her*. With his cellphone suspended in breast pocket, Twombly can go for walks with his beloved, a highly advanced AI voiced throughout the film by the disembodied Scarlett Johansson. She in turn views the world through Twombly’s phone’s camera. And, no, I didn’t grow a mustache for the occasion.

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt.
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Old Ways, New Tools

A video from London-based Dustmotes

One of the great pleasures of listening to an active electronic musician for an extended period of time is observing how they bring new equipment into their orbit. There is the question of how that equipment, in turn, informs their work. There is also how they achieve their now familiar sounds with unfamiliar tools. The musician Dustmotes’ adoption of a new percussive-oriented sampler is a case in point. The London-based Dustmotes, also known as Paul Croker, has been making elegantly gritty instrumental hip-hop at least since 2011, which is the earliest credit on his discogs.com page, and also the first year I wrote about his music. His music often features a slightly drifting rhythm, a beat missed here, a tempo ebbing there. He regularly explores gentle sounds on well-circumscribed repeat against muffled beats. Playing with a new tool, the Elektron Digitakt, he recently posted a short video, which he dubbed a “Spontaneous live performance” in the brief accompanying note. It has all the modesty of his earlier work, with a newfound level of grit and glitch. The video was shot overhead, so you can watch as he goes. Even if you’re not familiar with the Digitakt’s interface, you can infer correspondences between action and sound — how a knob adds a new effect, or changes the pitch, or welcomes additional elements. It’s a great piece.

Video originally posted to Dustmotes’ YouTube channel. More from Dustmotes at about.me/dustmotes and twitter.com/dustmotes.

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A Free Album Made with a Free Virtual Modular Synthesizer

It's the Klirrfaktor's Lost Identity, made on VCV Rack

Rudimentary sources are a thing this week. Over at pitchfork.com, Philip Sherburne surveyed albums recorded on a single synthesizer, among them three Korgs, a Clavia, and a Casio. Meanwhile on Twitter, there were endless variations on the theme of “This is where I recorded and mixed the album and all the gear I used.” The resulting memes ranged from Tron to Teletubbies. Some, like Four Tet’s tiny studio with a view, were even believable. (My own contribution was a nested loop, beginning here.)

And then, over on Bandcamp, the Klirrfaktor uploaded a nine-track album, Lost Identity, completely recorded on a single piece of software, one that is still deep in beta. Named VCV Rack, the software is a virtual modular synthesizer developed by Andrew Belt and contributed to by a growing number of module creators. You could argue that with numerous modules, VCV Rack isn’t exactly a single instrument, but Klirrfaktor gets points for putting it to substantial use so quickly — and for eschewing rote 4/4 rhythm tracks in favor of dank industrial spaces and ominous sound design.

Currently in version 0.4, VCV Rack (shown above) offers a variety of true basics, like oscillators and mixers, as well as adaptations of more specialized gear, like granular synthesizers and matrix sequencers. Both VCV Rack and the Klirrfaktor album are also entirely free. You can download VCV Rack at vcvrack.com. And if you make something you’re happy with, there’s a compilation due out that you can contribute to, details at switchedonrack.com.

Album originally posted at theklirrfaktor.bandcamp.com. More from the Klirrfaktor at twitter.com/TheKlirrfaktor and youtube.com/TheKlirrfaktor.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0304: Let’s Buzz

Create a piece of music by thinking of the structure of a bee hive.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, 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. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project.

Tracks will be added to the playlist for the duration of the project.

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, October 30, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, October 26, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0304: Let’s Buzz
Create a piece of music by thinking of the structure of a bee hive.

Step 1: Consider the bee hive. Think about its structure, the activity it contains, how the hive lends form to that activity and how the activity contributes to the hive’s form.

Step 2: Create a piece of music that is based on the structure of the bee hive.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0304” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0304-lets-buzz/

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, October 30, 2017. This project was posted in the morning, California time, on Thursday, October 26, 2017.

Length: The finished track’s length is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0304” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to 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. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

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

More on this 304th weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Let’s Buzz: Create a piece of music by thinking of the structure of a bee hive) at:

https://disquiet.com/0304/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0304-lets-buzz/

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0303: Out of Sequence

Pay tribute to the Roland 303 by doing something that is apart from how you think it was intended to be utilized

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, 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. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Tracks will be added to the playlist for the duration of the project.

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, October 23, 2017. This project was posted in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, October 19, 2017.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0303: Out of Sequence
Pay tribute to the Roland 303 by doing something that is apart from how you think it was intended to be utilized.

Step 1: This is the 303rd weekly Disquiet Junto project since the series of compositional prompts was founded the first week of January 2012. Naturally, we’re paying tribute to the Roland TB-303.

Step 2: If you have a TB-303, well, congrats to you. If you (likely) don’t, consider one of the various emulators that have come out for it, or just pay tribute to it by other means. There are a variety of emulations out there, including this one:

http://errozero.co.uk/acid-machine/

There’s also, of course, Roland’s own tribute, the TB-3.

Step 3: Record a short piece of music that is somehow apart from how you think the 303 was intended to be utilized.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0303” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0303-out-of-sequence/

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, October 23, 2017. This project was posted in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, October 19, 2017.

Length: The finished track’s length is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0303” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to 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. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

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

More on this 303rd weekly Disquiet Junto project (“Out of Sequence: Pay tribute to the Roland 303 by doing something that is apart from how you think it was intended to be utilized) at:

https://disquiet.com/0303/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0303-out-of-sequence/

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

Photo associated with this project is by Dr. Motte. It’s used via Flickr thanks to a Creative Commons license:

flic.kr/p/kG6St

creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

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