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: September 2018

Stasis Report: Hecker ✚ Sprague ✚ Classic AFX

Four new tracks and one Aphex Twin favorite newly added to the ambient playlist on Spotify and Google Play Music as of September 30, 2018

The latest update to my Stasis Report ambient-music playlist, on Spotify and Google Play Music. The following five tracks were added on Sunday, September 30. Four of the tracks are new, and one is a classic from almost a quarter century ago:

✚ “Synth Two” off the new Emily A. Sprague album, Mount Vision: mlesprg.bandcamp.com. I wrote a bit about its title track during its prerelease. (This track wasn’t initially on the Google Play Music version of Stasis Report because the album wasn’t, but eventually it popped up.)

✚ “Mend,” the closing track from Care, the new album from Klara Lewis and Simon Fisher Turner on Editions Mego: editionsmego.com, soundcloud.com/editionsmego.

✚ “Through the City,” the track by Marcus Fischer on the new Field Works collaborative album, Pogue’s Run: fieldworks.bandcamp.com.

✚ “Is a Rose Petal of the Dying Crimson Light” off the new Tim Hecker album, Konoyo, on the Kranky label: timhecker.bandcamp.com.

✚ As of this installment of the Stasis Report, I’m going to start introducing one archival track most weeks, starting with “Tree,” the 10th track on Selected Ambient Works Volume 2 from Aphex Twin. The album was originally released in 1994, and is the subject of my 2014 book in the 33 1/3 series: aphextwin.warp.net

Some previous Stasis Report tracks were removed to make room for these, keeping the playlist length to roughly two hours. Those retired tracks (by Anna Meredith, Robert Rich, Olafur Arnalds, Simon Stalenhag, Mary Lattimore, Ellen Arkbro, Mark Van Hoen) are now in the Stasis Archives playlist (currently only on Spotify).

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Diegetic-Like

More on the subtle musicality of Issa Rae's great HBO series

The musicality of the HBO series Insecure took a bit of a hit when the character Daniel exited stage left earlier this season, the series’ third. A love interest for Issa, Insecure‘s main protagonist, the aspiring music producer Daniel helped, simply through his presence, to transform the show’s wall-to-wall backing tracks into plot points, whether he was busy at work, or arguing with another musician about the arrangement of a new composition, or seducing Issa from behind his production desk.

With Daniel now gone, we still have composer Raphael Saadiq’s score and Kier Lehman’s music supervision to artfully thread the needle between diegetic and non-diegetic sound, between what’s happening on-screen and what Insecure‘s writers want us to think and feel at any given moment. But this past week’s episode, “Obsessed-Like,” the season’s penultimate, leveled things up during one brief, spectacular moment.

Insecure has always played with Issa’s inner monologues, which often occur when she’s alone in the bathroom. Those moments are tender not just because they are private, but because they show a more forthright and secure Issa than she generally acts in public. They often come in the form of short bursts of fledgling rap lyrics, part poetry slam, part self-aware stand-up comedy. They hint at where Issa the character may be headed. Perhaps — as with the Jerry of Seinfeld — the character Issa will become more like the actress Issa who portrays her.

In the episode “Obsessed-Like,” as its title suggests, Issa is anything but secure. She’s reeling from another recent relationship, with a guy named Nathan, one she didn’t herself choose to conclude. Much of the episode is a battle between her somewhat deranged inner thoughts and what’s happening around her. Many of the scenes are filmed as if through her eyes, to emphasize that she isn’t seeing things clearly. (It’s the first episode of the season written by Insecure showrunner Prentice Penny, who perhaps has the most freedom to push beyond the show’s narrative toolbox.)

At one climactic point we see Issa in Nathan’s bedroom, where she is frantically trying to guess his laptop’s password. Her best friend, Molly, walks in on her, and to signal the way this moment presents an emotional rock bottom, Issa’s inner and public voices finally converge in an expression of utter shame — the “uh” of her internal monologue and the “uh” of her verbal response to a question from Molly harmonize with each other. They’re seen here in captions, the italics having, throughout the episode, signaled when Issa is talking to herself inside her head. Issa hasn’t recovered fully, but the delusions with which the episode opened seem to have been reconciled with — come into harmony with — reality.

This evening, HBO will air the final episode of the third season of Insecure (which has already been renewed for a fourth). It is directed by Regina King, who played a lead character in the series Southland, the rare hour-long TV drama to air, for its full five-season run, without any background score. I wrote previously about the character Daniel’s presence on Insecure as a nuanced secondary figure we see making music.

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Module Learning: Spectral Swoop

Give and take as structure

It’s a little-known fact that the low-level drones experienced as much as heard in large office buildings aren’t the result of overlapping signal byproduct from various infrastructural activities — the off-sync relations between HVAC, electrical, and IT, for example — but, instead, are unattributed ambient sound-art installations funded by forward-thinking c-level thought leaders and artistically progressive boards of directors.

Well, no, not really. It is just noise whose happenstance subtle complexity can reward close attention, when it isn’t causing low-level discomfort.

In any case, this recording is a Saturday-morning attempt to combine the rough timbres of one module with the elegant spectrum analysis of another, all in the service of a certain HVAC je ne sais quoi. The main sound is a rich triangle coming from the Ieaskul F. Mobenthey Swoop, sent in turn through the 4MS Spectral Multiband Resonator, several bands of which are tweaked thanks to various low-frequency oscillations. The pace is set by the Delptronics Trigger Man, which, throughout, rotates the scale of the 4MS module two steps forward, one step back.

In addition, a bit of pink noise waves in and out, coming from an SSF Quantum Rainbow 2. The interwoven LFO patterns yield a song-like sequence of give and take, if not full on verse and chorus.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/disquiet.

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5 Recommendations for Bandcamp’s Voting Rights Fundraiser

Broken down by genre

Bandcamp is donating 100% today (Friday, September 28, “midnight to midnight Pacific Time”) of its share of proceeds from sales on the website to the Voting Rights Project. Often when Bandcamp does these fundraisers, the musicians also chip in their share. If you’re looking for something to buy, given how expansive Bandcamp’s holdings are, here are five recommendations:

Ambient: Mount Vision by Emily A. Sprague.

Hip-Hop: Delve Into Classical Moog by Kev Brown.

Downtempo Beats: Tidy by Ally Mobbs (with piano by ioflow on one track).

Trance: City of Light by Bill Laswell and collaborators Lori Carson, Trilok Gurtu, John Balance and Peter Christopherson (of Coil), and Tetsu Inoue.

Classical: Diary Reworks, on which eight acts rework music from Michael Price’s album Diary. Participants include: Michael A. Muller, Library Tapes, Dmitry Evgrafov, Sophie Hutchings, Madeleine Cocolas, Julia Kent, Akira Kosemura, and Marco Caricola.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0352: Layering Permutations

The Assignment: Play something melodic atop two variations.

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.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, October 1, 2018, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on. It was posted in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, September 27, 2018.

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

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0352: Layering Permutations
The Assignment: Play something melodic atop two variations.

Step 1: The idea is to have a simple melody of some sort, and to then have two variations on that melody play simultaneous with it. The key word here is “melody.”

Step 2: Come up with a melody, and then come up with means to create variations on it. Think of the variations as permutations of the melody. Try to have the variations not veer too far from the original. As you develop the variations, think about relative balance between the three layers.

Step 3: Record a short piece of music in which the three layers are stacked atop each other. You might perform the layers separately and then combine them, or you might have a means for them to play simultaneously. You might have the balance between the tracks remain static throughout, or you may change relative volume at times.

Six More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0352” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0352” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 4: Post your track in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0352-layering-permutations/

Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Other Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, October 1, 2018, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on. It was posted in the early evening, California time, on Thursday, September 27, 2018.

Length: The length of your track is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0352” 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: Please consider setting your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

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

More on this 352nd weekly Disquiet Junto project (Layering Permutations / The Assignment: Play something melodic atop two variations) at:

https://disquiet.com/0352/

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-0352-layering-permutations/

There’s also a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet to join in.

Image associated with this project is by John Getchel, used thanks to Flickr and a Creative Commons license:

https://flic.kr/p/bXohqx

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/

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