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 2020

Jasmine Guffond Gets the Drop on the Mic

For a new Editions Mego album

Both the album title, Microphone Permission, and the title of its lead track, “Forever Listening,” get at Jasmine Guffond’s interest in surveillance culture. The former is something we grant devices and apps without giving the decision, such as it is, much thought. The latter describes the state of tools, such as smart speakers, we allow so that they can seem to anticipate our needs. These concepts feed, in “Forever Listening,” a droning piece lace with muffled voices and occasionally riddled with something like a shot from a video game.

An accompanying video, by Ilan Katin, uses what appears to be dated footage from a security camera from a store to make its point: we’re being watched at the most mundane moments. If this tense area of study suggests a sense of alarm, Guffond meets that with the sound of one just before the track comes to a quietly vibrating close.

Get the full album at jasmineguffond.bandcamp.com. Video originally posted a the YouTube channel of Ilan Katin. More from Guffond, an Australian based in Berlin, Germany, at jasmineguffond.com.

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Bit of a Milestone

Actually, more like 104

Yow, what a showing in the latest Disquiet Junto. Each of these is one person creating a duet based on another person’s solo track. The number is more like 104, due to two tracks not on SoundCloud plus another two added later in the day. And that is, indeed, over five hours of music. This is from the 430th consecutive weekly Disquiet Junto project: Solitary Ensembles x 2. (To be clear, this was an unusual Junto project, in that people were invited to produce up to three tracks, but it’s still a lot of collaboration.)

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Two Observations

A live ambient performance from Mark John Williamson (aka Junklight)

Two observations: First, YouTube definitely doesn’t count repeat plays by individual accounts in its “views” for a video, because this archived live stream from the musician Junklight (aka Mark John Williamson) was on repeat here all day, filling the home office from before work on to after, and it’s still registering under 20 plays, despite being not even 10 minutes in length. Second, if there’s a piece of seemingly quiet but actually quite layered and bountiful music that can run all day, at varying volumes, and serve both as not just background music but domestic sound design and, when turned up, as it is now that the day has begun to close, as something to dive into and study, then it is the very definition of ambient: loops of granular synthesis played like a futuristic pipe organ.

This is the latest video added to my ongoing YouTube playlist of live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted to YouTube. More from Junklight at junklight.bandcamp.com and twitter.com/junklight.

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The Night Before

Late February in Brooklyn

There’s a scene, as my friend Westy Reflector reminded me via email recently, in many zombie films, among other tales of life after a dire change, when the story flashes back to “the days right before” — how, as he put it well, “all the signs are apparent in retrospect.” Those days before for me are the ones I spent in New York at the very end of February. The Disquiet Junto was due for a get-together, something I try to arrange when I travel, and a very small crew of us gathered on that frigid Friday night at a bar in Brooklyn, right across the bridge from where I was staying in Lower Manhattan. The place was virtually empty, as the restaurant in the hotel had been the prior afternoon for lunch, and as had been the flight from San Francisco, and as would be the train I’d take out to Long Island the next morning. We spent the evening talking about ancient synthesizers, and cover versions, and online collaboration, and musical mentors, and many other topics, including escape plans, and at the end of the night we headed over to pay up. Across from the cash register was this pinball machine. It stood there, humorously ominous in its bright silence. I’ll always associate it with the night before.

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Lab Rat

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

Like a lab rat accessorized by scientists with some sort of mind-machine alpha-stage, pre-release technology graft, this humble, generic, ubiquitous model of doorbell has been raised to the ranks of high security thanks to the unlikely pairing of a digital touch pad. The pad comes with a sentience- and surveillance-suggesting red light. There are two other spots to its left where additional lights may appear, or maybe they are slots for cameras. Perhaps if you know the entry code, you’re aware of their purpose. Or perhaps that bit of knowledge is reserved for yet a higher tier still of security clearance.

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