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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

The YouTube Étude (Loop Edition)

Courtesy of Amulets (aka Randall Taylor)

A lot of YouTube videos of music (in contrast with “music videos,” a term that brings to mind a dramatized or play-along format, à la classic-era MTV) focus on specific instruments. These can feel salesy, and given the prevalence of affiliate links might even be salesy, but many of them are simply evidence of musicians focused on their tools. Some are about trying out new things, while others are about dedication to a thing. Many of the musicians who make these videos are experts in their craft, and their videos are the études of streaming life. Such is the work of Amulets (aka Randall Taylor), whose tool of choice is the tape loop. He is a prolific utilizer of loops, and an activist in promoting their utility (his how-to video is approaching 150,000 views). His latest, posted this morning, is a timely one, a roughly nine-second loop, seen rotating in plain view, as a warped vocal goes round and round. The table on which the player-recorder rests is festooned with the little plastic reels of past and, no doubt, future experiments. In a brief accompanying note, Taylor connects the maudlin yet beautiful sound to our current circumstances:

I just had this super simple video idea and decided to make it in quarantine. It’s really nothing more than a repeating tape loop, but I think it’s definitely a reflection of the monotony of quarantine life and our daily existence. These days are on loop and no one really knows when its going to end…

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended fine live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at youtube.com. More from Taylor at amuletsmusic.com.

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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  • My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).

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