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: June 2020

Mike Dayton Was Ahead of the Game

Making music with microbes back in January

Mike Dayton’s album Men and Microbes came out in mid-January, back when the “and” was more arithmetic than apocalyptic. It’s 11 tracks of variously electronic activities, from the shivering miasma of “Never feel clean” to the slow instrumental pop of “What’s a king to a single celled organism,” from the latter-day new wave of “A Delicate Balance” to the vocaloid stylings of “More them than us.” Throughout, there’s a sense of solitude to each song. No matter the relative complexity, no matter how many striations of tracks are evident in the final mix, there’s the sense of a single hand behind the wheel, at times almost giddy at the freedom (check out the chiptune funk of “Keep calm, its out of your hands”), at others deeply haunted (the album opens with a three-minute horror show titled “We were here first”). But of course Dayton isn’t alone. The “we” in that first track isn’t merely plural; it’s the microbes with whom we mere humans share the album’s title.

Album originally posted at mikedayton.bandcamp.com. More from Dayton, who is based in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at soundcloud.com/mikejdayton.

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Milestone

Six months and counting

As of tonight, when I’ll post about something I’ve enjoyed listening to, I’ll have written on Disquiet.com every single day for the full first half of 2020. I’ve had my Disquiet website since December of 1996, and I think this will be the first time I’ve published daily for six months straight. Technically I’ve already done so, since I’ve posted this, but I’ll post something else this evening.

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Esther Venrooy Controls the Chaos

"Slam Your Doors in a Golden Silence," she says.

This track by Esther Venrooy does crazy things to my fingers. My fingers rest on my laptop keyboard. My laptop keyboard is where the speakers are located. As the intense bell-like tones of “Slam Your Doors in a Golden Silence” rise, as their energy collects amid wisps of rougher sounds, the laptop’s surface vibrates in kind. Sonic Tesla coils send charges up my arms. There’s a luxurious chaos at work here, a chaos kept in line, and only just barely. Much as the live-wire noises and arcing tones hint at dangerous apexes, they remain held in check. There’s a famous maxim about music being “organized sound,” courtesy of composer Edgard Varèse. What Venrooy exposes here is that organization needn’t mean corralling sound into something familiar. There’s a lot of room before something is even remotely domesticated. It can mean yoking noise just tight enough to give it shape, but to still let it move under its own strange power.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/esther-venrooy-1. More from Venrooy, who is based in Breda, Netherlands, at esthervenrooy.net.

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Current Listens: Filmic Exploration, Hyperspeed Pummel

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

This is my weekly(ish) answer to the question “What have you been listening to lately?” It’s lightly annotated because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context. In the interest of conversation, let me know what you’re listening to in the comments below. Just please don’t promote your own work (or that of your label/client). This isn’t the right venue. (Just use email.)

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NEW: Recent(ish) arrivals and pre-releases

There’s the harrowing space horror of “In the most Unlikely of Places” and the charismatic digital-beatnik broken vocal on “I am Sitting in a Room Performing the Society of the Spectacle,” but the real keeper on In the Place of a Vain Search for an Image of the Age is the title track. That’s where Conspiracy Therapists (Jeff Gburek and Filippo Panichi) unleash a dense, filmic exploration of feedback and melodic drone.

Come for the metalloid pandemonium of “Cortège.” Stay for the hyperspeed pummel of “I’ll See you Again.” Gaël Segalen’s album Sofia Says dates from last October, but it’s brand new to me.

There’s no excuse not to make time for the Black Composer Miniature Challenge from the Castle of Our Skins ensemble. The latest is the beautiful, doleful, one-minute “Hannah Elias II” by Shannon Sea, performed on viola by Ashleigh Gordon.

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Oldie but a Goodie

A mystery grid

Took a walk to the bay and back and passed this old friend, one of more mysterious doorbells in the neighborhood. Twelve buttons sit in a blank grid at the front of a multiple-unit dwelling. Absent of labels, the mechanism begs the question as to how these buttons are employed. Are there a dozen units? Is it a very large numeric keypad with a single entry code? Is this a palatial single residence disguised as an apartment building?

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