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Monthly Archives: October 2020

“Passing Waves”

Two pedals, Tuesday evening

Separate lines on two different loopers, sometimes recording the same thing, generally not, all notes played on guitar, all with especially slow attack accomplished with the guitar’s volume knob, most notes closing with a natural decay. Recorded to phone from amp, live in the room. Post-recording: harsher high-register overtones removed with extreme prejudice in Adobe Audition, with some reverb added because why not?

Track posted at soundcloud.com/disquiet.

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When Jo Johnson Met Hilary Robinson

And the resulting Antenna Echoes

Jo Johnson and Hilary Robinson’s album Antenna Echoes has its origins in chance and error: a meeting in a shared neighborhood, and a broken piano. The result of those external influences is a Covid-era collaboration of deeply interior music, all cavernous echoes and warm feedback. Piano is the near constant through the album’s three tracks (“Maze Echoes,” “Antenna Gain,” “Fresh Air and the Usual Low-grade Hedonism”), but it would be inaccurate to claim its presence necessarily grounds the plush synthesizer and pervasive sound-design drones. Quite the contrary, what makes the piano so central is just how ambiguous is the place where its familiar physicality meets the ethereal context in which it is heard. The piano bleeds into the broader sonic construct of the recording, in part due to its repair status. As explained in the album’s liner note, the piano suffers from “a faulty pedal mechanism, which sustained the notes long after they were played.” Or perhaps not suffers. More to the point it is, in fact, a blessing. As one Bandcamp listener said, “Please don’t ever fix that piano.”

The record, which is available at jojohnson.bandcamp.com, was released in early July. More from Johnson at soundcloud.com/werkhouse and twitter.com/werkhouse. More from Robinson at about.me/hilaryrobinson.

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2,000 Days of #DailyBleeps

The short-form delights of Todd Webb

Todd Webb has, over the past roughly 2,000 days, posted roughly 2,000 #dailybleeps tracks online. They have populated his YouTube and Twitter accounts, but their primary home on the internet range has been Instagram. There, bite-size videos playfully themed around squash (the fruit, not the sport), and going outside (as determined by an Oblique Strategies card), and frogs, among numerous other topics, feature micro-compositions of what feel like the sonic equivalent of a zine aesthetic: either minor-key chipper, or up-tempo maudlin, and utterly delightful. And like all good things, they must come to an end. Webb will post his final daily bleep this coming Wednesday, October 28, two days from now.

Here’s a recent one, the theme of which is fog on the water. Gurgling beats provide the score for a view over the side of a road and into a deep bright miasma from which the track takes its title:

Some 40 of Todd’s daily bleeps fill out the the second of a two-CD Oahu set released last year. A personal favorite of mine is track 15, “Not That I Mind (Simple Sounds 10),” which is like if Michael Nyman had been commissioned to record a lilting gamelan interstitial cue for a Nintendo video game. (The other half of Oahu, the first five tracks, collectively titled “Slow Waves,” are built from “mysterious sounds” from Deerhoof’s John Dieterich.)

The record is a great object, but arguably the best way to appreciate Webb’s daily bleeps is in situ, as tidy little audio-visual spectacles on Instagram. And since Halloween is just a few days away, here, in closing, is one about “tree skeletons”:

More from Webb, a cartoonist and illustrator, at toddbot.com. He lives in Virginia. (Full disclosure: I edited a comic of his in an early issue of the children’s magazine Illustoria.)

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Current Listens: Halo Live + Aphex-ish Mansell

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A 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

Mike Weis translates grief into the beautiful, moving 49 Days (Music for a Transition), two quarter-hour tracks of bell field recordings pushed nearly beyond recognition. This is a record I hope to get around to writing about more soon, but I wanted to get a mention in sooner still, because I’ve been returning to it daily.

Lush and ambient all the way through, this 20-minute live solo performance by Laurel Halo was recorded at the Monastery of São Martinho de Tibães near Braga, Portugal.

Fahmi Mursyid, based in Bandung, Indonesia, ekes ripe atmospheres from a tape loop. The actual original tape is priced at $99. Four tracks derived from it comprise the album Satu, the digital version of which is set at whatever price the buyer wishes to pay.

There’s a lot of beauty in Clint Mansell’s score to Ben Wheatley’s new film version of Rebecca, much of it devoted to expertly old-school thriller grandeur. One standout track, “Côte d’Azur,” is to Aphex Twin’s solo piano “Avril 14” what Wheatley might have hoped his film would be to Hitchcock’s Rebecca: alternately hinting at and veering from the original, and offering its own pleasures entirely.

Also, covered with a bit more depth: Fadi Tabbal’s fifth solo album, Subject to Potential Errors and Distortions, + the Yumi Iwaki / Ryan J Raffa split Living Distances.

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Wave Form

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

The ocean provides a useful generative sample. The Instagram interface turns it into a loop. (Darn. That’s only the case within Instagram. The embedded version here doesn’t loop. Check it out at instagram.com/dsqt.)

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