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

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Sounding out technology.
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Top 10 Searches & Posts from July 2011

Of the top 10 most popular posts on this site last month, all but two were drawn from the Downstream department of free and legal recommended downloads — that’s out of a total of 42 posts for the month, July 2011.

The non-download entries were ones that attracted a substantial amount of reader comments: (1) a list of “6 Things That Might Make the Great Even Greater” and (2) a consideration of how images and sounds are handled in copyright law, on the occasion of a legal settlement in regard to Kind of Bloop, a collection of chiptune cover versions of Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue (“Some Say, ‘Freeloader.’ Others Say, ‘So What?'”).

This leaves the seven most popular Downstream entries: (3) sounds committed on a tape loop as elegant as it is ambitious, by Jared Smyth, (4) a track off the new Kim Cascone album, The Knotted Constellation (Fourteen Rotted Coordinates), (5) a voice + processing collaboration between Prophecy Sun and Kristen Roos, who record as Spell, (6) a video (with downloadable audio) performance on the Monome by Josh Saddler, aka ioflow, (7) variations on sine waves by C. Reider, (8) manipulated field recordings by Mark Rushton, (9) ambient jazz collaboration by heu{s-k}ach (the duo of d’incise and Marcel Chagrin) and Pedro Sousa, and (10) the latest instrumental hip-hop from Hypoetical.

Among the most popular search requests were: bloop, app, ben neill, best of 2010, dj krush, downstream, early 1970s field recordings, EP, inception, ionizer, kind of bloop, klock, n4tural, outra-g, oval, pausal, privatelektro, radiophonic, reider, and

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Tangents (Beethoven, radio, PKD)

Quick Links, News and Good Reads: (1) Excellent interview with soundtrack composer Ennio Morricone, ever cantankerous and reticent to share (, though he does take the time to (advisedly) criticize Hollywood’s distinction between composing and arranging: “In the history of music, composition is instrumentation.” … (2) A review of a solo show by William Anastasi at Bjorn Ressle Fine Art in Manhattan, including a “2005 version of his “Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony,” originally done in 1965 using a Bruno Walter audiotape, now uses a videotape of a performance conducted by Herbert von Karajan, unrolled from its reel and hung on the wall so that gravity determines its snarled drape” (, through July 31. … (3) David Stubbs on Resonance FM (, whose dominance as a web outpost for avant sound belies the fact that it reportedly has about 100,000 listeners to its London signal, 104.4FM ( … (4) Bill Fontana has mic’d the Millennium Bridge in London for a Tate Modern sound-art piece ( “My art involves focusing on something from the real world and delineating its musical structure.”

(5) In the June 4 edition of the New York Times Sunday Magazine, a story called “Unhappy Hour” described a scenario in which a jukebox at “an amiable dive bar” in New York played Brian Eno‘s Thursday Afternoon, much to the author’s consternation, and that of her boyfriend ( And (6) two weeks later, a letter to the magazine noted, “In that setting, Bach‘s ‘Goldberg’ Variations would have evoked a similar response.” … (7) Interview with Matthew Herbert on the occasion of his new album, Scale. Where did the name of his website,, come from? “It’s Don DeLillo, from Underworld” ( … (8) Steve Reich will be back at the Whitney Museum in Manhattan for a series of events this coming October. Reich’s music was part of the Anti-Illusion show there in 1969, curated by Marcia Tucker, who referred to his work as “extended-time pieces” (

Four sound-art links via the great e-flux mailing list ( (9) The Brighton Photo Biennial, running through October 2006, includes a “sound installation” of Orson WellesWar of the Worlds, curated by David A. Bailey in collaboration with Gilane Tawadros ( … (10) The art-venue-as-website promises to present a dozen experimental audio recordings over the course of the next three months at a rate of one per week, curated by Anna Colin. Participants include: Abake, Thibaut de Ruyter, Raimundas Malasauskas, Dirk Fleischmann, Nav Haq with Tirdad Zolghadr, Loris Greaud with Karl Holmqvist, Jeremy Deller with Alex Farquharson, Olivia Plender, Matthieu Laurette, Sinisa Mitrovic with Susan Philipsz, Ryan Gander with Francesco Manacorda, Konst2 with International Festival, and Steve Webber. … (11) Among the pieces in the exhibit Nothing at the Schirn Kunsthalle in Frankfurt, Germany, is “Work No. 401” (2005) by Martin Creed: “consisting of a small loudspeaker with a sound loop that makes a lapidary ‘pfft’ sound only. The sound was produced by the artist himself as an act of acoustic self-renunciation” (, through October 1. … (12) Among the participants in New Works: 06.2 at Artpace in San Antonio, Texas, curated by Yuko Hasegawa, is Luz María Sanchez, whose works “isolate and amplify politically charged frequencies such as Arab radio broadcasts and the U.S./Mexico border soundscape” (, through September 10.

(13) R.I.P., Syd Barrett (1946 – 2006), of the first Pink Floyd lineup, one of psychededelic rock’s founding fathers, and certainly one of its most tragic Icaruses (,,

… YouTube Treats: After last week’s Disquiet Tangents included video found on of Brian Eno talking about Can and of Robert Fripp performing live, a reader wrote in, “wow i thought mostly youtube was about guys lighting their farts and car ads.” … Here’s some more goodness: (1) Steve Reich‘s Eight Lines (four minutes) with dance performance ( … (2) A really funky little segment of Matmos live at Festival Villette Sonique in Paris (seven minutes). The brief vocal isn’t entirely “workplace safe,” as they say, but it is in English ( … (3) James Tenney‘s Swell Piece Number 2 serves as the score to 10 minutes of footage of people silk-screening mail art ( … (4) Good news: six-plus-minute interview with French musician and instrument-inventor Pierre Bastien. Bad news: no English subtitles ( … (5) Alvin Lucier‘s “Music for Solo Performer,” which involves attaching electrodes to said soloist (four and a half minutes). In this case, the performer is Andrew Brouse. The brief note for the video states: “This interpretation was done directly from the poetic score, never having heard or seen the original music performance” ( Thanks to, apparently that won’t be much of an issue from now on.

… Heavy Rotation: (1) Graham Reynolds and the Golden Arm Trio outdo themselves with scene-insinuating backdrops and helter skelter mania for the new flick A Scanner Darkly. The CD lacks the four Radiohead-related tracks that play in the movie, directed by Richard Linklater, including “Black Swan” from The Eraser (Radiohead singer Thom Yorke‘s new, Aphex-ish solo outing) and the Four Tet remix of “Skttrbrain,” but it has got bits by DJ Spooky and Jack Dangers (aka Meat Beat Manifesto). … (2) Robert Curgenven‘s recent album, Cichaczem (released late last year on the Privatelektro label), takes its name from the Polish term for “something done quietly or as a surprise.” Its three tracks are absolutely beautiful distillations of sound, mixing the familiar textures of field recordings, including falling snow and the period after a thunderstorm, with hyper-sensitive recordings of a grand piano that suggest the open spaces only alluded to by most synthesizers. … (3) Timbaland‘s production on the new Nelly Furtado album, Loose, is far from perfect. “Maneater” has a beat better suited to one of the Neptunes’ rock outings and little more to its credit, but the instrumental version of “Promiscuous,” aside from some uncharacteristically unsubtle synth-keyboard overlays, displays plenty of Timbaland’s penchant for modal melodies and disarmingly hard-to-snap digital percussion. … (4) This week’s key Disquiet Downstream entry is Scanner‘s participation in the Tate Modern’s tribute to John Cage‘s Musicircus (link).

… Score Keeper: All updates via (1) The duo tomandandy are on The Koi Keeper by Dogma-certified director Michael Sorenson. … (2) Tyler Bates is again with Rob Zombie, on the metal-auteur’s remake of Halloween. … (3) Kent Sparling is on Bonneville as sound designer. … (4) BT seems suited to the surveillance-themed Look. … (5) Raz Mesinai is attached to The Saint of Avenue B and The Projectionist.

… Quote of the Week: So much for microsound. “Acclaimed by the Police forces of many areas of the United Kingdom, the Mosquito ultrasonic teenage deterrent has been described as ‘the most effective tool in our fight against anti social behaviour'” (from promotional materials for the widely reported teen-averting, cornerstore-protection device, at

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Synthesized MP3s

An act named Echtzeit had one of the standout tracks on a compilation titled Music to Listen to Music By, released a year and a half ago on Private Elektro Records, which is based in Leipzig, Germany (website here). Echtzeit has resurfaced with a new name, C:/, and two new tracks, both hosted for the past month by Private Elektro (here). The downloads couldn’t be more different from each another. One is close to eight minutes of overlapping sine waves and beats, all of whose internal clocks are slightly out of step, which leads to wonderful rhythmic surprises, the audio equivalent of optical illusions. At times a light keyboard melody, reminiscent of the 1980s synthesizer renaissance, arrives to lend a song-like coherence. The other track, a lengthy drone piece, dispenses with rhythm almost entirely, unless you count the waves of rumbling that constitute the work’s lower register and the occasional chimes that define its upper reaches.

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Music for Casual DJing

The title of the compilation Music to Listen to Music By (Privatelektro Records) may have been intended as a joke, but it’s worth taking at least a little seriously — what with John Cage’s famous comparison, in his book Silence, of music to wire sculptures through which one views other things. The album title suggests music that is so quiet that it can be added to other music like so much salt and pepper. In fact, though, it isn’t volume that distinguishes the 13 cuts here from pop music; it’s their eschewing of static metrical structure for a more open form, like the industrial static and drone of Alias‘ “Darkdust” and the semi-chaotic jitters of triPhaze‘s “Kilmarnok.” There is no self-apparent downbeat, or chorus, or verse, to be heard on most of the album. Instead there’s the ominous “Early Walk to the Busstation” (also credited to triPhaze), which sounds like a UFO field recording, a theme picked up on “300 Years and Waiting,” which teams triPhaze with another contributor to the compilation, listed here as Mr. Sakori. One other thing, besides a purposeful lack of rhythm, that binds much of the tracks together is the presence of vocal samples, which share a B-movie flavor. An alternate title might have been Music to Witness Alien Invasions By.

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Nothing Pedestrian

“An Early Walk to the Busstation” by triPhaze: Pardon the pun, but there’s nothing pedestrian about this hallucinogenic concoction of wavering tones (MP3).

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