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Tangents: RjDj’s Retirement, Android Audio-games, Flavin’s Buzz, …

News, quick links, good reads

Download Before It Expires: The flagship RjDj app of the London-based Reality Jockey firm, home to the Inception and Dark Knight Rises Z+ apps, will no longer be available shortly. It is highly recommended that you download RjDj from the iTunes app store now for your iOS device before the app is retired. Details on the decison at the company’s blog, at The post mentions that the company’s website will be relaunched on Monday, October 8.

Android Play Pretty Some Day: The website is a solid compendium of sound/music apps for the Android operating system. It does a much better job than the Play store of displaying the state of tools for such activity. It’s more product-specific than the more cultural/newsy, and complements it well.

Recent discoveries via include the generative tool Orbits (screen shot shown above) and the old-school drum machine RD3 — Groovebox (video below):

The site also has a presence at It’ll be interesting to observe, over time, how these app-discovery services function best, whether the users will congregate at sites focused broadly on OS-specific coverage (Android versus iOS, etc.), focused broadly on usage-specific coverage (music, productivity, fitness), or as is the case of focused at the intersection of a specific OS and a specific user base.

Boinquarius: One of the best music publications about adventurous sounds is the weekly email newsletter of the San Francisco record store Aquarius. The store is located on Valencia Street, not far from such cultural epicenters as the Borderlands science-fiction bookshop and the McSweeney’s pirate store. Aquarius’ newsletter, which usually pops up in email boxes on Friday evenings, has hooked up with the great Boing Boing ( The latter will be publishing one review per day, culled from Aquarius’ loquacious and knowledgeable crew, who are major fans of Krautrock, experimental electronics, and the darkest of death metal, among other things. Here’s a taste of what’s to expect, a review of the Common Eider, King Eider DVD Sense of Place: “wheezy chordal whirs, the vocals layered and wreathed in echo and reverb, a mysterious chorale that instead of building and then fading out, remains somewhat constant, with different voices receding and resurfacing, each part of the music slipping easily from just organ, to organ and voices, making for a constantly shifting landscape of muted melody and vocal texture.” Visit Aquarius Records (online) at

Sonoma Sound Art: If you’re in the North Bay (and, that is, if the Bay is the San Francisco one), be sure between now and October 14 to take the time to visit the art gallery on the Sonoma State campus, which is currently showing Sound, Image, Object: The Intersection of Art and Music. The participating artists are Mauricio Ancalmo, Terry Berlier, John Cage, Brian Caraway, Chuck Close, Bruce Conner, Lewis deSoto, Chris Duncan, Jacqueline Kyomi Gordon, Victoria Haven, Robert Hudson, Christopher Janney, Paul Kos, Tom Marioni, Jack Ox, Sarah Rara, Steve Reich, Isabelle Sorrell, Alice Wheeler, and William T. Wiley. Indeed, quite a lineup. I hope to have time to write it up soon.

The Reich are a pair of early compositions, including “Clapping Music”; the Ox a set of visuals combining sheet music and architecture drawings (above right); the deSoto a suspended stereo console; the Duncan an LP record made of paper (above left). A tremendous show.

In Brief: Camera-phone footage of Kronos Quartet opening for Amon Tobin last night:; apparently someone threw a bra onstage, a first for the ensemble. … Kronos violinist and founder David Harrington submitted a mixtape to, where it is streaming currently; it features Arvo Pärt and DJ Qbert, Erik Satie and John Oswald. … John Kannenberg (of the Stasisfield netlabel) has started a new blog,; its focus: “Silent memories of sound, art, time, museums, philosophy, and culture.” A definite add to your RSS reader. … In his excellent blog, Nick Sowers probes a pressing question about fluorescent light sculpture Dan Flavin: “Spending countless hours, days, and years to get his installations just right, was Flavin using the buzzing sound to inform his work?”

The above is a recording by Sowers of Flavin’s buzz.

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The Best RjDj (& Inception) App Scenes (& Dreams) — According to the Developers at RjDj

RjDj is an iOS app that takes the sounds around you, transforms them, and then plays them back to you. The process is referred to as “reactive,” because the transformations occur in real time — i.e., they react to your (sonic) environment, as well as, in some cases, to more common iPod/iPhone/iPad techniques like touching the screen and moving the device.

RjDj is an app, but to borrow a phrase, or two, from Walt Whitman — who taught us to sing the body electric — it contains multitudes, because RjDj contains within it a growing library of “scenes,” each of which reacts to the world in a different way. When you install RjDj on your iPhone, it comes with a few scenes. Then you explore the RjDj library and select new ones. And, if you get adventurous, you can design your own scenes.

The incredibly popular Inception app, released last week, is a descendant of RjDj — it’s essentially a bespoke edition of RjDj, tailored to the sounds and aesthetic of the brain-twisting summer flick; each “dream” in Inception is, essentially, what would be a “scene” in RjDj.

Given how many RjDj scenes there are out there, with more every day, I asked the crew that develops software — at the company Reality Jockey, based in London — to recommend their favorite RjDj scenes and Inception dreams:

Michael Breidenbrücker, CEO (

Favourite RjDj Scene: Dimensions (by Kids on DSP). Why?: There is a part in it where the microphone input drives the synth — I like that. More Info: Favorite Inception Dream: Travelling Dream. Why?: Whatever you are traveling with becomes an instrument. The music is composed and designed for exactly that situation: travelling. There is so much to say about this piece of music you could write a book about it, but it just sounds simple and super, too, which is the reason why I won’t write a book about it. :-)

Robert Thomas, CCO, Reactive Music Producer (,

Favourite RjDj Scene: Eargasm (by Damian Stewart) Why?: Eargasm was the first RjDj scene I heard while beta-testing it as a user in 2008. It completely blew me away. I used to listen to it for hours at a time. The sensation Damian Stewart created, of reality musically glowing — almost revealing a secret inner beauty in everything — is really special and has certainly touched a lot of people. More Info: Favorite Inception Dream: Sleep Dream Why?: I like a lot of the dreams we worked on for Inception for different reasons, but the Sleep Dream is especially fascinating because of the pervasive ways people are using it. Many people are actually going to sleep with this dream on and using it as a way to induce dreams. It’s very abstract sonically — reality is twisted into a vast intricate texture where time is reversed. It’s extremely surreal. Its also incorporates music from the movie in a very interesting way, stretching it out into huge granular soundscapes.

Martin Roth, CTO:

Favourite RjDj Scene: Echolon (by Günter Geiger) Why?: This is one of my favourite RjDj scenes, not because it is some technical tour-de-force or an artistic masterpiece, but because it is so simple and yet so addicting. Echolon is a bundled scene in the RjDj player and has become the most popular scene of all time. The basic effect is one that echoes your surroundings around you, pitching everything up and down. You hear different versions of the echo in your left and right ears. Sounds in your environment are pitched, giving the impression of a musical world. Possibly the greatest reason for the success of Echolon is that it provides a very striking effect, but that it is also relatively easy to understand. Everyone knows what an echo is, but few people seem to have had the opportunity to hear themselves or their surroundings echoed on demand. So here’s to you Echolon, the little echobox that could! More Info:

Christian Haudum, Graphic Designer and Web Development (,

Favourite RjDj Scene: Aware (by Florian Waldner) Why?: It’s very relaxing listening to it in the office. You get a nice spherical soundscape and you are connected to the “outside” to a very high degree. More Info:

Dominik Hierner, iOS developer (

Favourite RjDj Scene: Replay Atlantis (by Kids on DSP ft Kirsty Hawkshaw) Why?: Atlantis throws you into the deep sea and you feel surrounded by a nice bass, relaxing melody and mermaids. This scene was like the first scene that really puts you into a complete new world. Replay Atlantis has kind of a story within it; it is an adventure, an experience rather than “just music.” And it also sounds great when the real world around you does not give the music something to react on. More Info:

Joe White, Reactive Music Producer:

Favourite RjDj Scene: Seduction Part III (by Shuga) Why?: I like the idea of actively performing with someone else’s music as you listen to it. Seduction Part III has this cool r&b groove where you can add cheeky drum fills, synth lines and whooshes. It’s great to learn the interaction of the synth; after a while, you can create own your expressive melodies. More Info:

Florian Stege, Intern:

Favourite RjDj Scene: Nothing on We (by Chiddy Bang) Why?: I like the groove of this hip-hop track and the way you can manipulate the beat and play with the instruments. I also like the variety of the different parts of the track. It gives you the opportunity to create a really nice, perfect individualized backing track for your vocals. More Info:

More on Reality Jockey at Get the RjDj app at, and the Inception app (

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A Brief RjDj Overview (MP3)

Tomorrow, for RjDj app fans and for those new to reactive audio (likely thanks to the debut of the Inception app), there will be some special RjDj coverage. But in advance, what exactly is RjDj? Here’s a podcast overview from back in September of the reactive iOS (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPhone) app that is the, well, inception point of the Inception app (MP3). RjDj is an app that serves as a software platform for various “scenes,” and the majority of those scenes use algorithms to transform the sound that exists around you, creating a new layer of sonic experience that enriches everyday reality. And as complicated as that may sound, it’s really quite simple: install the app, put on your headphones, and hit play. As the podcast host puts it, “for my money, the best experience of augmented reality is auditory.” Podcast originally posted at My story about Inception: “Music Apps Killed the MP3 Star.”

[audio:|titles=”September 24 2010″|artists=99% Invisible Podcast]

And a little background on the Boing Boing piece: “Liked the Movie, Loved the App.”

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Echoed Guitar via RjDj (MP3)

“RjDj” is the name of a great iPhone (and iPod Touch) application that is, in fact, less an app than it is an environment for apps. At a practical level, what that means is that RjDj hosts various “scenes” that produce sound, the best among them being apps that take audio input and turn it into something new — imagine walking down the street, for example, and hearing the world repeated and stuttered and digitally magnified and transformed. To close out 2009, the crew at RjDj put together a Best of RjDj compilation of 19 choice examples of RjDj in action. Among them is this entry by Nil Jones, in which acoustic guitar is echoed into something deeply psychedelic:

You need to have Flash installed to listen directly on the site. Install Flash or you can download the recording instead


There’s more information about the track, along with an MP3-download option, at And there’s more about the EchoChamber scene, which was developed by Georg Bosch and employed by Jones in the production of his track, at The “cover” image to the EchoChamber scene, shown to the right, displays some of the various ways that touching and tilting and shaking the iPod/Phone enacts various modes of audio manipulation. Get the full Best of RjDj 2009 compilation for free at as a Zip file. Note: the RjDj app is free, but some scenes require a small fee.

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Reactive Flight of the RJDJ Hummingbird (MP3)

This past Sunday afternoon, the hummingbirds were swarming in the backyard — beautiful little antic flying machines that they are. From a distance, they resembled large, stoic insects, and the sound they emitted was less than birdlike. I took a moment to note this at “Not only are hummingbirds loud, they click like Geiger counters.” And shortly thereafter, two replies in quick succession arrived from

qDot @disquiet I actually managed to get a very nice recording of hummingbirds by duct-taping my iphone to a feeder, heh: # qDot @disquiet And it came out in @rjdj sounding like #

This qDot is computer engineer, musician, and experimenter Kyle Machulis, who was writing to report on one of his experiments. As the annotation to his YouTube video explains,

“Duct-taped my iPhone to a hummingbird feeder, since they’re fairly shy and wouldn’t come close while I was hanging around by the feeders. War insues.”

Machulis had used his iPhone to record the sounds and sights (screenshot above) of the hummingbirds. But that was not enough. He then fed the audio through RJDJ, a popular application for the iPhone and iPod Touch that serves as a programming environment for the creation of all manner of audio-games and sound-toys. One such toy is Eargasm (see, which its creator, Damian Stewart, likens to science fiction (“Smooth harmonic voices right out of the Hitchhikers Guide To the Galaxy”) but that might also bring to mind the vocal processing in a song by Underworld. Eargasm takes sound and flings it back in a swirl of hazy, short loops that speed up as they get quieter, all atop its own inherent sound bed of ambient-pop tones — a process that is quite effective with those hummingbirds, their chatter-like clicks providing some grit to the soft background music (MP3):

[audio:|titles=”Stuck to the hummingbird feeder”|artists=qDot]

Original RJDJ entry at Video at More on qDot at

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