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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Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

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Two Free Hours of Early Autechre

Warp Tapes 1989-1993, fresh from Warp's NTS takeover

Listening to these early Autechre recordings is like the start of the old movie Gremlins, when those little fuzzy beasts are still all cute and friendly. You know, before the various rules are broken and they turn into frightful, feral, and even more memorable itsy bitsy monsters. The rules, if you don’t recall: no bright lights, no water, don’t feed after midnight.

When I first made that joke on Twitter earlier today, I accidentally typed “fuzzy beats” instead of “fuzzy beasts.” The error was, no doubt, Freudian, for the beats comprising these early Autechre recordings are, indeed, fuzzy. They’re fuzzy like an adolescent’s chin. A few years would pass before the Autechre, the duo of Sean Booth and Robert Brown, would gain the electronic-music equivalent of a full beard. Before they showed their true, feral side.

What early Autechre recordings, you may be asking? This past weekend the duo was part of the three-day residency in which the Warp Records label took over the British online radio station NTS (nts.live). Autechre shared two hours of audio dating back to 1989 and up through 1993. Subsequently the audio, in the form of a single zip archive that weighs in at well over a gigabyte (it contains two separate .wav files, each exactly an hour long), was posted for free on Autechre’s page on Bleep, which is Warp’s long-running digital-audio storefront.

To access the tracks, go to autechre.bleepstores.com and scroll down to the bottom, which at the moment means directly below the five thumbnail images, vaguely reminiscent of Joseph Albers’ covers for Enoch Light’s Command Records label, representing the elseq 1-5 collection from 2016. The link goes to an Autechre page on WeTransfer, which provides push-button access to the audio.

The music is almost entirely vocal-free, with some occasional spoken and sung samples, notably on the first of the two tracks. The emphasis is beats, here in the form of contrarian glosses on hip-hop and various club styles. You’ll recognize the period drum machines, but you’re hearing them in a slightly different context. To a degree, that context is far more recognizable in hindsight, in that at times you can hear antecedents of the harsher, stronger, more abstract Autechre to come, notably a favor for metallic percussion, and the deep pleasure of putting those thudding rhythmic elements through a sequence of filters. In this period, Autechre wasn’t quite breaking rules yet, but they were sure getting ready to.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0390: Pace Quickens

The Assignment: Take an old song (or field recording), and make it faster, and then add something.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, June 24, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

Tracks will be added to the playlist for the duration of the project.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0390: Pace Quickens
The Assignment: Take an old song (or field recording), and make it faster, and add then something.

Step 1: For this project you’ll be reworking either a field recording or an old piece of your own music. The slower the better, as far as the original recording is concerned. Reading through these instructions first may aid in your selection process.

Step 2: Choose a field recording or and old piece of music of your own. (Define “old” as you like. “Preexistence” is the main factor.)

Step 3: Speed it up considerably (at least by a third, maybe by more).

Step 4: Add one or two new elements that proceed at the piece’s new pace.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0390” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0390” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 4: Post your track in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0390-pace-quickens/

Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: If posting on social media, please consider using the hashtag #disquietjunto so fellow participants are more likely to locate your communication.

Step 7: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Additional Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, June 24, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, June 20, 2019.

Length: The length is up to you. Shorter is often better.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0390” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: Consider setting your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

For context, when posting the track online, please be sure to include this following information:

More on this 390th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Pace Quickens / The Assignment: Take an old song (or field recording), and make it faster, and add then something — at:

https://disquiet.com/0390/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0390-pace-quickens/

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

Image associated with this project adapted (cropped, colors changed, text added, cut’n’paste) thanks to a Creative Commons license from a photo credited to Graeme Ellis:

https://flic.kr/p/G74biR

https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/2.0/

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A Furious Stasis

The tension between action and inaction

If yesterday’s video in this series was an exercise is extreme stasis, today’s marks a contrast. In yesterday’s, a hand occasionally appeared from the bottom of the screen to ever so slightly adjust the relative volume of four inbound cassette tapes, all in the pursuit of an ambient drone whose ethereal qualities occasionally betrayed a more complex, a rougher, texture than at first made itself apparent.

In today’s, the musician Dustmotes works furiously to nudge and transition a hovering tone, occasionally inserting new swells and the rare percussive element. Overall the music is no less subtle than yesterday’s, but this toolkit requires numerous controls to be tweaked and attended to in order to achieve Dustmotes’ goal. (Interestingly, for comparison’s sake, the musical instrument used here, the Elektron Digitone, is the same as was used to produce the audio on the cassette tapes in yesterday’s piece.) This tension between that activity and simplicity, between action and inaction, is exactly the sort of thing that my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music was created to document and explore.

Video originally published at YouTube.

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Tapes in Concert

A live performance that is largely hands-off

It begins, as do all worthwhile cassette tape experiences, with a click, and a hard one at that. This video captures the recording of an ambient performance that consists of multiple tapes being layered in real time, their relative volumes adjusted each occasion that a hand briefly enters the screen from below. The sounds are frayed and angelic, weary and ethereal, testing the ear’s alertness to fissures in the mist. There are four different audio sources, lending different elements to the overall ensemble.

When I first started compiling such examples of recommended live performances of ambient music found on YouTube, the intention was (and remains) to share examples of the tools and skills required, and to investigate the tension between action (the musician’s effort) and inaction (the sonic stasis to which so much ambient music aspires). Needless to say, the light touch in this piece by the Glasgow-based musician who goes by Blicero represents an extreme in terms of inactivity on the part of the performer. Then again, missing is the effort that went into recording the original loops, testing the balances in advance, and doing post-production.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally published at YouTube.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0389: Long Then

The Assignment: Take an old song, and make it (much) slower, and add something.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, June 17, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, June 13, 2019.

Tracks will be added to the playlist for the duration of the project.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0389: Long Then
The Assignment: Take an old song, and make it (much) slower, and add something.

Step 1: For this project you’ll be reworking an old piece of your own music. Reading through the instructions first may aid in your selection process.

Step 2: Choose an old piece of music of your own. (Define “old” as you like. “Preexistence” is the main factor.)

Step 3: Slow it down considerably (at least by a third, maybe by much more).

Step 4: Add one or two new elements that proceed at the piece’s new pace.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0389” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0389” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 4: Post your track in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0389-long-then/

Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: If posting on social media, please consider using the hashtag #disquietjunto so fellow participants are more likely to locate your communication.

Step 7: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Additional Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, June 17, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, June 13, 2019.

Length: The length is up to you. Shorter is often better, though short may not apply this week.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0389” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: Consider setting your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

For context, when posting the track online, please be sure to include this following information:

More on this 389th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Long Then / The Assignment: Take an old song, and make it (much) slower, and add something — at:

https://disquiet.com/0389/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0389-long-then/

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

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