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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Disquiet Junto Project 0334: Mass Branca

Record a massive multi-layered tribute to the legendary guitarist-composer.

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 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, May 28, 2018. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, May 24, 2018.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0334: Mass Branca
Record a massive multi-layered tribute to the legendary guitarist-composer.

Major thanks to James Britt for contributing this Junto project prompt.

Step 1: This project is a tribute to the late avant-garde composer and guitarist Glenn Branca, who died earlier this month. Among Branca’s many musical systems was to have a vast number of musicians, say 100 guitarists for example, perform together. We’re going to explore that mass of sound to produce a mass in Branca’s memory. It will be a Mass Mass.

Step 2: Pick a single sound source, an instrument perhaps, but really anything that makes a specific sound. One thing to aim for is a sound source that is rich in overtones.

Step 3: Use multiple layers (with “multiple” being defined as you see fit — 100 layers would be awesome, but so too would 10, 30, 50, etc.) of this sound source to record a piece of music.

Background: While knowledge of Glenn Branca’s work isn’t necessary to participate, it is recommended to read up and listen a bit.

Six More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0334” (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 “disquiet0334” (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: Please consider posting your track in the following discussion thread at

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

Step 6: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Other Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are on Monday, May 28, 2018. This project was posted in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, May 24, 2018.

Length: The length of your track is up to you. Massive doesn’t necessarily mean long, but long is certainly welcome.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0334” 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: It is preferable that your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution).

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information:

More on this 334th weekly Disquiet Junto project (Disquiet Junto Project 0334: Mass Branca / Record a massive multi-layered tribute to the legendary guitarist-composer) at:

Major thanks to James Britt for contributing this Junto project prompt.

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

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

The image associated with this project is from Wikipedia and used thanks to a Creative Commons license:

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I Guested on the Podular Modcast

Talking about modular synthesizers, and a lot more

It was a pleasure this week to have been featured as the guest on the great Podular Modcast, which as its name suggests is a podcast about modular synthesizers. The Podular Modcast is hosted by Tim Held and Ian Price. Price wasn’t available when the episode was recorded, but he does appear early on in the segment, telling a touching story about Aphex Twin, a subject that then leads into Held interviewing me about my Aphex Twin book, Selected Ambient Works Volume II (33 1/3, Bloomsbury), and announcing that it has been licensed for translation and publication in Japan, something I just learned this past week. I spent five years at a manga company bringing Japanese books (comics and novels, and related titles) to America, so it’s nice to send one back.

Held and I then talk about modular synthesizers, how I got into accruing (assembling? agglomerating?) one myself, after witnessing Marcus Fischer perform live in Portland when I did an Aphex Twin reading there back in 2014. We discussed the tactile as well as visual feedback of modular synthesis, and other topics. I had a great time speaking with Held. You can listen with the above embedded audio player, or at

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A Lithuanian Dream

Agnes M's work for theater

Agnes M is Agne Matuleviciute of Vilnius, Lithuania. “A Window” is a short piece she posted recently on her SoundCloud account, providing little context beyond noting it’s a work for theater. The backbone of it is a steady, generously slumbrous tonal sequence, a sleepy stepwise bass line played out, presumably on a keyboard. That line persists for almost the entire piece, as different things are laid atop it, at first filters and effects and little extra notes here and there, an improvisation in a higher register, a fracture of noise.

As it proceeds, more and more intercedes — the sound effects get more insistent, the variety and artful chaos increase. There is simulated wind, and what might be horses neighing, and much much more. The track itself gets twisted back on itself, that bass line momentarily disappearing below the ratcheted-up phalanx of sounds. Eventually that line reappears, lending a sense of full-circle closure. Much as the variety of noises had held the line at bay, when it returns it in turn suggests those noises as a passing dream.

Track originally posted at More from Matuleviciute at and YouTube. The track was produced with Martynas Vil (, who’s based in London.

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The Fractal Voice

Rotating shards courtesy of Boston-based Erika Nesse

Erika Nesse makes fractal music. She imposes intricate, self-reflexive patterns upon pre-existing material, breaking it like mirror that has shattered, except this shattered mirror has been reformed into a gleaming, spinning, geometrically intricate and fascinating mirror ball. The ball goes round and round, speeding up, slowing down, shifting suddenly, and all the while shooting back tiny sliver segments of the source material that is reflected in it. Well, sonically speaking.

In Nesse’s hands, a simple vocal tone can be turned into a momentous rhythmic figure, shifting endlessly between variations subtle and stark. This piece, “Kyrie (Geometric Clouds),” takes its fractal methodology from the image that serves as the track’s cover art. As Nesse decodes the image in a brief accompanying note: “An audio clip is split into fragments. Up and down represents the location in the clip where the fragment starts. Left to right represents time within the track. Many layers of the fragment starting at different times are stacked together, creating an echo effect.” Listen for the patterns. Then take a deep breath, step back, and listen to it as a multi-movement composition with echoes of Scott Johnson (vocal cutups) and Philip Glass (hyper-charged minimalism).

Track originally posted at More from Nesse, who is based in Boston, Massachusetts, at and

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Listen to the Stars

A video by U.K.-based State Azure

This seven-minute performance video by State Azure focuses tight on a few modules in a larger synthesizer rig. There is no mess of spaghetti wires. There is a limited set of blinking lights. There is a single hand adjusting knobs on a single device. The accompanying liner note references some on-screen technical details, some off-screen support equipment, and some minor post-production activity. Otherwise, “Starfall,” as the track is called, is just this: a blissfully thin expanse of near-static time, a live ambient performance in which a seeming hush is nudged into the foreground and left to sway slowly this way and that, to pause for a moment, to let little details linger. It’s the music of a planetarium after hours. The lights are simply from the music equipment, not the stars, and those are more than enough.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted to State Azure’s YouTube channel. More at and State Azure is based in the U.K.

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