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

Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.


Daily recommended free MP3s + streams

Rob Walker Shares a “Sound Shot”

From his New Orleans office

Time passes, and it’s awhile since you’ve seen a friend. And then you get a sense of their life that fills in the gaps a bit. Sure, there’s phone calls, and email, and voice conferencing, not to mention second-hand glimpses of them through their work. But then there’s something special, something unusual: a field recording of what their daily life sounds like — say, for example, what their office sounds like on a Sunday morning. Such a recording was posted by Rob Walker yesterday, a week after it was captured. The brief track, just a minute, is a glimpse of quiet from somewhere else. (He lives in New Orleans. I used to. We both lived there at the same time, then we both moved away, and then he moved back.) The track is tagged “sound shot,” a term that will be familiar to readers of Walker’s book, The Art of Noticing (which included some nice words about some of my work with sound). It’s from a chapter about “sonic journalist” Peter Cusack, and the idea is to record the sound of a place much as one might take a photo of a place: a sound shot, in lieu of a snapshot.

Read more about “sound shots” in Walker’s email newsletter. Track originally posted at

Tags: , / Leave a comment ]

Current Listens: Instrumental Hip-Hop, Non-Performance Samples

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

This is my 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.)

▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰ ▰
NEW: Recent(ish) arrivals and pre-releases

Caminauta collaborates, on “ambient piano,” with cellist Federico Motta for the lilting “Distance Memories.”

Chris Herbert reworked the non-musical moments from live performances into a pair of extended atmospheric tracks: “transformations of fragments of dead air, non-performance squeaks, hiss, hum, and stray organ notes.” (Available for free download, too.)

Anwar HighSign (formerly known as Has-Lo) did listeners the favor of including the instrumentals on their recent hip-hop EP, Fleece, two of which were instant favorites, both downtempo tracks featuring beats from cut-up organ and drums (“Whole Lotta Trouble,” “When I Write”).

Carl Stone renders two very different avant-pop tracks (“Ganci” and “Figli”) from the same set of samples, both heavily altering a pre-existing vocal line.

A highlight of Olivia Block’s three untitled tracks of music for piano, organ, and unspecified objects is the first, its spare chords bringing to mind Morton Feldman. The album was made available as a digital download this past week, though it was first released back in 2017 (on the Another Timbre label).

Tags: , , , / Leave a comment ]

Palimpsests All the Way Down

My liner notes for Nathan Moody's forthcoming album de​/​Still

It’s always a pleasure to write liner notes, to have a chance, before an album is released and given shape by the impressions of its listeners, to converse with the artist and put forth an initial, fledgling view.

Nathan Moody invited me to write a short essay to accompany de​/​Still, a “musical score” that he created as an aural interpretation of TJ Norris’ photography. Which is to say, my liner notes, which appear below, are an interpretation of music that is an interpretation of images, those images themselves an interpretation of the world as Norris perceives it.

The album, due out August 1, 2020, is currently available for pre-order at More from Moody at More from Norris at

“Palimpsests All the Way Down”

Distant yapping, all rancor and bluster. Line interference, twitching in the ether. Burbling percussion, undulating to its own metronome. Wild-west guitar, casting shadows of sagebrush and end times. Piano chords, melting like tape in the noon sun. Orchestration buried amid static and hum. Drones mixed with fleeting bits of conversation.

The individual sounds that comprise Nathan Moody’s elegiac accompaniment to TJ Norris’ images can often be identified by the ear and characterized by the imagination. Not one of these sounds, however, stands alone. Each component sonic element is heard amid other sonic elements, mixed in close proximity even as they may sway across the stereo spectrum. Likewise, the place where one such sound object ends and the next sound object begins is entirely unclear, deliberately so. Cause and effect intermingle, as foreground and background blur into layers upon layers of detritus. It’s palimpsests all the way down.

If the trusty telephone poll that has born the weight of countless concert flyers could, itself, sing, this is how it would sound.

If the alleyway coated in dirt, graffiti, and memories could have its own voice, this is how it would sound.

If the works of TJ Norris were performed as intentional graphic scores, this is how it would sound. Because it does.

Like Norris’ elegantly layered pictures, Moody’s music is an act of collage, a tribute to chance delights amid the flotsam of human existence. And like Norris’ work, Moody’s never loses sight — despite the emphasis on wear and tear, on time and decay, on fragments and atmosphere — of the urge to appeal, to attract, to please. Even in its dingiest moments, the score finds its foundation in melodic through lines and soulfully resonant structures.

Marc Weidenbaum
San Francisco, CA
August 2019

Tag: / Leave a comment ]


From Benjamin Finney, based in Manchester

This gorgeous folk chillout track combines drones and acoustic guitar, the musician Benjamin Finney echoing fragments like waves rolling over each other. The whole thing grows so subtly that it seems quiet when in fact it has accumulated substantial power and energy long before the piece comes to an end. It isn’t a song, per se, not quite, and its not-quite-song-ness may be its highest accomplishment, how the rhythm is more complicated than it appears, how the melody is more resistant to humming, how the whole thing is thoroughly present and, yet, out of reach. Absolutely gorgeous.

Track originally posted at More from Benjamin Finney, who is based in Manchester, England, at

Tag: / Leave a comment ]

Disquiet Junto Project 0444: Bot Ensemble

The Assignment: Make music as directed by the great account.

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, July 6, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, July 2, 2020.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0444: Bot Ensemble
The Assignment: Make music as directed by the great account.

Thanks to Michael Upton for having proposed this project.

Step 1: You will be making music with makeshift instruments suggested by the great account.

Step 2: Visit the account and familiarize yourself with it.

Step 3: Either select one or more of the recommended materials in the bot’s Twitter feed, or use a random number generator to determine which one(s) you will use. (Between one and three is recommended.)

Step 4: If you cannot obtain materials in the bot’s recommended instrumentation, approximate what you think it might sound like through other means.

Step 5: Produce a piece of music using only the instrument(s) determined in the previous steps.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0444” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your tracks.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0444” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation of a project playlist.

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

Step 4: Post your tracks in the following discussion thread at

Step 5: Annotate your tracks 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, July 6, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, July 2, 2020. Length: The length is up to you.

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0444” in the title of the tracks, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, 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 always best to set 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:

Thanks to Michael Upton for having proposed this project.

More on this 444th weekly Disquiet Junto project, Disquiet Junto Project 0444: Bot Ensemble — The Assignment: Make music as directed by the great account — at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

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

Tags: , , / Comments: 2 ]