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.


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Akin to Harmony

New music from Kent Sparling

Kent Sparling has a way with atmospheric ambient music that is entirely his own. His work has a naturalist quality and a fantastic quality in equal amounts, and they coexist in something akin to harmony. He achieves a balance that is as much sound design as it is composition. Those, too, exist in a balance akin to harmony. The extended hushed chord that is “Tinted Bilaval,” which is up there with Sparling’s best work, contains oceanic depth, orchestral depth, deep forest depth. This isn’t merely the depth of cavernous echo, or the end result of sonic smoke and mirrors. It is a depth of numerous, carefully considered layers. Each time through (I had it on repeat this evening), one can listen to (and focus on) foreground and background separately, and to various junctures in between, and as elements from each zone exchange places with the grace of a waltz, or perhaps the grace of a falling leaf. Or more to the point: both. The track takes its title from Indian music, and you can hear in “Tinted Bilaval” a droning presence like the swelling of a tanpura, one presence among myriad.

Track originally posted at More from Sparling at I’ve been a fan of Sparling’s music for the longest time. According to a search of this website, I first mentioned him here 15 years ago. That might have been the first time, but I feel like it was earlier still.

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Current Listens: Loraine James, Ginger Baker, More

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A 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. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.

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NEW: Recent(ish) arrivals and pre-releases

Awesome hour-long Loraine James laptop set of glitchy, club-borne IDM, even more intense, more shattered, than the session she recorded for Fact back in mid-August. (Thanks, Bradley Allen for the alert.)

The ranginess and looseness of Live in Japan, an album from Material, the Bill Laswell band, with drummer Ginger Baker, reinforces just how constructed was the (amazing) 1986 Laswell-produced album Horses & Trees. Recorded over three shows in 1992, this is a very different pleasure, with lots of space and soloing, but it’s still very enjoyable. In addition to Baker and Laswell the group features Foday Musa Suso, Bernie Worrell, Nicky Skopelitis, and Aiyb Dieng

If Tuvan throat singers reached the singularity in the presence of a synthesizer rack, it might sound like the abraded, glottal drones of J. Soliday’s Slow GENiE.

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Become the Interference

Amalake with stretched and virtual instruments

Ambalek’s “Quick Shadows Slow Sun” is built, according to a brief liner note, on samples of guitar, sourced from the act that goes by the name imwaiting (, though there’s more going on here than those samples alone. There is a swirling choir, and swollen piano, and rough interference, and the slow (per the track’s title) sawing of bowed instruments (cello and violin, apparently, which like the piano are virtual). As for the guitar, it isn’t heard as guitar. It’s been stretched (extended, granulated) like so much cotton candy until it merges with the choir, perhaps becomes that gentle interference.

Track originally posted at More from Amalek at, YouTube, and Track located thanks to a repost by Stray Wools (

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Disquiet Junto Project 0463: Making the Gradient

The Assignment: Make a piece of music inspired by the concept of a gradient.

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 the end of the day Monday, November 16, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, November 12, 2020.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0463: Making the Gradient
The Assignment: Make a piece of music inspired by the concept of a gradient.

Step 1: Think about how a gradient functions, as one thing transitions into another.

Step 2: Make a short piece of music that aims to explore the idea of a gradient in sound.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0463” (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 “disquiet0463” (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 the end of the day Monday, November 16, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, November 12, 2020.

Length: The length is up to you. Transitions can take time.

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0463” 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:

More on this 463rd weekly Disquiet Junto project, Making the Gradient (The Assignment: Make a piece of music inspired by the concept of a gradient), 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.

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The Art Gallery in Your Mind’s Ear

Atmospheric hellfire and brimstone from Yvette Janine Jackson

Toward the end of this coming January, the Fridman Gallery in Manhattan will be releasing Freedom by artist Yvette Janine Jackson. The record is up for pre-release right now, with two of its tracks streaming at One cut, available as an excerpt, “Invisible People,” is all hellfire and brimstone, part excoriating exorcism, part calculated recitation of Jonathan Edwards sermonizing (heard here in usefully creepy text-to-speech), all playing out in an atmosphere of dissolute, slow-motion chamber music. Especially engaging is the album’s opening track, “Destination Freedom,” also an excerpt (each around three minutes in length), which is even more atmospheric: piano keys with near-oceanic depth, ghostly string sections, horns buried in the fog. The album is due out January 22, 2021.

More from Jackson at

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