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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My Back 12″s

Let the summer games commence

Summer chores include collating and culling old records, beginning with the hip-hop instrumentals (mostly 12″s, but some full lengths as well). There will be little if any culling.

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Ress the Bell Long …

Welcome grammar

There is a certain irony to the word “press” having been worn off. Especially in such close proximity to the bell that the noun references, and especially since the phrase “the bell” shows no particular sign of ware. Nor, for that matter, does the button itself, the button one hits to ring the bell. So, two questions:

First, what is that circular item directly above the words “the” and “bell”? It looks like some sort of small coin, a mark of a secret organization, an emblem of some rank or other. Is it a form of welcome to those who recognize it?

Second, about that word “long”: It’s an adjective, not an adverb, and the fray to its right suggests, in parallel to the fray on the far left, that perhaps there was another letter there, though the shadows of the doorbell casing do taper off quickly. Would it have said “longy,” which is not a word? Would some letter have completed this phrase? Did the writer belatedly deem the grammar an issue, seek to remove it, and only get this far? The visitor has much to ponder in advance of the gate being opened.

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Disquiet Junto Silent Film Project (Update)

As Paul Kelly sang, "From little things, big things grow"

Over 165 people have expressed interest by signing up via the Google Form posted a couple days ago. For reference, there are currently 1,573 subscribers to the Disquiet Junto email list, and likely there is substantial overlap between the two lists. I may create a standalone list for the Silent Film project, but for now the Disquiet Junto email list will do double duty. In the next week or so, the first film and the participants for that scoring project will be announced, as will plans for subsequent films as well, at least one of which will follow shortly thereafter.

Initially the plan was maybe 20 people or so would sign up, and we’d do a single film. When that number quickly became 40, and then 60, perhaps we’d do three films at once. As the number topped 100, even allowing that many people may not end up having the time or interest when the dust settles, a more deliberate approach came into focus. There are many ways to tackle the collaborative scoring of a public domain film, and so we’ll do multiple projects over a period of time exploring those different strategies. We’ll do one in which very little information is shared. We may do one exquisite-corpse style, where each participant builds on what came before. We may do one where a shared set of sonic resources are made available. And so forth. One thing all these projects will have in common is that the participants will have substantial time to complete their work, in purposeful contrast with the standard four-day turnaround of the weekly Junto projects.

And that covers it. It’s very exciting to have the Silent Film series to cogitate on and act on during this continued state of mutual self-isolation. It is, indeed, a cliche at this stage to belabor the benefits of long-distance connection, but it is not to simply note them, especially because they have been core to the concept of the Disquiet Junto ever since it was founded back in January 2012.

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Disquiet Junto Silent Film Project (2020)

A non-weekly offshoot of the communcal music prompt series

I’m writing about an upcoming project, a special one that will be apart from our regular weekly undertakings.

It’s been on my mind to do a non-weekly Disquiet Junto community project for a long time — not for all 438 weeks of the Junto’s existence, but several years. I’ve had some such projects in the planning stages, but time is always tight, and there are a lot of factors to balance.

A Junto member, Robert Precht, got in touch recently with the proposal that Junto participants each score a part of a silent film. It was an excellent idea, and one that naturally suggested itself to being applicable in a longer time span than our normal four-day window.

Details are still being fine-tuned, including which film it will be (we’ll do something from the public domain). If you’re interested in participating, please fill out the following form. Expressing interest at this stage isn’t a commitment. Once the project begins, you’ll have a roughly month to complete your part of the project.

It’s a Google form. If for some reason you don’t want to use the form, just email me at [email protected] expressing your interest. Thanks.

Three creative constraints are noted in the sign-up form:

  1. No copyrighted sound (that is, copyrighted by anyone other than the individual participant) can be used in this project

  2. No intelligible vocals can be used in this project (keeping true to the film’s silent origin).

  3. Each individual (or act, collective, band, etc.) can only contribute one track to this project.

Once the number of participants has been set, the film will be divided into sections for the individuals to score. The length of these segments will, of course, vary to some degree. Source audio may be provided for continuity. That’s still being discussed, as are other details.

Thanks very much for your interest, and, as always, for your generosity with your time and creativity.

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Advice When Sharing Your Music Via Email

Or: Don't be a cockroach

Music PR is broken. The awesome ease of email has combined with the awesome ease of self-publishing audio to produce a far-from-awesome spampocalypse of valueless promotional information. These emails flood the inboxes of recipients and occlude the occasional actually useful and valuable email. Below is some advice when sharing your music for promotional purposes via email, some specifics about sending music to this website (, and a somewhat vile but not valueless metaphor:

Part 1: What Not to Do

  1. Don’t expect to hear back.

  2. Don’t send 1,000 words of backstory.

  3. If you put a giant picture of the album cover or the musician(s) at the top of the email, it likely pushes everything “below the fold,” and thus risks the recipient not scrolling down to read what the music is actually like, or clicking on a link to hear it. Don’t do this.

  4. Don’t send a “follow-up” email. Trust that a non-reply is evidence of a lack of interest or lack of time (these aren’t the same thing).

  5. If you don’t describe what the music is like, you risk someone not clicking on a link to hear it.

  6. If you make the music download-only, you risk someone on a phone will never get around to downloading it when they’re back at their laptop. Have a streaming option.

  7. Definitely don’t send a second follow-up email (that is, don’t send a third email).

  8. Feel free to “watermark” your audio files, but don’t be surprised if it decimates the percentage of recipients who elect to pay attention to them.

  9. If you start your email with the recipient’s name, and it’s an automated email to a list, you’re feigning familiarity. That’s unnecessary, and frankly contrary to the intimacy of listening that you’re trying to encourage.

  10. Don’t begin the email with “I love your [blog, magazine, writing]” if you don’t mean it.

  11. Don’t attach audio files. They’re big and slow. Link to them (via Dropbox, etc.).

Part 2: What to Do

  1. Keep the communication brief.

  2. Describe the music.

  3. Provide (briefly) some context for the audio: why, how, when, and/or where you made it.

  4. Provide as many different ways to listen as possible. And put as few obstacles between your email and those links as possible.

Part 3: When Submitting Music to

When I’ve received way too many emails from a human-seeming email account (not from what’s clearly an automated service aiming for maximizing recipients), I sometimes send back a reply. I have a few variations in a file titled “cut-and-paste.txt” and they get tweaked as time passes. Here’s the one I most frequently send out:

Hi. This isn’t up my alley. Too pop for me.

For context: I focus on ambient music, experimental electronic music, contemporary classical, instrumental hip-hop, sound art, and other vaguely related things, related to the extent that the use of technology feels exploratory, intentional — and I must admit I write about virtually nothing with an intelligible vocal.

I should also mention: I get hundreds of inbound emails about music every weekday, and so I rarely respond. I do listen constantly, and when I find something I want to write about, I write about it. I’m a horrible correspondent.

Part 4: A Somewhat Kafka-esque Conundrum

I’ll put this bit at the end, because it’s gross, and yet informative. When I lived in Brooklyn, before moving to California, home was a nice building that, despite being nice, was popular with the cockroach crowd. There was one bathroom in the apartment I shared with some friends, and it was through the kitchen. If you needed to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you had to walk through the kitchen. When you turned the light on, the floor of the kitchen would seem to shudder, and then what was in fact a lot of cockroaches would flee. Which is to say, getting to the email I want to read means, on a daily basis, getting through the cockroach equivalent of email. Don’t be a cockroach.

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