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.

field notes

News, essays, reviews, surveillance

Space for Context

One more note about SoundCloud's new annotated repost feature

Yesterday I noted a new feature on SoundCloud. Listeners reposting a track from another account can now annotate the repost. That’s great, in that it adds context and may even reduce the number of rote (un-annotated) reposts. However, the space allotted for comments is quite small, just 140 characters, diminishing the utility. Over three years have passed since Twitter acknowledged that length as insufficient, and went ahead and doubled it. Ironically, as the two posts here show, even the explanatory text that SoundCloud itself uses to explain how to comment when reposting is longer than the limit the company has set. It’s 142 characters.

Here’s the pop-up that appears when the feature is introduced to users:

Here’s that announcement text placed (unsuccessfully) into an attempt to repost a fine ambient track from the prolific Kyoto-based musician Michiru Aoyama:

The feature is a great addition to SoundCloud, but a little more space would be helpful. (And, yes, the same could be said for the number of accounts a user is allowed to follow. It remains capped at 2,000.)

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The Context of SoundCloud Context

A feature upgrade for reposts

There’s a new feature on Soundcloud, the prominent audio streaming and distribution service. Listeners have long been able to “repost” tracks by other users. Now when reposting, they can add a comment. The length is up to 140 characters, same as an old-school tweet, which seems like an esoteric choice, but so be it. Context is always better.

This upgrade correlates with Bandcamp’s long-running feature that let’s a purchaser of a release choose a track and comment on it. Those comments selectively appear on the webpage for the release:

The new SoundCloud repost upgrade also connects to Twitter’s recent tweak that encourages retweeters to add a comment before posting. Again, context is always better.

There was a time when the page on was the default for a logged-in user. There’s still a /stream page, but the default is the page, which is a mess: a few things relating to your own listening, followed by endless generic lists, so bad as to make you miss your algorithmic overlord.

This expansion of the repost feature may be a sign that SoundCloud is re-emphasizing /stream, which shows things have been posted (or reposted) by accounts you follow, in simple, reverse-chronological order. If so, it’d be nice to have a toggle option for reposts, because they can clog up /stream. I’ve unfollowed some repost-heavy accounts.

In addition, SoundCloud has grown over the years. What hasn’t grown is the number of accounts you can follow. The number remains capped at 2,000, which is low. SoundCloud also provides no practical tools to efficiently cull the accounts you do follow (like, say, see who hasn’t posted in x number of years). Any time I want to add a new account (I follow 2,000, and am followed by five times that number), I have to first delete one.

All things said, I do hope people take advantage of the new comment option for reposts of tracks on SoundCloud, to provide some framing context for why they’ve reposted. I also hope the new feature leads some repost-happy accounts to chill out a bit.

Postscript: When I first posted this, I neglected to link to the track depicted up top in the screenshot detail. It is “Fog” by Abstract Machines (aka Andrzej Koper of Wroclaw, Poland):

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Minding social media

It’s always a good day to change your Twitter location to a country where you can’t read the language. Bonus points if it’s an alphabet you find aesthetically pleasing.

I’m riding out the election with my “trends” all in Korean (with the exception of whatever single promoted tweet shows at the top of the list).

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Mike Dayton Communes with the Void

On a brand new, five-cut album

In these tense times, a lot of time is spent listening to music that offers the psychic equivalent of palliative care (the ambient material that is the main content of this website), or to music that provides pounding catharsis (Fugazi, Metallica, and Karen O’s cover of Led Zeppelin are always at the ready).

And then there is Mike Dayton’s new album, Exploring the Void, as exemplified by the wandering, swirling morass of synthesizer motion that is the track “Everything Dies Even the Stars.” It is sound in a constant stage of agitation. It is a portrait of the void from which the album takes its title. Elsewhere on the record, the volume, the intensity, the vivid confusion, takes a less direct approach, as with the ebb and flow of “Refracted Diamonds in the Night Sky,” or the echoing percussive shimmers of “The Barren Ice Planet.” None of this music sounds like it aims to comfort, except to the extent that it does: by providing camaraderie, evidence that someone else is processing the unshareable combination of stress, chaos, and solitude of our historical moment into something that is shareable.

Album originally posted at on Halloween 2020. More from Dayton, who is based in Minneapolis, Minnessotta, at and

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Keep Universal Suffrage Universal

An ongoing series cross-posted from

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