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.

Covid-Era Corruption

A pause (or not) in Japan

A lot of people are taking a break, creative and otherwise, willfully or not, during the extended dysfunction that is the pandemic. I’ve been checking in on the SoundCloud account of the expansively prolific and casually mysterious Corruption, the Japan-based purveyor of fragmented field recordings and soulful interludes. The most recent track, the account’s 978th, is in the latter camp, and dates back a full four months, as does a slew of other material. After which: nothing, a gap, a void. On purpose or not, that (for now) final SoundCloud track’s title carries a foreboding weight: “fail.” What it sounds like is a pair of tracks at once, a counterbalance of two keyboard lines, one spaced-out and foundational, the other exploratory, preliminary. Fortunately, a release a week or so ago on Bandcamp shows that Corruption is still at it, though the shared material appears to be archival, from back in 2016.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/corrption. More from Corruption at corruption-scrapbook.tumblr.com.

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Playing Catch-up with Kosma

An ongoing series cross-posted from instagram.com/dsqt

Twenty years ago I picked this up at a record store in Baton Rouge, Louisiana: a box set from Kosma (aka Roskow Kretschmann) titled New Aspects in Third Stream Music. The box came with the first 12″, which I loved — orchestral sounds bent to fit then-modern beats — and you were to collect the others as they came out over the course of the following half decade. Which, of course, I didn’t. Recent pandemic-induced home-cleaning led me to rediscover the near-empty box, and I just started buying them online. The first (which is to say, the second in the series) arrived this afternoon.

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Current Listens: Sonic Paintings + Cathedrals of Air

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.)

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NEW: Recent(ish) arrivals and pre-releases

Jeannine Schulz is my new favorite ambient musician about whom I know virtually nothing, except that she’s based in Hamburg, Germany, appears to do work in contemporary dance, and has released numerous albums this year of hypnotic, droning beauty. The second track on Closeness, “Shimmer,” is a particular favorite. It’s the sonic equivalent of standing very close to a massive painting and getting entranced by the texture.

Melatonia, from the duo Pausal (Alex Smalley & Simon Bainton), is like a tour of cathedrals made of air. Shoegaze organs for days and daze. The releasing label, Past Inside the Present, is based in Indianapolis, Indiana. The album came out a month ago tomorrow.

Four tracks, all recorded using no-input mixing, meaning the source audio is merely the noise of the system feeding back on itself and then transformed into something else entirely. Here, on Cycles by ANMA (aka Andreas Mangweth), that means rhythmic, echoing, industrial intensity. The recording was done back in March in Innsbruck, Austria. Mangweth posted some description of the process at llllllll.co.

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Listening to T. Kingfisher’s The Twisted Ones

Extending my horizons

This is from The Twisted Ones, a 2019 novel by T. Kingfisher, pseudonym of the author Ursula Vernon. I don’t read a lot of horror, and the recommendation from a friend was an attempt, successful so far, to extend my literary horizons. The connection between horror fiction and horror movies seems more distant than, by way of contrast, in science fiction, historical romance, or spy thrillers. The tensions in this novel are less less intense, more slow-burn, less acute, more atmospheric, than would be the case in a filmed telling of the same story. A moment that read and viewed versions might have in common is when atmosphere is the topic, though then the film would have to sort out how to posit the sort of simile that the narrator (along with the author) is free accomplish with a toss-away phrase.

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Jeannine Schulz’s “Rooms and Surfaces I”

Very much the classic definition of ambient

Here’s another fine piece from Jeannine Schulz, whose “Intense” I wrote about earlier this week. Like that track, this new one, posted just today, “Rooms and Surfaces I,” shows an internal development, a means of altering over time, that is often lacking in standalone SoundCloud ambient recordings. What makes it so special to listen to is how that change occurs according to some unheard metronome, in phases whose distinct qualities are imperceptible as they shift, but are fully recognizable when you scan through the piece, dropping the metaphoric needle here and there: first the rising drones, then heart-pulsing percussion, then that same rhythm rendered as a glitch-like filter, later a halo effect an octave higher, then an octave higher still, then a cello-like line slow and mournful. So much happens, and yet at a pace that it’s as if very little is happening at any one time. I found myself turning the volume up and up to hear what was going on “inside” the track, which is very much the classic definition of ambient: background music that also rewards close attention.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/jeannineschulz. More from Schulz, who is based in Hamburg, Germany, at jeannineschulz.bandcamp.com.

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