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.

The Festival’s Metronome

A Q&A with Cake's John McCrea

“We played a show I think in Kansas City with him a long time ago, and the audiences were weirdly friendly with each other. There was a sense of nobody’s making a huge compromise to attend. So that’s something, right? Also, I think that there are musical similarities, but not too many. It’s horrible going to these rock festivals sometimes with the skateboards and the tattoos, and it’s like the same beat for hours and hours and hours. I don’t think that happens at all with a Ben Folds-Cake evening. That’s something I feel strongly about. Whether it’s electronic music or any kind of genre, I just want there to be different beats. My brain sort of shuts down a little bit if it’s duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh the whole time. That’s something a lot of rock bands are guilty of not changing up enough.”

That’s John McCrea of the band Cake in a new interview I did for The question was “For the second summer in a row, Cake is touring with singer-songwriter Ben Folds. How did the idea of co-headlining concerts with him come to be?”

“My brain sort of shuts down a little bit if it’s duh-duh-duh-duh-duh-duh the whole time.” I enjoyed transcribing that bit.

The version online of the Q&A is slightly expanded from the one in the print edition. (Illustration from the article by Jason Malmberg.)

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Disquiet Junto in Bern, Switzerland

Exploring "rauschen" as part of Musikfestival Bern (9/11-15)

I’m excited to announce that the Disquiet Junto music community is teaming up with the Musikfestival Bern, which runs from September 11 through 15 in Switzerland. We’ll be doing a sequence of weekly projects exploring the theme of this year’s festival, which is “rauschen.” From the festival’s program:

It could be the rustling of leaves, the sighing of the wind, the buzz of traffic, the burbling of streams, the susurration of a forest… And it could be the sound of Bern… Most likely the whole world. Only in music do we suppress the idea of “rauschen”, a word that can only be inadequately translated as noise – it’s not welcome, most of the time. The Musikfestival Bern in 2019 places it and many other acoustic phenomena on the concert hall stage with songs, installations, microtones and electronics, allowing for all kinds of unexpected sonic exhilaration.

Also from the program:

More on the festival at

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Transforming the Acoustic

August 8 at the Center for New Music (SF)

I caught all three sets this past Thursday night at the Center for New Music here in San Francisco: two duets and one solo performance, all of them focused on the same underlying interaction, specifically the electronic transformation of acoustic sounds.

Above are the headliners, Ted Moore (electronics) and Tom Weeks (saxophone). Moore was visiting from Chicago. The remaining four fifths of the evening’s performers were all local to the area. Take a moment to note how Weeks is playing his saxophone. A lot of what Moore seemed to be doing was matching and approximating Weeks’ own playing style: the brash tones, the stop’n’start phrasing, the gritty timbres. What was all wind and saliva from Weeks was scratchy, urgent white noise from Moore.

Here is half the opening act, William Winant, who performed on various pieces of percussion (including his own cartoonishly rubbery cheeks), with Chris Brown offstage doing the processing of Winant’s sounds. When the show began, Winant walked from the audience up to his drum kit, carrying a glass of water. It seemed very casual, an impression reinforced by his shorts and sneakers. However, as quickly became clear after he began playing, the water wasn’t for him. It was used to soften up and make squeaky a small hand drum he had as part of his kit. Brown’s efforts felt especially effective when they didn’t merely echo or exaggerate Winant’s playing, but regenerated it in high fidelity, as if in some other, totally imaginary space, a zone larger and more formidable than the small room in which the concert was actually physically occurring. In a way, the fact that Brown was not in view improved the work, creating more of a procedural void (a gap of cause and effect) between what Winant was enacting and what we were hearing.

And here is the middle act, Alexandra Buschman-Román, who provided both the acoustic element (a quite powerful voice, here sublimated into whispers and quickly muttered phrases) and the electronic (a noise table packed with sonic gadgetry). I don’t have a shot of it, but one thing Buschman-Román did was to amplify yet muddy her voice by putting the microphone in the fleshy part of her neck, where it meets her jaw. The result was highly unfamiliar, and highly memorable.

Concert listing at the Center for New Music’s website,

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Encountering the Console

A panel sequence from Ebony Flowers' Hot Comb

Discovering the pleasures of vinyl in Ebony Flowers’ recent book, Hot Comb (Drawn & Quarterly), which collects short, very personal comics. I love how oversized the stereo console is when initially compared with the young girl learning to use it. It’s bigger than her, bigger even than the bed, or so perspective makes it seem. It’s all about perspective, whether geometric or emotional. In Flowers’ depictions, the shapes of everyday objects are just as loose and ever-shifting as are the lines that give form to her all too human characters. There’s a palpable messiness, always tactile, sometimes joyful, often heartbreaking, to the stories she tells.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0397: Numbers Racket

The Assignment: It's 808 Day. Do it up.

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, August 12, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted shortly in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, August 8, 2019.

Tracks will be added to the playlist for the duration of the project.

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

Disquiet Junto Project 0397: Numbers Racket
The Assignment: It’s 808 Day. Do it up.

Step 1: It’s 808 Day today, August 8, the start of the latest Junto project. Let’s make it last through Monday.

Step 2: Make music with or about or somehow in the spirit of the Roland TR-808.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0397” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0397” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation a project playlist.

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

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

Step 5: Annotate your track 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, August 12, 2019, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted shortly in the early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, August 8, 2019.

Length: The length is up to you. Shorter is often better.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0397” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and 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: Consider setting 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 397th weekly Disquiet Junto project — The Assignment: It’s 808 Day. Do it up — at:

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

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

Image associated with this project adapted (cropped, colors changed, text added, cut’n’paste) thanks to a Creative Commons license from a photo credited to Brandon Daniel via Wikipedia:

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