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Listening to art. Playing with audio. Sounding out technology. Composing in code. Rewinding the soundscape.

Ambient Jam

By Perry Frank

Music is built on tools, and tools are built on music. Music is made with available tools. Tools are made to produce sounds in a more immediate or more nuanced manner than previous tools might have allowed for. Which is why a small synthesizer and a smaller reverb pedal can, together, sound like an ancient pipe organ performed in an old church where the roof has been torn off and the sounds are straining as they reach for the naked heavens. This is Perry Frank’s ambient jam.

This is the latest video I’ve added year to my ongoing YouTube playlist of fine live ambient performances. Video originally posted at youtube.com. Perry Frank is based in Italy.

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This Week in Sound: Clustering the Detected Keystrokes

A lightly annotated clipping service

These sound-studies highlights of the week are lightly adapted from the May 9, 2022, issue of the free Disquiet.com weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound (tinyletter.com/disquiet).

As always, if you find sonic news of interest, please share it with me, and (except with the most widespread of news items) I’ll credit you should I mention it here.

That mechanical keyboard isn’t merely loud — the volume makes each key identifiable, such that a website can sort out what you’re typing just by listening. Andrew Liszewski explains how it works: “by clustering the detected keystrokes based on their sound similarity and then using statistical information about the frequency of the letter n-grams in the supposed language of the text.” ➔ gizmodo.com

Voice interfaces have moved from the cellphone to the modern factory: “Companies are starting to take this form of automation onto the factory floor where a hands-free connection to the plant automation system and its equipment can deliver substantial efficiency. This is yet another version of consumer technology making its way onto the factory floor. You could call it the iPhone-ification of plant automation.” ➔ designnews.com

The musical legacy of 1980s Amiga computers: “Back in the 90s, a buoyant ‘demo scene’ coalesced around the Amiga, where home programmers put together animated music videos, fitting them on tiny 880k floppy disks,” writes Tamlin Magee. “Pirated software, meanwhile, would usually feature home-brewed intros, complete with the pirates’ own music, that users had to sit through before they could access their bootlegged copies.” ➔ theguardian.com (via Alexander Scholz at holo.mg)

Fascinating to watch the ongoing noise pollution crackdowns in India, such as this report from the city of Madurai: “Private buses making stopovers at the bus stand were checked for the presence of banned air horns, which were seized citing that they create noise beyond the permitted range between 70 and 80 decibels.” ➔ thehindu.com

More on the noise effort in the Indian state of Uttar Pradesh: “The UP government’s drive to rein in decibel levels had the potential to trigger a loud backlash,” writes Pathikrit Chakraborty. “But by proactively consulting with communities, religious leaders and village elders, the state has pulled off the impossible.” ➔ indiatimes.com

“With a period of oscillation of 10 million years, the sound waves were acoustically equivalent to a B-flat 57 octaves below middle C, a tone that the black hole has apparently been holding for the last two billion years.” Dennis Overbye on what it sounds like when a black hole sings. ➔ nytimes.com

A new noise machine by Pentagram partner Yuri Suzuki has a grid of 32 switches: “With options ranging from white noise to ocean waves, the switches let you mix and match tracks, and add effects like reverb.” Suzuki explains: “I was very interested in manipulation without instruction.” The object is a collaboration between Suzuki and E&Y, a Japanese furniture company. ➔ fastcompany.com

How a discarded water tank in Australia has become a music-performance wonder: “for all the solidity, strength and longevity of the concrete, grey river pebbles and steel, Murcutt also sensed a fecund fragility in the water tank, likening it to the shell of an egg, with the sound chapel as its yolk,” writes Rita Glennon of this collaboration between architect Glenn Murcutt and composer Georges Lentz. ➔ brisbanetimes.com.au

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Reviewed Carl Stone for The Wire

A livestream from last month

Barely a month ago, on April 2, Carl Stone performed a livestream concert with an interesting organization called MSCTY “a global agency for music + architecture,” per its website). The set consisted of upcycled field recordings of Tokyo, and I reviewed it for the latest issue of The Wire magazine. Below is the opening section of my article. The full piece is in issue #460, the one with Japanese musician Phew on the cover.

And here’s the full concert:

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Sound Ledger¹ (Audiobooks, Grooves)

Audio culture by the numbers

8: number of nonfiction audiobooks read by their authors in the current New York Times top 10

0: number of fiction audiobooks read by their authors in the current New York Times top 10

3: length, in minutes, of audio listened to by individuals who participated in a Japanese study of how the brain responds to “groove rhythm” in music

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¹Footnotes

Audiobooks: nytimes.com. Groove: nature.com.

Originally published in the May 9, 2022, edition of the This Week in Sound email newsletter. Get it in your inbox via tinyletter.com/disquiet.

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Back Catalog

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

Sorry I didn’t listen to much new music the past few days. These (1958 and 1960 respectively) have been on repeat.

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