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

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tag: current listens

Current Listens: Ayako Okamura Tunes the World

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

The score to the upcoming second season of Homecoming is by Emile Mosseri, who previously scored the excellent The Last Black Man in San Francisco. It opens with violins that manage to be both atonal and syrupy, and gets even better from there. If A Winged Victory for the Sullen composed a season of Westworld, this is what it might sound like. Mosseri also scored the upcoming Miranda July-directed film Kajillionaire. The first season of Homecoming had no score, in the traditional sense. Instead, it utilized the scores of dozens of other films (see Chris O’Falt’s detailed coverage back in 2018: indiewire.com), from The Parallax View (Michael Small) to The Day The Earth Stood Still (Bernard Hermann).

Twenty tracks of downtempo, sample-laden excellence: Selected Instro Work​(​s) 17​-​19 II is the latest set from Philadephia-based hip-hop producer Small Professor.

Take a minute and a half to listen to how Japanese musician Ayako Okamura tunes the world, finding the fundamental pitch of field recordings and accentuating the inherent music. (Presuming you, like I, don’t know Japanese, be sure to turn on the automated translation.)

White Moths is a half hour of the artist known as junklight improvising in deep, often delicate melodic territory. It isn’t drone, per se. It’s drone by association.

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Current Listens: Electroacoustic Mellotron + Double Bass

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

The always exciting Madeleine Cocolas is back with a new full-length, Ithaca (Room40), filled with percolating, emotional music. The compositions blend elements that folks who listen to techno and classical minimalism might think of as their own, and will learn they have to share nicely with others. A standout is the stately “The Heart Doesn’t Lie (Except When It Does),” a slow solo piano work that is generous with its pauses.


A who’s who of experimental musicians from the San Francisco Bay Area collaborated with Tim Walters on Shatter in Place, a fundraiser for Bay Area Safety Net (“a non-profit designed to help support artists in the Bay Area during the COVID-19 crisis”). A highlight is “Multiplication Street,” which makes the foment of Lisa Mezzacappa’s double bass available, as with all the other contributions, to serve as “electroacoustic source material” for Walters’ artfully mercurial transformations. The other contributors are Myles Boisen, Kyle Bruckmann, Brett Carson, Tom Djll, gabby fluke-mogul, Phillip Greenlief, and Gino Robair.


“Adagio for Mellotron and Modular Synthesizer,” at once both patient and tensile, features the latter by itwasthewires and the former by Marco Lucchi. Lucchi’s collaborations have been a highlight of my SoundCloud stream lately.


A single-instrument performance on a sampler is never truly a single-instrument performance, not when you consider what was sampled. In the case of r beny’s lush, dreamy “Vestals,” this includes piano, strings, and synthesizer material. The video was recorded live for Do It Yourself, Together, a streaming festival put together by Synthstrom Audible, the company that makes the Deluge, the instrument he’s playing. Synthstrom was supposed to have some concerts (live, in person — remember those?) back in March, where every performer would just use the Deluge. They were, of course, cancelled due to the current circumstances. I was really looking forward to one scheduled for March 21 in Oakland, California, across the Bay from where I live, but it didn’t happen. R beny was among those scheduled to perform that evening.


The new weekly Robert Fripp series of quiet instrumental tracks each come out at what seems to be 2am if you live in California, which is a more humane 10am in England. The gorgeous third entry, recorded back in 2006, was released this past week. Somehow his account still has under 8,000 subscribers.

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Current Listens: Dub Eno + Fripp Soundscape

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

This is my 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

Listen as the rapid arpeggios are contrasted with a flowing, emotional through line. The upcoming Hélène Vogelsinger album, Contemplation, doesn’t come out until June 12, on the Modularfield record label, but the lead track, “Astral Projection,” has been up for awhile now.


This field recording is something I’ve played on repeat for hours at a time. Listen as the echo of test sirens in Boulder, Colorado, “seem to play sustained chords for a few minutes,” as Alan Bland, who made the recording, describes it.


The three tracks on Ghost Signs’ The Holy Ghost and Other Lost Souls explore dense drones, at once heavenly and simmering. Highly recommended if that description appeals to you. It came out a month ago today, and has been a frequent listen.


Music for Airports in Dub goes back to the start of 2020. Thomas Park took stems from the classic Brian Eno album Music for Airports and, using his own generative software, written in the language Python, created dub from them.

The second of what promise to be 50 free streaming “ambient instrumental soundscape” tracks from Robert Fripp went live on May 8. It dates from 2009.


 

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ARCHIVAL: Old(er(ish)) records top mind

The shifting wave forms of Éliange Radigue’s Trilogie de la Mort, released in 1998, were my frequent companion on public transportation. Now that, like much of the world, I’m stuck in the quiet of home, they’re becoming all the more vibrant to me.

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Current Listens: Cello + EMS Synthi 100 + Devs

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

Current Listens is a listening diary of sorts. It’s an answer to the frequent question: “What have you been listening to lately?” This is what’s on heavy rotation at home and … well, of late, pretty much just at home. It’s annotated, albeit lightly, because I don’t like re-posting material without providing some context.

And in the interest of conversation, if there’s something you’re enjoying lately, mention it in the comments below. Just please don’t use the comments to promote your own work. This isn’t the right venue. Likewise if you’re a publicist or work at a record label (if you are, just use email). Thanks.

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NEW: Recent(ish) arrivals and pre-releases

Svetlana Maraš’ superb, rhythmically motivated Steps is exactly the sort of record I listen to so much that I never get around to writing about it. Except I am promising myself I will get around to doing so. It’s all performed on a single instrument, the EMS Synthi 100, which dates from the early 1970s. The one she’s playing is at Radio Belgrade’s Electronic Studio. As for those numerical track titles, Maraš explains: “Tracks are named by the number of sequencer steps used in that piece.”

Robert Fripp, the King Crimson founder and guitarist, now has his own YouTube channel: “We will be releasing an ambient instrumental soundscape online every week for 50 weeks. Something to nourish us, and help us through these Uncertain Times.” The first track is up. I tweeted about this on Friday and yet, per my comment directly above, entirely neglected to mention it here until now.

The Devs score is finally out, as of late last week. This is the music composed for Alec Garland’s excellent science fiction TV series, which recently ran on Hulu for eight episodes. The music from Geoff Barrow, Ben Salisbury, and the Insects (the duo of Tim Norfolk and Bob Locke) is generally haunting, but brace yourself for when tracks like “Stealing the Code” and “Suffocation” bring the tension to the fore. Lacking from the release are the show’s prominently employed pre-existing cues, like tracks from the Hilliard Ensemble and Steve Reich.

Club aesthetics glitched and filtered, vocals on stutter, tone on stun: Loraine James has this subdued-ish track (120 BPM) on the Awesome Aid compilation (“100% of earnings will go to the artists”), out a couple weeks ago. (And thanks, rbxbx, for the alert.)

A gorgeous live performance by Marcus Fischer and Ted Laderas (both of who worked on the music for the film Youth, which I did music supervision for). This is their brand new release, February 29th, which came out two days ago. It’s a single track, just under 25 minutes, recorded on the date that gives the piece its title. All profits from sales go to a women’s shelter in Portland, Oregon. The wonderful ingredients are cello, vibraphone, electronic processing, and the sonic spaciousness of the venue at which it was performed.

Polygoss’ Coronal is all quiet noises, ruffled textures, and primordial synthesis. The mix of birdsong and fractured wave forms on “Melismas” is a favorite. It came out on May 1.

 

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REPEAT: Favorites mentioned previously

Muffled voices push at the surface music of “Forever Listening,” the surveillance-themed lead track of Jasmine Guffond’s recent album, Microphone Permission. It was released in early March on Editions Mego.

This rapturous quartet (piano, flute, bass clarinet, violin), “Intangible Landscapes” by composer Yaz Lancaster, moves from stately restraint to operatic dramatics over the course of its meticulously plotted 12-plus minutes.

 

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ARCHIVAL: Old(er(ish)) records top mind

Even with all the death of late, the world skipped a beat this week when the great drummer Tony Allen passed away at the age of 79. This is a favorite, dubby track from 1984. The title stands for “Never Expect Power Always.” Ain’t that the truth.

Word got out a few days ago that Jon Hassell, the innovator behind the retro-future music known as Fourth World, is in failing health. His first album, dating from 1977, the great Vernal Equinox, was just reissued in March.

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Current Listens: Needle Drop

Recent heavy rotation plus occasional deep cuts

Tomorrow begins a new section on this website. It’s to be called Current Listens, and that’s what it’s about. To a degree, it’s an answer to a frequent question I receive: “What have you been listening to lately?” It may prove to be an experiment, and it may prove to last long-term. It’s going to be a weekly collection of recommended listening. The list may be long some weeks, and short other weeks. The descriptions will be concise, or as concise as I can be. I don’t, personally, enjoy posting without context. That’s just me. Below is some background on the idea:

I try to write about a track each weekday on Disquiet.com. That’s what the site’s Downstream section is about (though lately it’s been, entirely uncharacteristically, full of modified recordings, in the form of my own Buddha Machine Variations). There’s far more music, however, that I’m interested in than I can write about in that focused context. I receive hundreds of email requests most weekdays (from musicians, record labels, publicists) to listen, and I “discover” lots in my own listening and exploring.

This next point is worth its own paragraph for emphasis: Most of what I write about is music I come upon, not music that is sent to me. That isn’t because I necessarily trust my explorations more than my inbox. It’s just that exploring the internet is more interesting than exploring my inbox. (Also more interesting than email: visiting record stores, going to concerts, having conversations.)

It’s been suggested to me on several occasions that I address this perceived burden (an embarrassment of riches, to be clear) by just re-posting to Disquiet.com lots of the inbound music, and to let readers sort it out. I feel, though, that would merely shift the burden. The point of publishing Disquiet.com, which I started back in 1996, is for it to be mine, to have an editorial point of view, to present things from my perspective. (Even as I’ve experimented with having guest contributors, that remains the case.) More importantly, the “embarrassment of riches” (of being surrounded by vast amounts of music) mentioned above is no longer solely the experience of the music critic. Thanks to streaming services, everyone has too much to listen to; even if their email inboxes don’t overflow with requests, their more broadly defined inboxes do.

It’s also been suggested to me I get back to putting together playlists on streaming services. I’ve given this a go on SoundCloud, Spotify, and Google Play Music in the past. I enjoyed it to a degree, but the absence of context, of producing liner notes, made it less interesting than it could be (again, for me). I did two episodes of a podcast, which was a lot of fun, but also a sizable amount of work. I may get back to it, but blogging is where all this Disquiet activity began. It’s worked, and it still works.

Which is where this new Current Listens section comes in. Current Listens is a listening diary, of a sorts. It’ll collect recent-favorite music I haven’t (or at least haven’t yet) done a longer weekday entry on. Much of this music is available on a variety of formats and platforms, not just whichever one I happen to utilize for embedding purposes. Current Listens will kick off with three categories:

New: Recent(ish) arrivals and pre-releases

Repeat: Favorites mentioned previously

Archival: Old(er(ish)) records on my mind

Check it out tomorrow. Thanks. And in the interest of conversation, if there’s something you’re enjoying lately, mention it in the comments below. Just please don’t use the comments to promote your own work. This isn’t the right venue.

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