New Disquietude podcast episode: music by Lesley Flanigan, Dave Seidel, KMRU, Celia Hollander, and John Hooper; interview with Flanigan; commentary; short essay on reading waveforms. • Disquiet.com F.A.Q.Key Tags: #saw2for33third, #field-recording, #classical, #juntoElsewhere: Twitter, SoundCloud, Instagram

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

tag: field-recording

Current Favorites: Unreal Real Birds + Video Game Birds

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A 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. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.

▰ Jason (Bassling) Richardson posted this remarkable video he shot of a lyrebird doing its thing. The variety of sounds, which really do bring to mind a synthesizer, are all the more striking in the context of the bird’s dance.


▰ I spent much of a morning this week listening to just wind chimes, occasional distant thunder, and intermittent bird chatter — all from the video game Hellblade: Senua’s Sacrifice. (Thanks, Naxuu!)


▰ Jesse Goin & Nathan McLaughlin team up on Earth Tones Miniatures, a time-slowing mix of acoustic guitar and deep, soothing drones.


▰ Yoshio Machida’s Modulisme Session 041 is an exploratory album of synthesizer music: part minimalist patterning, part brutalist industrial noise-making


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twitter.com/disquiet: Theater Anxiety and Media Ambience

I do this manually each week, collating tweets I made at twitter.com/disquiet, my public notebook. Some tweets pop up (in expanded form) on Disquiet.com sooner. It’s personally informative to revisit the previous week of thinking out loud.

▰ The sequel to A Quiet Place, a film about a society in which survivors of a worldwide catastrophe take extreme caution whenever leaving their homes, will apparently be available “only in theaters.”

Which is to say, the bar for the cinema sensorium has been lowered as a result of the pandemic. Simply entering the movie theater exceeds whatever Sensurround had ever been hoped to accomplish.

▰ I enjoy buying downloads. I also feel a threshold-breaking new utility (app/device/service/protocol) remains necessary for doing so to become mainstream, mainstream being necessary for downloads to pass a threshold at which they will become financially meaningful for musicians.

▰ Me at 6:45am: Yawn.

Me at 7:15am: Oh, yeah, it’s May the 4th. I’ll watch Bad Batch, but it’s not like I’m gonna be celebrating Star Wars all day. C’mon.

Me at 9:00am: Oh wow, this Star Wars Biomes audio-video feature is awesome and I’m going to play it on loop until dinner!

Pretty much the only shortcoming of these Star Wars Biomes videos is they don’t entirely ditch the music. Fortunately, the environmental sound of the various locations is prominent most if not all the time.

▰ Netflix needs a third button for “I really enjoyed this and I never want to watch it or anything like it anytime again in the near or foreseeable future.” Pondering what that hand gesture is.

▰ That thing where you’re looking at Goodreads and you go to click the “Want to Read” button and, just as you do so, the advertising banner finally slides into place, thus pushing down the rest of the page, leading you to instead trigger a full-page view of the book’s cover.

▰ Really enjoyed the dense environmental sounds of Cyberpunk 2077, so rather than just watch recordings on YouTube I got a copy. Somewhere a database is registering the machine language equivalent of “This player simply wanders around town and then stands still for a half an hour.” … Somewhere another machine on the network replies, “The player’s digital signature resembles that of someone who did the same thing in Pikmin 20 years ago.” … Further down the stack comes a whisper on the wind from an ancient BASIC subroutine: “I know that kid. Used to carry a binder of floppies around with him in high school.”

▰ I think I need to add “Loitering in video games” to the Disquiet.com profile.

▰ The phrase “panting sibilantly” was one of the first descriptions in the captions for Mayans M.C. this week.

▰ And on that note, have a great weekend. Listen to one of your favorite TV shows. Admire the emotional heft of the word balloons in a favorite graphic novel. Record the outside and bring it inside. See you Monday. Or maybe Tuesday.

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Loitering in Video Games

A virtual walk through Night City

The Uncanny Valley gets all the press, but there is another valley nearby, a Hyperreal Valley located in the Goldilocks Zone between the discomforting and the mundane, the failed experiment and the all too familiar. In place of the awkwardness of some neural network’s syrupy, glitchy, pixel-flesh puppetry, there is the sprawling atmospheric environment of broad-geography video games, places where you can stroll and get to know not only the neighborhood but a semblance of a world.

Here are two more sequences from Cyberpunk 2077, one shot by day, the other at night, in both cases the position of the sun having nothing to do with astronomy and everything do to with a game-state variable deep in the code. In contrast with some of the others I’ve posted recently, these are motion-intensive. They aren’t records of loops shot from stationary corners. They are half-hour walks through fantastic imaginings of urban places. We don’t only hear the layered elements — traffic, conversation, machinery, advertising, etc. — but we hear them in relative position to each other, and from various vantages.



At 15:15 in the daytime video, there is a deep surge, part whale song and part industrial drone. What there is is a giant freighter hovering overhead. Then another comes into view, followed by a similar guttural utterance that veers on the atmospheric in scale. The taken-for-granted facts of the narrative are well beyond our own humdrum reality, and yet the result in the videos is disarmingly natural, very much the opposite of the Uncanny Valley. In fact, if you turn down the streaming quality to 480 on one of these and on a real-life walk around Tokyo or Manhattan, the differences would become even less recognizable.

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A Meta-Excursion into Ambient Audio-Video

Which is to say, chill


This isn’t a scene from Cyberpunk 2077, apparently. It’s an original audio-video environment posted from the Cozy Dreams account on YouTube. It depicts a rainy night in a post-Blade Runner noir city, the small crowd lingering outside a cafe for an unlikely two and a half hours (the length of the cut, purpose-built for studying or otherwise chilling), but the urban street noise, filtered through the pitter-patter of rain (note that as viewers, we’re on the other side of the glass, which serves as both a window and as our own screen’s surface at once), and the welcome absence of what we learn in film-class to call non-diegetic sound (which is to say, there’s no score, no music, no sound not believably emanating from the other side of the glass), lends it all a solid sense of scenic coherence.

As a longtime listener to ambient music and, more broadly, ambient sound, I welcome the audio-visual equivalent as a form of cultural production and self-expression. YouTube is filled with this sort of material, and exploring the accounts and videos, as well as the threaded conversations on such posts, is itself an excursion, a meta-excursion into these myriad fictional excursions.

Video originally posted at YouTube. Cozy Dreams’ YouTube account lists Belgium as its place of origin.

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Current Favorites: Raw Material, Black Samurai, Deft Esoterica

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

A 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. I hope to write more about some of these in the future, but didn’t want to delay sharing them.

▰ Raw material is often some of my favorite listening, and so while these short loops (collected as Field Notes 02) by Simon James French are intended as source audio for music-making, in fact the ambient tones, field recordings, and general droning-goodness are fine just unto themselves.


▰ Flying Lotus (Steven Ellison) scored the new Netflix anime series Yasuke, about an African-born samurai, and while the soundtrack album has plenty of cinematic instrumental hip-hop (“Using What You Got” is a particular fave), it also has chill for days (check out “Shoreline Sus” and “Enchanted”).


▰ Claude and Ola Aldous publish the zine Deft Esoterica, and they also make their own deftly esoteric music, on display on vol, nine tracks of rangy experimentalism, with an emphasis on noisy field recordings, fragile piano, and old-school scifi synthesizer.


▰ As I mentioned yesterday, I’ve never actually played Cyberpunk 2077, but I’ve spent an enormous amount of time with YouTube videos of its ambient street noise playing on loop. This video is a good example, though the title is a bit ambiguous, so possibly not all the sound is from the game itself:

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