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.

tag: field-recording

Disquiet Junto Project 0424: Fluctuating Rhythm

The Assignment: Employ nature as your conductor.

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, February 17, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, February 13, 2020.

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 0424: Fluctuating Rhythm
The Assignment: Employ nature as your conductor.

Step 1: Compose or choose a work of music. (The work can involve any number of instruments or can be purely electronic.)

Step 2: Perform the work outdoors, employing nature as your conductor. (Any natural phenomenon may be enlisted to keep time during your performance. Examples include the sway of a tree in the wind, the flow of a stream, or the circling of a flock of birds before a storm. Consider a phenomenon that fluctuates with environmental conditions, such that your rhythm varies in ways that situate your work in the landscape.)

Background: This is a collaboration with the artist and experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats, who is working on a global initiative to enlist natural systems as official time standards. Read more here:

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0424” (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 “disquiet0424” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation of 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, February 17, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, February 13, 2020.

Length: The length is up to you. Shorter is often better. Let nature take its course.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0424” 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 424th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Fluctuating Rhythm / The Assignment: Employ nature as your conductor — at:

This is a collaboration with the artist and experimental philosopher Jonathon Keats.

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

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

The image associated with this project is by Chris Murphy.

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Not Frozen, but Froze-ish

Stray Wool's granular synthesis

Granular synthesis lends itself to music that is at once majestic and circumspect. By capturing the tiniest slivers of sound and holding them for extended moments, it puts the listener in a place akin to near stasis: not frozen, but froze-ish. It gives your ears the chance to luxuriate, and contemplate, sound as a surrounding expanse. The mingling of experiences, when implemented well, can balance the breadth of a landscape painting with the focus of a haiku. The new album You Were Away by Stray Wool is well implemented in this regard. Its four tracks — some a leisurely five minutes, others nearly twice that length — take their time, and ours, to explore crevices within piano samples and, presumably, other sources. The results range widely between emotional states. The collection opens (“A1”) with what sounds, at times, like fog horns pushed to the breaking point, and ends with platonic ideal of pastoral ambience (“B2”). For all the slow motion, though, it is not without a sense of humor. The penultimate track, “B1,” begins with a sample of what appears to be an ethnographic researcher interviewing a musician who performs Celtic mouth music: “There are no instruments at all?” we hear her ask in amazement. The piece then moves forward like metal being bent by a powerful force, moaning under the pressure. Depends, apparently, on your definition of “instrument.”

Stray Wool is Pedro Figueiredo, a Portuguese musician and software developer. More on the album at his blog, You Were Away was posted at

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Agent Listening in the Field

Le Carré sets the scene

A passing moment from the novel Agent Running in the Field, John le Carré’s latest. It was published late last year. (I’m of the belief that le Carré, now 88 years old, should be in the running for the Nobel Prize in literature: for his gifts to the English language , for the formidable character George Smiley, and for the unmagical realism of his writing.)

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Onomatopoeia at Home

A crossword clue

On the one hand, the answer to the first clue in today’s New York Times mini-crossword is self-evident. On the other, I do like to think there’s a varied plethora of nuanced onomatopoeia options beyond the one that is expected here.

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Voids Your Ear Can Feel

Courtesy of Jimmy Kpple's Patzr Radio podcast

The shifts in sound seem too sudden to be happenstance. The way the audio cuts from left to right to silence to stereo, and alternate wayward transitions within, doesn’t merely shape and direct the sound. It create voids your ear can feel. Don’t put this on headphones. Play it at room temperature on a pair of speakers, your head comfortably in between. Let the found sounds — all white noise and public-address mumble, not to mention echoing high heels and distant whistles — of the field recordings dance around your skull as well as within. This is the 176th entry in Jimmy Kpple’s ongoing Patzr Radio podcast, “noise and a relative or friend can hold,” a great ongoing musique concrète wonder.

Track originally posted at Get the feed directly at More from Kpple at

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