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

twitter.com/disquiet: Autechre, Burrell/Adderley, Sun Ra

From the past week

I do this manually each Saturday, collating most of the tweets I made the past week at twitter.com/disquiet, which I think of as my public notebook. Some tweets pop up sooner in expanded form or otherwise on Disquiet.com. I’ve found it personally informative to revisit the previous week of thinking out loud. This isn’t a full accounting. Often there are, for example, conversations on Twitter that don’t really make as much sense out of the context of Twitter itself. And sometimes I tweak them a bit, given the additional space. And sometimes I re-order them just a bit.

▰ Officially have done the This Week in Sound email newsletter 20 weeks in a row: tinyletter.com/disquiet.

▰ Afternoon trio for birdsong, percolating crockpot, and neighborhood gearhead revving motorcycle engine.

▰ TFW 8 hours of live Autechre sets pop up in your YouTube subscriptions at the start of a workday

(Also at autechre.bandcamp.com.)

▰ Feels really good to get the Junto projects set up the night prior. Thursday feels a little odd, still, because I spent a decade putting the post together and then hitting send. Now I prep it more thoroughly in advance, and it arrives automatically, and I follow up via email.

▰ Says to self: “I’m gonna practice Kenny Burrell’s ‘Chitlins Con Carne’ for half an hour without looking at the sheet music or listening to the track.”

Proceeds to practice Nat Adderley’s “Work Song” for 15 minutes.

Finds “Chitlins Con Carne” sheet music. Listens. Practices it.

▰ Verb I heard this morning that I will not be employing: “diligencing”

Phrase I used this morning and plan to make more use of: “synth dandruff”

A friend followed up with the quite amazing “laptop dander”

▰ Bosch listens to Sun Ra.

Long day, long week. Have a good one. See you Monday.

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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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A Chorus of Sorts

On the way back from Brooklyn

The subway was my destination, and all the more so when I reached the top of the staircase. This was in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, last week, toward the end of a recent trip I took back east. I’ve since returned to the Bay Area, where the world is considerably less dense — with people, with activity, with sound. In Greenpoint, it seemed, in that moment — in the moment preceding this audio — like a chorus might be performing down below the surface of the city, the voices gaining heft in the twisting, tiled hallways. I was in no rush to return to Manhattan, so when I took my first step down, I was looking forward to lingering. Buskers are one thing. Buskers transformed by the cavernous sound conduit that is a subway is something else entirely.

However, as is often the case with audio illusions (or hallucinations, perhaps), the impression I had fallen prey to was dispelled the moment I reached for my phone’s record button. It’s not simply a matter that I can’t hear the chorus in the audio I recorded. It’s that I no longer heard it when I was there. It simply evaporated. But the change in atmosphere did not deter me. I continued to record as I made my way.

You can hear those footsteps, my foosteps, here. I had two pairs of footwear on the trip: sneakers that are like marshmallows, and boot-like shoes that are firm as tires. This day was a tire day, and the hard tap of each step is evident. Once upon a time, the presence of those footsteps in the recording would have disappointed me. I would have thought of evidence of my being in the place as a taint. Instead, the footsteps lend a linear context to the sounds. They confirm for a listener, even one who was not present at the time, that space is being navigated. And I was, in the end, rewarded with a voice — not a chorus, per se, but a municipal announcement so utterly altered by the echo that it became a sort of chorus itself. Perhaps the very chorus that had caught my imagination earlier on.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/disquiet.

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The Room Tone of the City

A field recording four times over

I was sitting in a room, perhaps like the room you are in as you read this. It was very early on April 13, 2022, and I had been listening to the city I was in, Manhattan, as it woke, and as I woke along with it. Construction had already begun by the time I lifted my head, and I hit record on my phone to capture the combination of irritant and coziness that the muffled sounds of building provided. On the one hand, these were not comforting noises. On the other, they were quite quiet, especially from my tiny, 12-floor hotel room. I thought about how much the annoyance of the sound was tied not just to the time of day, but to how the small sounds could permeate my otherwise remote and private hotel room: how the sounds could be present without being overwhelming.

And so, having recorded 45 seconds of the sound from where I was seated, at a small desk, I decided to combine the outdoor sound with itself — to, in effect, magnify it. To accomplish this task, I played the initial 45-second recording on my laptop’s speakers, and recorded it as it sounded in the hotel room, while a variation on the outdoors naturally (or unnaturally, depending on your perspective) proceeded. Then I did this layering a second time, and then a third. Each time I added sound, the result was not particularly louder, or even all that eventful. There was clanging and droning, but there was still a lot of space present, not silent space but quiet space: the room tone of the city.

At first I thought I would just upload the fourth track, but instead I made a longer recording that presented the transition from one segment to the next. I treated each of the four recordings with a fade-in, and then I concatenated them, so just before the first recording ended, the second one began, and then the third, and then the fourth. And then I faded out the fourth track, so the full piece didn’t end suddenly. It’s quite remarkable how little happens in the finished piece, how the sound combined with a variant on itself multiple times is not that much more dense, not that much more full, than was the original. It speaks to both the relative quietude of morning Manhattan, and to the way the ear processes aberrations and unwanted occurrences. This is “Construction Kit.”

Track originally posted to soundcloud.com/disquiet.

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The Weather’s Onomatopoeia

Via Julian Barnes in Flaubert's Parrot

Still deep into Julian Barnes’ Flaubert’s Parrot, which arrives at some spirited onomatopoeia. We’ve long since recognized a bird that does the rare thing: repeating human speech. Now the weather engenders something like the sounds of birds themselves.

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