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

tag: field-recording

Overnight Field Recording

Robert Rizzi leaves his rig alone

By definition, most field recordings are reflections of civilization, inhabited by the presence of whoever is doing the recording. Whether you’ve dropped a hydrophone into the bay or held a portable device up to catch the birdsong, you are there, physically connected to the recording tools. And the world that you are recording notes your presence. Animals avoid you. The wind curves around you. The device’s direction is determined by you.

But there are alternate approaches, such as Robert Rizzi’s. Rizzi, who is based in Kolding, Denmark, left his gear out in the wild, and then returned the next day to hear what his device heard when he wasn’t around. As he recounts:

Last week I dropped a rig again in the Solkær meadows/wetland near my home. I have a friend who owns a large chunk of land there and he took me on an inspection/expedition of the area. I went back later the same evening and set up next to the little waterhole in the picture. I left the rig there until the next morning…

Even with his active absence, however, civilization managed to intervene. As he explains, the nearly 20 minutes heard here required post-production to remove the presence of planes, to adjust sound levels, and to filter out unwanted audio:

This track is excerpts from the evening, night and dawn – it was pretty quiet so I have been fidling a bit with eq, compression and RX7 to enhance the result…(I’ll go back this week with my “big” rig to get a better recording hopefully without muchwork in post)

Right at the beginning you hear a deer? really close to the mics eating, and finally running away, there’s swans flying by, heron or cranes vocalizing, frogs blackbirds etc… quite a few planes, and even a helicopter, over the 9 hours of recoding – I edited those out

Nonetheless, the sounds are special. The animals heard chomping in the foreground early on do disappear, and when they do the meadow opens up, and the ear hears further than it did previously, deep into the night.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/rizzi. More from Rizzi at twitter.com/RobertColeRizzi.

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Listening to Ratner’s Star

Rereading DeLillo

Having recently reread the most recent Don DeLillo novel, Zero K (2016), I’ve gone back and begun to reread a much earlier one, Ratner’s Star (1976). No doubt as to why I was under the spell of those books for so many years.

For context, the main character is a precocious young mathematician getting to know the soundproof, windowless room at a think tank that is now to be considered home.

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An Ecosystem Unto Itself

Organic Adventures from Buenos Aires, Argentina's Natural Life Essence

Organic Adventures earns its title over six tracks of field-recording-filled, rain-dappled, thunder-enhanced, bird-song-adorned tracks. The album comes from Buenos Aires, Argentina’s Juan Pablo Giacovino, aka Natural Life Essence. Presumably the release is a thematic follow-up to Giacovino’s earlier In-Organic Adventures, which was all soothingly digital music: shimmery, quivering, shiny tracks of synthetic unrealism.

In contrast, the music on Organic Adventures is all pleasure-zone-out bliss. The album is an ecosystem unto itself. Some of it gets downright funky, like the dub-flavored “Organic Adverntures-3,” but more often it is densely, droningly minimalistic. “Organic Adventures 4(Part II)” could be a lost Terry Riley recording, a Fourth World raga. “Liberation(Flying Free)” mixes actual nature sounds with fillips of timbral debris.

Perhaps the best compliment that can be paid the music is that it seems not only organic but generative. So sedate yet shifty are the various layers of sound, that they leave behind the traditional concept of composition and come to work more as expertly honed atmospheres. Science fiction that explores artificial life often employs the trope of the expert craftsperson, one who can shape an eyeball or a bonsai tree from inorganic substances and yet make it as real as that which it emulates. Juan Pablo Giacovino is just such a craftsperson of sound. The scifi vibe is affirmed on the album’s final track, “Organic Adventures 8,” which includes an exploratory voiceover — what appears to be someone reading Robert M. Hazen’s 2012 book The Story of Earth — that sometimes struggles to be heard amid the overwhelming sound field it can be imagined to describe.

Album originally released by the Neotantra label on June 5, 2020, at neotantra.bandcamp.com.

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The Golden Gate Bridge Hum

A high-wind phenomena creates a new San Francisco soundmark.

This 30-second video, filmed through my open back door around 6pm California time today, Saturday, June 6, gives a sense of the hum whose emanation from the Golden Gate Bridge has gained notoriety this weekend. There’s quite a bit of wind and rustling to be heard, and amid that is a clear, guttural drone, as if a bullfrog had taken up Tuvan throat singing. This is not the way this part of the world usually sounds.

I first got word of the hum Friday evening, June 5, shortly after 8pm, when Barry Threw, executive director of the Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, DM’d me a tweet from Aki Rodić, a local computer graphics specialist. Rodić’s tweet read “New railings on the Golden Gate Bridge are producing deafening eeirie sound that can be heard for miles,” accompanied by an emoji for the bridge and linking to a video, the sole video, on a YouTube account attributed to Roaming Records. The video is titled “Deafening Sound Over Golden Gate Bridge.” Recorded at 2:34pm earlier that same day, it plays for 59 seconds, showing the view through the front window of a car as it crosses the bridge. A haunting sound is prominent, a ghostly choral effect, like the world’s largest glass harmonica had been brought in to score a film titled Escape from San Francisco.

This evening, reports of the strange phenomenon outrank the demonstration that blocked traffic on the bridge this afternoon. A report by CNN’s Alisha Ebrahimji quoted a spokesperson for the bridge, “We knew going into the handrail replacement that the Bridge would sing during exceptionally high winds from the west, as we saw yesterday.” A KQED report notes, as well, it was understood in advance that the design change “would begin to hum” in high winds.

The Golden Gate Bridge Hum should not be confused with “the Hum,” a “low-frequency buzz” that numerous people around the world complain about, and that has led to numerous theories as to its origin. Nor is a fully intentional music composition, like the “singing road” on a stretch of Route 66 in New Mexico that plays “America the Beautiful,” produced by National Geographic:

San Francisco has its share of soundmarks, to use Canadian composer and acoustic ecologist R. Murray Schafer’s term for the sonic equivalent of landmarks. One of them, the weekly Tuesday noon test of the outdoor public warning system, went silent this past December, at the start of a two-year rehabilitation project. Perhaps by the end of 2021, we’ll hear it in a duet with the bridge.

For geographic reference, I live in the Richmond District of San Francisco, just north of Golden Gate Park and roughly three miles from the center of the Golden Gate Bridge. We’ll see, in the coming weeks, as the wind slows, whether this is an isolated event, or if the high winds have awoken our ears to a sound that we’ll now notice more regularly.

Video originally posted to youtube.com/disquiet.

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Disquiet Junto Project 0437: Echo Relocation

The Assignment: Record someone else's field recording of their environment playing within your own.

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, May 18, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, May 14, 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 tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0437: Echo Relocation
The Assignment: Record someone else’s field recording of their environment playing within your own.

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

Step 1: Select one or more of the field recordings submitted to the Junto last week. There is a playlist of nearly 50 at

https://soundcloud.com/disquiet/sets/disquiet-junto-project-0436

And a couple more sprinkled through the discussion at

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0436-planetary-headspace/

Step 2: Play the track(s) in your own environment, indoors or outside, situating other people’s acoustic environments in your living space.

Step 3: Record the confluence of near and distant sounds.

Step 4: Share your new field recording for others to play and record in their own living environments.

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0437” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your tracks.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0437” (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 tracks. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your tracks.

Step 4: Post your tracks in the following discussion thread at llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0437-echo-relocation/

Step 5: Annotate your tracks 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, May 18, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, May 14, 2020.

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

Title/Tag: When posting your tracks, please include “disquiet0437” in the title of the tracks, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, 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: Given the nature of this particular project sequence, it is best to set 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 437th weekly Disquiet Junto project, Disquiet Junto Project 0437: Echo Relocation — The Assignment: Record someone else’s field recording of their environment playing within your own — at:

https://disquiet.com/0437/

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

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0437-echo-relocation/

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

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