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

A Rainy Night in Japan

Courtesy of Rambalac


You hear the cars before you see their lights. You hear the footsteps, a deep, constant pulse in contrast with the pointillist rain. You hear the pressurized air, when it comes into view to clean off the lens. You hear a small thudding, somewhere between footsteps and raindrops, this being the sound of the rain hitting, no doubt, an umbrella or a broad-brimmed hat. You look for a reflection, a shadow, to confirm this inference. This is the Rambalac video “Rainy backstreets of Japan at night 5.” Rambalac has nearly half a million viewers on YouTube, admirers of often hour-long, unedited footage of long, winding walks that are, like this one, generally set in Japan. Sound is a byproduct in these videos, a part of the document, but more frame than focus, more color than subject. Still, here the crackling — the sort that always, oddly, sounds more like fire than rain — is very much a centering component. One can be tempted to just watch, and sometimes I do have one of these running, perhaps at quarter speed, on a side monitor as eye candy, but the full audio-visual experience is where it’s at.

Video originally posted at youtube.com.

Also tagged / / Comment: 1 ]

Icelandic Meow Echolocation

A short video by Laura Alice Watt

A housemate of mine once came home with a puppy. The little dog was so black that when its eyes were closed, which was much of the time (since it slept so much), it looked more like a silhouette than it did a live animal. However, when it was awake, the puppy was very awake. At some point, early on as a member of our multi-species household, the dog was placed in the backyard and left to explore. How it did so was fascinating to observe. On its first entry into the yard, which was quite large, the small dog started at the fence and ran, full speed, around in a circle. With each circumference, the puppy drew closer and closer in until it finally reached the center of the yard, and when it arrived there it collapsed out of utter exhaustion from the exertion.

In this video, some kittens are seen and, more to the point, heard doing their own version of exploration, in this case of an old interior space. These are the ruins of a former herring factory in Djúpavík, Iceland, perhaps best known as a spot where the band Sigur Rós has performed. Like Sigur Rós, the cats appreciate the rich echoes of the metal container. Their meows linger in the air for lengthy periods of time, measurable in multiple seconds, far longer than they’re no doubt used to. A meow generally has a quizzical quality to it. It sounds inherently interrogative: Where are you? When am I going to be fed? Here it seems to provide an echolocative utility, sounding out the three-dimensional topography of this strange structure. It isn’t only the cats who benefit from the exploration. Their meowing give us humans a sense of the space, as well: its contours, its unique qualities, its sonic potential

The video is by my friend Laura Alice Watt, who posted it at flickr.com.

Also tagged , , / / Comment: 1 ]

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


Also tagged , , , / / Comment: 1 ]

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.

Also tagged , , / / Leave a comment ]

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.

Also tagged , , / / Leave a comment ]