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: gadget

2020’s Most Read Disquiet.com Posts

And a few other details from my most prolific year

Being shut in for the majority of 2020 had some benefits, one of them being that for the first time since I founded this website at the tail end of 1996, I managed to write a post every single day. On some days I posted more than once, yielding a total of 478 posts over the course of the leap year’s 366 days (479 posts counting this one, come to think of it). The months of March and May were my most prolific, with 52 posts each, and July was my least (with 32).

Using Google Analytics, I sorted out the 10 most read posts of the year:

  1. The Fjærlett, a beautiful audio feedback instrument designed by Oslo-based Kristoffer Gard Osen.

  2. A highly sensitive microphone called the Geofón: “designed for seismic measurements, it can be used with regular field recording equipment to capture very faint vibrations in various materials and even soil.”

  3. This post is only half a month old, but was clearly popular based on the subject: guitar adaptations of Aphex Twin’s music.

  4. Visual code (in this case Pure Data) as a form of graphic notation, with a focus on the work of Fahmi Mursyid, who is based in Indonesia.

  5. A small MIDI controller that Tom Whitwell of Music Thing Modular (based in London) prototyped with me in mind.

  6. Portland, Oregon-based Patricia Wolf’s Cellular Chorus.

  7. My advice when sharing your music via email in the hopes of getting press attention.

  8. A short video I shot of the hum whose emanation from the Golden Gate Bridge has gained worldwide notoriety.

  9. Video of a live ambient performance by Orbital Patterns (aka Michigan-based Abdul Allums)

  10. Commemorating 2,000 days of Virginia-based cartoonist Todd Webb’s Daily Bleeps:

And as a side note, the most popular post associated with the Disquiet Junto music community (besides the FAQ, which isn’t new) was related to the Solitary Ensembles project, which teams up trios of geographically dispersed collaborators.

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Transistor Ga Ga

An augmented field recording by Robert Cole Rizzi

Often, the most beautiful sounds are all around us. We just have to learn to pay attention to them. Sometimes, however, to access these sounds, we must listen in ways our ears alone can’t accomplish. Case in point, this recording of a transformer station from Robert Cole Rizzi. Rizzi’s three-minute track is an atmospheric tour de force. It combines the inherent buzzing of the transformer with the sound of the structure itself vibrating, plus sonic evidence of the presence of electromagnetic radiation. Writes Rizzi, “You can hear a low rumble I believe is the current running through the wires and fog condensing into drops hitting the thinner zigzag beams of the mast as they fall.”

To access this depth of sonic experience, Rizzi employs the Geofon, or what I described as “the landlubber’s hydrophone in a post earlier this year. The electromagnetic information comes courtesy of another device, called the Priezor. Both are from the company LOM.

Track originally posted at soundcloud.com/rizzi. More from Robert Cole Rizzi, who is based in Kolding, Denmark, at twitter.com/RobertColeRizzi.

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Serrated Simplicity

The VAPE's Quadrophone Gramophone

This marvelous rusty old object is the most rudimentary — and glorious for it — sort of turntable. It’s like if Louise Bourgeois’ spider sculptures and Pierre Bastien’s sonic constructions had a baby. The gear, all serrated simplicity, goes round and round while the tips of four bent wires make tentative contact. They’re pulled along by the surface tension of the gear, until each gives way with a brittle squeak. The device is called the Quadrophone Gramophone, and it’s from the artist who goes by the VAPE.

Video originally posted at youtube.com.

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Light to Sound

An experiment from Suss Müsik

The saying goes that it’s only experimental music if there’s a chance it won’t work. A corollary observation would be to point out: Sometimes what sounds like experimental music isn’t experimental music. It’s simply an experiment. And nonetheless, it can be musical. Case in point, this little DIY project by the musician who goes by Suss Müsik. He’s been experimenting with illumination-responsive circuitry, creating a theremin-like apparatus that creates and alters sound abased on the presence of a flashlight. As he notes in a brief accompanying text, “Somehow it created layers of harmonic dissonance in nearly perfectly phased, overlapping sequences.”

Video originally posted at youtube.com. More from Suss Müsik at sussmusik.com.

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Drum Machine Ruler

20 centimeters of rhythmic wonder from ::vtol::

If you’ve ever plucked a metal ruler or banged it on the edge of a table, you know the vibrant, heady pulse of its taut rebound. The talented Moscow-based engineer Dmitry Morozov, who goes by ::vtol::, recognized the promise in that boinngggg and automated it. The result, a combination of processing power, two servo motors, and other items, is a programmable drum machine that makes all its sounds with a 20-centimeter metal ruler. This demo video shares some of its sonic and rhythmic potential.

Writes Morozov:

The device is based on the school experience of imitating bass lines at the desk and a fun way to disturb teachers. The instrument can be classified as an automated plucked contrabass monochord. Changing the pitch is done by quickly changing how far the ruler is extended relative to the nut. Movements, plucks and presses of the ruler along the nut are driven by powerful and fast motors, which allows playing pretty fast lines. 2 pressing motors can work simultaneously or selectively, which allows you to choose the register: the range and amplitude of oscillations depends on the place in which the ruler is clamped before the pluck. The sound is picked up by a small piezo element, which is getting hits by a ruler directly (the instrument has no resonator). The instrument is equipped with 12 touch keys, each of which can be reassigned to a specific length of the ruler. A small OLED display is used to select modes, tune notes, and indicate processes and states.

The device is called the RBS-20(cm), which stands for “Ruler bass synth, 20 centimeters.” Video originally posted at vimeo.com. More details at vtol.cc.

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