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: noise

Banks Violette Interview MP3

Among the individuals responsible for bringing drones into the modern museum, one key one is Banks Violette, who has collaborated with black metal musicians from Scandinavia and with the band Sunn O))’s Stephen O’Malley in the construction of installations that combine painting, sculpture and sound. The PS1 podcast series, broadcast from the Queens-based arts center, has an old interview with him in which he discusses how the audio complements his physical structures, how MFA programs prepare (for better and worse) students for the art world, and how youthful indiscretion may be the most potent cultural detritus of all (MP3).

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Look to the Skies MP3s

The act known as Look to the Skies has about as elegant a release strategy as they come: a sparse web page (, with one freeform, drone-infused audio experiment at a time posted as a single file and available via RSS feed (link).

Call it the drone-diary format. It has a lot going for it, each entry arriving less like a composition and more like an audio snapshot of a particular intersection of time, place, equipment, production modes, and mood. Two new pieces popped up last month, both haunting, rangy and crepuscular, “Unconventional Objects Are in Some Way Real” (MP3) and “Strengthen Towards Spring” (MP3).

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Juan José Calarco’s Tech-Derived MP3s

Ever downloaded a hefty video to find only the audio portion functions properly? Then the frustration inherent in following the two-part recording Plano Vertical, by musician Juan José Calarco, will provoke some serious déjà vu — and some pleasure.

The major difference, of course, is that Calarco’s imposing disorientation is entirely willful on his part, whereas the former experience has to do with the niggling complexities of the technology ingrained in our daily lives.

Which is to say, perhaps both experiences aren’t so different after all. The two tracks on Plano Vertical are built from familiar sounds, including rusty gears, telescoping echo, industrial groans, auracular rings, surface noise, the vertiginous rumble of what could be an elevator shaft, the distant cacophony of what could be a plane coming in to land, the clack of equipment functioning…

In other words, Calarco has taken mechanistic noises inherent in daily life and built something sad and worn and scary and often beautiful out of them. On the two pieces, “Extension Activa” (MP3) and “Plano Vertical 2” (MP3), most of this sound is yanked from its original context, which makes the occasional water drip stand out like a photorealist painting at an abstract expressionist exhibit.

More info at the releasing netlabel (Lisbon, Portugal’s and at Buenos Aires, Argentina-based Calarco’s page.

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Doom-core Installation MP3

Into the Pandemonium is the title of, arguably, the best album by doom metal band Celtic Frost, not just for its dour take on the Wall of Voodoo hit “Mexican Radio” but for the industrial rigor of “One in Their Pride.” That album came out 20 years ago, when heavy metal was a seeming enclave of die-hard analogists, and Celtic Frost’s venture into techno was a breath of fresh air — despite the group’s intent on cultivating an aura of fire and brimstone. The 12″ single for “I Won’t Dance!” included an extended remix of “One in Their Pride,” now available on the CD edition, that took what was most demonstrative and distinctive about the single, a delectably rudimentary drum machine beat, and extended it further.

The title to that Celtic Frost album has now been adopted by Lasse Marhaug for a six-channel installation of thoroughly appropriated metal at the Norwegian festival Hole in the Sky, which opens today and runs through Saturday. If you can’t make it to Bergen, you can download a stereo reduction of Marhaug’s work, posted as part of the podcast series of the Touch Records label (MP3). Touch sums up the sound well: “Fragments of classic moments in death/thrash/black metal music have been mangled, disfigured and reworked into a festering pulp of distortion, doom and noise.” The result is a slowly escalating drone built from all the textures that make doomy metal sound molten and morose, all those riffs freed of their momentum and expressed entirely as matters of tone.

More on the festival at, on Mashaug at, and on the Touch label ( and podcast series (

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Metal Machine Remix MP3s

The unlistenability of Lou Reed‘s Metal Machine Music is one of the great overstatements of pop culture. Some 30-plus years have passed since its release, and we now live at a time when the noise of Merzbow and the Boredoms and countless death-metal bands regularly draw sold-out crowds; many listeners today came of age to singles by Aphex Twin and Kid 606 that are nearly as aggressive as Reed’s 1975 double album. In the process, Metal Machine Music has gone from lonely outlier to strong precursor.

But if you still find its unadulterated, maniacally mashy splatters to be, well, unadulterated, maniacally mashy splatters, then the person who runs provides a useful service, having just yesterday posted two remixes of Reed’s timeless hot potato. There’s an ambient version (MP3) and a dance one (MP3), though the latter proves more sedate than the former. The dance version takes a denuded edit of Lou Reed’s original and applies a kind of audio strobe effect that lends it a steady, slowly pulsing tempo. In the ambient version, there are still quite a bit of sudden, split-second sounds that could prove nerve-wracking to some.

As an added treat, there’s also a mashup (MP3) of Plastikman (the B-side from his thumping “Spastik”/”Helicopter” techno single) and Karlheinz Stockhausen (an excerpt apparently from his conceptual and logistic feat, “Helicopter String Quartet”).

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