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: score

Cues: Jozef Van Wissem Per Rosanne Cash, Mike Patton Scores Derek Cianfrance

Plus: Celluloid heroes, Hearts of Space, Warren Ellis, more

â—¼ Part two of the two-part history of Celluloid Records is now streaming online, via strut-records.com:

â—¼ Mike Patton’s score to The Place Beyond the Pines is streaming in full at pitchfork.com. The film stars Ryan Gosling, Eva Mendes, and Bradley Cooper, and was directed by Derek Cianfrance (Blue Valentine). There’s also an interview a the site. In addition to 12 original cues from Patton, the film features by Arvo Pärt and Ennio Morricone, among others.

â—¼ The soft launch of music critic Michael Azzerad’s new website, The Talkhouse (at thetalkhouse.com), included Laurie Anderson on Animal Collective and Vijay Iyer on Flying Lotus. Rosanne Cash describes Jim Jarmusch and Jozef Van Wissem’s The Mystery of Heaven as sounding “like Ennio Morricone and Brian Eno got in a fight while writing the music for a spaghetti western.” According to press materials, “The Talkhouse will feature one piece on one album written by one musician each day, five days a week. On weekends, the site will feature a long-form music feature piece written by artists across many genres: film, comedy, literature, etc.” Azerrad is the author of Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes from the American Indie Underground 1981-1991 and Come As You Are: The Story of Nirvana. The site is still listed as being in beta.

â—¼ In his occasional email newsletter, Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, Red, Gun Machine) talked a bit about the excellent Spektrmodule podcast (“ambient, sleepy and haunted musics,” in his description) that he concatenates. The latest episode, number 17, includes music by Pausal and Paul Hillier’s Theatre of Voices.

â—¼ There’s a three-day ambient-music convention/conference, titled AMBIcon, to be held from May 3 – 5 in San Rafael, California. It is taking place to note several milestones for the Hearts of Space, which began in 1973 at KPFA-FM in Berkeley and celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. The show began national syndication in 1983, and earlier this had its 1,000th broadcast. There will be eight surround-sound performances by Hans Christian, Stephan Micus, Jeff Pearce, Robert Rich, Steve Roach, Michael Stearns, Stellamara, and Tim Story, a Q&A session moderated by Stephen Hill (the series’ host and co-founder), and a presentation by Mark Prendergast, author of the book The Ambient Century. More details at hos.com.

â—¼ There were 19 tracks produced for the 64th Disquiet Junto project, which ended last night at 11:59 pm. The project involved the theme of “composing from memory.” … Also, I finally put together a set of the 25 extant tracks from the 14th Junto project, which involved sonic versions of the comic that served as the starting point for Matt Madden’s Oulipo/Oubapa comic, 99 Ways to Tell a Story: Exercises in Style.

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Stems: Listening to Carruth, Mansell, and The New Republic

Plus: Matmos' toolset, sound design tips, the culture of rhythm, Sherlock's scanner ...

¶ Primer Directive: The complete score of Shane Carruth’s film Upstream Color is streaming for free, 15 tracks in total. Extended stretches of the film are devoid of dialog, and the natural sound and music, along with the visuals, are left to do the storytelling. As Jascha Hoffman tweeted shortly after seeing the film at its Sundance debut, “Shane Carruth’s Upstream Color : plot // William Basinski’s tape loops : song form.”

¶ Stoked About Stoker: “At the beginning of Stoker, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) tells us she can hear things more clearly than most people, a talent that is quickly apparent seeing as every noise and sound in India’s life is amplified.” That’s from the opening of Allison Loring’s appreciation of the sound design and score of the new Park Chan-Wook film, with music by Clint Mansell as well as a song from Emily Wells and a new piano piece by Philip Glass — at filmschoolrejects.com.

¶ URL Earmarks: This is pretty intriguing. The recent redesign of the website of The New Republic (newrepublic.com) includes a button that will read out loud the text on the page. Like buttons for Twitter and Facebook, for email and “save to PDF,” this is almost certainly going to be a UI/UX norm. So far, however, per this screenshot, it seems largely to be “coming soon”:

201302-newrepub

¶ In Brief: “Lost within the act of listening, I give attention to that which is often ignored: the high-pitched silence of a winter day; the whir of a movie projector displaying a silent film; the cavernous echo inside a museum. ” That’s from the latest post at the blog Phonomnesis, by John Kannenberg, sound artist and founder of the Stasisfield netlabel. ¶ Ethan Hein has posted a six-slide presentation about the extent to which rhythm is a cultural construct. That he is a new father is clearly an impetus for his exploration: slideshare.net. ¶ “Too loud? Sorry. I went downstairs to get some cereal. Didn’t want to miss anything. The city has excellent scanner apps but, um, there’s nothing like the tactility of the original devices, all those dials and buttons.” That’s Sherlock Holmes, as played by Jonny Lee Miller, in episode six (“Flight Risk”) of the first season of Elementary. The scene is on youtube.com:

20130224-sholmeselementary

¶ Many thanks to Peggy Nelson of hilobrow.com for having highlighted the Disquiet Junto’s end-of-2012 audio journal project. ¶ A tour of Matmos’ studio at xlr8r.com. ¶ List (at indiewire.com) of tips from top-rank sound designers has broad applications. Among the tips: “Decide if sound or music should do the heavy lifting in every scene” and “Too many sonic elements can be confusing.”

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Four Loops from Looper

A taste of Nathan Johnson's latest film score

Nathan Johnson is a composer best known for his work with director Rian Johnson, his cousin, on such films as Brick, The Brothers Bloom, and, most recently, Looper. The Looper soundtrack album is up for download in the regular spots (iTunes, Amazon), and there’s a special physical edition (limited to 3,000 units) at lalalandrecords.com. The physical version includes seven additional tracks, on top of the 19 that are part of the downloadable version. Two of those additional tracks, and two from the main set, are available for free download at the La-La Land website. (All four max out at 1:30, while the album versions go longer, one of them for over five minutes.) These include a solo piano version of the movie’s haunting theme (MP3), two different versions of the “Closing Your Loop” (MP3) cue (the alternate version referred to as a “film mix” [MP3]), and “A New Scar” (MP3).

[audio:http://media.xlr8r.com/files/downloads/mp3s/Demona.mp3|titles=”Theme From Looper (Solo Piano Version)”|artists=Nathan Johnson] [audio:http://media.xlr8r.com/files/downloads/mp3s/Demona.mp3|titles=”Closing Your Loop”|artists=Nathan Johnson] [audio:http://media.xlr8r.com/files/downloads/mp3s/Demona.mp3|titles=”Closing Your Loop (Film Mix)”|artists=Nathan Johnson] [audio:http://media.xlr8r.com/files/downloads/mp3s/Demona.mp3|titles=”A New Scar”|artists=Nathan Johnson]

Tracks originally posted at lalalandrecords.com. More on Johnson at imdb.com, nathanjohnson.tumblr.com, and twitter.com/ntjohnson.

And for a bonus, here are three short videos Johnson put together on his composing process for Looper:

Videos originally posted at vimeo.com/nathanj.

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Listening to ‘Loom’

Colin Smith and Simon Elms provide "sound design as score" in Luke Scott's sci-fi film.

Loom is a short science-fiction film by writer-director Luke Scott. Scott is the son of director Ridley Scott and the film is, in various ways, the offspring of one of Scott’s great achievements, Blade Runner. It’s as much a matter of setting (dystopian future) and characters (a scientist and his mysterious house guest) as it is of plot (manufactured lifeforms). The score to the film, which is about 20 minutes in length, is particularly effective. Its credited to Colin Smith and Simon Elms, who for the first three quarters provide something more akin to sound design than score — or, more to the point, sound design as score. The music heard in the film could very well simply be an enhanced recording of the environments in which the film is set: the audio from the ventilation systems of a laboratory and a stark apartment complex. Certainly, the sounds are heightened and given tonal and rhythmic structure, so perhaps it’s more to the point that it’s as if we’re hearing the sounds of the environment as discerned by the main character — the ventilation triggering, or reinforcing, his anxiety, claustrophobia, and scheming. As a nice touch, the pulsing with which the film opens brings to mind a heartbeat, telegraphing the story that will follow.

This “sound design as score” is the case for the first 15 minutes or so in Loom, at which point the film’s climax begins, and the score becomes more formally musical, more conventionally musical. These things are purely relative, of course. The score remains gauzy and hazy as the climax gets underway, but the synthesis is readily apparent. More to the point, there’s no longer a material correlation between what’s heard and what is seen, and thus the score takes on a more traditional role. This final segment comes across more like a synthesizer being played, and the music at this stage brings to mind mellifluous passages of the original Blade Runner score by Vangelis.

The closing credits feature a vocal that seems to have been put through a lightly glitchy filter. (The credits include this line: “Punjabi Folk Song performed by Mrs. Mohini Bangera.”) Given what occurs in the film, it’s touching to hear a woman’s voice, especially one that has been conjured to seem partially artificial.

The film was shot on the “RED EPIC in 3D” system, and serves as a showcase for the digital technology. As a note at red.com states, Loom is intended to be viewed on a laser projector, but the web version was posted for general consumption.

More on the film at deadline.com. Located via io9.com. More on the film’s composers, Smith and Elms, at eclectic.tv.

Update (2012.08.31): After posting this I corresponded with Colin Smith, one of the film’s two co-composers. I asked for more information about the song that runs in the credits. He responded via email, and it’s reprinted here with his permission:

The song in the credits is sung by Mrs Mohini as it says. She is a the mother of a gentleman I met through work in Mumbai. She sat and played tabla and sang for us at her house before having dinner and gave me some recordings she had made of her singing old traditional songs. We took sections of the recording and manipulated it both to make it useable and slightly unusual as the majority of the score is. I mainly used Melodyne to get the effect and then of course harmonised it with several guitars to get the right emotional content.
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Movie with and without a Movie

Free MP3 and video: Refurbished surrealism from a revived netlabel

When the excellent Kikapu netlabel announced a return from extended hiatus, there was reason to be excited. One of the earliest netlabels, it was in existence from 2001 to 2008. In an interview here after the label was shuttered by its founder, Brad Mitchell (aka the musician Pocka), he said the idea of closing it down had been on his mind for close to two years. Mitchell is an innovative musician and proprietor who considers things thoroughly. He isn’t one to bring the label back lightly. And now, four years after closing, Kikapu is back — albeit at kikapu.org, a new URL. Its first release speaks of its newfound energy and adventurous spirit. The release, a single MP3, is in fact a fully original score to a 1928 silent surrealist film by Antonin Artaud and Germaine Dulac: La coquille et le clergyman (The Seashell and the Clergyman). The music is by Roto Visage, who was apparently hired by Transflux Films to create the score, though the project was shelved. He recorded two versions, this being one of them. In addition to providing the MP3 for free download, Kikapu shows the full film with the audio synced. It’s a dense and haunting score, with a voluble mix of orchestral and noise-based approaches, putting front and center the dread inherent in the film’s eerie goings-on.

[audio:http://www.archive.org/download/kpu111/kpu111-roto-visage-01-la-coquille-et-le-clergyman-vbr.mp3|titles=”La coquille et le clergyman”|artists=Roto Visage]

More on Roto Visage, aka Jason Popejoy, at rotovisage.com.

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