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: video-game

The Hitman’s ASMR

Video game ambience and not


Hitman 3, the latest from the long-running video game series, counts Dartmoor in England among its numerous international locations. A gamer ASMR account on YouTube has set out to produce documents of each of the settings, this one moving from graveyard to abandoned conservatory of flowers to the interiors of a grand home. (There’s also another video up already for an Italian locale.) Notable in the game is that because of its remote places, in contrast with, say, largely urban fare like Grand Theft Auto and Cyberpunk 2077, when voices are overheard, as they are here, they don’t pass as background noise. They stand out like fluorescent paint might against a sodden British hillside.

Video originally posted to YouTube.

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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


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Sound Ledger¹ (Text-to-Speech, Cyberpunk 2077, Machine Learning)

Audio culture by the numbers

5: The estimated value, in billions of dollars, of the text-to-speech (TTS) market by 2026

800: Roughly the number of audio files overhauled in the troubled game Cyberpunk 2077 by an 11GB user mod

13,000: Roughly the number of piece of (Western) classical music processed by an machine-learning AI at EPFL’s Digital and Cognitive Musicology Lab to discern patterns in the music’s development

▰ ▰ ▰

¹Footnotes: TTS: prnewswire.com. 2077: dsogaming.com. EPFL: epfl.ch.

Originally published in the February 8, 2021, edition of the This Week in Sound email newsletter (tinyletter.com/disquiet).

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Pursuing the Omniscient Ear

How does a VR album compare with a live concert recording?

Live concert albums are formal documents of a given night. At their best they represent a platonic ideal of the evening in question, not presenting the experience of any single individual, but providing an optimal representation. Sometimes they don’t even reproduce a specific evening, but instead draw from multiple nights along a tour, and in any case may be tweaked and clarified in post-production.

But what of virtual reality, the long-fledgling medium in which the matter of the individual’s perspective is even more central than at a concert? VR is closer to a video game, theoretically with an even greater implicit emphasis on the user’s co-authorship of the experience. Forget for a moment how the full run of a VR environment might be documented in fixed media — how about just its score? The question surfaces during a listen to Machinefabriek’s music for FIGHT a VR artwork by Memo Akten. As Machinefabriek explains in a brief accompanying liner note:

Wearing an Oculus Rift headset, the viewer experiences an exceedingly psychedelic, 3D trip. The video shows different patterns and colours to each eye, causing ‘binocular rivalry’, an effect in which the brain makes its own fluctuating mix of the images. 

In the virtual reality version, the music was spatialized, reactive to the movements of the viewer. This soundtrack EP presents the music as a mixed stereo version. 

The soundtrack to FIGHT is track one (“FIGHT score”) of this two-track EP. Track two (“FIGHT ambient”) is “the soundscape that played in the room in which the installation was exhibited.” One listen to the VR’s music, with its rich, spacious display of stereoscopic noises and episodic environmental scenes, and the original context is clear. Even if we can’t nudge the score this way and that through our own digitally induced wayfinding, the sense of a non-linear narrative is self-evident. There are textured drones and dank industrial flourishes, suffocating synthesized white noise and lovely aquatic set pieces. It’s sound to get lost in.

FIGHT is, in fact, an experience not only to get lost in, but to lose your sense of self in. It’s an intense work of op-art, in which different images are fed to your two individual eyes, leaving your brain to make sense of it all. FIGHT had its premiere at STRP Biënnale, which commissioned it, in the Netherlands, where Machinefabriek lives, and was also presented at Sónar in Barcelona. The second track on the EP, the installation score, is a womb embrace of long ambient tones. Chances are, after you take off that VR headset it’s exactly what the body needs.

Album originally posted at machinefabriek.bandcamp.com. More from Machinefabriek, aka Rutger Zuydervelt, at machinefabriek.nu. More on Memo Akten’s FIGHT at memo.tv/fight.

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  • about

  • Marc Weidenbaum founded the website Disquiet.com in 1996 at the intersection of sound, art, and technology, and since 2012 has moderated the Disquiet Junto, an active online community of weekly music/sonic projects. He has written for Nature, Boing Boing, The Wire, Pitchfork, and NewMusicBox, among other periodicals. He is the author of the 33 1⁄3 book on Aphex Twin’s classic album Selected Ambient Works Volume II. Read more about his sonic consultancy, teaching, sound art, and work in film, comics, and other media

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    December 13, 2021: This day marks the 25th anniversary of the founding of Disquiet.com.
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    July 28, 2021: This day marked the 500th consecutive weekly project in the Disquiet Junto music community.
    There are entries on the Disquiet Junto in the book The Music Production Cookbook: Ready-made Recipes for the Classroom (Oxford University Press), edited by Adam Patrick Bell. Ethan Hein wrote one, and I did, too.
    A chapter on the Disquiet Junto ("The Disquiet Junto as an Online Community of Practice," by Ethan Hein) appears in the book The Oxford Handbook of Social Media and Music Learning (Oxford University Press), edited by Stephanie Horsley, Janice Waldron, and Kari Veblen. (Details at oup.com.)

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    The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: disquiet.com/junto.

  • My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, was published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury. It has been translated into Japanese (2019) and Spanish (2018).

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