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: video

Disquiet Junto Project 0293: Emerge/Immerse

Make music for Paige Dansinger's Palmyra 3D/VR images, paying tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil.

Each Thursday in the Disquiet Junto group, a new compositional challenge is set before the group’s members, who then have just over four days to upload a track in response to the assignment. Membership in the Junto is open: just join and participate. (A SoundCloud account is helpful but not required.) There’s no pressure to do every project. It’s weekly so that you know it’s there, every Thursday through Monday, when you have the time.

Tracks will be added to this playlist for the duration of the project:

This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, August 14, 2017. This project was posted in early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, August 10, 2017.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto):

Disquiet Junto Project 0293: Emerge/Immerse
Make music for Paige Dansinger’s Palmyra 3D/VR images, paying tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil.

Step 1: This is the first of two consecutive projects we’re undertaking, following the news of Bassel Khartabil’s death. (If you’re new to the Junto, Bassel was an open-source coder who did a lot of work in CGI before being imprisoned in Syria. Word of his execution just recently became public.) Paige Dansinger is making VR drawings in Tilt Brush inspired by Bassel’s Palmyra CGI work, drawing from her own interest in making a better world. For this project we’re going to make sound, in Bassel’s honor, to accompany her 3D work. View Paige’s pieces at:

http://www.newpalmyra.org/projects/junto-emerge-immerse/

Step 2: Think about the sort of sound that might accompany, contribute to, or otherwise be a component part of a VR experience. Now, record a short piece of music, up to two minutes, that is about something emerging — something being brought to life, or coming out of a cave, or otherwise coming into being.

Five More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: If your hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to include the project tag “disquiet0293” (no spaces) in the name of your track. If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to my locating the tracks and creating a playlist of them.

Step 2: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 3: In the following discussion thread at llllllll.co please consider posting your track:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0293-emerge-immerse/

Step 4: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 5: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is 11:59pm wherever you are on Monday, August 14, 2017. This project was posted in early afternoon, California time, on Thursday, August 10, 2017.

Length: Keep your piece to under two minutes.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0293” in the title of the track, and where applicable (on SoundCloud, for example) as a tag.

Upload: When participating in this project, post one finished track with the project tag, and be sure to include a description of your process in planning, composing, and recording it. This description is an essential element of the communicative process inherent in the Disquiet Junto. Photos, video, and lists of equipment are always appreciated.

Download: For this project, please make sure your track is set as downloadable, and that it allows for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution). This is aligned with Paige Dansinger and Bassel Khartabil’s work.

Linking: When posting the track online, please be sure to include this information, along with details of your source audio, including links to it:

More on this 293rd weekly Disquiet Junto project — Make music for Paige Dansinger’s Palmyra 3D/VR images, paying tribute to the late Bassel Khartabil — at:

https://disquiet.com/0293/

Thanks to Niki Korth, Jon Phillips, and Barry Threw for encouraging this project, and to Paige Dansinger for the collaboration. View Dansinger’s 3D drawings of Palmyra here:

http://www.newpalmyra.org/projects/junto-emerge-immerse/

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

https://disquiet.com/junto/

Subscribe to project announcements here:

http://tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto/

Project discussion takes place on llllllll.co:

https://llllllll.co/t/disquiet-junto-project-0293-emerge-immerse/

There’s also on a Junto Slack. Send your email address to twitter.com/disquiet for Slack inclusion.

Image associated with this project is by Paige Dansinger, more on whom here:

http://paigedansinger.com

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5 Cassette Players Walk into an Aphex Twin Cover

A very warbly "Rhubarb"

The past week or so have been big news in Aphex Twin land, from the opening of his own digital superstore, at aphextwin.warp.net, packed with extra tracks and candid bits of liner notes, to a headlining gig at a Japanese music festival, and the subsequent inevitable price spike for a commemorative tape of the concert. Lost in the tumult was this little video cover of “Rhubarb,” the third track from the Selected Ambient Works Volume 2 album. In the video it’s being performed on the Crudman — well, on a quintet of Crudmen. The Crudman is an ingenious hack of a Walkman. The aftermarket technology allows the speed of the tape to be controlled as if it were a synthesizer module. Because the tapes in this video all have simply a sine wave tuned to C on them, the speed adjustment alters the note value of the audio emitted from the player. There are more details on the recording process at the Crudlabs YouTube channel, and at the crudlabs.org website, including (for the more gadget-literate audience) this breakdown of the device’s controls:

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Three Decks, Six Minutes, Twelve Layers

A live tape-loop performance by Austin, Texas–based Amulets

If you were to just hear — rather than also watch — this track by the artist known as Amulets, you might wonder about the little clickety clacks that occur six times, first at five seconds in, then at half a minute in, and then at just past the minute-and-a-half marker, and then again in quicker succession, within 30 seconds of each other, toward the track’s end. These clicks, sharp and fragile, appear amid and yet apart from the otherwise wooly-lush six minutes of music. What’s occurring is the start and stop of cassette tapes being placed into a trio of multi-track player-recorders. Those tapes are the source and the receiver of the echoing, excellently lo-fidelity, gently crackling music. The tapes are both producing and layering the audio, hence the slow yet discernible buildup as it progresses. Since these are four-track recorders, the result is a dozen component parts, twelve separate loops being manipulated in real time.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at youtube.com. More from Amulets, aka Randall Taylor, at amuletsmusic.com and amulets.bandcamp.com.

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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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Sound, After Rauschenberg

Scanner live during his Captiva Island residency

If you’ve listened to the second episode of the Disquietude podcast, then you’ve heard a piece by Scanner recorded during his residency at the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation on Captiva Island in Florida. This video was also recorded during that residency, and it shows Scanner doing a performance that occurred at the close of the extended visit, when he and the rest of his cohort presented some of what they had been up to. In this case many of the source audio segments in Scanner’s piece were things he’d recorded in Florida during the residency. You can hear surf and birds in the mix, along with a singsong mix of waveforms. The use of found materials seems appropriate, given the Rauschenberg’s artistic legacy. Scanner describes it a bit at his website:

Something I found surprising and fascinating about my stay was how it altered my listening habits. Whilst working on my new book I found that much of the music I would ordinarily listen to seemed wrong for the location. With nature in its rawest form all around, with osprey, vultures, dolphins, manatees, racoons, woodpeckers surrounding me, it was a challenge to find other music that might work.

The first episode of the Disquietude podcast featured a piece recorded by another artist, Marcus Fischer, at the same residency, albeit a month or so earlier.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at youtube.com. More from Scanner, aka Robin Rimbaud, at scannerdot.com.

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