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

Real World, Real Time

Hannes Pasqualini processes sound on location.

The Italian musician, designer, and illustrator Hannes Pasqualini debuts a new project in which he reworks real-world audio in real time. The series, of which this video is the first, is titled Sounds on Location. The above clip, about four minutes long, shows him setting up on a bench. White noise and passing traffic fill the stereo spectrum. Then, about 30 seconds in, the video fades to black and then back again, the sounds now running through Pasqualini’s iPad. The processed result emerges from the source audio: more rhythmic, more foregrounded, spare noise given improvised purpose through compositional intent.

Pasqualini outlines his approach as follows:

Step 1: go to a place that inspires me, record sounds

Step 2: create some loops from these sounds

Step 3: create a little track on location, mostly with the sounds I have recorded in step 1

Video originally posted at More from Pasqualini (who collaborates with me on the recent comics I’ve been posting) at

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Listening to “King Lear”

Thanks to the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival

If you study insults, then “King Lear” is an endless resource. If you study sound, there’s still some solid material.

. . .

“the murmuring surge,
That on the unnumber’d idle pebbles chafes,
Cannot be heard so high.”

This moment (for sound-studies types) in Shakespeare’s “King Lear” is from when Edgar (in disguise) is tricking dear old (and horrifically blinded) dad Gloucester from jumping off a cliff.

The cliff isn’t actually there, of course. After the avoided jump, the two try to listen in the opposite direction, which is to say up. Edgar, who has convinced Gloucester that they have indeed jumped but by chance survived, reports:

“the shrill-gorged lark so far
Cannot be seen or heard”

And then King Lear shows up, as does a gentleman. The observational tables are turned when Edgar asks, “Do you hear aught, sir, of a battle toward?”

And the Gentleman replies:

“Most sure and vulgar: every one hears that,
Which can distinguish sound.”

It’s a beautiful turnaround.

. . .

If Shakespeare is even remotely your thing, take advantage of the rare benefit of Covid-19, which is that the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival has been presenting “King Lear” online for free, due to social distancing concerns, and that those shows are available worldwide to anyone with internet. The thing is, they’re only available live, and as of this writing, only three performances remain. They stream at The way the troupe makes use of Zoom, the platform on which they perform, is amazing. Each actor is alone is her/his/their room, against a green screen, speaking their lines live, the individuals then combined against a background image as if on stage together. I watched last Sunday, and was blown away, not just by the work, but by the ingenuity.

. . .

One more sonic observation: because all the actors are performing on their lonesome, each spoken voice appears from within its own room tone. Each voice carries with it the space in which that voice is enunciating. Each actor is subject to a different echo, a different hum. They’re all on the same virtual stage, but they’re all in very different rooms. The strange ever-shifting background sound, the way each voice has its own contours, its own dimensions, makes a perfect match for the slightly low-resolution shapes that each human form takes on screen, as their features blur into the shared virtual background. Per chance the image on the festival’s website, at, is from the scene described above. That’s, from left to right, Yohana Ansari-Thomas as Edgar, Phil Lowery as Gloucester, and Jessica Powell as Lear.

. . .

There are three more shows on the calendar: Sunday, September 20, at 4pm; Saturday, September 26, at 7pm; and Sunday, September 27, at 4pm.

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Old Tape + New Tech

In the work of Takeyuki Hakozaki

The combination of archaic reel-to-reel tape and contemporary synthesizers is a not uncommon one, especially on synth YouTube, where “composition” sometimes means visual components as much as it does sonic ones. The bond between such elements as these two isn’t entirely a matter of chance, or even of individual predilections. The design of contemporary synthesizers such as the modules depicted here often embraces the tactile and the eccentric, both qualities shared by the old tape technology. Furthermore, the give and take of tape, especially when looped and loosely slung as in this short piece by Takeyuki Hakozaki, provides a contrast to the voltage-controlled systematization offered by synthesizers. In Hakozaki’s piece, a melody is pinched and pulled from a cycle of squelchy tones, while an bed of bubbly percussion keeps things roiling.

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended fine live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at Takeyuki Hakozaki’s YouTube channel. More from Hakozaki at

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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

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Current Listens: Special Instagram Edition

Heavy rotation, lightly annotated

An ongoing series cross-posted from

This is my 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. In the interest of conversation, let me know what you’re listening to in the comments below. Just please don’t promote your own work (or that of your label/client). This isn’t the right venue. (Just use email.)

There’s always chatter about how various streaming services size up next to each other, and how services like Bandcamp, SoundCloud, and YouTube, among others, fit into the mix. The fact is, a good amount of my “discovery” happens on Instagram, so this entry in the weekly Current Listens series focuses on some examples. Now, Instagram videos tend to be short. You have click through to IGTV to see longer versions, which I only do on occasion. My listening/viewing experience tends more toward seeing bits of performance clips in a row, and then heading over to the respective musician’s longer-form work elsewhere. These three artists, from up and down the West Coast, are among my numerous favorites.

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NEW: Recent(ish) arrivals and pre-releases

The musician who goes by Scanner Darkly is a Jedi knight of firmware upgrades and modular-synthesizer ingenuity. This here is a piano phase work in the style of Steve Reich. Scanner Darkly is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Arckatron is a master of the MPC, though he also stretches out on the SP-404. Here’s a taste of a work in beatcraft progress. Arckatron, aka Shawn Kelly, is based in Los Angeles.

This is a glimpse at Patricia Wolf’s multi-cellphone piece Cellular Chorus, engineered by Jared Herad. Wolf is based in Portland, Oregon.

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