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

Buddha Machine Variations No. 36 (Glass Tiles)

A series of focused experiments

Been a few days since the previous Buddha Machine Variation. The camera died, after it had stopped playing nice with audio. And I got a new, smaller synthesizer case (from Pulp Logic, who were super helpful with plotting it out). This is the first time I’ve ever used an expression pedal with my synth, thanks to one of the three tiles in the upper left corner of the box. (“Tiles” being a term for the shorter modules seen top and bottom here, above and below the ER-301 module.) Very simple little patch. Just a proof of concept. The tiny foot (well, hand) pedal is triggering the recording of a microloop (400 or so milliseconds) of the choral audio coming from the Philip Glass 80th-birthday edition of the Buddha Machine. The expression pedal is varying how much we’re hearing the inbound Glass loop, and how much we’re hearing the microloop. If you’re wondering where the Buddha Machine is sending its audio into the synth, there are jacks in the side of the case itself.

For further patch-documentation purposes, here are two shots of the synthesizer:

Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

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The YouTube Étude (Loop Edition)

Courtesy of Amulets (aka Randall Taylor)

A lot of YouTube videos of music (in contrast with “music videos,” a term that brings to mind a dramatized or play-along format, à la classic-era MTV) focus on specific instruments. These can feel salesy, and given the prevalence of affiliate links might even be salesy, but many of them are simply evidence of musicians focused on their tools. Some are about trying out new things, while others are about dedication to a thing. Many of the musicians who make these videos are experts in their craft, and their videos are the études of streaming life. Such is the work of Amulets (aka Randall Taylor), whose tool of choice is the tape loop. He is a prolific utilizer of loops, and an activist in promoting their utility (his how-to video is approaching 150,000 views). His latest, posted this morning, is a timely one, a roughly nine-second loop, seen rotating in plain view, as a warped vocal goes round and round. The table on which the player-recorder rests is festooned with the little plastic reels of past and, no doubt, future experiments. In a brief accompanying note, Taylor connects the maudlin yet beautiful sound to our current circumstances:

I just had this super simple video idea and decided to make it in quarantine. It’s really nothing more than a repeating tape loop, but I think it’s definitely a reflection of the monotony of quarantine life and our daily existence. These days are on loop and no one really knows when its going to end…

This is the latest video I’ve added to my YouTube playlist of recommended fine live performances of ambient music. Video originally posted at youtube.com. More from Taylor at amuletsmusic.com.

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Buddha Machine Variations No. 35 (Tripled Suite)

A series of focused experiments

This was an experiment in exploring the device as a whole: not just as a set of loops contained in one object, but the sequence of those loops, and the way the loops progress as a result of the object’s design. All the previous Buddha Machine Variations to date have involved one loop per machine. Here the multiple loops of such a device, one from the second-generation of Buddha Machines, are heard not just in sequence, but in overlapping sequences. They’re considered as a suite.

There are three subsets of whatever loop is playing at a given time. Each is a subloop: one three seconds, one four seconds, one five (in the ER-301 module, using the Feedback Looper unit). Each of the subloops is extracted from a different narrow band of the audio spectrum (via the FDXf module). As the piece proceeds, the button on the side of the Buddha Machine is clicked. One or more of the subloops begins recording the new audio almost immediately, but there is some time before the preceding loop is entirely eradicated. At the very end, the audio cable is pulled out of the Buddha Machine, and eventually all the subloops give way to silence. (This was less sudden when rehearsed, but it works OK here. I’ll be trying this all again with a slightly different approach.)

For further patch-documentation purposes, here is a shot of the synthesizer:

Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

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Buddha Machine Variations No. 34 (Chamber Refraction)

A series of focused experiments

One loop from the fifth generation Buddha Machine, little snatches of it glitching out in a semblance of correlation. At first all that’s heard is the unaltered audio of the source loop. That’s the fifth channel of the mixer (lavender cable). And then one by one, the first through fourth channels of the mixer are introduced. Each is set on a mico-looping procedure of the source loop, varying individually between roughly 100 and 300 milliseconds. They are each set to record over whatever was there before, meaning sometimes there will be silences. And finally, once the main source audio is turned off in the mix (at 1:45), all that is heard is this combination of microloops.

If you’re familiar with the ER-301 module, here’s some additional detail: The unit being used is the Feedback Looper. There are four of these running individually. Each is taking a square wave from the Batumi as its on/off switch to record. In addition, each is taking the next channel’s on/off as its trigger to (un)engage (the fourth channel looks to the first channel, squaring the circle).

That runs for quite awhile, and then at 2:55 the relative pace of the four square waves are altered. This has an impact on when the individual loopers are triggered, and then at 3:09 the Batumi is switched from “free” mode to “quad,” and the levers adjusted further.

For further patch-documentation purposes, here is a shot of the synthesizer:

Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

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Buddha Machine Variations No. 33 (Fragmentary Occlusion)

A series of focused experiments

One loop from the first generation of the Buddha Machine, which turns 15 years old in 2020. The loop ends up with three variants in the mixer, channels one, two, and five. The fifth channel (lavender cable) is just the straight audio out of the Buddha Machine (a little noisier than usual, perhaps because the batteries were going). The first channel is the output of the Muxlicer, which switches between eight variants on the audio: six are spectral bands (from the FXDf), and two are channels of the granular synth (the position of which, in the Smog, is shifting regularly). The Muxlicer is going at a steady pace (clocked by the Dixie II, starting when the Muxlicer’s switch is flipped at :28), but the sequence is random thanks to an inbound sine wave (from the Batumi). The second channel, which kicks in at 3:24, is a tiny fragment of a loop that is constantly being overwritten, and it’s set off from the Muxlicer’s beat by a slight, almost half-second delay, which at first gives the contrast a sing-song quality, but eventually disappears as the amassed swell occludes virtually everything. And that’s about it, except that at 4:25 a slow wave is introduced to gently alter the volume of the original, channel-five track.

For further patch-documentation purposes, here two shots of the synthesizer:

Video originally posted at youtube.com/disquiet. There’s also a video playlist of the Buddha Machine Variations.

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