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Listening to art.
Playing with audio.
Sounding out technology.
Composing in code.

tag: video

Ryuichi Sakamoto’s Lockdown Uploads

A musical statesman rises to the occasion

Moon above the horizon, strange bulbous flickers of light in the foreground. This is what the screen emits while Ryuichi Sakamoto’s latest lockdown upload plays. Sakamoto, not unlike the slightly elder Robert Fripp, has experienced a calling during what the former terms “these times when things are not ‘normal.'” Both are sending subtle, quiet music out into the world when the world is veering back and forth from unwelcome solitude to public violence. A musical statesman — a statesman employing music — Sakamoto has been an active, visible presence during mass mutual self-isolation. In the past month, he has shared nearly 30 videos of subdued, exploratory sounds, from moaning solo guitar to collaborations with the likes of Christian Fennesz and Marcus Fischer. Those team-ups are being collected under the rubric “incomplete,” the most recent of which, “Stealing Time,” features guest Kung Chi Shing, a Hong Kong-based violinist and activist. The music matches the imagery, which comes courtesy of Zakkubalan. There is an underlying dread, a droning substrate, as well as a surface of brief presences, pizzicato pluckings that come to merge with the background sounds.

Video originally posted on YouTube. More from Sakamoto at More from at Kung Chi Shing at More from Zakkubalan, the duo Neo Sora and Albert Tholen, based in New York, at

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The Generative Tuba

The glorious web video series of id m theft able

There’s a running series on the YouTube channel of user “id m theft able” that is one of my current favorite things on the internet. (I put quotes around that name simply so it’s clear where the name begins and where it ends, and also so it’s clear that the sentence constructed around the name isn’t disintegrating as you read it.) Each of the user’s videos in this series places a tuba somewhere, “with a microphone in it,” as the description always points out.

We then hear both the sound of where the tuba has been placed — along a river bank, adjacent to a waterfall, in the wind and rain, in the snow — and that sound echoing inside of (tracing the contours of, limning the deep recesses of) the tuba itself.

The footage generally runs, uncut, for about an hour. Which is to say, it doesn’t blink. YouTube is filled with nature footage. And if you spend time in the realm of ambient electronic music, there’s a lot that’s shot of battery-powered setups out in the wild. But the generative tuba is the rare drone music video that is, truly (an oft misused term), of nature.

There are 11 videos thus far:

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Disquiet Junto Silent Film Project (2020)

A non-weekly offshoot of the communcal music prompt series

I’m writing about an upcoming project, a special one that will be apart from our regular weekly undertakings.

It’s been on my mind to do a non-weekly Disquiet Junto community project for a long time — not for all 438 weeks of the Junto’s existence, but several years. I’ve had some such projects in the planning stages, but time is always tight, and there are a lot of factors to balance.

A Junto member, Robert Precht, got in touch recently with the proposal that Junto participants each score a part of a silent film. It was an excellent idea, and one that naturally suggested itself to being applicable in a longer time span than our normal four-day window.

Details are still being fine-tuned, including which film it will be (we’ll do something from the public domain). If you’re interested in participating, please fill out the following form. Expressing interest at this stage isn’t a commitment. Once the project begins, you’ll have a roughly month to complete your part of the project.

It’s a Google form. If for some reason you don’t want to use the form, just email me at [email protected] expressing your interest. Thanks.

Three creative constraints are noted in the sign-up form:

  1. No copyrighted sound (that is, copyrighted by anyone other than the individual participant) can be used in this project

  2. No intelligible vocals can be used in this project (keeping true to the film’s silent origin).

  3. Each individual (or act, collective, band, etc.) can only contribute one track to this project.

Once the number of participants has been set, the film will be divided into sections for the individuals to score. The length of these segments will, of course, vary to some degree. Source audio may be provided for continuity. That’s still being discussed, as are other details.

Thanks very much for your interest, and, as always, for your generosity with your time and creativity.

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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 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 More from Taylor at

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