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

Soundbites: Halo Sound Design, Emotion Detection, Noisy Jobs

Recent reads (etc.) on sound

These are the sort of items I’d usually put in the This Week in Sound email newsletter (tinyletter.com/disquiet), but I’ve been super busy, too busy for a new issue, and so at a friend’s suggestion I am initially noting some here.

The team behind the audio for the Halo video games share process in an advance peek at Halo Infinite, due out later this year. It’s packed with interesting details, such as how the relative proximity of gunfire wasn’t a sufficient filter in earlier games, leading to innovation this time around: “The new Halo Infinite audio system detects all gun sounds frame by frame, and prioritizes them in a threat order to decide output sound volume for each gun.” To a degree this is a matter of noise and confusion reduction, and of audio as an informative aspect of user interface. It also maps to hearing’s role in self-preservation. Likewise, ambient noises are adjusted in-game to make them more lifelike: “A variety of factors feed into this system, combining gameplay states, time of day, location tracking, timers, and more, all working together to bring the environment to life. This gives us the ability to create a dynamic mix of ambient sounds that remains compelling and immersive the entire time you’re playing.”
https://www.halowaypoint.com/en-us/news/inside-infinite-march-2021

And you have to check out video of the destruction of an old piano done as part of the sound design effort:


Molly Moser reports on how high-speed frame-by-frame records of hummingbirds flying helped sort out how they emit their trademark hum. The tiny birds yielded terabytes of data: “Higher harmonic content throughout the wing stroke, they explain in the paper, results in a ‘buzz,’ while equivalent first and second harmonic content makes hummingbirds ‘hum,’ and dominant first harmonic content results in the softer ‘whoosh’ of larger birds.”
https://www.osa-opn.org/home/newsroom/2021/

The digital civil rights group Access Now expresses concern that Spotify’s reported “mood-recognition features” could lead to “misgendering” and “discrimination,” reports Lilia Dergacheva. This is based on a patent “to detect emotion, age and gender using speech recognition algorithms.”
https://sputniknews.com/science/202104021082522962-spotify-reportedly-asked-to-ditch-bid-to-predict-mood-gender-over-discrimination-privacy-concerns/

People who require computers to speak for them deserve their own individualized voices that reflect “who they really are” — that’s the subject of a podcast episode from the Index Project featuring Rupal Patel, found of VocaliD. https://theindexproject.org/stories/podcast-restoring-lost-voices

Grant Suneson of MSN Money’s 24/7 Wall Street lists the 25 jobs most likely to damage your hearing. Musicians rank at the bottom of the list. Higher up are surgeons, shoe and leather workers, gaming (aka gambling) service workers, and, at the top of the list, emergency medical technicians and paramedics.
https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/careersandeducation/these-24-jobs-could-ruin-your-hearing/ss-BB1feUL4

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Current Favorites: Guitar Samples, Instrumental Hip-Hop, Surround Keyboards

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.

▰ There’s one track up thus far from the self-titled Sweepsculp, the remainder due out on the Nous’klaer Audio label May 7 (I’ve seen it listed as late April elsewhere; May 7 is the date on the Bandcamp page). Sweepsculp is a pseudonym for Dutch musician Thessa Torsing, best known as Upsammy. Apparently the EP is “using only an acoustic guitar besides drums.” The first track, “Plaudable,” is laudable for its tight groove, its punchy, low-key beats, and its playful exploration of slight variations amid minimalist repetition.


▰ On Bandcamp Day, Los Angeles producer Jansport J uploaded the instrumental tracks to rapper Quadry’s mid-2020 album Don’t You Weep. It’s seven soulful cuts, the tidy beats rich with backing vocals, old-school electric keyboard, dubby percussive effects, and occasional double-speed samples.


▰ Vancouver, B.C.-based musician Scott Morgan, aka Loscil, has a new record, Clara, due out on May 28. The production process is fascinating: “[It was] sourced from a single three-minute composition performed by a 22-piece string orchestra in Budapest. The subsequent recording was lathe-cut on to a 7-inch, then ‘scratched and abused to add texture and color,’ from which the entirety of Clara was sampled, shape-shifted, and sculpted.” The first track is all glimmering grainy heavens above a scratchy rhythm.


▰ If you dig Nils Frahms’ live setup, an indie-studio reimgaining of Rick Wakeman’s surround-keyboard mode, then this video of Hania Rani may appeal, especially when, at 7:15, she puts a stone on her Prophet sythesizer to hold a note.


▰ The dental drill wind tunnel noise of “Exhalation” and the lost, dubbed-out spaciousness of “Lost Race” were our first two tastes of the 13 tracks that will comprise End of Trilogy, before it was released this past Friday. Now out on the excellent Room40 label, it collects pummeling sounds from Yuko Araki. She’s a force to be reckoned with.


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David Wingo’s New Mayans M.C. Theme

New season, new era, new drone rock


I’ve been enjoying the new season of Mayans M.C., the first following the exit of co-creator Kurt Sutter. The fourth episode aired last night. The show continues under the stewardship of Elgin James, its other co-creator. Part of the new tone is due to the arrival of composer David Wingo, replacing Bob Thiele Jr. That new tone is set from the start by the new opening credits, which have gotten attention for their political imagery, not just the real-world source material, but the historic scope.

Wingo’s theme music is just as big a shift from the earlier seasons. Gone is the song co-written by Thiele and Sutter, sung initially by Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo, and then the second season by Diana Gameros. In its place, Wingo has crafted a compact, moody instrumental track that lingers just below 70BPM. It’s all atmosphere, built from layered guitar parts, moaning group background vocals, and plenty of percussive elements, all rendered as slow-burn drone rock. While not quite as diffuse as, say, the ambient folk and country of groups like Boxhead Ensemble or SUSS (the latter of whose Gary Leib died last week), it sits well alongside them.

Wingo’s name wasn’t immediately familiar to me, but as it turns out, I’ve heard a lot of his music in the past. He composed material for Soundtracker, the excellent documentary on field recording artist and acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, co-author of the book One Square Inch of Silence: One Man’s Quest to Preserve Quiet. We discuss material from Soundtracker most semesters I teach my “Sounds of Brands / Brands of Sounds” course. He also wrote music for Manic, the (pre-500 Days of Summer) pairing of Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel that made excellent use of some Aphex Twin music, as I wrote about in my book on Selected Ambient Works Volume 2, for which I interviewed its director, Jordan Melamed. Wingo has worked on the scores for Heaven’s Gate: The Cult of Cults, Barry, Mud, The Report, and numerous other productions, dating back to David Gordon Green’s 2000 debut feature film, George Washington. He also led the Austin, Texas, band Ola Podrida.

More from Wingo at david-wingo.com.

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Algorave Review in The Wire

Livecoding by Chiho Oka, Kindohm, and AFALFL

Yeah, that typeface means something. I’ve got a new piece in the Wire magazine, the issue with (musician) Warren Ellis on the cover. It’s a review of a livecoding livestream from February 13, 2021, of Chiho Oka (Tokyo), Kindohm (Minneapolis), and AFALFL (Paris), hosted by Alex McLean as part of the No Bounds Festival. There’s something quite digitally native about a livecoding livestream. Had algorave not already existed, Covid-19 certainly would have engendered this cultural variant.

McLean posted the full review at slab.org. The concert is archived on YouTube:

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Current Favorites: Cooked Viola and Buddha Machines, Thawing Ice

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.

▰ On the double album If Not Now, released at the very end of 2020, Meredith Bates sends her violin and viola through a range of processing, yielding echoes and textures, layers and atmospheres, stutters and breakage. It somehow manages to be both intimate and orchestral at the same time. Bates is based in Vancouver, British Columbia.


▰ Three field recordings of what’s going on under the ice, captured by Ivo Vicic of Rijeka, Croatia, on Under the Ice – Secret Sounds of Nature. As Vicic describes it, what we’re hearing is a water stream, amomg other activity, recorded at a lake that has frozen over during the winter. Released earlier this month. (Thanks for the recommendation, Patricia Wolf!)


▰ In a 10-minute live video, Poland-baed Grzegorz Bojanek makes rough-hewn ambient music in realtime with a handful of Buddha Machines and effects pedals. Even if you’re entirely familiar with the source audio, you’ll be enchanted by the new territories Bojanek explores.


▰ The cacophonous fragility of Marcus Fischer’s mid-February “Thawing” is a field recording made during the Portland, Oregon, winter. Writes Fischer of the brief track: “Thawing ice releasing itself and falling from a large oak tree onto the snow-covered street below.”

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