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: voice

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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Jasmine Guffond Gets the Drop on the Mic

For a new Editions Mego album

Both the album title, Microphone Permission, and the title of its lead track, “Forever Listening,” get at Jasmine Guffond’s interest in surveillance culture. The former is something we grant devices and apps without giving the decision, such as it is, much thought. The latter describes the state of tools, such as smart speakers, we allow so that they can seem to anticipate our needs. These concepts feed, in “Forever Listening,” a droning piece lace with muffled voices and occasionally riddled with something like a shot from a video game.

An accompanying video, by Ilan Katin, uses what appears to be dated footage from a security camera from a store to make its point: we’re being watched at the most mundane moments. If this tense area of study suggests a sense of alarm, Guffond meets that with the sound of one just before the track comes to a quietly vibrating close.

Get the full album at Video originally posted a the YouTube channel of Ilan Katin. More from Guffond, an Australian based in Berlin, Germany, at

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You Should Be Listening to

And watching on NTS

I’ve been listening to for a long time. How long, I’m not sure. The earliest mention I can find here on the outboard brain I call dates back to the middle of March 2011. A project of Eric Eberhardt, layers ambient music with emergency-services audio. It’s that simple, and yet the result is way more than the sum of its binary parts. The music and locations rotate through with each new outing. The release posted today, an hour in full, on the YouTube channel of NTS combines recordings by Loscil, Signals Bulletin, and others with the voices of New York Fire Department dispatchers as they call out alerts from around the city.

There’s a deep, unsettling, filmic resonance to the work. The music is all synthy drones and Quaalude pulsings. The voices, rarely manifesting an alteration in intonation, drone on in their own manner, devoid of the tension implicit in the events they are narrating. More often than not, what they say is unintelligible, as if the repetition of violence has sanded the emotional import off the incidents. Occasionally a phrase does pierce the mumble.

“Female down in the street.”

“Electrical fire in the attic.”

“Trying to track down an order.”

It’s arguable that a major part of the art of is dependent on the carefully regulated relative volume levels of the two channels of audio: The voices are just quiet enough to get lost in the music, signals succumbing to the tonal equivalent of entropy. Also essential to the experience is how the squelch and interference on the dispatchers’ lines sound very much like sonic effects that the electronic music itself might employ — which is to say, the spoken part of merges with the musical part exactly when the spoken part begins to fall apart.

I’ve been listening to for a long time. (Also recommended is watching it on NTS, where it’s combined with surveillance-chic graphics and aerial footage of the city.) How long, I’m not sure. Once you’ve listened to it a few times, it’s like you never really turned it off. It’s just lingering in the background of your life until you choose to turn it up again.

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Time Is Passing

A reminder from València, Spain–based Warmth, aka Agustín Mena

“Life” is a track off Essay, a new full-length album from Warmth, aka Agustín Mena, who’s based in València, Spain. It’s thick with heavenly striations — the white-noise wash of waves, whether imaginary or recorded in the field; distant drones, like broken horns echoing down caverns; a lush vocal, evaporating in real time — and all the while a slow pulse trickles by, less a beat than a reminder that time is passing.

Track originally posted at Get the full album at

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Disquiet Junto Project 0426: Cellular Chorale

The Assignment: Make music with the source audio from (and inspired by) a Patricia Wolf project.

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.

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, March 2, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, February 27, 2020.

Tracks added to the playlist for the duration of the project.

These are the instructions that went out to the group’s email list (at

Disquiet Junto Project 0426: Cellular Chorale
The Assignment: Make music with the source audio from (and inspired by) a Patricia Wolf project.

Step 1: This is a collaboration with Patricia Wolf, based on her Cellular Chorus. Check it out at:

Step 2: Download the 64 source tracks of the Cellular Chorus at:

Step 3: Create a new piece of music using only the source audio. Use as many of the samples as you’d like, but don’t add other sounds, or process the samples to any extent more than slightly altering the individual material.

Background. Patricia Wolf has said of her original piece: “Cellular Chorus is a work of spatialized aleatoric music using smartphones to bring people physically closer to have an interactive and collective experience with light and sound. The piece is played by each user visiting Cellular Chorus on their smartphones. … The sounds I made are meant to harmonize. There is no right or wrong way to play them. The intention of this piece is to repurpose your smartphone for deep listening, creative experimentation, and to immerse groups of people in a sound and light environment with face to face interactions.”

Seven More Important Steps When Your Track Is Done:

Step 1: Include “disquiet0426” (no spaces or quotation marks) in the name of your track.

Step 2: If your audio-hosting platform allows for tags, be sure to also include the project tag “disquiet0426” (no spaces or quotation marks). If you’re posting on SoundCloud in particular, this is essential to subsequent location of tracks for the creation of a project playlist.

Step 3: Upload your track. It is helpful but not essential that you use SoundCloud to host your track.

Step 4: Post your track in the following discussion thread at

Step 5: Annotate your track with a brief explanation of your approach and process.

Step 6: If posting on social media, please consider using the hashtag #disquietjunto so fellow participants are more likely to locate your communication.

Step 7: Then listen to and comment on tracks uploaded by your fellow Disquiet Junto participants.

Additional Details:

Deadline: This project’s deadline is Monday, March 2, 2020, at 11:59pm (that is, just before midnight) wherever you are. It was posted on Thursday, February 27, 2020.

Length: The length is up to you. Shorter is often better.

Title/Tag: When posting your track, please include “disquiet0426” 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: Consider setting your track as downloadable and allowing for attributed remixing (i.e., a Creative Commons license permitting non-commercial sharing with attribution, allowing for derivatives).

For context, when posting the track online, please be sure to include this following information:

More on this 426th weekly Disquiet Junto project — Cellular Chorale / The Assignment: Make music with the source audio from (and inspired by) a Patricia Wolf project — at:

Thanks to Patricia Wolf for collaborating on this project.

More on the Disquiet Junto at:

More on Wolf’s Cellular Chorus at:

Subscribe to project announcements here:

Project discussion takes place on

There’s also a Disquiet Junto Slack. Send your email address to for Slack inclusion.

The image associated with this project is a still from a video, provided by Patricia Wolf, of a Cellular Chorus event.

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