How—if at all—do increasing or changing representations of acoustic trauma articulate with changing notions of nation, security, and warfare? Tinnitus is the top disability in American troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan and untold numbers of westerners have experienced it after terrorist attacks in New York, Madrid, London, and Boston. It does seem plausible that consequence-free cinematic explosions began to strain credulity (not to mention morality) after such attacks, even for those who have not directly experienced acoustic trauma. Tinnitus offers an economical representation of trauma in films that aspire to some level of realism and empathy—and in fact, researchers view tinnitus and PTSD as related. Could a nation’s trauma be sounding in the ears of its onscreen heroes?



2013: Roundup • Albums • Songs • Writing • Sounds

This is the third annual installment of my favorite sounds and moments from music this year. All sounds have been extracted from their songs and smashed together in the SoundCloud player above; the list is below so you can follow along.

(I first did this in 2011 and again in 2012.)

For three years now I’ve enjoyed Matthew’s collage of his favorite sounds of the year; you might enjoy it too. 

This is pretty wonderful.

Son Of Strelka, Son Of God (Narrated by Obama) – A Free Audio Story

Bit by bit I’ve dissected Obama’s self-read autobiography into thousands of very short phrases, usually one to ten words or so, and have used these snippets to tell a completely different story from the original. I’ve then set the story to music. The story is called Son Of Strelka, Son Of God. Broadly speaking, it tells the story of an ugly dog-faced demigod who recreates the world after it is destroyed. It’s about thirty minutes long, and lies in some weird grey area between audiobook and electronic music.

Wow. More in Slate.

Son Of Strelka, Son Of God (Narrated by Obama) – A Free Audio Story

Not Your Parents’ Audiobook: David Byrne’s “Bicycle Diaries”


David Byrne’s successful book, Bicycle Diaries, probably would have sold just fine as a traditional audiobook, as well. However, never one for the status quo, Byrne wanted to do something a little more interesting than simply reading the book in silence and releasing it as a download or cd. Instead, he looked to other successful audio formats for inspiration, namely NPR shows that incorporate scene sounds and podcasts.

I was pretty ambivalent about the book, but maybe ambient sound would have kicked it up a notch, especially for a work so linked to its geography. Great idea. Download the intro and hear some samples.

Not Your Parents’ Audiobook: David Byrne’s “Bicycle Diaries”

David Foster Wallace reads Laughing with Kafka, which was later published in Consider the Lobster. Other speakers at the Metamorphosis: A New Kafka symposium included Paul Auster, E.L. Doctorow, Susan Sontag, and David Remnick. (via bibliokept)

Picking Up Girls Made Easy!

“There are a few basic principles that you have to master before you can move on to wild, uninhibited streetplay.” Hilarious. Creepy.


“PICKING UP GIRLS MADE EASY will teach you a whole new system for picking up girls — a system that is so complete and so absolutely foolproof you’ll soon be picking up girls automaticallly!!! Absolutely everything is spelled out for you… Picking up girls can be as easy as opening a beer! And the more you listen to the album, the better you’ll get. It’s INCREDIBLE!”

The Street Pick Up (6:00)
Love In The Library (5:11)
Single’s Bar Action (6:12)
Women’s Clothing Store Pick Up (6:39)
The Ballet Is A Ball (4:08)
Museum Pick Up (5:42)
Walking The Dog (5:53)
Pick Up At The Beach (5:46)

From UbuWeb’s 365 Days Project:

I recommend Wieland Samolak’s 1993 album, Steady State Music:

When I was a teenager I used to sit on an empty field listening for hours to the sounds of distant cars, railroads, helicopters, and other motorized objects. These sounds, which are very rough and noisy when they are near, attracted me from the distance because they had merged and diffused into a continuum when they reached my ears. By this experience it came to my mind that it is more satisfying for me to listen to continuous changes within one sound than to the combinations of discreet sonic events usually found in music.

Weekly muxtape, unusual edition

muxtape, unusal edition
The only reason I put together the unusual edition is because of the first track “Strange Overtones”. I’ve been repeating that religiously since I heard it earlier this weekend. I haven’t had a track get such heavy play since “Weird Fishes”. Other highlights include Victor Wooten’s sick bass solo around the 2-minute mark in “Oddity,” and Paul Desmond’s saxophone work in “Strange Meadow Lark,” which has some unusual 10-bar phrases.