What I'm listening to today: "space jam"

YouTube has this incredible wealth of people performing little improvised electronic sets pieces in bedrooms and on kitchen tables with whatever equipment they have and this has honestly been most of my music diet the last few years. A lot of these pieces have like 20 views yet are breathtaking. This is a 30-minute(!) ambient piece that starts as repetitive humming tones but finds a captivating hypnotic groove like… 12 minutes in


What I'm listening to today: "Make Noise Strega & Pianoteq Bechstein | Ambient"

So the Strega is a truly remarkable piece of hardware—a collaboration between a synth company and a musician (Alessandro Cortini) that blends "musical instrument" and "toy" in the way my old art-game projects strove to. It's a delay reverb simultaneously uglified and overpowered to make the perfect drone machine. Here it is at its best, tearing apart the spectra of an iPad piano synthesizer:


What I'm listening to today: "Sunset Meditation - Drone for Peace // Make Noise Strega / 0-Coast / 0-CTRL", Jon Gee

This one shows the limits of Synth Jam Improv Youtube. It has so many good elements (the spooky start, the recurring high foghorn note, emergent bells), but overall doesn't seem to hang together. This probably would've worked better in conventional music production where you jam for 10 minutes then edit down to the most structured 3! Still, that beginning…


What I'm listening to today: "full.mp3"

I made this for a jam on Battle of the Bits way back in 2007; they made a pack of sound samples and challenged us to make a song with it. This ISN'T the song I made, it was a junk file I made during testing that cut up all 25 samples into 1/10th-second chunks and sorted them per a loudness criterion. I didn't publish this one but I still pull it out and listen to it sometimes. It's oddly compelling, with lots of surprising structure and melodic sections.

What I'm listening to today: "Eraser"

This unusual variant of "Eraser" is, IMO the most underrated Nine Inch Nails track. It's from a widely-distributed bootleg of a live NIN show in 1995, from the tour where Trent was touring with David Bowie; in the middle of those shows they'd do a few duets. This was from the start of the Bowie set. I've never figured out whose band this is (Trent's or Bowie's) but the altered arrangement brings an already great song to a new level.


What I'm listening to today: "Bad Apple"

…what? It's what I'm listening to.

Should I actually explain this? Part of what makes the Touhou shmup series popular is not just the games themselves but the many fanworks, like re-recordings of the songs. This particular fansong, and particular frankly incredible video, became a Remix Culture Thing.

I encountered the original for the first time this weekend playing Lotus Land Story for my stream and was like :D it's the song


What I'm listening to today: "Ambient MonoPoly Set"

This showed up in my YouTube synth vids recs. I think "Tefty & Meems" started out here just trying to test out / demo one of Behringer's many clone synths but got carried away and recorded basically a 45 minute album of chill ambient techno with improvised vocals. Just one synth, one woman singing, and tons of echo, but the mood is intense.

I suggest starting about 11 minutes 45 seconds in, as that's when it gets Good


What I'm listening to today: "unfold"

Elektron just released the "Syntakt" (afaict an update of the Machinedrum with the Digitakt interface & modern features like Overbridge). As usual for new synth releases, Synth Jam Youtube is falling over themselves to post stuff showcasing the new gear; I really liked on its own terms this one track "substan" posted of huge drones to swim in. (If you want more of a beat, look up "synbiosis" from the same set in the related videos.)


What I'm listening to today: "Damage I've Done"

So when David Byrne left the Talking Heads they renamed themselves the Heads and released an album named "No Talking Just Head". The album used a rotation of random guest vocalists most of whom utterly failed to deliver, but there's one song on there, "Damage I've Done", that is Basically Perfect and fit in well with the surge of pop-flavored industrial music that was swarming the radio at the start of 1997.


What I'm listening to today: "the Lyra 8 is perfect for atmospheric techno"

A weird video (with surprisingly high production values) of dark warehouse techno with hard gabber beats, accompanied by VHS distortion.

The Lyra-8 is a drone synthesizer that mostly produces indistinct woomy noises; I assume it is the source of the various beeswarm sounds in the song.

Video contains intermittent brief flashing.


What I'm listening to today: "Incanta - 60 minutes ambient for deep focus - VCV modular generative ambient"

Modular synthesis is a great way to make complex sounds, but it's also REALLY expensive… unless you use VCV Rack, the free+open source eurorack emulator. This track uses a virtual synth rack that, IRL, would be impossibly huge to create a signal chain that generates a subtly nonrepeating musical pattern for, as advertised, a full hour. It's really nice, I think!


What I'm listening to today: "Cosmic Radiation", Hobboth Music

Does "20 minutes of distant howling noises" sound like something you want to listen to? Because "20 minutes of distant howling noises" is basically my favorite genre of music. The first two minutes of this are dominated by a siren sound I find by itself kinda obnoxious but then the wet/dry reaches its intended level and it's off to distant howling city


What I'm listening to today: "If You Want Some", Delinquent Habits

This is the best track on Delinquent Habits' self-titled/debut album, still my favorite hip hop album of all time, an album featuring openly political gangsta rap in an era when that was starting to be less common, incredibly heavy beats, a certain amount of rapping in Spanish, and three tracks that memorably sample mariachi music.

I recommend listening to this on something with good bass.


What I'm listening to today: "moog mother-32 + Subharmonicon + DFAM Jam by Saya 'zonbi' Nishida"

This short downtempo piece is based around Moog's generative-rhythm-and-chords machine, the Subharmonicon. (Actually this piece uses the same desktop Moog gear as the distant-howling piece I posted Monday, though *that* one was so drowned in distortion and echo you weren't likely to distinguish any one element). I really like the groove on this one.


What I'm listening to today: "Mutable Instruments Rings triggered by drums"

This is a drum solo with a physical trigger on the bass drum so every time the bass drum hits it advances a sequence on a modular synthesizer. In other words the drummer controls the entire piece, the synth conforms its tempo to the drumming and when the drummer starts switching the rhythm up the music adjusts to it in a really natural way. Technically interesting, but also an incredible mood!


What I'm listening to today: "Body Stone", JOYFULTALK

The most interesting thing about this album is its opening track "Body Stone", a slowly forming chaotic soup of bits of free jazz and funk and less identifiable things smashed together according to the thing's own totally internal logic, a sort of peaceful nightmare

"Hagiography" from the same album is also pretty good.


What I'm listening to today: "Oom // Analog Live Set / Moog Subharmonicon + Mother 32 + DFAM + Grandmother / Digitakt / Retroverb"

A good track that starts with wind-sound static and slowly builds into what the author calls "danceable", although unless your dancers are real electronic music heads it might wind up less as dancing and more like "a group of people standing around with drinks, bobbing their heads thoughtfully".

"Oom" might be short for "Out of Memory".


What I'm listening to today: Electronic Jam - Arturia Microfreak/ Digitakt/ Walrus SLÖ/ Norns/ Portastudio/ Make Noise Strega

So the premise here seems to be two people laid out a bunch of electronic music equipment they had on a table and recorded themselves just… *doing* stuff for eight minutes, resulting in a messy but engaging mix of noise and music. The YouTube summary claims they were just having fun and they clearly are, it is fun.


What I'm listening to today: "Alluvial // OP-Z + PMD 221 + OTO BAM"

r beny is my favorite artist in the YouTube synth jams community. He's got a Bandcamp, but then he's got this YouTube where he posts entirely different songs recorded live, mostly ambient pieces each using a single piece of hardware.

This one is made with a toy groovebox plugged into a fairly complex processing chain including a Disintegration Loops effect from a vintage tape player with a busted tape.


What I'm listening to today: "Haloid Xerrox Copy 1"

Alva Noto is an amazing musician and installation artist who's done collaborations with Ryuichi Sakamoto and Ryoji Ikeda. This is the song of his I find myself constantly coming back to. It is basically one violin synth and a modem but to me it is everything ambient music can be and ought to be. It is dread and joy and an emotion I cannot describe in words and can only express to someone by playing them this song.


What I'm listening to today: "Modular Synth & TASCAM Porta One | Ambient"

Akihiko Matsumoto posts lengthy, often complex live ambient pieces on YouTube virtually every day. This one, besides the music itself being an entire buffet of indistinct moods, is technically interesting for unifying desktop production methods of two different decades: A classic Tascam four-track loaded with loops and an Intellijel 62HP mini eurorack, both getting constant tweaks over 15 minutes.



@mcc nostalgia! I used to play with that TASCAM as a kid!

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