Quakers release podcast of silent meeting

A young Quakers group in Nottingham, England released this 30-minute podcast of a silent meeting, complete with the ambient room sounds. John Cage would be proud. From The Guardian:

Quakerism was founded in the 17th century by the dissenter George Fox during the years of Puritan England. The group’s meetings are characterised by silence, which is occasionally broken when someone present feels the urge to speak, say a prayer or offer a reading.

The idea for the silent podcast first came from Tim Gee, a Quaker living in London, who was inspired by the BBC’s season of “slow” radio, which treated audiences to – among other things – the sounds of birds singing, mountain climbing and monks chatting.

Gee said he had wanted to “share a small oasis of calm, and a way to provide a moment of stillness, for people on the move”.

The Young Quaker Podcast: "#4 - Silence Special" Read the rest

Environments: a pioneering 1970s ambient soundscape series now in app form

In 1969, Irv Teibel(1938-2010) released a record that would have a profound impact on ambient and New Age music that's continues to this day. "Environments 1: Psychologically Ultimate Seashore" was the first in a catalog of albums that melded pop psychology with environmental sound recording to sooth the mind. Over the years, Treibel's company Syntonic Ressearch Inc. produced 11 albums with 22 soundscapes ranging from "Optimum Aviary" to "Wood-Masted Sailboat" to "Ultimate Heartbeat."

"The music of the future isn't music," Teibel said.

Now, audio archaeologist Douglas Mcgowan, curator of the sublime I Am The Center New Age compilation that I raved about here, Syntonic Research Inc, and the fine folks at Numero Group have brought the Environments catalog to iOS. Environments is now a fantastic $2.99 app with all 22 remastered long-form soundscapes in easily swipeable form. It's intuitive, beautifully minimalist, and a perfect evolution of the original work. Turn on, tune in, chill out.

Environments for iOS (iTunes)

For the whole Environments story, read: Natural Selection (Pitchfork)

Read the rest

The Sounds of the Junk Yard, a 1964 vinyl record

Last week, I posted about The Sounds of the Office, a 1964 vinyl record released by Folkways Records of field recordings by Michael Siegel. This week, it's The Sounds of the Junk Yard, another 1964 Folkways collection of Siegel's field recordings, ranging from an Acetylene Torch to Alligator Shears to a Paper Baler.

Moses Asch founded the incredibly influential Folkways Records label in 1948 to record and share music and sounds from around the world. Along with bringing the music of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lead Belly, and Elizabeth Cotten to wider audiences, Folkways, acquired in 1987 by Smithsonian, also issued incredible sound recordings from the Ituri rainforest, Navajo Nation, Peru, and many other locations and indigenous peoples across the globe. (In fact, the label provided several tracks for the Voyager Golden Record, now 12+ billion miles from Earth! Researching that project with my partner Tim Daly, a DIY musicologist himself, I've become absolutely enchanted by Folkways. If any of you dear readers have Folkways LPs collecting dust, I'd give them a wonderful home.)

Along with music, Folkways released LPs with poetry, language instruction, nature sounds (frogs! insects), and other field recordings. The Sounds of the Junk Yard reminds me of an Einstürzende Neubauten album but was issued a decade before the birth of "Industrial Music" was born.

"Some junk yard equipment is common to all of them, some is more specialized," wrote Siegel in the album liner notes. "All these sounds were recorded in yards in Warren, Pennsylvania."

Hear more samples at the Smithsonian Folkways page here. Read the rest

Listen to the sounds of an office, a vinyl record from 1964

In 1948, Moses Asch founded the incredibly influential Folkways Records label to record and share music and sounds from around the world. Along with bringing the music of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger, Lead Belly, and Elizabeth Cotten to wider audiences, Folkways, acquired in 1987 by Smithsonian, also issued incredible sound recordings from the Ituri rainforest, Navajo Nation, Peru, and many other locations and indigenous peoples across the globe. (In fact, the label provided several tracks for the Voyager Golden Record, now 12+ billion miles from Earth! Researching that project with my partner Tim Daly, a DIY musicologist himself, I've become absolutely enchanted by Folkways. If any of you dear readers have Folkways LPs collecting dust, I'd give them a wonderful home.)

Along with music, Folkways released LPs with poetry, language instruction, nature sounds (frogs! insects), and other field recordings. I recently discovered this curious Folkways release from 1964, Sounds of the Office, featuring a time clock, electric typewriter, adding machine, thermofax, pop bottle machine, and of course "coffee break." It reminds me of an early avant-garde tape music composition! You can hear two samples below and more at the Smithsonian Folkways site.

"The sounds of the office are essentially sounds of paper and machines. Here are some of them, in a rough chronological sequence, from the start of a day to its end, or at least the end of the morning," wrote the recordist Michael Siegel in the album liner notes.

It's interesting to imagine how a contemporary version of this album would sound. Read the rest

Hear the din of cafes, showers, crackling logs, and other great ambient sound sites

Several years back, we posted about the wonderful site youarelistening.to, a strangely soothing mix of ambient music and police radio chatter (!) from various cities. Youarelistening.to isn't the only source of lovely and relaxing field recordings and ambient noise though. Here are a few of DIGG's favorites:

Coffitivity

If your cup of coffee isn't giving you the kick you need, flipping on Coffitivity might be a good next step. Coffivity provides the cozy and comforting sounds of a cafe (which can help you focus according to scientific research) in six flavors, including Paris Paradise, Texas Teahouse, and Brazil Bistro.

Virtual Shower

Mimicking the sounds of the room in the house where everyone does their best thinking, Virtual Shower also boasts a temperature setting that changes the color of the page. You can't hear it, but you'll know it's there.

Blazing Logs Another simple one. Flip this year-round-yule log on to hear the crackle of a fire and not much else.

"The Most Relaxing Ambient Sound Sites On The Internet" (DIGG) Read the rest