the internet vs music, 2017

How do you release music on the internet in 2017?  We’ve got at least:

  • Bandcamp
  • Spotify / Apple Music / Tidal
  • SoundCloud
  • iTunes
  • Mixcloud
  • YouTube
  • Patreon
  • DropBox
  • Self-hosting
  • ?????

Now let’s look at the tape:

Bandcamp is probably my favorite, but it lacks a bit of jazz, and is more of a store than a place where things can gather momentum.  

Spotify and the streaming services are not really great for bootleg stuff or for things aimed at DJs. (Disclosure:  I’m a Spotify employee, and it’s not perfect, but I don’t think it is bad.)

SoundCloud is probably dying.

iTunes is boring as six horses, and most people don’t buy music.

Resonate is adorable, but is even more niche than Bandcamp.

Mixcloud is designed for radio sets (and has iffffyyy design).

 YouTube makes you no money.  

Patreon doesn’t work for shy people, and has no hosting.

Dropbox and OneDrive and Google Drive are pedestrian.

Most people can’t self host.

So is the answer, as ever, for artists, to do everything?  Cut your 200 vinyl or cassettes, push it to Spotify and everywhere else with DistroKid, put a video on YouTube, link it all to your Patreon on Twitter / Instagram / Snapchat?  

It probably is, really.  As someone who’s been around this field for a minute, it is sort of frustrating that there is no easy answer for me wanting to upload a few edits where they might get a tiny amount of attention organically.  (I am, of course, probably just a lazy old man.)

But along these lines, what’s an instagram record label?  What’s a Snapchat record label?  Is AR / VR stuff going to do anything?  What about Twitch?Will there be a boom in compact-disc (or minidisc!) nostalgia soon?  What about the newsletter trend?  The blockchain?  What’s next?


Saw a Leila Boudreuil show at Issue Project, which had some lovely guitar x cello drone moments going on.

Also had my eye on the (visually) great stuff by Walter Giers, this excellent pass at physical scores, and the fact that Tidal is allowing users to do pitch & time changes.

I am very late on Joue, but it is a nice idea.  (Expressive!  Oh man.)  Likewise Eve, which is a very different sort of expression.

I’ve had a lot of interface stuff on my mind of late – both in terms of APIs for computer systems, and interfaces for controlling sound, music, musicians, etc.  Where’s the line between too much flexibility and not enough?

software & experiments: every second saturday on kpiss

Pleased as punch to say that I’m going to be doing a show on, every second Saturday night, from 10 to midnight Eastern.

Expect some general warmup vibes:  house / techno / post-etc, with maybe some album specials, composer specials, and some pals dropping in from time to time.

Archives will be on Mixcloud, promo and sass will be on Instagram.  Let’s dance.

two to the one-hundred and seventy-sixth power


… is the number of patterns you can make* on a 909 drum machine.  Inspired by a dinner talk with my friend Mike Dean, I made a nice little thing that is going to play every one of them back, from now until a very long time in the future**.

Given that I had a sequencer lying around, this was not that hard to do – when the page loads, I calculate the current time-since-start (January 21, 2017, ), turn that into a binary number, and then that number as the pattern.  Each bar, I increment the number, and ta-daaaa!  Music that will take more than a trillion trillion trillion thousand years to finish!

I saw somewhere recently the line that “music is counting without thinking” – this project sure makes the counting bit obvious.


* A real 909 can have either an open hat or a closed hat – I went with both, because it is much easier to make work.

** I was going to use Bignumber.js to represent the time, but I forgot that everything will get weird in 2038, so I just used typical timestamps.

2016: tracks of the year

Let’s make 2017 better, team.

DJ Nigga Fox – Untitled

So, that’s some awkward googling.  This is a six track white label, only even given an artist by the record store I found it it – but it is nothing but insane rhythms and fuck-you samples.  You probably were not sleeping on the boys from Lisbon, but man, don’t sleep.

Ember Isles – Embers

A total 180 from the above, but 100 kinds of gorgeous from the Brooklyn indie/folk/harmonizers.

Maggie Rogers – Alaska

Blah blah Pharell blah blah hype blah blah what an amazing record.

Hannah Epperson – Circles (Iris)

The violin, the voice crack, the space, the timbre magic.

Charlotte Day Wilson – Work

It’s gonna take a bit of work.  Oh oh, ohhh work.  Is it ever.

Honors out to Hollas Longton’s firebreathing 4 Caprices, Siriusmo – Nights Off, Weekend Affair – Duel (Part 1), The Westerlies – Saro, KONCOS’s amazing cover of The Whistle Track, Krrum – Evil Twin, Emmalyn’s  cultural moment of #FreeTitties, and the music we need for the next four years – Tim Maia’s Rational Culture.

2016: shows of the year

Let’s talk about sh – fuck 2016! – ows.

Objeck @ Batofar

I went to Paris, and ended up at a boat party … inside the damn boat.  Nothing quite like feeling the dancefloor tilt from side to side.  Objekt was, of course, excellent – electro, bass/techno, and acid house making perfect sense together.

RBMA Technopolis

Just your every day Bushwick warehouse party, with buckets of production by RBMA, and the leading lights of Brooklyn techno doing their thing.  Galcher Lustwerk killed it, Aurora Halal and Umfang were great, etc etc etc.

Discotechnique @ House of Yes

The rogues at House of Yes baited me in with the promise of Danny Krivit, then just played great disco all night long.  House of Yes can push the “we’re weird because we do circus stuff” a little hard, but they’re great people.

Honorable mentions to Mumdance & Logos playing to 25 people at Slake; to DJ Harvey’s freakout at Output; to Powell & Silent Servant at TBA; to Bunker’s party with DJ Nobu at Good Room; and to Brian Whitman’s going away party at The Echo Nest.

2016: albums of the year

Yep, fuck this year.  Albums:

Roomful of Teeth – Partita for 8 Voices

Caroline Shaw.  What the hell.  I don’t want to say that this piece single-handedly restored my faith in “new music” … but this piece and this recording kind of did.  Astonishing.

Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith – EARS

Thank you Spotify and Fresh Finds for the introduction to Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith, who’s music is everything I want from modular synthesis nerdery and has some mean saxophone parts.

Tim Hecker – Love Streams

Hecker moves a bit away from drone and a bit towards bass, noise, and processing, and the result is 16 kinds of excellent.

Honorable mentions to:  Suzanne Ciani – Buchla Concerts 1975; Mary Lattimore – At The Dam; James Holden & Camilo Tirado – Outdoor Museum of Fractals; Radiohead – A Moon Shaped Pool; Carla del Forno – You Know What It’s Like, and Oliver Coates – Upstepping

2016: sets of the year

Still fuck this year.  Moving on..

Sadar Bahar – Resident Advisor 507

Another one of those diggers comes through in a big way – and puts just how weird Blondie’s Rapture is into perspective.

Ben UFO – Live @ Unit, Tokyo, 23.04.16

Is there a better, more comprehensive DJ alive than Ben UFO?  Tough, tough, tough call.

Mike Servito – Beats in Space 840

Let’s just say that Mike is not Brooklyn’s favorite DJ for no reason, and leave it at that.

Honorable mentions:  Prins Thomas’ Beats In Space, Volvox’s techno monster for RA, Paula Temple’s mix for FACT, which is, if anything even heavier than the Volvox, and Jackmaster’s Beats In Space mix.

2016: concerts of the year

Fuck this year.  With that said …

Radiohead at Secret Solstice

Woooooosh.  There were lots of other amazing bands at Secret Solstice, but the best band of my generation topped them all – all of A Moon Shaped Pool, then hit after hit after hit – for certain (Everything In Its Right Place, Idioteque) values of hits.

Mahler 9 at NY Phil

Some pieces of music are designed for youth.  Some are designed for old people.  And some are pretty much about death.  The NY Phil, led by the 87 year old Bernard Haitink, did this most eternity-focused of symphonies proud.  As Lenny said, ” … but in letting go, we have gained everything”

Julia Holter & Mary Lattimore at Bowery Ballroom

Holter remains a magician of the highest order – seeing her do her magic with a piano and a few backing members is only more impressive.  Lattimore’s harp pieces are likewise otherworldly.


Honorable mentions to Tim Hecker’s minimalist light show at Warsaw, Steve Reich’s 80th birthday at Carnegie Hall, Mantra Percussion & Gideon Alorwoyie covering Drumming (and Four Organs!, Mary Lattimore & Julianna Barwick at Trans-Pecos, and Glenn Branca’s monumental Symphonies at the  Masonic Hall.



Here we are, once again.

I did the first one of these in 2009, while doing my undergrad at UVic.  Seven years later, Agape is a recut of all my music since then – with a few secrets and classics thrown in.

Agape is longer (1:44:33), louder (0 dBfs), quieter (-55 dBfs), higher resolution (1080p), bigger (8.12 GB), and about 10,000 times more self-indulgent than my previous album.  And, of course, there’s a video – you can get it here, or get the audio as mp3, wav, or flac.

It has been an astonishing sixteen years in & around techno.  Thanks for listening – this one is for you.



Part One: The Collective Motion of a Large Number of Self-Propelled Entities
(00:00:00 – 00:27:38)
i: Freshet
ii: Of The Valley, Of The Wind
iii: Swarm Theories

Part Two: Domain
(00:27:39 – 00:53:30)
iv: Hibernation
v: One Dimensional Objects Called Teeth
vi: Tawaret
vii: Fast Coalitions

Part Three: Apex Projects
(00:53:31 – 01:25:05)
viii: Twenty Four Thousand Eyes
ix: Mobilis In Mobili
x: Currents & Preparations
xi: Behemoth
xii: Jasmonate Threat Display
xiii: !Meddle

Part Four: Fiat Lux
(01:25:06 – 01:44:33)
xiv: Lift / Drag
xv: The Lone Survivor of the Previous Alien Universe
xvi: You’ll Flip,
xvii: The Future Depends On Us



Fractal – Rocket Summer [Primal]
Fractal – Power Up (Plushapella) [Tide Pool]
Chris Fortier – Despegue (Fractal Ambient Remix) [Fade]
onefourfiveone – D
Adam Antine – Streets Of Wind (Fractal’s Paris Daytrip) [Elefant]
Eleven – May
Eleven – August
Nero – Lost (Fractal Remix) [Pacific Front]
Eleven – October
Eleven – December
Eleven – November
Eleven – January
Bartok – String Quartet No. 1 (Fractal Remix)
Elkin ‘Billie’ Longton – My Woman [Tide Pool]
Fractal – Richard Feynman
Fractal – Paul Dirac
Montreal Compression Exercises – Racecar
Dream City – Night
TH TMPST – Be Not Afeard (ft. Iain Gillis)
TH TMPST – Full Fathom Five (ft. Heather Harker)
TH TMPST – Now My Charms (ft. Kira Hall)
onefourfiveone – A
Micah – Terras (Fractal’s Esper Remix)
Nero – Lost (Fractal Remix) [Pacific Front]
onefourfiveone – E
onefourfiveone – C
Herimitage – Herim2tage
Herimitage – Herim1tage
Eclectrix – Alkalosis (Fractal Remix)
Fractal – Hold
AFK – Emily’s China (Fractal Remix)
Fractal – Motoko
Dream City – Night
Fractal – The Weather
Elkin ‘Billie’ Longton – My Man [Tide Pool]
Fractal – Hold
Fractal – The Weather
Eleven – March
Dream City – Burnaby
Dream City – UBC
Dream City – Main Street
Dream City – East Side
Robyn – Call Your Girlfriends
Harker & Dyer – Ave Maria
Fragile Things – Sunbird
Fractal – The Tiger (West Street Whiskers 2016 Remix) [Tide Pool]



All tracks written / produced / remixed by Thor Kell.

Despegue written & produced by Chris Fortier. Fade Records, 2006
Streets Of Wind written & produced by Adam Antine. Elefant, 2011
Nero – Lost written & produced by Nero. Pacific Front, 2008
SCULPT – CDN1NNFC includes clarinet by Nathan Friedman.
SCULPT – JSS21HHV includes vocals by Heather Harker.
Bartok – String Quartet No. 1 written by Bela Bartok, performed by the Hungarian String Quartet.
TH TMPST – Be Not Afeard includes vocals by Iain Gillis. Based on music by Jean Sibelius, words by William Shakespeare.
TH TMPST – Full Fathom Five includes vocals by Heather Harker. Based on music by Jean Sibelius, words by William Shakespeare.
TH TMPST – Now My Charms includes vocals by Kira Hall. Based on music by Jean Sibelius, words by William Shakespeare.
SCULPT – CDN3SCSV includes vocals by Claire Stewart.
Micah – Terras written & produced by Micah Lukasawich.
Eclectrix – Alkalosis written & produced by Mike Dean.
AFK – Emily’s China written & produced by Davin Greenwell.
Fractal – The Weather is based on samples from Charlie Van Kirk.
Dream City tracks are based on samples from Connor Ashton.
Sunbird performed by Jillian Hanks Meyer.
Robyn – Call Your Girlfriends written by Robyn. Vocals performed by:
Tasha Faravar, Cassandra Lemoine, Julie Nadalini, Mary-Ellen Raynor, Aisling Ryan-Alward, Danielle Sosnowski, Lindsay Suddaby, Alexis Taylor, Marlee Clark, Amy Wood
Harker & Dyer – Ave Maria written by Franz Schubert, performed by Heather Harker and Andrew Dyer

Video from the BBC’s Life series.
Photos from NASA, ESADaily Overview, Wlppr

August, 2014 – December, 2016
Montréal, Québec & Brooklyn, New York