This site contains the same music downloads found on, along with new material uploaded in 2012 and later.
Sound Galleries Libra (2011-2013) Libra Suite — Libra Suite is the culmination of a ten-year exploration of sound, focusing on timbre and spatiality. To study “pure” timbre, one has to rule out, as much as possible, all the powerful distractions stemming from sounds that contain speech, melody, harmony, rhythm, or “signatures” from familiar sources (doors, cars, animals, etc.). For a decade, I worked without allowing any of these elements to overshadow the texture, tonality, and spatiality of the sounds with which I was composing. This process was difficult (impossible, in truth), but it led to unexpected new insights into what makes music work, and to a new respect for its power. After several years, melody, harmony, and rhythm gradually began to “intrude” into my compositions again. This happened sparingly at first — three notes in one composition, two chords in another. But a new understanding of music emerged, from the perspective of timbre, and on the background of our ongoing shared visceral experience of volumetric space. The Libra Suite explores new interactions of timbre and melody: the sounds of nature and of musical instruments, the tonality and harmony of the human voice. Libra is the constellation of balance, and the Suite seeks a conceptual and compositional balance among diverse sonic elements, from the purely abstract to the mundane, from the atonal "noise" of the environment to the harmonic structures created with traditional instruments. In the juxtapositions and counterpoints of these four movements, my hope is to demonstrate something of what makes all sound a celebration of life processes, of the machinery of the world, and a key to unlock many subtle gateways to the profound. Every sound is music, every sound reflects the intricacy of creation, and every sound has the power to open our awareness to the unbounded harmony that, ultimately, arises from pure silence. 1. Prelude (1:35) 2. Processional, nocturne, march (7:00) 3. Trio: piano, strings, other (3:54) 4. Celebration, finale (11:38) Étude for Piano & Cello, #3 (2:30) This composition emerged without warning and demanded a cello. I look forward to its performance on acoustic instruments. Disconscionance  (2009-2010) Disconscionance (8:17) — A lot happens when we pass from wakefulness, through the glass onion, to something else. This piece is built upon about 60 specific sounds, most of which exist for only a few seconds, within a spectrum of gradual transition. Collect ‘em all. Swope (5:14) — Swope is a machine, gently burrowing beneath the town, heading for an aquifer known only by its vapors. Fulminatorium (19:58) — Timbral motifs elaborated in vaguely sonata form. This piece is so thoroughly non-representational that there isn’t much more to say. Diploid Matrix (17:59) — Do come in. And while you’re in, skim the surface tension between quietness and silence. It all emerges from silence, but so much happens in the first few laminations. Telefodot (9:23) — Soundtrack for an early version of a short film. This track therefore contains structure specific to the film. Although the film is not available with this track, the track survives as a timbral composition. Stairs Audio component for an installation on the stairway leading to what once was the Emerald Gallery. The installation provided an ascending transition from the chaos of the city at ground level to a celestial realm where the Emerald Gallery was displaying a collection of images, iconography, and other objects associated with various cultural interpretations of the angelic. The installation comprised six separate sound systems for the journey up a long flight of stairs, so the tracks here represent each of these six levels from the street to the gallery. In the installation, of course, one heard two or three tracks simultaneously most of the time; the tracks themselves were designed to loop, and not to be heard individually. So please get six mp3 players and install six audio systems about ten feet apart, and then walk slowly back and forth while playing all tracks at once. 1. City (2:30) 2. Dark (3:00) 3. Warn (3:14) 4. Air (3:55) 5. Water (3:59) 6. Sky (4:32) Thread A (2:04) — A long fiber of a track with structural variations, Thread A is one of a series of unifying timbral “themes” for a work involving 30 unique sonic elements strung randomly in a kind of endless bead chain. The larger work (not available online) can only be realized with a track player that can shuffle continuously without repeating. Threnody Soundtrack (9:23) — Soundtrack to a short film called Threnody. This piece is out of context in the Disconscionance gallery, but currently there is no other place for it on this site. I recommend that you view the video first, hopefully in HD. Then, if, for some reason, you want a copy of just the soundtrack, here it is. Cornpone (3:37) (binaural) — Built from out-takes and manglings obtained during audio post-production of the short film The Retreat, Cornpone reveals a little of the extraordinarily visual component of what I call “referential sound” — sound that is recognized as the audio signature of some tangible object. Generally, referential sound tends to overshadow perception of pure timbre and spatiality, but after so many tracks of the latter, it may be refreshing (or humorous) to touch briefly on the former. Vocalizations by Neil Cunningham, with substantial computer interference. Junk foley mostly and most brilliantly by Brian Morrow. Singing (?) by Dan Coffey. This track is binaural, so it should be experienced on headphones for the full spatial effects. It is also best experienced over and over, until the prefrontal lobes explode. Octagon Labonge (7:04) — Melodic and thematic elements blatantly permitted to be utterly obliterated by runaway colors and textures. Yes, in places, despite our best efforts, music creeps in, but we will not apologize. Uncharted Waters  (2006-2008) Doors (1:38) (binaural) — This piece is derived from early experiments in binaural reconstruction, which is the process of reprocessing a set of monaural tracks into a set of overlaid binaural sound fields. I use this technique to render my eight-channel installation pieces in two channels for headphone listening. For maximum spatial reconstruction, download the lossless version of this track, and decode (or play through WinAmp, etc.) using one of the many free FLAC decoders available on the web. Tiny Alice (7:19) — This is a draft of the final form which Doors is moving toward. Most elements in this piece will be re-recorded, but this mix is close to the end result, and worth listening to. It has been mixed for stereo, and works fine with external speakers (no headphones required). The title is tentative; other candidates are "Mansions" and "Rooms." Molinatibus (2:40) — Absynth the wonder-synth is responsible for all sounds in this piece, so the composer accepts no blame for it. When a great piece of sound-sculpture software evolves to the Next Level, one feels a certain responsibility to put the pedal to the metal and open all the stops (NB: this is not a mixed metaphor). Listen or don't listen at your peril (there's no safe choice). You say you'd like to know what "molinatibus" means in Latin? Indeed; that's what they all say. SETI Sideband (15:45) — Most interstellar signals are lost in the background noise. But at the galactic core, things are reversed. It’s almost impossible to find the noise in a sea of signal. There the folds of space are as convoluted as the cerebellum; here we are learning all the new alphabets, and they are learning us. The emergence of structure is the discrimination of pattern, which exists only within the prescribed time-window. Hidden among the stranded sequences of the protein synthesis engine, recurring familiarities evoke the star-told tales of ancient asterisms, whence cometh all these self-same sequences. Life recapitulates the solar winds and the nucleo-tides. Post-Election 2004 (4:34) — The great experimental Republic again fought with itself and opted for the status quo (there's no safe choice). Everyone seems to have forgotten that “mere popular democracy” was one of the most dire concerns of the founding fathers, and the present sound-bite revolution has vindicated their deepest fears. Sonically there were no bites left for the Gipper. Piano Étude #1 (8:30) — At the Five Spot, Teddy Wilson was playing between sets while Mingus left his bass for the piano and the tuba player from the New York Philharmonic played continuo. This étude is entirely unlike anything those giants laid down those nights in 1965, but there were wisps of the Five Spot in my rhino encephalon when this piece crawled and flailed into the world. In fact, it's a sampled August Foerster piano, with such a wonderful sound, however unreal my copy may be, that I spent hours just listening to the timbre of individual notes. Then I played, but my eye was still on timbre. In fairness, let's call this “using a piano” rather than “playing” one. Void Chant (1:14) — While wandering in the hidden caves of central Iowa, I encountered an uncharted network of unsung wonder. Creeping through this limestone labyrinth, distant voices murmured, drawing me deeper into the earth. The men of stone sang there for me, chanting their invocation of the void. City of Nine Gates  (2001-2005) Anawanda Wan (5:23) — There’s a lot going on beneath the surface, even when no one is listening. What is the sound of one body metabolizing? If a body falls in the forest and there is no one there, will it weep? Phloem (4:16) — Other cities in another kingdom have fewer gates, or hardly any at all. Hardly any are needed. A point source, pressure varying over time, ecco! Saint Elmo (5:04) — A few megawatts, some dark-light generators, a smattering of virtual fluctons. We spent a lazy afternoon among the synaptic clefts in the upper hippocampus, with gun and camera. We saw no hippos, but the light show was quite wonderful. Atonal, arhythmic, and a little train of latent impressions went by, which was quite amusing. Thrimadornith Ri (5:09) (binaural) — Before his awful majesty the many-armed Indra was ever spoken of in hushed anticipation, and his foes laid themselves at his feet with devotees alike, thrilling to the finality of his spendid effulgence: silence itself reigned. Tucamara Tu (3:31) (binaural) — Beware the jabberwock. He sleeps by the river, but he does not sleep. Wending (6:41) — Adrift in the limbic system. The old brain at play with the new. The rhinoencephalon sniffing its way into the light. Arboretum (4:30) — The great tree of life is emulated in the branching nervous system, which gives support to consciousness itself, which cognizes the vibrations of the song of the universe, transcending matter, time, and space. Individual consciousness becomes one with the observer of all creation and from this unity springs the tree of life. Or kinda like that. Bongduridium (5:41) — The machinery of civilization threatens to become music, while the air thrills to its automated muse. Is there breath in the machine? Or does the automaton sleep forever in fossil darkness? Corazon (6:56) — Behind my old house in Malibu, I found a bowling ball under a bush. It was engraved with the name “Herb.” Not too many weeks later, another bowling ball turned up. It was not inscribed, but we all knew its name was “Flo.” You've got to go with the Herb and the Flo. The heart does, and the breath floats on this sea of living currents. Terraforming (6:40) — You can bring a whore to culture, but you can't make her think. Unfortunately, that's not true, but the reverse is. If you stop thinking, you can build a city the size of a planet, or turn any handy planet into a city. No, that's if you never stop thinking. Out of the Silent Planet  (1980-1985) This retrospective collection (c. 1984) is named after the famous novel by C. S. Lewis, the first part of a trilogy including Perelandra and That Hideous Strength. Produced mostly during the early 1980’s, these pieces were created without any computer involvement (no sequencing), by performing live into a multi-track recorder, adding one track at a time. Consequently, they reflect a purely improvisational approach to composition, and are limited to the timbral values afforded by the equipment available at that time. Most work was done with an analog Rhodes Chroma, with some early drum machines and reverb modules. A few pieces were created later, using a Korg Wavestation, but they are included here because they represent the conclusion of this phase of composition. It should be noted that the technical challenge of getting a usable “composite” recording often overshadowed the artistic components. Arcturus (4:47) — A star, a fake Latin word, a state of mind. Very nearly the brightest star, actually. OK, in fact, the brightest star in the Northern hemisphere. Named after Arktos (Greek for “bear”) because the star follows Ursa (Latin for “bear”) Major around the Northern sky in spring. But what, out of the silent planetoid, is it — a flying saucer? You earthlings are stupid, stupid, stupid. Sequinsulator (2:37) — Percolations of primitive sequencer, plus evaporations, and an abrupt resonance. Nice as alternate backing for short Gene Kelly dance bits (e.g., Brigadoon). Strato Nimbus (8:46) — Country Joe guitar atop free-range drums meets Angelo Badalamenti. Perhaps this is Section 44; if not, it coulda woulda. Thanks, Joe. Starred Wreck (5:17) — Orbital detritus. Some of these structures, though huge, have evaporated most of their substance over the millennia, becoming delicate crystalline frameworks of unimaginable fragility. Other remain simply huge. Tuberosities (14:01) — Time has not stopped; it has run amok. What is amok? What is updok? If you have the time, these osities will take you there, and back. Probably. But don’t tap your foot — this ain’t your daddy’s metric system. (One of several compositions in the Igorian Mode, which was discovered in the early 1960s.) During the 1980’s, most of my work was focused on timbre, but not to the exclusion of some pitch and meter. The problem of meter, however, had become obvious, since it tends to obliterate awareness of timbre, by grabbing our most elemental pattern-recognition sensors and monopolizing the remaining auditory discrimination faculties. This prevents all but the most simplistic perception of timbre dynamics, reducing the tonality dimension to little more than voicing. In Tuberosities, I attempted to invoke meter only in contexts where it could be alternately asserted and then violated. Pagoda: Arrive (4:03) — The Pagoda pieces are in two parts (Arrive and Ascend). In Arrive, a small set of motifs establishes a lacquered harmonic context — the initial impression of this newly discovered edifice of established spiritual direction. Pagoda: Ascend (10:20) — Now we can finally settle down. The practice gradually takes hold. Eventually, transcendence coexists with change, and revelatory celebration. (Ew wow.) Igor Interval (4:30) — Subversive submetric sojourne in the Igorian Mode. Perhaps the trolls are dancing. Perhaps the current political situation is a coincidence. Ice King Recessional (2:52) — Yowza, de froze dude he self be a-risin’ up and a- steppin’ out. We be bowin’ and cheerin’ and feelin’ real satisfied. It be time fo’ lunch!
All material (including all compositions and performances) on these pages is copyright ©2012 by Allen Cobb. All rights reserved.
Sound Quality: These audio files are mp3. The sound quality is therefore significantly impaired. For full quality playback, contact me to obtain  undistorted FLAC or WAV files. I can be reached at: info (at) cobbsound (dot) com