14tracks.com ‘Inna Rooms’ – the sound of the atom splitting


I often dream of trains. There’s an audiophile living in South Australia who reportedly owns a multi-thousand dollar system with which he listens to no music. None. Instead, his investment is dedicated to reproducing the sound of steam locomotives. Urban myth? Perhaps.

An example in the extreme, this guy can’t be alone in his enjoyment of sound for its own sake. Many an audiophile has succumbed to eventually letting the tail wag the dog: the hardware dictates what’s run through it. Some listeners prefer to bask in their system’s ability to reproduce low notes or its way with speaker-vanishing imaging than to rock out with air guitar to Kiss Alive. Horses for courses and all that.

If you get a kick out of showing off your hi-fi rig’s sonic prowess then have I got news for you.

Boomkat side-site 14tracks.com has been curating compilations of (mostly) electronic music on a semi-regular basis for some years now. That these compilations are still delivered as 320kbps MP3s championed as “DRM free” point to a late noughties inception. Their Twitter account might have sat dormant since June 2009 but still the themed compilations comprising (you guessed it) 14 tracks keep on comin’ ‘round the bend.

This month – November 2014 – comes 14 cuts built around the art of noise.

’14tracks – Inna Rooms’ draws on music “with a heightened feel for spatial qualities and dynamics.”

Peder Mannerfelt’s “Worlds Falling Out the Bottom” opens proceeding with hard panning and tonal sweeps. “Tongue” by Arca follows up with piano samples coupled to ghostly, clipped 4-4 rhythmns; there’s spatial cognizance of an airy room in springtime.

Grouper’s “All Across Rooms” imagines what the Northen Lights might actually sound like (should they make noise). There’s the drone of deep space mining, the crackle of fuel burn on a mission to Lars.

Eventually elongated with greater decay, chord stabs first strike the chest from a perpetrator unseen in veteran Vladislav Delays’s “Viimeinen”, which  later gives way to a static-generating low end rumble.

This is soundtrack music, the sound of decaying IT systems or your washing machine failing. Nearly all cuts are devoid of melody and/or pop song structure but you don’t play this because they’re tunes your postman might whistle, you do so because you wanna hear how low your speakers can go, how they track zippy stereo panning, whether the slew rate of your amplifier can give you dynamics that turn on a time. It’s even better behind a decent pair of headphones.

Against the backdrop of streaming subscription pricing, £6.86 (~US$14) for a collection of MP3s certainly looks steep. However, this is music from the margins that you might not find elsewhere, least of all on Spotify. Only the most frugal of listeners will spend time tracking each of these cuts down to compile an equivalent playlist.

Considerably more enjoyable the 4.43 from Paddington.

Further information: 14tracks.com

Written by John H. Darko

John lives in the NOW + HERE = NOWHERE. He derives an income from the ad revenues of DAR. John is also an occasional staff writer for Stereophile, 6moons and TONEAudio.

Twitter: DarkoAudio
Instagram: DarkoAudio
Facebook: DAR


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  1. Once read of an audiophile with a megabuck system whose entire record collection consisted of LPs by Karen and Richard Carpenter, The Carpenters. I personally don’t understand it, but then again, I don’t understand opera either, so it’s prolly just me.


  2. Was thinking of using John Cage’s 4’33” (four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence) or Lou Reed’s Metal Machine Music to test out some precious kit at a snooty audio store.

  3. I believe there is some validity to a fascination with the sound just for the sound’s sake. Sometimes, we are curious what kind of sound might be produced by growing mushrooms or by a paint peeling off the wall. I once dreamt about the sensation of hearing heavy clouds moving around the hilltop (seriously!). Other times, we consciously try to create symbolic sounds, like some of those extra-terrestrial sounds produced with synthesizers – and the more alien they are, the better.

    I even bought an iPad and several music-creating apps and I have a blast attempting to create music that utilizes that type of sounds…

    Buying a multi-thousand-dollar audio rig just to listen to a locomotive – no, that has never occurred to me as a feasible enterprise. However, in my other life as a photographer, I stumbled upon a photo-club whose sole interest was to photograph old trains and locomotives. So, who am I to make fun of locomotive-eavesdroppers…