The cover of the book Hearing the Cloud.
Courtesy John Hunt Publishing

What the Internet Sounds Like: A Playlist

By Aileen Kwun
November 2, 2019
3 minute read

In his new book, Hearing the Cloud: Can Music Help Reimagine the Future? (Zero Books), Australian writer and composer Emile Frankel tackles online politics and technology through the lens of listening. Here, he shares a playlist of tech-crafted tunes, culled from YouTube, Soundcloud, and elsewhere, for our dystopian times.

“Axolotl,” C418

“This week, popular streamers of Minecraft and a group of YouTube celebrities launched a collective project to plant twenty million trees! Reforestation and the resurgence of the most watched game of the month, Minecraft, go hand in hand. The game—as virtual idyll, as environmental celebration, as a world-building exercise of care and protectionism—has incredible music. C418’s underwater theme ‘Axolotl’ has special significance for me.”

“Suite for Piano and Fortnite,” Shelob's Mate

“A sly affiliate of London artist Hmurd—and the kindest label out there, Cherche Encore—Shelob’s Mate manipulates a recording from a game of Fortnite. Fortnite’s Season 2 just launched to a black hole, which sucked the entire realm into its ‘event-horizon.’ The small sounds of child-like extrusions memorialize the kids battling it out in the black. Only one victor is left standing at the end of a game—but at what cost?”

“RWM Helen Pritchard Podcast,” Yoneda Lemma

“Presenting this work, composer and computer musician Yoneda Lemma tweeted: ‘After [giving] birth in March I decided to experiment [and] discovered that computer music definitely CAN be made w/ a baby sleeping on you day [and] night.’ Made for RWM’s Re-Imagine Europe podcast, the manipulation of theorist Helen Pritchard’s voice and the involved texture of this music expresses the ‘double bonds’ of its themes: ‘orcas and sensors, fossils and fracking, alpaca and recipes, sheep and data infrastructures.’”

“Two or More Things,” +777000

“In the dust and the jammed-up edges of +777000’s samples, a cry can be made out. It might be a little glib to say, but this is the sound of the ‘wired,’ the always connected and always plugged-in. Structurally, there isn’t a beginning and there isn’t an end. This is music powered on and off instantly. Its coded manipulation is a dirge for our present moment.”


“What is it about the sound of trance music that can bring us together? The sound is always magical for me. I think, when you’re uplifted, your political agency is magnified, and that when you celebrate you also mourn that which is wrong with the world. That’s what this track does when its last second passes over.”