one-minute vacation
third ear open

The world makes its own music, but we rarely listen with naive ears.

Quiet American is the manipulation of sounds I hear and record.

The project began as I grappled with what it meant to be a tourist in another culture. It continues as I grapple with what it means to be a tourist in my own.

The opportunity, the thrill, and the risk of travel is being present to the world. My goal with Quiet American is to sketch in sound the experience of being in an unfamiliar place.

The work on this site is not a replacement for travel. But if you are willing to listen, you may be transported.

I am opinionated and verbose. To those who suffer for these things I offer this: what I hear when I am quiet.

To listen right away, visit discography, field recordings, or one-minute vacations. You will need a free mp3 player.

Exploration of this site is rewarded.

Please use headphones.



project history
project status
work availability
about the name

project history


I made my first work from field recordings in the fall of 1998.

While traveling in Vietnam, I recorded musicians, trains, moving water, crickets, monks, markets, metalwork, tired animals, and drunken tourists.
The earliest work on this site is the result of my discovery of ways of working with that sound as sole medium.

Later it became clear that it was important for me to apply the techniques I was learning to the sounds that define my home, the San Francisco Bay area. In 1999 I recorded during a trip to Fiji.

I made much work with material gathered during my nine-month honeymoon in Asia, in 2000-2001. During the trip I recorded in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Burma (Myanmar), Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Tibet, China, and Japan. Recordings from those places will be eventually added to the site.

I hope to find time to also share more recordings from the US, from from my 2004 trip to Cuba, and my visits in 2006 and 2007 to Mexico, Portugal, and Spain, Italy in 2008, the Netherlands in 2009, and Kenya (and Spain again) in 2010.

Over the years, my work as Quiet American has been played on numerous radio programs and streaming internet stations. I have been interviewed by numerous public radio stations, erasingclouds, Omnicetera and the SF Weekly, and reviewed in print by The Wire and online by ampersand etcetera, the Vital Weekly, and Delusions of Adequacy.

My popular one-minute vacations project was featured on WNYC's The Next Big Thing and is regularly cited in blogs and portals. Recordings from that project were featured in Montreal's Canadian Center for Architecture's year-long exhibition Sense of the City in 2006.

My collaboration with my wife, Annapurna: Memories in Sound, was awarded the Director's Choice Honorable Mention at the 2002 Third Coast International Audio Festival. The concert series I curated and hosted from 2001-2005, Field Effects, was awarded a Best of San Francisco award from the SF Weekly and a Best of the Bay award from the San Francisco Bay Guardian. My recordings have been used in a variety of other projects, including albums by Shuttle358 and Noe Venable.


project status  

Quiet American is an ongoing project. I will be working on it into the foreseeable future.

There are many hours of material available on this site. I add new content regularly as my other commitments, such as parenthood and gainful employment, allow.

I'm available for commissions and to teach or speak about my work.

I am interested in press, airplay, and any contact from labels interested in my work; write me for demos or information.

I used to seek to release material on 'real' labels. That no longer seems relevant, or desirable, but if you run one, and believe you can further my career, by all means, let me know.

Increasingly, my interests (and work) as an artist and as a sound artist result in outcomes other than composed work.

But I remain committed to sound and listening. Current projects include the co-curation of a year of sound-art programming at Swarm in Oakland, in collaboration with artist Jeffrey Eisenberg and gallerist Svea Lin Soll, and co-chairing of Bay Area Sound Ecology with sound designer Jeremiah Moore.


work availability  

Quiet American remains a labor of love trying to become a life. At present I am unable to support myself solely through this and other art.

The mp3s on the site are given to you as a gift under the terms of a Creative Commons license (with the important exception of the one-minute vacation submissions, for which I do not have rights). Most of the original artwork is available here if you wish to burn and package your own CD. I've revised most of the artwork since, however; write me if you would like the most recent packaging.

My work does sound better on CD; with this in mind I have in the past distributed hundreds of CDRs at no charge. Unfortunately, my current situation prevents me from continuing this practice.

As of the birth of my first daughter, CDRs became $108 plus shipping (there is an order form on the contact page). The eyebrow-raising price reflects the current value of my time—take solace in that you will receive a hand-made object, not something mass-produced. (You could also support my work through a PayPal donation, or the purchase of a day of my life or a quiPod.)

I'm a fan of barter.


about the name  

One of the books peddled to tourists on the streets in Vietnam is Graham Greene's The Quiet American. I link to the Penguin edition, the version that was photocopied.

I bought a copy to be a good sport. I was pleased to find that the novel is a quiet masterpiece.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough. It is in respectful homage that I borrow its name.