What does distortion communicate? At a low level, it can recall the warmth, and friction, of skin on skin; a sonic rendering of a pleasurable shiver. At a more extreme degree, it can sound like raging fire, driving rain, howling wind, or falling earth; in fact, any force of nature intent on travelling beyond its bounds. Distortion can be used in infinite ways with just as many meanings. To try and unearth some of them, I spoke with Moor Mother, Maria Chávez, Rashad Becker, DeForrest Brown and Lamin Fofana for the new edition of my All Ears column for NPR Music.

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