Xencuts (Ninja Tune) is one of those collections that’s so huge it becomes almost transparent, a backdrop against which everything else we listen to takes place. The Ninja Tune record label has been home to some of the most engaging electronic musicians of the past decade, from the Brazilian-born Amon Tobin to the Russian DJ Vadim; from the label’s sample-mad co-owners (Coldcut, aka Jonathan More and Matt Black) to the jazz-inflected relative newcomers of Cinematic Orchestra; from under-sung talents (Funki Porcini) to burgeoning turntable stars (Kid Koala). All of them, and more, are represented on this compilation — which, typical of the label’s homebrew spirit, comes in more formats than one cares to recount. Suffice to say, the harder-to-find edition includes a “Missed, Flipped & Skipped” EP of rarities by Tobin, Sukia, Squarepusher and others. Even without the rarities, though, the box is essential, as it provides a clear timeline between the second-generation hip-hop that got the label started and the ongoing innovations that kept fans happily guessing over the years. Ninja Tune was founded in 1990 when More and Black achieved major-label burnout — having gained fame for work with Eric B & Rakim, Yazz and Lisa Stansfield — and chose to retreat to the independent, artful, stealth habits of their label’s namesake. Here’s to another ten years.
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• May 13, 2015: Last spring-semester class meeting of the 15-week course that I teach on the role of sound in the media landscape at the Academy of Art in San Francisco. I'll next teach it in spring 2016.
• December 13, 2015: The 19th anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• Ongoing: The Disquiet Junto series of weekly communal music projects explore constraints as a springboard for creativity and productivity. There is a new project each Thursday afternoon (California time), and it is due the following Monday at 11:59pm: soundcloud.com.
• My book on Aphex Twin's landmark 1994 album, Selected Ambient Works Vol. II, published as part of the 33 1/3 series, an imprint of Bloomsbury, is now in its second printing. It can be purchased at amazon.com, among other places.
disquiet juntoThe Disquiet Junto is an ongoing weekly collaborative music-making space in which restraints are used as a springboard for creativity. It's housed at soundcloud.com. Subscribe to the announcement list at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto. There is an FAQ. ... These are the 10 most recent weekly projects: • 0169: Make a track using only an HTML5 drum machine. • 0168: Create an original, multi-part piece with a single audio source. • 0167: Marking the 3rd anniversary of Bassel Khartabil’s incarceration, turn the silence of a room into something soothing. • 0166: Take a pre-existing track, slow it in descending states, and then add something to it. • 0165: Create a composition that explores the sonic resonance of Harry Bertoia's iconic side chair. • 0164: Create music that emerges from the sound of fireworks. • 0163: Create a new late-night ambience with sounds from a handful of pre-existing field recordings. • 0162: Use Paul Lamere's "Girl Talk in a Box" to gain a new perspective on your own music. • 0161: Create a new track from three tracks from three different netlabels. • 0160: Make a one-minute field recording starting right at midnight (wherever you are). ... And there is a complete list of projects at disquiet.com/junto.
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