Aaron Ximm went to Southeast Asia on his honeymoon in 2000, and he came back nine months later with a dowry’s worth of field recordings. A self-described “headphone tourist,” he subsequently produced a CD of sounds he found in Laos — “whining outboard engines,” “an ancestor memorial celebration,” “plumbing resonance” — forged into musical compositions. The album is titled Rockets of the Mekong, released this year as a CDR, the fourth volume in the Echolocations series from his Quiet American project. One of Rockets‘ 14 tracks, titled “Calisthenic,” is available for free download from the album’s promotional page (here) on the Quiet American website (quietamerican.org). It’s a beautiful piece, just over four minutes long, though it feels much quicker; brief snippets of real world sound are looped to incantatory effect, moving steadily away from silence. The track’s title might be an expression of its pace, its rapid-fire little sound elements, seeming at first like the hive techno of a late night insect swarm. Ximm, who writes eloquently and philosophically about his sound art, describes “Calisthenic” as follows: “An exercise in negative space. Composed almost entirely from a single moment in a very short source recording, this piece was created using a sculptural process in reverse: starting from almost nothing, everything is added back, a little at a time. At the end, we escape our single moment and the context of the recording (made in Luang Prabang, Laos) is revealed.” The name Quiet American is taken, of course, from the Graham Greene novel about Vietnam, and there are field recordings from Vietnam (as well as from Burma, Nepal, the United States and elsewhere) on Ximm’s website to complement the neighboring Laotian ones.
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• October 13, 2016: This day marks the start of the 250th weekly Disquiet Junto project.
• November 16, 2016: I'll be sharing the mic at Adobe Books in San Francisco with my fellow 33 1/3 author Evie Nagy for an evening hosted, from 7pm to 10pm, by Marc Kate (facebook.com).
• December 1, 2016: A likely speaking engagement. Details to come.
• December 13, 2016: This day marks the 20th anniversary of Disquiet.com.
• January 5, 2017: This day marks the 5th anniversary of the Disquiet Junto.
• 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: disquiet.com/junto.
• 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. Subscribe to the announcement list at tinyletter.com/disquiet-junto. There is an FAQ. ... These are the 5 most recent weekly projects: • 0253 / Doorbell Rehab / Record some welcome music. • 0252 / Sonic Palindrome / Make music that sounds the same backwards and forwards. • 0251 / Soothing Sounds for Parents / Remix some music for infants with parents in mind. • 0250 / Soothing Sounds for Junto / Make some peaceful music for an infant child. • 0249 / 80 Phases / Wish the minimalist composer Steve Reich a happy birthday.
... And there is a complete list of projects at disquiet.com/junto.
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